Fast Food Review: New Garden Sensations Salads from Wendy’s

It seems like quick-serve restaurants are constantly making attempts to bridge the gap between fast food and something a bit more.  Every burger joint seems to have a meatier restaurant-style burger these days and the often-scrutinized McDonald’s has upped the quality in it’s newer offerings (see McBistro Chicken Sandwich).  When we see fast food menu items reach the $6 area, it’s hard to look at them as “just fast food”.  Along with the prices, the quality is also being amped up.

The latest menu items to fit the pricier/higher quality realm at Wendy’s are the New Garden Sensations Salads.  Over the past month or so, I’ve tried all four and here are my impressions.

Apple Pecan Chicken Salad:

Described as:

A perfect mix of peak-season red and green apples, real blue cheese crumbles, sweet cranberries and roasted pecans, topped with a warm, grilled chicken fillet.

Nice mix of ingredients with the mix of salty and sweet. While haters of blue cheese will want to opt out, it really helps balance with the fruit and the sugared pecans.  Texture-wise, crunchy apples and pecans combined with chewy dried cranberries provides for a pleasing munch. I encountered a few wilted lettuce pieces, but overall the meal was fresh.  The chicken fillet was cut a little too big, but not a problem… good sized portion.  The pomegranate vinaigrette came off a little bitter so I used only one of the two packets provided.

Nutrition Facts: Calories 580, Fat 27g, Saturated Fat 9g, Cholesterol 110mg, Sodium 1590mg, Carbs 50g, Dietary Fiber 6g, Sugars 39g, Protein 38g

GrubGrade: 8.00/10

Apple Pecan Chicken Salad

Baja Salad:

Described as:

A hearty salad with a Southwest flair, featuring fresh pico de gallo, guacamole and slow simmered chili, all topped with a red jalapeno dressing.

I had doubts going into this one as it is the only one of the new salads to come without chicken.  I was surprised that you get an entire side of small chili to distribute as you please.  This salad has guacamole and I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to guac.  The guacamole was decently fresh, but too vinegary. The guacamole helps cool down some areas and provides for a creamy texture when mixed with everything else involved.  I didn’t taste much of the red jalapeno dressing and felt this salad was mostly dominated by the meaty chili.  Dorito-like tortilla strips help add a nice crunch.

Nutrition Info: Calories 740, Fat 47g, Saturated Fat 17g, Cholesterol 95mg, Sodium 1990mg, Carbs 49g, Dietary Fiber 13g, Sugars 14g, Protein 35g

GrubGrade: 6.75/10

Baja Salad

Spicy Chicken Caesar Salad:

Described as:

Caesar salad the way it’s supposed to be, made with hand-chopped romaine, sweet grape tomatoes and shaved Asiago cheese.

This salad had problems with an overwhelming salty taste. I took off about half of the shaved Asiago cheese because it enveloped a good portion of the salad and I felt like it was just too much.  Caesar salads are already a tangy/salty variety but this one was pushed over the edge with the spicy fried chicken fillet.  I think the spicy chicken fillet is better suited in sandwich form. My opinion is to go with grilled chicken instead of spicy… you have the option.  I liked the zesty lemon-garlic Caesar dressing by itself and only used one of the two packets provided.

Nutrition Info: Calories 740, Fat 49g, Saturated Fat 15g, Cholesterol 125mg, Sodium 1860mg, Carbs 41g, Dietary Fiber 7g, Sugars 5g, Protein 37g

GrubGrade 7.00/10

Spicy Chicken Caesar Salad

BLT Cobb Salad:

Described as:

Treat yourself to the taste of crispy Applewood Smoked Bacon mixed with real blue cheese crumbles, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes and avocado ranch dressing.

My favorite of the four new salads, the BLT Cobb features Wendy’s Applewood Smoked Bacon.  Grilled chicken and bacon complement one another very well and can work extremely well in sandwiches.  As a salad, the BLT Cobb is a tasty, protein-packed meal of chicken, bacon, hard-boiled egg and blue cheese crumbles.  Once again, blue cheese haters be warned.  I felt the BLT Cobb had a nice mix of greens and juicy tomatoes, but the main stars are the chicken and bacon.  Rounding out the meal, a creamy avocado ranch dressing.  Nothing too reminiscent of avocado, but who could tell?  Lot’s going on with the BLT Cobb and not much bad to say.

Nutrition Info: Calories 670, Fat 47g, Saturated Fat 15g, Cholesterol 300mg, Sodium 1920mg, Carbs 15g, Dietary Fiber 3g, Sugars 6g, Protein 47g

GrubGrade: 8.50/10.

BLT Cobb Salad

In closing, these new Garden Sensations Salads from Wendy’s are of a more premium quality and that comes at a more premium price. Nutrition-wise, these aren’t low-cal/low-fat salads, although I must point something out…  3 out of the 4 salads (Baja not included) have nutrition figures based on two entire packets of dressing.  One packet of dressing should be just fine so if you go that route, less fat/calories.  I think all four salads are worthy of a taste, yet I guess the question is… Would you shell out $5.99 for a salad? Most combo meals are around the $6 mark these days right?  This is just another example of fast food pushing it’s way into new territory that kick out any idea of a cheap meal.

Pros: Higher quality ingredients. Filling. Varied combination of toppings.

Cons: People will fear the $5.99 price tag. No real low calorie or low-fat selection in the bunch.

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29 comments on “Fast Food Review: New Garden Sensations Salads from Wendy’s

  1. Jesse says:

    Every salad I’ve had from Wendy’s is really watery. Did you notice that with these?

    • Ryan says:

      Nope, didn’t notice that with any of the 4 for me. Maybe it’s because of the condensation when warm chicken is added to the cooler ingredients. With these salads, the protein isn’t applied until the order is placed prevent that from happening.

    • Jessica Leigh says:

      I have noticed that too! I used to order the Caesar side salad for my side, instead of fries, but it was always too watery. I seriously would pour the whole thing onto a stack of paper towels or napkins so it could dry out. Once when I did that, I found a large black fly inside. That was it with me and Wendy’s salads. I might give the new ones a chance… not sure though with that price.

  2. Nick t says:

    I enjoyed these but I think they (3 of them at least) deserve more than one sandwich-sized piece of chicken. At least for 6.50, which is what they cost in my market.

  3. The Baja and spicy caesar both look like a win. I think i may try one tomorrow. Thanks for rating these.

  4. Jessica Leigh says:

    I really want to try the Baja, and perhaps the Apple Pecan, but not with the blue cheese! I hate blue cheese! I wish it were feta instead of blue cheese. I will more than likely tell them to substitute regular shredded cheese. As far as the price goes, no I would not pay this much. I would rather go to Ruby Tuesday and eat their salad bar with mini burgers for not much more than that.

  5. Heather says:

    I tried Wendy’s Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad last year and really liked it. I have only tried the Apple Pecan Chicken Salad out of the new ones and it’s my favorite now. I can’t stand blue cheese, but I just pick the big pieces off and the smaller pieces aren’t bad. I have never purchased a “watery” salad. Mine have always been fine.

  6. They all actually look pretty good! Eh on the Apple Pecan, but they look a lot better than the competition.

  7. Chicken little says:

    Nothing @ a fast food place shud cost over $5. This is just far too much for a place that supposed to be quick & cheap. Howevr I wud love 2 try the apple pecan salad but only on some1 elses dime.

  8. Caroline says:

    The Baja salad actually sounds tasty…I really like Wendy’s chili. I think if I had to get some fast food, I might get that salad. However, I know I can make a much tastier meal that would cost less. Finally, I don’t get why people will complain about salads being high calorie. They don’t have to be…if you’re concerned, take out some dressing, take off some cheese or avocados or bacon, etc. I think people sometimes say, “Oh the salad is so high in calories, you might as well get a hamburger” as an excuse to get the hamburger. Fine, get the hamburger if you want it but seriously…the majority of salad calories come from the rich toppings and you can just reduce the toppings if it ends up being too rich for you. You won’t even notice when you mix it all together.

    So I would shell out $5.99 for a salad, but probably only the Baja one. People complaining about the calories in this one…take off the probably tasteless Dorito strips, nix the dressing (you already have guac). Easy!

  9. Terri says:

    Just tried the Apple Pecan Chicken salad and while it wasn’t bad, I doubt I’ll order it again. Not really worth the price in my opnion.

    I was a big fan of the old Southwest Taco Salads; from now on I”ll just make my own at home, because really, in addition to the small side of Wendy’s chili, the SW Taco Salad was just lettuce, tomato and shredded cheese. I can make it myself and save some $$$.

  10. dan says:

    Definitely want to try the Apple Pecan, although I have a feeling it will be somewhat underwhelming when I do. Ironic.

  11. Chris says:

    I tried the apple pecan chicken salad yesterday and it was pretty darn good. The dressing did have a bit of tang to it, but it worked well with the the salad as a whole. I would say it was comparable to many of the salads at Panera Bread (for around the same price). You can visit Wendy’s website and print off a $1 coupon. I think I will give the BLT salad next time around. I definitely recommend.

  12. Michelle says:

    I had the Baja salad last week, I thought it was delicious! It’s basically their southwest taco salad except the Baja has salsa and the guacamole. I love the chili on the salsa. Kinda expensive compared to other stuff on the menu but I would definitely buy it again.

  13. Rachel says:

    I had the apple pecan one for lunch today.

    It was decent. The chicken was the best part. It was good and there was a lot of it. I also liked the pecans, they had the salty-sweet combo going on.

    The apples had a slight “off” taste, a bit on the sour side. The pom dressing was okay, a little bitter like the reviewer already said. Dairy doesn’t always agree with me so I skipped the bleu cheese.

    It was a good size and very filling.

    All in all, I’d eat it again if I found myself at a Wendy’s wanting salad but I won’t be making special trips just to get one.

  14. GrubGradeFan says:

    I think they Spicey Chicken Ceaser is awesome. I could see how some may say its a bit salty, but overall its a great salad in my opinion (coming from a fast food palce).

    Putting on the chicken to order is key. Carls Jr. always lets theirs just sit in the cooler along with the salad . . .disgusting. I enjoy the hot/cold contrast. Im a fan of Wendy’s spicey chicken sandwich so I didnt mind that they used the same chicken breast on the salad.

    I have heard good things about the Apple salad from friends, but all of them have gotten it with ranch dressing instead of whatever comes with it.

    I want to try to taco salad, but it looks like a gamble to me.

  15. Sam says:

    I know this is fast food, but I still find it alarming that a salad (salad!) can pack almost 100 percent of your daily value of sodium. That’s alarming.

  16. Island Girl says:

    I had the Aplle PEcan Salad for the forst time last night. It was delicious! I love the warm chicken. The texture/taste is amazing. Chewy, crunchy, creamy, salty and sweet. I have never eaten blue cheese, but it was a ncessity for this salad. I only used one package of pomegranate dressing, which was more than enough. It did get soggy towards the end. But doesn’t all salad? I am getting it for lunch again and I can;t wait!

  17. BROmanceATtheBROtel says:

    wendy’s is whats up…but you could get 5 chicken sandwiches for as much as 1 salad…and those chicken sandwiches are bomb dripple

  18. Ashleigh says:

    I tried the Apple Pecan Salad and it was horriific in my opinion. I guess I’m just not used to the salad/dressing being that sweet. The combination of the bleu cheese and the sweet pom dressing just didn’t work for me. While I was eating it, it made me think of __ but I’m not going to say it. Because I don’t want to make anyone feel sick. Very much not worth the $6.24 I had to pay for it. I was going to try the BLT Cobb salad the next time, but then I thought what if it tasted as nasty as the Apple Pecan salad. I might just brave it out next time and try the BLT Cobb salad out of curiosity.

  19. I really liked the apple pecan chicken salad. it had a nice mixture of sweet and meaty. The chicken was cut a bit big for me but i just took it off the side and cut it down into smaller bite size pieces. I really loved it.. alot. I plan on trying the others as well..But so far this one was really nice

  20. Amanda Lane says:

    At the Wendy’s in my area they have a deal for a half salad and a small side for $4.99 (such as small chili, small fry, medium soda, ect.) I got the Apple Pecan Chicken salad and it was awesome! A full salad would probably have been too much, but the half size had a great ratio of ingredients. The apples were gorgeous, crisp and the right balance of sweet and tart which had been my only concern because I am sort of new to the fruit-on-salads trend. If I could have added anything to it I think it would have been onion, but I’m of the opinion that onions make everything awesome.

  21. Whiteguy says:

    I’m going go try the ceaser salad tomorrow. I weigh 180 pounds and I am 6’3 with a tough job. It’s not uncommon for me to drop 17 bucks at wendys on my lunch break. The price of the salad does not scare me. As long as I’m not hungry 30 mins later.

  22. Dan says:

    Thanks for posting these reviews. I am going to try the spicy chicken one today because being from Buffalo, it has to be spicy or it wont cut it. Im trying to start eating a little healthier but it’s difficult only getting 30 mins on a lunch break. Wendys being the closet option to my office, Im glad there is a little hope! hah

    Thanks again

  23. Melinda says:

    Today I tried the new berry chicken salad… it was delightful.
    I only ate the 1/2 size portion. Plenty for lunch. Excellent Summer Lunch on the run!
    Try one…
    Enjoy! 🙂

  24. Robin says:

    Are you supposed to get 1 or 2 pkgs. of almonds with the large salad? I have been told both ways. I think if you get 1 with the small salad you should get 2 with the large? Either way; I would like to find out how it is really supposed to go. Thanks!

  25. Nene says:

    I like the BLT Cobb salad. I just wish the bacon and chicken was chilled before added to the salad. Hot meat on a cold salad “not good”.

  26. Albiem says:

    I loved the Apple Pecan salad at Wendy’s. In recent weeks, I found out they stopped using the green and red leafy lettuce and the spinach leaves from before. They have replaced them with regular Iceberg lettuce. C’mon! do they really think we wouldn’t notice? What’s so special about that kind of salad? I’d rather they raised the price than to skimp on the quality like that. No more love for Wendy’s!