P.F. Chang's Low Carb Options: What to Eat and Avoid on Keto Diet | KetoVale
PF Chang's Keto Options

How To Order Low Carb at P.F. Chang’s

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P.F. Chang’s is an upscale chain restaurant that specializes in American Asian and Chinese food. The chain has only been around since 1993 and is headquartered in Arizona, but it has gained popularity all over the world with locations in 21 different countries. If you’ve ever been inside a P.F. Chang’s restaurant, then you know that they try hard to deliver an above average experience compared to other common franchise restaurants.

The menu has its fair share of non-keto friendly meals that contain lots of noodles, sauces, and grains, but they claim that all of their meals are scratch-made every day. We also like that P.F. Chang’s uses a decent amount of vegetables in their recipes, which is a good sign that they are health conscious.

Ordering a low-carb meal here takes some work, but we’ve scoured the menu for you to provide you with tips and suggestions to enjoy a meal without sabotaging your low carb diet.

Note: The low-carb suggestions below are completely okay if you’re just following a general low carb diet. If you’re doing strict keto, you might want to avoid many of them because they might not contain all keto ingredients, even though they are lower in carbohydrate content.

Tips For Ordering at P.F. Chang’s

P.F. Chang’s is different from your typical Chinese restaurant, but there are still plenty of similarities when it comes to ordering low-carb there. For example, there are plenty of fried foods, rice and noodle bowls, and dim sum (Chinese style rolls and dumplings) that you’ll need to avoid.

Luckily, P.F. Chang’s also offers chicken, beef, and seafood entrees that can easily be made into a low-carb dish. They even have ribs! Additionally, P.F. Chang’s claims that all of their dishes are made from scratch, so it shouldn’t be a problem to ask for custom ordered food.

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When it comes to ordering at P.F. Chang’s, it’s all about the preparation. P.F. Chang’s offers plenty of dishes that are steamed and not fried, which is a good way to avoid breaded foods. They also have a dedicated wok section that features food that is cooked in a matter of seconds over an intense flame to retain the majority of its nutritional value.

With that being said, we realize that everyone deserves to enjoy a meal out every once and awhile. P.F. Chang’s is a nice place to go for work functions, on a date, or when you just need to get away with the family.

Just be sure to follow these tips to keep your meal low-carb so that you don’t leave feeling bloated and weighed down.

#1. Eat at home if you can

We like that P.F. Chang’s is dedicated to providing better quality ingredients than most chain restaurants by purchasing food from local farmers. However, keep in mind that even scratch-made and locally farmed ingredients can still be prepared in an unhealthy way.

Sauces that are made fresh daily may still contain lots of sugar and empty calories. Hand-rolled dumplings are still breaded and fried while freshly prepared sushi contains rice and Mongolian beef is topped with a sugary soy glaze. All of these preparations are off limits on the ketogenic diet due to their high carbohydrate content.

For this reason, we always recommend eating at home and stick to a ketogenic diet meal plan whenever you can. This allows you to control what goes in your meals. You’ll also be able to practice better portion control habits when you’re not tempted by lots of food choices.

Keep in mind that although some dishes can be customized to fit your low-carb needs, they aren’t always good enough to meet your strict ketogenic requirements.

Preparing your food at home and bringing it with you throughout the day means that you’ll never have to worry about accidentally forgetting to ask for grilled meat and no sauce instead of sugar glazed breaded food that would kick you out of ketosis.

By the way, if you want to make some keto-friendly Chinese dishes at home, don’t forget to check these recipes:

#2. Check out the gluten-free menu

The ketogenic diet is more complex than just eating gluten-free, but it’s a good place to start. P.F. Chang’s offers a gluten-free menu that is free from most sauces and unhealthy breaded preparations. This is a good place to turn to if you’re overwhelmed by the rest of the menu.

According to the website, all items on the gluten-free menu contain gluten-free sauces and contain the following ingredients: chicken broth, rice wine, sugar, oyster sauce, white pepper, water, and wheat-free soy sauce.

The marinades that are used for the meat and seafood-based dishes contain cornstarch, which should be avoided on the keto diet. The restaurant also recommends that you ask for gluten-free soy sauce with all your dishes.

Be warned that gluten-free noodles are not allowed on the ketogenic diet, so stick with a meat-based gluten-free dish such as the gluten-free ginger chicken with broccoli, the gluten-free Singapore black pepper chicken or the Chang’s chicken lettuce wraps.

#3. Customize your food

P.F. Chang’s is great about customizing your food. Even if you order online, you can still have it customized. Just click on the dish you want and go through the steps to customize it.

For example, if you pick the gluten-free beef with broccoli, the website will allow you to automatically customize your order, such as which rice you want (choose no rice), whether or not you want extra beef or broccoli, as well as the option to have your dish steamed. You can even add important allergy information such as whether you have a mushroom, peanut, fish, tree nut, or sulfite allergy.

The website will also list the calorie information for each dish. You can also check the nutritional information for more information about your dish. The above-mentioned gluten-free beef and broccoli lunch contains 39 carbohydrates, but this includes white rice. If you hold the rice, your carb intake should be much lower.

#4. Split your meal with a friend

This is a good tip for anytime you visit a restaurant. Most restaurant dishes contain more calories and bigger portions than you need. Splitting your meal with a friend or family member can help you save on calories and carbs while keeping your portion control down. You’ll still be able to enjoy your meal, but with half the calories.

Start with a salad made with low-carb veggies and olive oil and vinegar dressing before your meal. Then split an entree with a friend. If you’re dining alone, then ask for a to-go box as soon as your meal arrives. Place half of your meal in the to-go container so you won’t be tempted to eat it and you’ll have lunch for tomorrow.

#5. Be smart about your side dishes

Most of the time, it’s the side dish that accompanies an entree that makes the entire dish unhealthy. If you can order a meat-based dish and choose a healthy side over a starchy one, then you’ll have a much better chance of eating a meal that won’t leave you feeling heavy and bloated.

P.F. Chang’s offers a lot of high-carb side dishes such as fried rice and noodles, but they also have a few keto-friendly dishes, too. Examples include their wok’d spinach with garlic, Sichuan-style asparagus, wok-charred Brussels sprouts.

We recommend holding the Sichuan-style preserves when ordering the asparagus if you’re strict keto as the carbohydrate content is a bit high. Or you can ask to have the asparagus steamed with no sauce instead. Also, if you’re strict keto, then ask to hold the pineapple in the Brussels sprouts.

According to the nutritional information, here is the nutritional breakdown of each of these sides:

  • Spinach and garlic: 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, 15 grams of carbs (6 grams net carbs), 9 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein
  • Sichuan-style asparagus (with preserves- remember to hold these): 450 calories, 34 grams of fat, 31 grams of carbs (24 grams of net carbs), 7 grams of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, and 8 grams of protein
  • Wok-charred Brussels sprouts (with pineapple- hold these if you’re strict keto): 350 calories, 28 grams of fat, 25 grams of carbs (17 grams of net carbs), 8 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein

#6. Ask questions

We noticed that the P.F. Chang’s website doesn’t get too specific about what’s in their dishes. It was hard to tell whether or not some of the main entrees were breaded. It’s always a good idea to check with your server if you aren’t sure about an item. If you’re ordering online, give the restaurant a call and ask questions.

Specifically, you want to make sure none of the meat-based entrees that you order contain breaded meat. Always ask for grilled or steamed instead.

The website claims that they make every meal from scratch, so it shouldn’t be a problem to ask to have your favorite dish steamed or Wok’d instead of breaded and deep fried. The last thing you want is to end up with a meal that is breaded and deep fried when you’re in need of food and tempted to eat whatever is in front of you!

What To Order at P.F. Chang’s on a Low Carb Diet

P.F. Chang’s offers a variety of different dishes that can be customized into a low-carb meal. You’ll want to look out for sugary glazes and sauces and ask for steamed vegetables in place of rice whenever possible. Also be sure your meat isn’t breaded.

Lowest Carb Options

Also be sure your meat isn’t breaded. Here are some of our top picks for lowest carb options at P.F. Changs, based on the nutritional information:

  • 2 northern style spare ribs (4 grams carbs)
  • Salmon (0 grams carbs)
  • Shrimp and chicken (4 grams carbs each per serving)
  • Kids side dish of steamed broccoli (1 gram carbs)
  • Gluten-free steamed baby Buddha’s fest (7 grams net carbs)
  • Gluten-free egg drop soup cup (6 grams carbs)

Here is a list of what to order (and how) to keep it low-carb at P.F. Chang’s.

Street fare

  • Chang’s lettuce chicken wraps (hold the sauce and rice sticks)
  • BBQ spare ribs (no tangy Asian barbecue sauce)
  • Rick’s northern-style spare ribs (no dipping sauce)

Soups and salads

  • Asian Caesar salad (hold the wonton croutons; add your pick of salmon, chicken, or shrimp)
  • Mandarin crunch salad (hold the crispy rice sticks and mandarin vinaigrette; if you’re strict keto, also hold the mango; ask for oil and vinegar dressing)
  • Egg drop soup (stick with one cup and not a bowl to keep carbs down)
  • Hot and sour soup cup (again, stick with one cup, which has 9 grams of carbs)

Market sides

  • Wok-charred brussels sprouts (hold the pineapple if you’re strict keto)
  • Sichuan-style asparagus (hold the Sichuan preserves)
  • Wok’d spinach with garlic
  • Kung Pao brussels sprouts (no sauce)

Chicken entrees

Hold the rice and sauce on all entrees; double check to make sure the chicken is not breaded; ask for steamed instead:

  • Chang’s spicy chicken (check to make sure this dish is not breaded; hold the sauce)
  • Singapore black pepper chicken (hold the black pepper garlic sauce)
  • Ginger chicken with broccoli (hold the sauce)
  • Sesame chicken (hold the sesame sauce)
  • Sweet and sour chicken (hold the sweet and sour sauce)
  • Orange peel chicken (hold the Hunan chili sauce; if you’re strict keto, then hold the oranges, too; make sure oranges don’t come from a can if you decide to keep them on as canned fruit has sugar in it)
  • Kung pao chicken (hold the chilli sauce and peanuts if you’re strict keto)

Beef entrees

Hold the rice and sauce on all entrees:

  • Mongolian beef (no soy glaze)
  • Wok-fired filet mignon (hold the rustic potatoes and lime-garlic vinaigrette)
  • Beef a la Sichuan
  • Pepper steak
  • Beef with broccoli

Seafood entrees

Hold the rice and sauce on all entrees; double check to make sure the seafood is not breaded; ask for steamed instead:

  • Surf and turf (order this with double lobster or steak and hold the fried shrimp; also hold the potatoes and sugary glaze)
  • Miso-glazed salmon (hold the glaze to keep it lowest in carbs)
  • Oolong Chilean sea bass (hold the ginger-soy sauce)
  • Kung pao shrimp (hold the Spicy Sichuan chili sauce and peanuts)
  • Orange peel shrimp (hold the Hunan chili sauce; if you’re strict keto, then hold the oranges, too; make sure oranges don’t come from a can)

Gluten-free

It’s a good idea to order all gluten-free dishes without the sauce to keep your carbs down; hold the rice and asked for steamed vegetables instead:

  • Gluten-free Chang’s chicken lettuce wraps (hold the rice sticks)
  • Gluten-free egg drop soup
  • Gluten-free wok’s spinach with garlic
  • Gluten-free Chang’s spicy chicken (hold the sweet-spicy chili sauce)
  • Gluten-free Singapore black pepper chicken
  • Gluten-free ginger chicken with broccoli
  • Gluten-free shrimp with lobster sauce (hold the chopped black beans and peas)
  • Gluten-free Mongolian beef (hold the sweet soy glaze)
  • Gluten-free beef with broccoli

Foods To Avoid at P.F. Chang’s

Although there are plenty of dishes that you can turn into low-carb meals at P.F. Chang’s, there is an equal amount of dishes that should be avoided. P.F. Chang’s offers a lot of vegetarian and fried foods that can’t be custom ordered. We recommend staying away from the following foods and sticking with the list of approved foods instead.  

Street fare:

  • Chang’s lettuce vegetarian wraps
  • Cauliflower tempura
  • Edamame
  • Crispy green beans
  • Tempura calamari and vegetables
  • Dynamite shrimp

Dim sum:

  • Cecelia’s pork and shrimp dumplings
  • Hand-folded crab wontons
  • Vegetable spring rolls (these would be OK to eat the insides only out of; hold the sauce)
  • House-made pork or chicken egg rolls (again, these would be OK to eat the insides only out of; be sure to hold the sauce)
  • Crispy avocado spring rolls
  • Mongolian potstickers

Soup and salad:

  • Vietnamese noodle salad (this would be OK to order if you hold the chilled rice noodles, peanuts and garlic lime dressing; ask for oil and vinegar instead)
  • Wonton soup cup or bowl
  • Chang’s spicy chicken noodle soup cup or bowl

Sushi:

  • Kung pao dragon roll
  • Lobster avocado roll
  • Spicy tuna roll
  • Shrimp tempura roll
  • California roll
  • Ahi poke bowl (this would be OK to order without the wonton chips or dressing; if you’re strict keto, then also hold the mango)

Note: you can make your own low-carb sushi at home without rice by using our recipe here.

Market sides:

  • Fried rice
  • Chili-garlic green beans
  • Life long noodles
  • Asian mac and cheese
  • Kimchi fries

Chicken entrees:

  • Thai harvest curry with chicken (this dish would be OK to order without the sauce, tofu, and butternut squash; hold the rice and ask for double vegetables)
  • Crispy honey chicken

Vegetarian entrees:

  • Thai harvest curry
  • Ma Po Tofu (this would be OK to order with chicken or beef; hold the rice)
  • Buddha’s feast (again, this would be OK to order with chicken or beef; hold the rice and sauce)
  • Stir-fried eggplant

Seafood entrees:

  • Crispy honey shrimp
  • Shrimp with lobster sauce (this would be OK to order without the black beans and peas)
  • Walnut shrimp with melon (this would be OK to order without the Asian aioli and candied walnuts; if you’re strict keto, avoid the melon and go with another dish)
  • Salt and pepper prawns
  • Chang’s’ lobster and shrimp rice

Noodles and rice bowls:

  • Pad thai
  • Hokkien street noodles
  • Long life noodles and prawns
  • Signature lo mein
  • Fried rice

Gluten-free:

  • Gluten-free fried rice
  • Gluten-free Hokkien street noodles
  • Gluten-free chicken pad thai

Lunch rice and noodle bowls:

  • Chang’s spicy chicken bowl (this would be OK to order without the rice)
  • Korean bibimbap (this would be OK to order without the rice)
  • Chiang Mai noodle bowl (this would be OK to order without the rice and wonton crisps)
  • Mongolian beef bowl (this would be OK to order without the sweet soy glaze and rice)
  • Crispy honey chicken bowl
  • Tempura bowl
  • Tokyo Udon noodle bowl

Other:

  • All desserts
  • All sweetened beverages
  • All lunch sushi

Conclusion

P.F Chang’s is an upscale chain restaurant with lots of Chinese and Asian inspired dishes, which means that you’ll find lots of rice and noodles on the menu. There are also lots of breaded dishes covered in sauce that you’ll want to avoid.

Although we don’t recommend eating out on the ketogenic diet, especially when it comes to fast food or fast casual restaurants. However, we understand that everyone needs a night off from cooking every once and awhile. There are plenty of ways to customize your food at P.F. Chang’s to make it low carb.

Start by ordering a meat-based dish with steamed or wok’d vegetables, such as beef and broccoli. Make sure you hold the rice on all entrees and order extra vegetables instead. P.F. Chang’s has asparagus, Brussels sprouts and garlic spinach that you can order steamed without any sauce to keep your carbs low.

Double check to make sure that your chicken or shrimp dishes are not breaded. Finally, stay away from vegetarian dishes that contain lots of starchy, plant-based foods. Instead, add extra vegetables to your salmon, shrimp, chicken or beef dish.

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Image credit: Author M.O. Stevenswikimedia

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