How Many Calories Does a Chinese Buffet Have?

by Ella

Chinese buffets are popular dining options known for their wide variety of delicious dishes. However, they can also pose a challenge for those who are conscious of their calorie intake. This article explores the caloric content of common Chinese buffet items, offering insights into making healthier choices and understanding the nutritional impact of your meal.

Understanding the Chinese Buffet

Variety and Choices

Chinese buffets offer a diverse array of dishes, including appetizers, main courses, sides, desserts, and beverages. Common items include:


Appetizers: Spring rolls, dumplings, wontons


Main Courses: General Tso’s chicken, sweet and sour pork, beef with broccoli, kung pao chicken


Sides: Fried rice, lo mein, steamed vegetables


Desserts: Fortune cookies, sesame balls, ice cream

Beverages: Sodas, tea, water

Factors Influencing Caloric Content

Several factors affect the calorie content of Chinese buffet dishes:

Cooking Methods: Frying, steaming, baking, or stir-frying

Ingredients: Type of meat, vegetables, sauces, and oils used

Portion Size: Buffet-style dining often leads to larger portions

Caloric Content of Popular Dishes


Spring Rolls

Spring rolls are deep-fried appetizers filled with vegetables and sometimes meat. A single vegetable spring roll contains approximately 100-150 calories, while meat-filled versions can have more, depending on the ingredients and size.


Dumplings, whether steamed or fried, vary in calorie content. A steamed pork dumpling has about 80-100 calories, while a fried version can have around 120-150 calories due to the added oil.

Crab Rangoon

Crab Rangoon is a fried appetizer made of cream cheese and imitation crab wrapped in wonton skin. One piece typically contains 100-150 calories.

Main Courses

General Tso’s Chicken

General Tso’s chicken is a popular dish known for its sweet and spicy sauce. A typical serving (1 cup) can have 300-400 calories, primarily due to the fried chicken and sugary sauce.

Sweet and Sour Pork

Sweet and sour pork consists of battered and fried pork pieces in a tangy sauce. A standard serving (1 cup) has about 350-450 calories.

Beef with Broccoli

Beef with broccoli is a stir-fried dish that’s generally lower in calories than fried options. A serving (1 cup) contains around 150-250 calories, depending on the sauce used.

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao chicken, a spicy stir-fry with peanuts and vegetables, has approximately 250-350 calories per serving (1 cup).


Fried Rice

Fried rice is a staple side dish, often made with oil, soy sauce, vegetables, and meat. A typical serving (1 cup) contains 200-300 calories.

Lo Mein

Lo mein is a noodle dish stir-fried with vegetables and meat. A serving (1 cup) has about 250-350 calories.

Steamed Vegetables

Steamed vegetables are a healthier side option, with a serving (1 cup) containing around 50-100 calories, depending on the vegetables used.


Fortune Cookies

Fortune cookies are light and crisp, containing about 30 calories each.

Sesame Balls

Sesame balls are deep-fried and filled with sweet paste, often red bean or lotus seed. One piece can have 150-200 calories.

Ice Cream

A serving of soft-serve ice cream from a buffet machine can range from 150-250 calories, depending on the size and toppings.



Regular sodas are high in calories, with a typical 12-ounce serving containing 140-150 calories.


Unsweetened tea is a low-calorie option, usually containing 0-5 calories per cup. Sweetened versions will have more calories depending on the amount of sugar added.

Making Healthier Choices

Strategies for Healthier Eating

Portion Control

One of the biggest challenges at a buffet is portion control. Strategies to manage portion sizes include:

  • Using smaller plates
  • Taking smaller servings
  • Avoiding multiple trips to the buffet

Selecting Healthier Options

Opt for dishes that are steamed, grilled, or stir-fried with minimal oil. Focus on:

  • Steamed vegetables
  • Steamed dumplings
  • Broth-based soups
  • Grilled or baked chicken and fish

Avoiding High-Calorie Dishes

Limit intake of dishes that are deep-fried, heavily sauced, or sugary. These include:

  • Fried appetizers like spring rolls and crab Rangoon
  • Saucy dishes like General Tso’s chicken and sweet and sour pork
  • Desserts and sugary beverages

Balancing Your Meal

A balanced meal at a Chinese buffet includes:

  • Protein: Choose lean proteins like chicken, fish, or tofu.
  • Vegetables: Fill half your plate with steamed or stir-fried vegetables.
  • Whole Grains: Opt for steamed rice or a small serving of fried rice.
  • Healthy Fats: Limit dishes cooked in heavy oils and focus on those with healthier fats like nuts and seeds.

Nutritional Breakdown of a Sample Meal


Steamed Dumplings (3 pieces): 240 calories

Main Course

Beef with Broccoli (1 cup): 200 calories

Steamed White Rice (1 cup): 200 calories


Steamed Vegetables (1 cup): 50 calories


Fortune Cookie (1 piece): 30 calories


Unsweetened Tea (1 cup): 0 calories

Total Calories: 720 calories

The Impact of Buffet Dining on Caloric Intake

Buffet Dynamics

Buffets often encourage overeating due to the variety and abundance of food. Psychological factors include:

Perceived Value: The desire to get the most out of the fixed price.

Availability: The visual appeal of a wide range of dishes.

Social Influence: Eating more in a social setting.

Managing Caloric Intake

To manage caloric intake at a buffet:

Plan Ahead: Decide on the types of food you want to eat before arriving.

Stay Hydrated: Drink water or unsweetened tea to help with satiety.

Mindful Eating: Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues.

See Also: 3 Methods to Make Yang Chow Fried Rice Yellow


Understanding the caloric content of dishes at a Chinese buffet can help you make informed choices and enjoy your meal without overindulging. By focusing on healthier options, controlling portion sizes, and balancing your plate with a variety of nutrients, you can savor the flavors of a Chinese buffet while managing your calorie intake effectively. Remember, moderation is key, and making mindful decisions can lead to a satisfying and nutritious dining experience.


What are some low-calorie options at a Chinese buffet?

Some low-calorie options include:

Steamed vegetables (50-100 calories per cup)

Steamed dumplings (80-100 calories per dumpling)

Broth-based soups like wonton or hot and sour soup (50-100 calories per cup)

Grilled or baked fish or chicken (100-200 calories per serving)

Are there any healthier dessert options at a Chinese buffet?

Healthier dessert options include:

Fresh fruit (e.g., oranges, pineapple, melons)

Fortune cookies (about 30 calories each)

Lightly sweetened tea or water instead of sugary beverages

How do the cooking methods at a Chinese buffet affect calorie content?

Cooking methods significantly affect calorie content:

Frying: Adds extra calories from oil

Steaming: Keeps calorie count low without adding fat

Stir-Frying: Can be higher in calories if a lot of oil is used

Grilling/Baking: Generally lower in calories if minimal oil is used



Wellfoodrecipes is a professional gourmet portal, the main columns include gourmet recipes, healthy diet, desserts, festival recipes, meat and seafood recipes, etc.

【Contact us: [email protected]

Copyright © 2023