What to Eat at Cracker Barrel: Healthy Menu Choices and Nutrition Facts

Cracker Barrell

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is a favorite stop for diners on a road trip who find themselves in search of traditional Southern-style comfort food. With a substantial menu and large portion sizes, ordering a meal at Cracker Barrel can be challenging if you’re following a specific diet.

However, the restaurant provides what it calls "Wholesome Fixin’s" options—lighter meal choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you’re armed with solid nutritional information, you can make informed choices and build a healthy meal.

What Experts Say

"There are plenty of choices at Cracker Barrel and options to add vegetable sides or substitute lower sodium options. If you eat here on a regular basis, fitting higher fiber foods (including veggies) into your meals while opting for lower sodium options will help maintain daily balance."

Willow Jarosh, MS, RD

Navigating the Menu

The Cracker Barrel menu is divided into five main sections: Breakfast, Lunch n' Dinner, Vegetables, Sides n' Such, and Desserts. There is also a kid's menu and a section for beverages. Within each main category, you'll find different variations of menu basics, such as burger platters, fried chicken, salads, or soup.

In some areas of the country, regional offerings are provided. You can access the complete nutritional guide for Cracker Barrel online.

What to Order & Avoid at Cracker Barrel
 Most Nutritious Options Least Nutritious Options
Good Morning Breakfast (Breakfast) Pecan Pancakes (Breakfast)
The Barrel Cheeseburger (Sandwiches and Burgers) Sunday Homestyle Chicken Breast BLT (Sandwiches and Burgers)
Homestyle Chicken Salad with Smoky Southern Grilled Chicken Breast (Salads) Homestyle Chicken Salad with Sunday Homestyle Chicken Breast (Salads)
Vegetable Soup (Soups)  Clam Chowder (Soups)
U.S. Farm Raised Catfish Filled, Spicy Grilled (Entrees) Southern Fried Chicken (Entrees)
Steamed Broccoli (Sides and Specialties) Loaded Baked Potato (Sides and Specialties)
Grilled Chicken Tenderloins (Kid's Menu) Mmmm Mac n' Cheese (Kid's Menu)
Fresh Fruit (Dessert) Double Chocolate Fudge Coca-Cola Cake (Dessert)
Unsweet Iced Tea (Beverages) Old-Fashioned Lemonade (Beverages)

Most Nutritious Option

For a low-calorie and high-protein entree, the Cracker Barrel U.S. farm-raised catfish fillet dinner is the most nutritious option.

Breakfast

Breakfast is served all day at Cracker Barrel. Most premade meals on the breakfast menu come in the form of high-calorie, high-fat, and high-carb combinations of traditional American breakfast foods such as pancakes, scrambled or fried eggs, hash browns, sausage, and bacon.

✓ Good Morning Breakfast

Cracker Barrel's Good Morning Breakfast, with two scrambled egg whites, grits, a side of fresh fruit, sliced tomatoes, and turkey sausage. The meal provides 300 calories, 8 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 31 g carbohydrate, 11 g sugar, 27 g protein, and 830 mg sodium.

This breakfast choice is one of the lowest in calories and also provides far less added sugar than other menu options. You'll also benefit from a healthy dose of protein if you choose this item.

✗ Pecan Pancakes

The pecan pancakes, on the other hand, come in at 1,130 calories, 70 g fat, 14 g saturated fat, 119 g carbohydrate, 12 g sugar, 15 g protein, and 2,720 mg sodium. This menu choice is not only high in calories, saturated fat, and carbohydrates, but it also provides nearly an entire day's worth of sodium.

If you're craving a sweet breakfast, consider the wild Maine blueberry pancakes, which deliver three pancakes and blueberry syrup for 760 calories, 29 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 118 g carbohydrate, 14 g sugar, 9 g protein, and 2,720 mg sodium.

Sandwich and Burger Platters

Cracker Barrel’s menu offers sandwich favorites like BLTs as well as cheeseburgers. All the sandwich and burger options are quite large and high in calories and carbohydrates.

Also, the sandwich and burger platters at Cracker Barrel come with a side or a cup of soup and coleslaw—which may be more food than you need for a single meal. You may want to save half to take home for later.

✓ The Barrel Cheeseburger

The classic Barrel cheeseburger — which includes cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayo along with a grilled beef patty — has 900 calories, 60g fat, 22g saturated fat, 56g carbohydrates, 56g protein, and 1,070mg sodium. While the grilled chicken breast homestyle chicken BLT has fewer calories (800), it's higher in sodium (1,610mg) and lower in protein (48g) than the burger.

✗ Sunday Homestyle Chicken BLT

The Sunday homestyle chicken BLT provides 1,180 calories, 60 g fat, 13 g saturated fat, 106 g carbohydrate, 29 g sugar, 55 g protein, and 2,560 mg sodium.

If you’re looking for a simple cheeseburger, check the kid’s menu. The Lil' Barrel Cheeseburger dish has 580 calories, 33 g fat, 34 g protein, and 730 mg sodium.

Salads

At Cracker Barrel, you won’t have a wide range of salad choices. You can add a house salad to your meal for 260 calories (with no dressing) but this option isn't substantial enough for a meal. Larger salads—even without dressing—tend to be higher in sodium.

✓ Homestyle Chicken Salad With Smoky Southern Grilled Chicken Breast

The homestyle chicken salad with smoky Southern grilled chicken breast (without dressing) offers 470 calories, 21 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 22 g carbohydrate, 8 g sugar, 46 g protein, and 920 mg sodium.

This salad option is the lowest in saturated fat and sodium. The smoky chicken adds plenty of flavor, which reduces the need to add dressing (which can add substantial fat, calories, and sodium). If you want to add dressing, consider the balsamic herb vinaigrette. Though it contains more sugar than Cracker Barrel's other dressing options, it's much lower in fat and calories overall.

✗ Homestyle Chicken Salad With Sunday Homestyle Fried Chicken Breast

The same Homestyle Chicken Salad but with the Sunday Homestyle Fried Chicken Breast comes in at 850 calories, 47 g fat, 14 g saturated fat, 52 g carbohydrate, 8 g sugar, and 53 g protein, and 1.870 mg sodium—and that is without dressing.

Avoiding creamy salad dressings, crunchy toppings such as croutons, crackers, and breaded chicken, and a starchy side of bread or a roll, can help keep your salad meal lower in calories, fat, and sodium.

Soup

Hot soup is one of Cracker Barrel’s specialties and it can make a relatively smart meal choice. The daily and weekly offerings rotate, but you’ll always find a regular selection of classic soups like chicken noodle, vegetable, chili, and chowder.

Soup can be a high-sodium choice, but several soup choices at Cracker Barrel are lower in calories, fat, and sodium while also adding some protein to your day. If you’re adding soup to your meal rather than choosing it as your entree, opt for the smaller cup portion instead of a bowl. To reduce a soup's carb count and save 70 calories, pass on the complimentary crackers.

✓ Vegetable Soup

A bowl of the vegetable soup offers 170 calories, 2 g fat, 33 g carbohydrate, 7 g sugar, 6 protein, and 720 mg sodium. This selection is the lowest in calories, sodium, fat, and calories if you are choosing a bowl, which is the meal-sized portion. You'll also benefit from 5 grams of fiber.

✗ Clam Chowder

A bowl of the clam chowder, on the other hand, provides 880 calories, 65 g fat, 37 g saturated fat, 54 g carbohydrate, 10 g sugar, 27 g protein, and 1,800 mg sodium.

Entrees

If you're looking for a full entree, Cracker Barrel offers daily specials for both lunch and dinner. Everyday offerings include traditional southern-fried favorites such as chicken liver, catfish, chicken and dumplings, and steak. You'll also find an entire fried chicken menu, a "Fancy Fixin's" menu (which includes larger-sized traditional meals), and a section called "Wholesome Fixin's."

✓ U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish Fillet

The U.S. farm-raised catfish fillet (prepared "spicy grilled") provides 260 calories, 11 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 2 g carbohydrate, <1 g sugar, 38 g protein, and 650 mg sodium. The catfish is your best bet if you are trying to reduce calories, fat, and sodium. The grilled chicken tenders are another smart choice, though slightly higher in calories and lower in sodium.

✗ Southern Fried Chicken

The Southern fried chicken offers 1,640 calories, 100 g fat, 23 g saturated fat, 78 g carbohydrate, 0 g sugar, 108 g protein, and 4,730 mg sodium.

Dinner plates are served with several sides. If you choose a hearty, high-calorie, high-fat meal such as chicken and dumplings, consider skipping the buttered cornbread and opt for lighter sides, like a side salad. For a range of healthy lunch and dinner choices, the Wholesome Fixin’s menu is your best bet.

Sides and Specialties

If you're looking to add a side dish to your meal, or to pair a few sides to build a meal, you can check the side dish menu or the Specialties menu. Cracker Barrel Specialties include larger portions of turnip greens, pinto beans, or a combination of beans and greens that can be shared. These menu options come with corn muffins and butter.

While many of Cracker Barrel's meals come with the choice of one or more sides, don't forget that you can customize your order. If you’re having a large entree for the main part of your meal, for example, you may be satisfied with a small side salad or side of steamed veggies—or even no side at all.

When you're choosing a side, pay attention to how it’s prepared. Vegetable sides can be sensible options but can also quickly add to your overall calorie and fat intake if they’re fried. For example, while okra is a healthy vegetable, a side of Cracker Barrel's breaded fried okra adds 250 calories, 520 mg sodium, and 38 g carbohydrate.

✓ Steamed Broccoli

An order of steamed broccoli offers 40 calories, 0 g fat, 6 g carbohydrate, <1 g sugar, 4 g protein, and 10 mg sodium. This side dish option is not only fat-free and low in calories, but also provides 4 g of healthy fiber.

✗ Loaded Baked Potato

The loaded baked potato comes in at 520 calories, 39 g fat, 22 g saturated fat, 28 g carbohydrate, 2 g sugar, 15 g protein, 2,470 mg sodium.

Kid's Menu

Children who visit Cracker Barrel can choose from menu sections including breakfast, homestyle meals, sandwiches, and country plates.

✓ Grilled Chicken Tenderloins

The kid's grilled chicken tenderloins come in at 140 calories, 3.5 g fat, 2 g carbohydrate, 2 g sugar, 24 g protein, and 310 mg sodium,

You'll get three tenders with this meal option and a choice of sauces. Keep in mind that if you add sauce, you'll add calories and substantially increase sodium intake. Pair the chicken tenderloins with broccoli and apple slices for a full kid's meal.

✗ Mmmm Mac n' Cheese

The kid's Mmmm Mac n' Cheese provides 540 calories, 31 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 45 g carbohydrate, 6 g sugar, 19 g protein, and 1,410 mg sodium. The fried chicken tenderloins, alternatively, offer 300 calories, 15 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 2 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 24 g protein, and 1,070 mg sodium.

Dessert

Desserts at Cracker Barrel are generally high in calories, fat, and sugar.

✓ Fresh Seasonal Fruit

While not listed on the dessert menu, the fresh seasonal fruit found on the breakfast sides menu is a great end of meal treat with 50 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 12 g carbohydrate, 9 g sugar, <1 g protein, and 0 mg sodium.

If you are looking only at the dessert menu, the kid's dirt cup dessert is the lowest calorie choice with 430 calories, 15 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 70 g carbohydrate, 47 g sugar, 2 g protein, and 300 mg sodium.

✗ Double Chocolate Fudge Coca-Cola Cake

The double chocolate fudge Coca-Cola cake provides 790 calories, 33 g fat, 14 g saturated fat, 115 g carbohydrate, 96 g sugar, 9 g protein, and 310 mg sodium. If you want dessert to top off your meal, consider choosing one of the lower-calorie options and splitting it with your dining partners.

Beverages

Whether you’re going out to eat or cooking at home, water is the healthiest drink you can have with your meal. Depending on your dietary needs and preferences, you may find some other beverage options at Cracker Barrel that are low in calories and don’t have any added sugar.

✓ Unsweetened Iced Tea

For a healthy choice with a little flavor, try the unsweetened iced tea which offers 0 calories, 0 g fat, 1 g carbohydrate, 0 g sugar, 0 g protein, and 0 mg sodium. If you're looking to add protein to your meal, consider skim milk.

✗ Old-Fashioned Lemonade

The old-fashioned lemonade provides 230 calories, 0 g fat, 55 g carbohydrate, 25 g sugar, 2 g protein, and 20 mg sodium. If you’re looking at Cracker Barrel’s selection of warm drinks, keep in mind that with 200–400 calories per serving, options like lattes and hot chocolate can be closer to a dessert than a beverage to accompany your meal.

Diet-Specific Options

If you follow a special diet, it may be difficult to find a meal you can eat at a restaurant. Asking for modifications or swaps may help you create a meal at Cracker Barrel that suits your needs and wants even if you don't find what you're looking for on the menu.

The Cracker Barrel has menu options for those on gluten-free, low-carb, diabetes-friendly, low-fat, low-sodium, and vegetarian diets.

Gluten-Free

While you won’t see certified gluten-free options on Cracker Barrel’s menu, there are several items on the menu that don’t contain gluten or wheat ingredients.

Cracker Barrel menu choices that may be suitable for a gluten-free diet include:

  • Fresh Seasonal Fruit
  • Country Vegetable Plate
  • House Salad (no croutons)
  • Eggs, Egg Whites, or Egg Beaters
  • Loaded Baked Potato

If you're looking for a gluten-free dish at Cracker Barrel, order from the sides menu and enjoy the house salad and a loaded baked potato.

Since your food will be prepared in the same kitchen as any other menu item, it’s possible the meal you order at Cracker Barrel will come into contact with gluten- or wheat-containing ingredients during the storage, prep, or cooking process.

If you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, it’s always best to exercise caution when dining out. Let your server know if you have gluten sensitivity when placing your order.

Low-Carb

  • Grilled Sirloin Steak
  • Lemon Pepper Grilled Rainbow Trout
  • Chicken or Noodle Soup (cup)
  • Wholesome Fixin's Vegetable Platter
  • Two Eggs/Whites with Turkey Sausage

For only 1g carbohydrate (this is before adding sides), order the grilled sirloin steak and enjoy a low-carb dinner.

Diabetes-Friendly

  • Roast Beef
  • Hamburger Steak
  • Spicy Grilled Catfish
  • Lemon Pepper Grilled Rainbow Trout
  • Country Morning Breakfast
  • Country Vegetable Plate

Enjoy a diabetes-friendly meal at Cracker Barrel by ordering the spicy grilled catfish from the favorite menu .

Low-Fat

  • Scrambled Egg Whites
  • Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
  • Sweet Whole Baby Carrots
  • Grilled Chicken Tenderloins (Kid's Menu)
  • Vegetable Soup

You can make your own low-fat meal at Cracker Barrel when ordering the vegetable soup. A cup of the soup has only 1g fat. Upgrade to a bowl for only 2g fat.

Low-Sodium

  • Grits
  • Fresh Seasonal Fruit
  • Fried Apples
  • Broccoli
  • Grilled Sirloin Steak
  • Baked Sweet or White Potato
  • Hamburger (Kid's Menu)

For a low-sodium meal, order the grilled sirloin steak along with the fresh steamed broccoli dinner for only 220mg sodium.

Vegetarian & Vegan

Even though Cracker Barrel’s menu includes many vegetable options, these dishes are typically cooked in butter or animal fat—meaning they aren’t suitable for vegan diets.

The only item on Cracker Barrel’s menu that is vegan as-is would be a slice of sourdough bread. Vegan diners may also be able to request a salad of mixed greens with no cheese, egg, meat, dressing, or other toppings, though it wouldn’t leave much to make a satisfying meal.

Depending on the type of diet, vegetarians may have more choices at Cracker Barrel. However, because many dishes on the menu are made with animal products, a meat-free dish prepared in a shared kitchen may not be acceptable for some plant-based diets.

Potentially vegetarian-friendly choices at Cracker Barrel menu include:

  • Oatmeal
  • Yogurt & Granola
  • Applesauce or Apple Slices
  • Tossed Salad (no croutons)
  • Baked Sweet or White Potato (no dairy-based toppings)

Order the tossed salad (just remember to skip the croutons) with a baked potato for a hearty meal. Vegetarians should note that Cracker Barrel’s cornbread, hash browns, turnip greens, green beans, and pinto beans are made with meat seasoning and all fried dishes are prepared in the same fryer, whether it’s meat or veggie.

Food Allergies and Safety

If you have a food allergy, you can consult Cracker Barrel’s online allergen information, which is available as a downloadable PDF.

Common allergens found on Cracker Barrel’s menu include:

  • Fish
  • Soy
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Gluten
  • Shellfish
  • Peanuts
  • Tree Nuts

Cross-contamination of allergens is possible since all food at Cracker Barrel is prepared in shared kitchen space. According to the company's allergen information, Cracker Barrel does not guarantee that menu items are completely free from food allergens. 

If you have a food allergy be sure to let your server know which ingredient or ingredients you need to avoid when they are taking your order.

A Word From Verywell

Cracker Barrel’s large menu of homestyle dishes inspired by Southern favorites offers a mix of comfort foods and lighter veggie-based fare. While it’s possible to create a relatively nutritious breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Cracker Barrel as long as you stick to smaller portions and avoid adding multiple sides to your meal, diners who adhere to special diets or are vegan/vegetarian may find their choices to be limited.

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