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

stack of pancakes with syrup
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While the name is most often associated with cheese, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has been serving up a full menu since 1969 , when the first casual dining restaurant opened in Tennessee.

Cracker Barrel is a favorite stop for diners on a road trip who find themselves in search of traditional Southern-style comfort food. With a large menu and portions, ordering a meal at Cracker Barrel can be challenging if you’re following a specific diet. As long as you’re armed with the nutrition you need to make informed choices, it is possible to find (or create) a healthy meal.

You can view the nutrition info for Cracker Barrel’s menu as a downloadable PDF on the chain’s website. Here, you’ll also find some general recommendations for choosing healthier meals. Specifically, Cracker Barrel’s Wholesome Fixin’s menu , which features lighter meal options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even dessert.

Cracker Barrel’s menu also offers a rotating list of daily and weekly specials, so you’ll have a few different choices depending on when you go.

In addition to its sit-down breakfast, lunch, and dinner offerings, Cracker Barrel locations often carry many of the brand’s grocery items . Not only can you take home leftovers from your meal, but you may be able to purchase popular Cracker Barrel products like cheese, sliced deli meats, and baking mixes.

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

Most Nutritious Options

  • Good Morning Breakfast

  • Turnip Greens

  • Mixed Greens Salad

  • Vegetable Soup

  • Open-Faced Roast Beef Sandwich

  • U.S.-Raised Catfish Fillet

  • Lemon Pepper Grilled Rainbow Trout

  • Steamed Broccoli

  • Nut Sundae 

  • Unsweet Iced Tea

Least Nutritious Options

  • Pecan Pancakes

  • Pinto Beans

  • Fried Chicken Salad

  • Clam Chowder

  • Fried Chicken BLT

  • Country Fried Shrimp

  • Southern Fried Chicken

  • Baked Potato with Butter & Sour Cream

  • Apple Dumpling with Ice Cream 

  • Stewart’s Orange ’n Cream Soda

Breakfast

Breakfast is served all day at Cracker Barrel. With the Build Your Own Breakfast option, it’s one of the easiest meals to customize. Most premade meals on the breakfast menu come in the form of high-calorie, high-fat, and high-carb combinations of traditional breakfast foods such as pancakes, scrambled or fried eggs, hash browns, sausage, and bacon.

Most Nutritious Option

Good Morning Breakfast

310 calories, 8g fat, 2g saturated fat, 830 mg sodium, 32g carbohydrate, 11g sugar, and 27g protein

Least Nutritious Option

Pecan Pancakes

1130 calories, 70g fat, 14g saturated fat, 2720 mg sodium, 119g carbohydrate, 12g sugar, and 15g protein

Cracker Barrel lets you make some swaps for traditional homestyle breakfast components. To lower the calorie and carb count of your breakfast, try swapping two eggs for Egg Beaters to save 80 calories or subbing multigrain toast for biscuits to save 100 calories. 

Calories, fat, and carbs can quickly add up with breakfast platters or samplers that come with several sides. Keeping your meal relatively simple will help you focus on the most nutritious components.

Look to the sides menu for smaller portions of breakfast meats, eggs cooked your way, and other basics like yogurt, granola, and grits.

Specialties

Cornbread made from scratch and other Southern staples are among the fixings Cracker Barrel is known for. While they’re typically served as sides, these items also get their own special section on the menu.

Most Nutritious Option

Turnip Greens (Bowl)

250 calories, 10g fat, 4g saturated fat, 780 mg sodium, 16g carbohydrate, 7g sugar, and 32g protein

Least Nutritious Option

Pinto Beans (Bowl)

470 calories, 6g fat, 2g saturated fat, 850 mg sodium, 73g carbohydrate, 7g sugar, and 32g protein

You’ll also find the option to combine beans and greens into a dish with ham, relish, onion, and vinegar for 410 calories and 9 grams of fat, you can add 32 grams of protein.

Salads

At Cracker Barrel you won’t have a wide range of salad choices. You can add a simple side of mixed greens to your meal or choose a Country Salad with grilled or fried chicken. While a salad can be a healthy choice, the large serving size and additions like creamy dressing, crackers, and fried chicken, makes some of Cracker Barrel’s salads among the higher-calorie menu options.

Most Nutritious Option

Mixed Green Side Salad (no dressing)

15 calories, 0g fat, 5 mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate, 0g sugar, and 10g protein

Least Nutritious Option

Fried Chicken Salad (not including choice of dressing)

870 calories, 53g fat, 20g saturated fat, 1860 mg sodium, 53g carbohydrate, 8g sugar, and 47g protein

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

Salad dressings can also be a source of added or hidden sugar. If you do want to add one to your greens, choose a low-fat option and ask to have it served on the side so you can better control how much you use.

If you’re looking to make a salad into a meal, try starting with a 260-calorie House Salad. If you want a source of protein that’s lower in sodium than bacon bits, ask for grilled chicken instead.

Soups

Hot soup is one of Cracker Barrel’s specialties. The daily and weekly offerings rotate, but you’ll also find a regular selection of classic soups like chicken noodle, vegetable, chili, and chowder.

Most Nutritious Option

Vegetable Soup (Cup)

80 calories, 1g fat, 360 mg sodium, 16g carbohydrate, 4g sugar, and 3g protein
Least Nutritious Option

Clam Chowder (Bowl)

880 calories, 65g fat, 37g saturated fat, 1800 mg sodium, 54g carbohydrate, 10g sugar, and 27g protein

Soup can be a high-sodium choice , but several cups of soup at Cracker Barrel are lower in calories, fat, and sodium while also adding some protein to your day. A cup of turkey noodle, beef noodle, or chicken and rice, all have 10 or more grams of protein for under 200 calories.

If you’re adding soup to your meal, choose a smaller cup portion instead of a bowl. To reduce a soup's carb count and save 70 calories, pass on the complimentary crackers.

Burgers & Sandwiches

Cracker Barrel’s menu offers sandwich favorites like roast beef, and BLTs as well as cheeseburgers. All the sandwich and burger options are quite large and high in calories and carbohydrate, so you may want to save half to take home for later.

Most Nutritious Option

Open-Faced Roast Beef

700 calories, 33g fat, 13g saturated fat, 1g trans fat, 950 mg sodium, 60g carbohydrate, 6g sugar, and 41g protein

Least Nutritious Option

Fried Chicken BLT

950 calories, 58g fat, 20g saturated fat, 1670 mg sodium, 66g carbohydrate, 7g sugar, and 44g protein

The sandwich and burger platters at Cracker Barrel let you choose more than one side, which may be more food than you need for a single meal. To avoid the extra calories, fat, and sodium, stick to lighter fare like a side salad or go for a small side of veggies.

If you’re looking for a simple burger option with a single side,check the kid’s menu. A plain hamburger has 400 calories, 17 grams of fat, and 27 grams of protein. Add a side of fresh fruit, applesauce, apple slices, steamed broccoli, or a side salad for under 100 calories.

Lunch Entrees

Your choices for lunch at Cracker Barrel include Southern staples like country-fried chicken and steak, meatloaf, mac and cheese, and dumplings—most of which are high in calories, carbohydrates, and fat. However, if you look at the Wholesome Fixin’s section of the lunch menu, you can find some lighter fare.

Most Nutritious Option

Spicy Grilled Catfish Fillet

130 calories, 5g fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 330 mg sodium, <1g carbohydrate, 0g sugar, and 19g protein

Least Nutritious Option

Country Fried Shrimp

710 calories, 33g fat, 8g saturated fat, 2570 mg sodium, 76g carbohydrate, 9g sugar, and 27g protein

Grilled Chicken Tenderloins are another lean source of protein that can be used to make a meal. Try pairing with a side of veggies or as a salad topping.

Hushpuppies are a popular choice of a side at Cracker Barrel. With 50 calories and 2.5 grams of fat per serving, they’re a lower-calorie starchy side compared to the classic corn muffin (210 calories and 11 grams of fat) or a biscuit (160 calories and 6 grams of fat).

Dinner Entrees

As with the lunch menu, most of the choices for dinner at Cracker Barrel are traditional southern-fried favorites such as chicken livers , catfish, pork chops, and steak. You’ll also find some grilled options which, combined with smaller portions and sensible sides, can make a healthy and satisfying meal.

Most Nutritious Option

Lemon Pepper Grilled Rainbow Trout

160 calories, 7g fat, 2g saturated fat, 300 mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate, 0g sugar, and 22g protein

Least Nutritious Option

Southern Fried Chicken

1640 calories, 100g fat, 23g saturated fat, 4730 mg sodium, 78g carbohydrate, 0g sugar, and 108g protein

Dinner plates are served with your choice of sides. If you choose a hearty, high-calorie, high-fat meal such as chicken and dumplings, skip the buttered cornbread and opt for lighter sides, like salad.

For smaller portions of lunch and dinner, look to the Wholesome Fixin’s menu. Here you’ll find lighter entrees that come with your choice of two vegetable sides. For example, the Apple Cider BBQ Chicken Breast has 290 calories, 4 grams of fat, and 42 grams of protein.

Sides

While some items on Cracker Barrel’s large menu of sides can be high-calorie and high-carb additions to your meal, the selection also features plenty of nutritious veggies. You’ll have the choice of one (or more) sides for most entrees, giving you plenty of opportunities to create a healthy meal.

Most Nutritious Option

Steamed Broccoli

40 calories, 0g fat, 10 mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate, <1g sugar, and 4g protein
Least Nutritious Option

Baked Potato with Butter and Sour Cream

470 calories, 18g fat, 11g saturated fat, 150 mg sodium, 69g carbohydrate, 4g sugar, and 9g protein

Just because your meal comes with more than one side doesn’t mean you have to order more than one. If you’re having a large entree for the main part of your meal, 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 not if they’re fried. For example, a side of okra can add nutrition to your meal, but a side of Breaded Fried Okra adds 250 calories and 38 grams of carbohydrate.

If you’re trying to eat low-carb, you’ll also want to avoid starchy sides like mashed potatoes, biscuits, french fries, dumplings, mac and cheese, and corn muffins.

Dessert

Desserts at Cracker Barrel are generally high in calories, fat, and sugar. Decadent options like the Baked Apple Dumplin' topped with pecan streusel and served with two scoops of ice cream has nearly an entire day’s worth of calories.

Most Nutritious Option

Nut Sundae with Caramel Sauce (Kid’s Menu)

200 calories, 12g fat, 6g saturated fat, 45 mg sodium, 20g carbohydrate, 15g sugar, and 4g protein

Least Nutritious Option

Apple Dumpling & Ice Cream

1710 calories, 73g fat, 30g saturated fat, 1600 mg sodium, 246g carbohydrate, 118g sugar, and 18g protein

A single or double scoop of vanilla ice cream from the kid’s menu is another simple and sensible sweet treat to finish off your meal. Plus, Cracker Barrel offers a selection of sugar-free syrup and preserves.

For diners looking for low-sugar dessert options, Cracker Barrel has a no-sugar-added Apple Pie with 460 calories, 23 grams of fat, 60 grams of carbs, and just 17 grams of sugar per slice.

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.

Most Nutritious Option

Unsweetened Iced Tea

0 calories, 0g fat, 0 mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate, 0g sugar, and 0g protein

Least Nutritious Option

Stewart’s Orange ‘n Cream Soda

250 calories, 0g fat, 85 mg sodium, 64g carbohydrate, 64g sugar, and 0g protein

If you’re looking at Cracker Barrel’s selection of warm drinks keep in mind that with 200-400 calories per serving, options like apple cider, lattes, and hot chocolate can be closer to a dessert than a beverage to accompany your meal.

The same goes for milk and milk-based drinks like lattes. A large glass of chocolate milk adds 460 calories, 61 grams of carbs, and 57 grams of sugar to your meal while a hot Mocha adds 330 calories, 41 grams of carbs, and 42 grams of sugar.

Even though many diet sodas don’t add calories, fat, or carbs to your meal, they can be a source of sugar. Keep in mind that many sugarless or zero-calorie beverages are made with sugar substitutes and preservatives like aspartame, which you may prefer to avoid.

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 be able to 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.

A chart containing allergen information for Cracker Barrel’s menu is available to download on the chain’s website. Reviewing this important information before you go can help you know what to ask for when placing an order at Cracker Barrel.

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.

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

  • Fresh Seasonal Fruit
  • Country Vegetable Plate
  • Country Chef Salad (no croutons)
  • Eggs, Egg Whites, or Egg Beaters
  • Baked Potato with Butter and Sour Cream

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, 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

  • Ribeye Steak
  • Grilled Pork Chops
  • Chicken or Beef Noodle Soup
  • Wholesome Fixin's Vegetable Platter
  • Two Eggs/Whites/Beaters with Bacon or Turkey Sausage

Diabetes-Friendly

  • Roast Beef
  • Hamburger Steak
  • Spicy Grilled Catfish
  • Grilled Rainbow Trout
  • Country Morning Breakfast

Low-fat

  • Scrambled Egg Whites
  • Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
  • Sweet Whole Baby Carrots
  • Grilled Chicken Tenderloins
  • Turkey Noodle or Vegetable Soup

Low-sodium

  • Grits
  • Fried Apples
  • Grilled Sirloin Steak
  • Mashed or Baked Potato
  • Hearty Beef 'n Vegetable Soup

Vegetarian & Vegan

Even though Cracker Barrel’s menu includes many vegetables, these dishes are typically cooked in butter and/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 accepted according to some plant-based diets.

Potentially vegetarian-friendly choices at Cracker Barrel menu include:

  • Oatmeal
  • Yogurt & Granola
  • Applesauce or Side of Fruit
  • Tossed Salad (no croutons)
  • Mashed Potatoes or Baked Potato (no gravy)

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 Allergen Guide, which is available as a downloadable PDF.

Common allergens found on Cracker Barrel’s menu include

Cross-contamination of allergens is possible since all food at Cracker Barrel is prepared in shared kitchen space. Therefore, you can’t be sure your meal will be completely free from a specific food allergen. 

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 tastes 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.

If you like Cracker Barrel, you might also be interested in learning about the most and least healthy options at Texas Roadhouse.

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Article Sources

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