Order This, Not That: Cracker Barrel

Find out what to order and what to skip on your next Cracker Barrel visit.

This sit-down restaurant is a family favorite with more than 630 locations throughout the country. Founder Dan Evins wanted to create a restaurant that would make people feel comfortable when they were on the road far from home. However, many of the options at this eatery are drowning in high-calorie gravy or lots of butter. Last year, however, Cracker Barrel started offering Wholesome Fixin’s and Tasty Alternatives for those who want to watch their calories. The full nutrition info, however, isn’t offered for every dish on the menu (only the few healthier selections).

Breakfast (pictured above)

Of the three healthier breakfast options offered, the oatmeal is a perfect way to take in three food groups: dairy, whole grains and fruit. It’s disappointing that the other two, which are egg dishes, use egg substitutes instead of wholesome eggs (or a combo of whole eggs and egg whites).

Calories: 380

It was a real tough choice to decide what not to order for breakfast with all the meat, biscuits and eggs on one plate. However, this option not only has 2 eggs, grits, gravy and buttermilk biscuits with butter, but is also served with fried apples or hash brown casserole and chicken-fried chicken or country-fried steak.

Lunch & Dinner

Of the seven healthy meals offered on this menu, the most-interesting choice is this chicken breast seasoned with smoky Southern spice and topped with zesty apple cider BBQ sauce, and fresh Gala apple and dried cranberry chutney. It’s served with steamed broccoli or mixed seasonal veggies.

Calories: 330 (not including your side of choice)

The generous portion of these fried chicken breasts is topped with gravy and served with two sides of your choice.

Order: Scoop of Ice Cream or Fresh Fruit

There are no options for a healthy dessert on this menu, which is sad. Ask your server if you can order a scoop of ice cream or fresh fruit for dessert. If that’s not possible, then splitting the Fruit Cobbler with Ice Cream with at least three people is probably your best bet to satisfy your sweet tooth.

This is a rich, double-chocolate fudge cake made with Coca-Cola and served with vanilla ice cream. Indulge in this favorite and you’ll probably blow right past the recommended amount of added sugar for the entire day.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

Keep Reading