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The Best & Worst Menu Items at Cracker Barrel

Should you order the pancakes, the biscuits, or none of the above? A registered dietitian analyzes the menu so you know what to order.
The Best & Worst Menu Items at Cracker BarrelCourtesy of Cracker Barrel

Cracker Barrel is a family restaurant known for its classic Southern food with a mission to please its customers with some—you guessed it—good old Southern hospitality. Cracker Barrel offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and serves up 200 million biscuits and 57 million pancakes every year. That’s a whole lot of food! And although delicious, biscuits and pancakes aren’t necessarily the best Cracker Barrel menu options if you’re looking for healthy choices while dining there—but are they the worst?

Here’s a rundown of the best and worst menu items at Cracker Barrel.

Breakfast: Traditional Favorites & Wholesome Fixin’s®

Worst: The Cracker Barrel’s Country Boy Breakfast®

cracker barrel country boy breakfast Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Per three eggs, fried apples, hashbrown casserole, grits, and country ham: 1,210 calories, 52 g fat (19 g saturated fat), 4,100 mg sodium, 92 g carbs (13 g fiber, 27 g sugar), 93 g protein

When ordering at Cracker Barrel, it’s often the side choices that put a dish over the limit, and selecting country ham as a side is no exception. For three eggs, fried apples, hashbrown casserole, and grits, it’s 670 calories, 26 grams of fat, and 9 grams of saturated fat. Add the country ham, and that adds 80 percent more calories, 50 percent more fat, and about 33 percent more saturated fat to the meal total. That’s a big difference.

Best: Good Morning Breakfast

cracker barrel good morning breakfast Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Two egg whites, coarse ground grits, tomatoes, and seasonal fruit: 310 calories, 8 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 830 mg sodium, 32 g carbs (3 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 27 g protein

It’s not easy to find a healthy option that still offers some Southern love. But this breakfast offering provides the least amount of calories of all the breakfast options, and you can still enjoy grits, a true Southern staple. The sodium is still 36 percent of the daily recommended amount, which is rather reasonable if this is one of your three daily meals.

Breakfast: Pancakes ‘N Such

Worst: Momma’s French Toast Breakfast

cracker barrel mommas french toast Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Per four slices with butter and two smoked sausage patties: 1,250 calories, 73 g fat (27 g saturated fat), 1,320 mg sodium, 94 g carbs (5 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 53 g protein

This French toast menu option is laden with artery-clogging saturated fat and sodium that can sabotage any healthy eating plan. You can get the same amount by downing three small size McDonald’s vanilla shakes, while you’ll find about the same amount of sodium in half a teaspoon of table salt.

Best: Egg-in-the-Basket

cracker barrel eggs in the basket Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Two slices of sourdough with two eggs with two turkey sausage patties (skip the fried apples or hashbrown casserole): 540 calories, 27 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 810 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (2 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 33 g protein

Although egg whites may seem like the better choice, don’t discount the yolk. The yolk contains almost half the protein of the entire egg. Plus, the yolk contains 1.5 grams of saturated fat, but this small amount of saturated fat found in the yolk can fit into the daily recommendations for saturated fat. The yolk also provides numerous important nutrients, including vitamins A and D, which are mostly found in the yolk. The antioxidant lutein and omega-3s are other nutrients found in the yellow stuff, so yes, it’s good for you to eat.

Breakfast: Sunrise Special

Worst: Egg Sandwich with Country Ham

cracker barrel egg sandwich Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Per one egg, cheese, Sweet n’ Smoky Mayo on Farmhouse bread with country ham and hashbrown casserole: 970 calories, 53 g fat (17 g saturated fat), 2,810 mg sodium, 73 g carbs (5 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 53 g protein

There is no reason to consume close to 50 percent of your daily recommended amount of calories and 122 percent of the daily maximum recommended salt in one sitting. Plus, you’re eating as many carbs as if you ate five slices of bread.

Best: Apple n’ Cinnamon Oatmeal

Per oatmeal with reduced-fat milk: 340 calories, 6 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 250 mg sodium, 64 g carbs (6 g fiber, 28 g sugar), 8 g protein

If you’re going to have breakfast at Cracker Barrel, take the opportunity to order up plenty of whole grains and about 25 percent of your daily recommended amount of fiber in the form of the oatmeal. If the sugar is too much for your liking, ask them to hold the Fuji apples and/or dried cranberries, or ask for it on the side so you can control how much you want to put on top.

RELATED: 100+ healthy breakfast ideas that help you lose weight and stay slim.

Breafast: Side Plates

Worst: Gravy n ‘ Biscuits

cracker barrel biscuits and gravy Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Per serving: 710 calories, 34 g fat (12 g saturated fat), 1,420 mg sodium, 86 g carbs (2 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 17 g protein

This “side” consisting of three biscuits has more calories than you should be consuming in one meal. Plus, the amount of saturated fat is about 50 percent of the maximum you should be consuming in one day. If you’re really craving a biscuit, opt for one with a pat (or teaspoon) of butter or jam.

Best: Fresh Apple Slices

cracker barrel apple slices Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Per serving: 70 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (3 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 0 g protein

Fresh fruit and vegetables without sauces or high-fat cooking methods (I’m looking at you, fryer) is a rarity at Cracker Barrel. If you’re looking for some lower-calorie, healthy fare, order up the fresh apple slices as a side or even dessert.

Entrees

Worst: Southern Fried Chicken (4 pieces)

cracker barrel southern fried chicken Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Per plate (without sides, bread, and butter): 1,640 calories, 200 g fat (23 g saturated fat), 4,730 mg sodium, 78 g carbs (9 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 108 g protein

Southern fried chicken is a comfort-food classic, but this dish has more calories than three people need in one meal and 2.5 times the amount of fat needed in a day. It also has more artery-clogging saturated fat than you’ll find in two McDonald’s Big Macs.

Best: Grilled Pork Chop

cracker barrel grilled pork chop Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Per plate (without sides, bread, and butter): 250 calories, 13 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 350 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (1 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 35 g protein

According to USDA data, pork chops are leaner than skinless chicken thigh. Pair it with steamed fresh broccoli and a slice of bread with a pat of butter for a balanced meal.

Burgers N’ Sandwiches

Worst: Homestyle Chicken BLT (fried Sunday homestyle chicken breast)

cracker barrel homestyle chicken blt sandwich Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Per plate with coleslaw (without side or soup): 1,500 calories, 91 g fat (19.5 g saturated fat), 2,910 mg sodium, 117 g carbs (5 g fiber, 39 g sugar), 52 g protein

If you think ordering a chicken dish is a healthier option, think again. This dish—without the complimentary side or soup—has 75 percent of the total recommended calories and 125 percent of the daily recommended maximum of sodium in one day.

Best: Open-Faced Roast Beef Sandwich

cracker barrel open faced roast beef sandwich Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Per sandwich: 700 calories, 33 g fat (13 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 950 mg sodium, 52 g carbs (2 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 51 g protein

There really is no healthier option in this category, but the lesser of the evils that can qualify as the ‘healthiest’ by calories is the Open-Faced Roast Beef Sandwich. With its calories, fat, and saturated fat content, it is still well over the amount that any person, male or female, should be consuming in one meal. You’d be better off ordering the catfish or grilled chicken tenderloins off the menu.

Salads

Worst: Fried Chicken Salad

cracker barrel fried chicken salad Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Per salad without dressing and crackers: 870 calories, 53 g fat (20 g saturated fat), 1,860 mg sodium, 53 g carbs (15 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 47 g protein

Vegetables seem like a healthy choice, but that’s certainly not the case in this dish. This salad option can even get worse by ordering the Honey French Dressing for an additional 350 calories, 27 grams of fat, and 4 grams of saturated fat. You may as well order the Sunday Homestyle Chicken (which is fried), which is only 130 calories more than the salad with dressing.

Best: House Salad

cracker barrel house salad Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Per salad without dressing and crackers: 260 calories, 15 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 600 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (3 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 12 g protein

If you’re looking for a serving of vegetables, order up the salad with the fat-free Italian dressing for an added 15 calories. Compliment it with a healthy protein option like the grilled pork chop, grilled chicken tenderloins, or lemon-pepper grilled rainbow trout.

Sides

Worst: Baked Potato with Butter and Sour Cream

cracker barrel baked potato side dish Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Per dish: 470 calories, 18 g fat (11 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 69 g carbs (7 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 9 g protein

Potatoes are a healthy option and don’t contain fat or cholesterol. One medium potato provides 5 grams of fiber, 75 percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin C, 25 percent of your daily recommended amount of potassium (more than a banana), and numerous B-vitamins. However, slather this healthy tuber with butter and sour cream, and it ups the saturated fat to the amount found in two McDonald’s cheeseburgers.

Best: Fresh Steamed Broccoli

cracker barrel steamed broccoli side dish Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Per dish: 40 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 10 mg sodium, 6 g carbs (4 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 4 g protein

Steaming vegetables helps maintain their nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and K, fiber, and potassium. It’s certainly one of the healthiest options on the menu—just make sure to lay off adding any butter.

Desserts

Worst: Baked Apple Dumplin

cracker barrel baked apple dumplin dessert Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Per dish with 2 scoops ice cream: 1,710 calories, 73 g fat (30 g saturated fat), 1,600 mg sodium, 246 g carbs (8 g fiber, 118 g sugar), 18 g protein

If you’ve already consumed a thousand calories on some of the worst options listed above, you can add close to another day’s worth of calories with this baked dessert. If you really need a bite, opt to share it with a minimum of 5 others (which is about 342 calories each, and reasonable for a dessert).

Best: Blackberry or Peach Cobbler

cracker barrel peach cobbler dessert Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Per dish with 1 scoop ice cream: 460 calories, 11 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 240 mg sodium, 82 g carbs (4 g fiber, 53 g sugar), 8 g protein

The cobbler is the lowest calorie dessert but still meant to share with two people. If you’re going to give it a go yourself, it’s best to just eat about one-half to three-quarters of the dish to keep your calories in check.

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