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The #1 Unhealthiest Cracker Barrel Order, According to a Dietitian

Indulge in your favorite Cracker Barrel comfort foods but avoid this meal if you can.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Cracker Barrel may be the only place you can shop for t-shirts, taffy, and country music CDs while waiting for a dinner of chicken and dumplings and bottomless sweet tea—which is why it's no surprise people love this "old country store" so much. And if you're not there for the chicken and dumplings, you'll still have an enormous menu of classic southern food items to choose from, but as you may have guessed from a place known mostly for its fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits, Cracker Barrel's menu isn't exactly full of "nutritious" offerings.

This chain restaurant is more of a "treat yourself" kind of place, and that's perfectly fine because it's important to enjoy some of your favorite comfort foods when you're out with family and friends. But if you find yourself at Cracker Barrel and want to make some healthier food choices, some items may not be worth the indulgence.

We talked with registered dietitian Mary Sabat MS, RDN, LD to get her perspective on the worst menu items at Cracker Barrel, and for her, there was one clear winner in terms of having the highest levels of calories, fat, saturated fat, and sodium. Read on to learn about what she believes is the unhealthiest Cracker Barrel order, as well as what she suggests for a healthier alternative. Then, check out the 10 Best Cracker Barrel Dishes to Order.

The worst order at Cracker Barrel is…the Southern Fried Chicken Dinner

cracker barrel southern fried chicken
Cracker Barrel

The Fried Chicken Dinner from Cracker Barrel may not seem all that bad at first, especially when you consider their other menu items like the Buttermilk Ranch Mac N' Cheese or Stuffed Cheesecake Pancakes. But when you look at the calories, fat, saturated fat, and sodium content of this dinner, you'll see why it is by far the worst menu item.

This meal comes with four pieces of fried chicken, two sides, and a choice between Buttermilk Biscuits or Corn Muffins.

Without counting the sides or biscuits, the Cracker Barrel Southern Fried Chicken Dinner is loaded with:

  • Calories: 1,640
  • Total fat: 100 grams
  • Saturated fat: 23 grams
  • Sodium: 4,730 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 78 grams
  • Fiber: 9 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams
  • Protein: 108 grams

"With 1,640 calories and 100 grams of fat in just the chicken alone, it already exceeds the recommended daily intake for many individuals," says Sabat. "Additionally, the staggering 4,730 milligrams of sodium is way above the daily sodium limit recommended for maintaining a healthy diet."

Sabat notes that these numbers don't count the two sides or biscuits, and she says when you factor these in, "The overall calorie, fat, and sodium intake may skyrocket."

Ultimately, Sabat says "This combination of excessive calories, unhealthy fats, and an extreme sodium level can contribute to weight gain, high blood pressure, and heart problems, making it one of the least advisable options on Cracker Barrel's menu for those concerned about their health."

If you're looking for a healthier option you can order when you're at Cracker Barrel, Sabat suggests their Grilled Chicken Tenders.

 The #1 Unhealthiest Olive Garden Order

A healthier alternative to order

Cracker Barrel grilled tenders
Cracker Barrel

"If you're looking for a healthier meal at Cracker Barrel, go for their Grilled Chicken Tenders instead of the fried stuff," she says. "These tenders have just 7 grams of fat and 270 calories and you can pair them with some steamed broccoli (which only adds 40 calories and has no fat) and some pinto beans (which give you 140 calories, 2 grams of fat, and a solid 7 grams of fiber).

In the Cracker Barrel Grilled Chicken Tenders (without any of the sides), you'll get:

  • Calories: 270
  • Total fat: 7 grams
  • Saturated fat: 1.5 grams
  • Sodium: 620 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 78 grams
  • Fiber: <1 grams
  • Sugar: 4 grams
  • Protein: 48 grams

"This is a balanced meal that gives you protein from the chicken, vitamins from the broccoli, and fiber from the beans," she says.  If you want to cut down the calories and fat even more, Sabat says you can skip the biscuits and butter, or you can decide to treat yourself.

Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha
Sources referenced in this article
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