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The 12 Absolute Worst Dishes to Order at Cracker Barrel, According to Dietitians

This 'old country store' serves up some delicous fried food, but it isn't always the healthiest.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Cracker Barrel is notorious for its family-friendly environment and country-style meals, but they're not exactly known for its nutritious offerings. Most of their dishes are heavily fried and loaded with sodium, fat, and saturated fat, and some of these items are best consumed only on occasion. To learn more about these unhealthy Cracker Barrel dishes, we spoke to dietitians and nutrition experts to bring you a list. These meals were evaluated based on total calories, sodium, saturated fat, and more. Whether you are watching your blood sugar, are worried about heart health or blood pressure, or are just trying to choose healthier options, the following items are some you can strike off your list next time you're at Cracker Barrel.

Some of the menu items may be obvious, like the fried food options or the extra large breakfast platters. However, some may surprise you. Remember, when eating out at restaurants, foods are going to almost always be notoriously higher in sodium, fat, and calories—as that's what makes restaurant food taste so good. However, you can't avoid restaurant food forever, and we wouldn't want you to! It's important to indulge and treat yourself from time to time, but being aware of the types of offerings a restaurant has can help you make more informed choices.

So, let's find out exactly which items these nutrition experts caution against. Then, for some ideas on what to order at Cracker Barrel, check out The 10 Best Cracker Barrel Dishes to Order, According to Dietitians.

Sunday Homestyle Chicken and French Toast

Cracker Barrel Chicken and French Toast
Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Per serving: 1,500 calories, 96 g fat (33 g saturated fat), 2,190 mg sodium, 111 g carbs (6 g fiber, 26 g sugar), 54 g protein

You've more than likely had chicken and waffles if you're from the South, but have you had chicken and French toast? If not, ordering from Cracker Barrel shouldn't be your first choice, as the Homestyle Chicken n' French Toast is a dish that is best if consumed in moderation, according to dietitians.

"The Chicken n' French Toast is one of the worst choices on their menu when considering its macronutrient profile," says Mary Sabat MS, RDN, LD. "It has a total of 1,500 calories, 96 grams of total fat, and a concerning 33 grams of saturated fat. It also contains a substantial 2,190 milligrams of sodium, which is quite high and can contribute to high blood pressure and other health issues."

Sabat also notes that the 26 grams of sugar are a cause for concern as well, "especially when considering the potential addition of syrup."

If chicken and French toast is your thing, it won't completely derail your health goals to get this breakfast on occasion. But just keep in mind that the fat, calories, and sodium are much higher than is recommended to eat in a meal, so it's best consumed in moderation.

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Country Fried Shrimp with Hushpuppies and Cocktail Sauce

cracker barrel fried shrimp
Cracker Barrel
Per serving: 900 calories, 36 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 2,040 mg sodium, 121 g carbs (16 g fiber, 15 g sugar), 22 g protein

Fried shrimp is a tasty way to enjoy a southern-inspired meal, but when you have a dish comprised mostly of just fried foods, the nutrition profile will usually be less than desirable.

Cracker Barrel's Country Fried Shrimp comes with hushpuppies, cocktail sauce, and two additional sides, and Sabat says this dish stands out as one of the worst choices on their menu.

"Even before considering any additional sides, this dish is already a nutritional red flag," she says. "It contains 900 calories, with 36 grams of fat and 8 grams of that from saturated fat, but the real issue lies in the staggering 2,140 milligrams of sodium."

She notes "While the taste may be tempting, the nutritional aspects of this meal make it far from a wise choice for those seeking a balanced and healthy dining experience."

All of their shrimp is fried, but if you're in the mood for seafood and want a healthier choice, you can opt for the Lemon Pepper Grilled Trout or the Grilled Catfish.

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie
Cracker Barrel
Per serving: 960 calories, 55 g fat (29 g saturated fat), 2,740 mg sodium, 82 g carbs (7 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 35 g protein

Sabat adds Cracker Barrel's Chicken Pot Pie to the list for multiple reasons. Yes, chicken pot pie is a true comfort dish for many, but the one from Cracker Barrel is loaded with nearly 3,000 milligrams of sodium—and the recommended sodium limit for an entire day is only 2,300 milligrams, according to the FDA. The American Heart Association recommends even less at around 1,500 milligrams per day, which means this dish would serve up twice that.

Beyond a super high sodium count, the Chicken Pot Pie also contains 29 grams of saturated fat, which more than doubles the daily recommended max of 13 grams.

"While chicken pot pie may be a comfort food favorite, this particular option at Cracker Barrel is far from a nutritious choice and should be consumed sparingly, especially by those looking to maintain a balanced and healthy diet," says Sabat.

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Country Fried Pickles

Country Fried Pickles Cracker Barrel
Cracker Barrel
Per serving: 880 calories, 56 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 3,440 mg sodium, 84 g carbs (5 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 9 g protein

"While one might assume that ordering Country Fried Pickles at Cracker Barrel couldn't be all that bad, the nutritional facts paint a different picture," says Sabat.

In just these fried pickles alone, you're getting 880 calories, 56 grams of fat, and 3,440 milligrams of sodium, but with the side of ranch dressing it comes with, these numbers increase to 1,070 calories, 76 grams of fat, and 3,860 milligrams of sodium.

Of course with a dish like this, you're more than likely splitting it with the people at the table, and sharing it like this will help you lower some of these numbers.

Steak n' Egg Hashbrown Casserole

Cracker Barrel hashbrown casserole
Cracker Barrel
Per serving: 1,080 calories, 67 g fat (29 g saturated fat), 2,340 mg sodium, 60 g carbs (6 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 62 g protein

Steak and eggs are a hearty and satisfying way to start your day. Cracker Barrel offers its own version of this breakfast dish with its Steak n' Egg Hashbrown Casserole, but Sabat says it easily fits on our list of unhealthiest menu items.

"With a total of 1,080 calories, 67 grams of fat, and 29 grams of saturated fat, it's already a calorically dense dish," she says, "but it also packs a whopping 2,340 milligrams of sodium, which is concerning for those looking to maintain healthy blood pressure levels."

When it comes to this breakfast dish, she says "The combination of high calories, unhealthy fats, and excessive sodium makes this dish a poorer choice for those aiming to make healthier dietary decisions."

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Country Fried Pork Chops

cracker barrel country fried pork chop
Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Per meal: 1,040 calories, 72 g fat (17 g saturated fat), 2,400 mg sodium, 43 g carbs (3 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 53 g protein

With 1,040 calories, the Country Fried Pork Chops are one of the highest calorie options on the Cracker Barrel menu. When you consider that they are also served with two sides and either buttermilk biscuits or corn muffins, the total calories add up fast.

Every once in a while, a breakfast like this is no big deal in the grand scheme of a healthy diet. If you pair your pork chops with collard greens and pinto beans for a lighter side, you can fare pretty well overall. Your meal will still be high in sodium and added oils, but you'll likely be able to cut back on total calories.

Stuffed Cheesecake Pancake Breakfast

Cracker barrel cream cheese pancakes
Cracker Barrel
Per meal: 1,250 calories, 54 g fat (26 g saturated fat, 1.5 g trans), 2,240 mg sodium, 152 g carbs (2 g fiber, 73 g sugar), 27 g protein

One of the least nutritious menu items is the Stuffed Cheesecake Pancake Breakfast, according to Jocelyn Rodgriguez, RD, CLC. "Based on the nutrition facts, this breakfast item contains 73 grams of sugar. Although this item does have some protein from the eggs and bacon/sausage, the cream cheese-filled, strawberry syrup pancakes skyrocket the sugar & fat content. Consider having traditional pancakes with a serving of eggs or another protein of choice to consume fewer calories from sugar," Rodriguez states.

Sharon Puello MA, RD, CDN, CDCES agrees: "The all-day breakfast menu is most definitely appealing, but some of the items pack almost a day's worth of calories in one meal. The Stuffed Cheesecake Pancake Breakfast is a sugar-laden, calorie bomb. At 1,250 calories even before you add a choice of sausage or bacon, this is a meal you would want to consider sharing instead of enjoying on your own. This is not a diabetic-friendly meal, and overall not a favorable choice for anyone eating at Cracker Barrel regularly and watching their cardiac and/or metabolic health."

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Loaded Hashbrown Casserole Tots

cracker barrel loaded tots
Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Per meal: 610 calories, 40 g fat (15 g saturated fat), 1,640 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 19 g protein

"The Loaded Hashbrown Casserole Tots are a popular item to order as an appetizer. However, they are loaded with saturated fat and sodium. It would be better to skip the tots and save room for your meal, rather than fill up before the entrée arrives. If you would like something before the meal, consider a cup of their chicken noodle soup for a healthier option," says Mandy Tyler, M.Ed., RD, CSSD, LD.

Bacon n' Egg Hashbrown Casserole

cracker barrel bacon and egg casserole
Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Per meal: 980 calories, 61 g fat (25 g saturated fat), 1,820 mg sodium, 59 g carbs (6 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 49 g protein

"The Bacon n' Egg Hashbrown Casserole is one of the least healthy menu items available at Cracker Barrel," says Amanda Lane, MS, RD, CSR, CDCES. Although this meal may seem high in protein, Lane reminds us that bacon is one of the least healthy breakfast protein options.

"The casserole entrée is 980 calories and does not include a notable amount of fiber. With over 1,800 milligrams of sodium, nearly 80% of the daily recommendation, this casserole is one choice to pass on to protect your heart," Lane tells us. Instead, she recommends choosing a breakfast sandwich with multigrain bread with a side of fruit.

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Sunday Homestyle Chicken BLT

cracker barrel chicken blt
Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Per meal: 1,180 calories, 60 g fat (13 g saturated fat), 2,560 mg sodium, 106 g carbs (4 g fiber, 29 g sugar), 55 g protein

Kelly Springer MS, RD, CDN, gives us her take on the least nutritious option at Cracker Barrel.  "The Sunday Homestyle Chicken BLT is one of the more unhealthy options on the Cracker Barrel menu. It provides over half of the average recommended calories at 1,180, almost all of your recommended fat at 60 grams, 13 grams of saturated fat, and 29 grams of sugar. Not to mention the 2,560 mg of sodium, which is higher than the recommended daily value of 2,300 alone," Springer notes.

"A diet high in blood pressure, cholesterol, and excess calories can lead to health issues such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease over time," Springer warns.

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The Cracker Barrel Country Boy Breakfast

cracker barrel country boy breakfast
Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
Per meal with ham and biscuits and gravy: 1,310 calories, 56 g fat (24.5 g saturated fat), 3,230 mg sodium, 77 g carbs (3 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 99 g protein

Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD recommends bypassing the Country Boy Breakfast at Cracker Barrel next time. "This meal is enough food for 3 people. In addition to 3 eggs, you get your choice of ham, steak, or pork chop plus, fried apples, hashbrown casserole, biscuits with butter and jam, and sawmill gravy."

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Southern Fried Chicken

cracker barrel southern fried chicken
Cracker Barrel
Per meal: 1,640 calories, 100 g fat (23 g saturated fat), 4,730 mg sodium, 78 g carbs (9 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 108 g protein

Kristin Draayer, MS, RDN explains her take on Cracker Barrel's menu. "Southern Fried Chicken is one of the popular dishes at Cracker Barrel, but unfortunately, it is also very energy-dense and high in sodium. Without the sides, the chicken alone contains 1,640 calories, 100 grams of fat, 23 grams of saturated fat, and 4,730 milligrams of sodium. Consuming high levels of saturated fat and sodium can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and other health problems," Draayer claims.

She offers a solution: "While it's certainly okay to enjoy foods in moderation, this one likely won't make you feel too well. Consider splitting it with a friend and pairing it with steamed veggies or fresh fruit to add some micronutrients and fiber to the meal."

This story has since been updated since its original publish date to include additional copy, proofreading revisions, and contextual links.

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