Okay, look. Nobody goes to Cracker Barrel because they're trying to eat healthily. You go to Cracker Barrel because you're on a road trip and it's right there, plus it's the only fast food place you can get pecan pancakes at 8 p.m. while also buying Cracker Barrel Old Country Store kitsch. You can sit in or get it to-go, and it provides the warm, wholesome fixins you need. We all love Cracker Barrel for exactly what it is: Southern-style comfort food.
What Not To Order at Cracker Barrel
But there are a few things you're better off without at this Tennessee-based chain, at least if you're watching your sodium, fat, sugar, and calorie levels. To stay even a little healthy, let's talk about what not to order at Cracker Barrel. Here's a list of 10 items on the Cracker Barrel menu you should skip as your entree.
Maple Jam n' Bacon Double Cheeseburger
A burger may not technically be the healthiest food you can eat, but it can also be not completely unhealthy. Unless it's this particular burger. This burger doesn't just tick the boxes, it tilts them so far that the boxes fall off the edge. 950 calories, 51 grams of fat (and 23 of those are saturated fat), 220 milligrams of cholesterol, 1330 milligrams of sodium, and 21 grams of sugar. Burgers shouldn't have that much sugar in them. And all that is without the accompanying fries and coleslaw.
Country Fried Anything
Country Fried Steak. Country Fried Chicken. Country Fried Shrimp. If you're looking for what not to order at Cracker Barrel, those words should top the list. Even without the sides, these main dishes clock in at no less than 590 calories (the shrimp is 710). But it's the salt that's going to get you here: 1410, 1170, 2570. That's milligrams, respectively, in each dish. The recommended amount per human person a day is 2,300 milligrams, and the American Heart Association would really like it if people consumed less than that amount (the ideal limit is 1,500 mg a day).
Sunday Homestyle Chicken
Sunday dinners are a cherished tradition for many and this Sunday special with two fried chicken breasts probably reminds a lot of people of those meals. But if you eat this platter, next time you visit your dietitian, she's going to remind you that 1,350 calories, 92 grams of fat, and 3,200 milligrams of sodium are too much for one meal. That's a half day's worth of calories in one meal! And yes, those numbers are for just the chicken; unless your two sides are applesauce and steamed broccoli, (you know you're at least getting mashed potatoes) you're likely to add another two meal's worth of sodium, fat, and calories to the count. So not a low-carb or low-fat meal to say the least.
Fried Chicken Salad
It's a salad, so it must be a little healthier, right? No, sorry. You may be getting a few veggies with this dish, but you're also getting 870 calories, 53 grams of fat, 280 grams of cholesterol, and 1,860 milligrams of sodium. And that's before you add dressing.
Grandpa's Country Fried Breakfast
At first glance on Cracker Barrel's nutrition guide, this breakfast of two eggs and grits doesn't look so bad. But then you add a side dish like your choice of fried apples or hashbrown casserole, and suddenly your hearty breakfast runs you somewhere over 1,000 calories, between 40 and 60 grams of fat, and anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 milligrams of sodium. Then there's the buttermilk biscuit and either gravy or butter and jam. Only have this breakfast if you plan to eat carrot sticks the rest of the day. If you're not trying to eat 1,000 calories in one sitting, go for the Good Morning Breakfast- two scrambled egg whites, grits, fresh fruit and turkey sausage patties. Now that's a good way to start your day!
Pecan pancakes are, objectively speaking, one of the best breakfasts in the world. And with three giant pancakes, Cracker Barrel gives you a lot of best. Problem is, unless you're splitting those cakes three ways, this breakfast runs you 1,130 calories, 70 grams of fat, and 2,720 milligrams of sodium. Sure, it's only 12 grams of sugar--but then you have to add the syrup.
Momma's French Toast Breakfast
Pretty sure, Momma would tell you her breakfast is what not to order at Cracker Barrel. The four slices of french toast and two eggs have 1,010 calories, 54 grams of fat, 750 milligrams of cholesterol, and 930 milligrams of sodium. And then you add a side of meat and around 20 grams of fat and 500 or so milligrams of sodium, which kicks this meal up way past the red zone.
Double Fudge Coca-Cola Cake
No, dessert typically isn't "healthy." But it shouldn't surprise you that this sugar-filled cake is on the list of what not to order at Cracker Barrel. It has 790 calories (think about that number on top of the rest of your meal), 33 grams of fat, and 96 grams of sugar. That's around 24 teaspoons of sugar in one menu item.
Baked Apple Dumplin
Apple does not automatically equal healthy. And in this case, the apple dessert with two scoops of ice cream is far worse than the double fudge dessert. This gem has 1,710 calories, 73 grams of fat, 1,600 milligrams of sodium, and 118 grams of sugar. Even if you plan to split dessert, this one item isn't worth it.
Sweet Iced Tea
Sweet iced tea is the best. And if you'd be able to stick to one glass every once in a while as a treat, it's not a terrible indulgence. But at 34 grams of sugar for every glass (or over 8 teaspoons), one glass is enough. With the free refills and high salt content of the rest of the food, though, drinking too much sweet tea is almost a given, so put this beverage on the what not to order at Cracker Barrel list and stick with the regular iced tea.
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This post was originally published on March 17, 2021.