Nutrition Expert Ranks Cracker Barrel's Menu Worst To Best

If you're looking for a place to stop, relax, enjoy a good country meal, and feel at home, Cracker Barrel is the place for you. When the food is described as homestyle and southern, the message is clear: you won't be leaving the joint hungry. The problem is, you may be leaving with enough calories, fat, and salt to last you two days (via

There's a certain satisfaction in supporting a company with homegrown, Tennessee roots. Cracker Barrel's restaurants and country stores pride themselves on sourcing fresh, domestically grown and/or raised ingredients, from green beans to potatoes, farm-raised catfish, sweet potatoes, turnip greens, beef, pork, and poultry (via Cracker Barrel). They're altruistic for sure. And the Cracker Barrel menu offers a variety of dishes that celebrate America's country heritage while delivering pure, homestyle comfort. But the reality is, many of the menu options are gargantuan; large enough to serve two to three people. Even the dishes labeled "wholesome" aren't exactly that (via Delish).

Let's break down the breakfast, lunch, and dinner items from worst to best, so you can make wise choices while supporting this home-away-from-home.

Three pancakes for 1,130 calories?


Order the Pecan Pancakes and get three discs with 1,130 calories, 70 grams of fat, and 2,720 milligrams of sodium. That's your fat and sodium max for the entire day. 

In keeping with their southern country theme (via Business Insider), the Country Boy Breakfast delivers three eggs, fried apples, hash browns, and grits; plus steak or ham on the side. Choose ham and down 1,200 calories, 61 grams of fat, and 4,100 milligrams of sodium (double your daily salt max). 

The Bacon n' Egg Hashbrown Casserole, with layers of bacon, eggs, cheese, fried onions, and tomatoes, clocks in at 980 calories, 61 grams of fat, and 1,820 milligrams of sodium.


The Fresh Fruit n' Yogurt Parfait Breakfast sounds healthy, but it's a really a breakfast spread, since you also get turkey sausage and egg whites. Better than pancakes, but still a breakfast load of 510 calories, 14 grams of fat, and 770 milligrams of sodium. Skip the sausage and dodge 110 calories, 6 grams of fat, and 460 milligrams of sodium. 

If you like creamy oatmeal, try the Apple n' Cinnamon Oatmeal, with fried apples and pecans. It has 310 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 220 milligrams of sodium. Respectable numbers all around. 

If you're an egg person, try the Good Morning Breakfast with egg whites, grits, fruit, tomatoes, and turkey sausage. All that for 300 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 830 milligrams of sodium. Aside from the sodium, it's a pretty sweet ride.

Also great is the Old Timer's Breakfast (without any fixins), with two eggs and grits for 230 calories, 12 grams of fat, and 280 milligrams of sodium. Don't add sides, especially the fried chicken (710 calories)! One side of fried chicken has more than three times the calories of the breakfast you started with.

One meal with two day's worth of calories and fat

Although you can order breakfast all day long, there are plenty of down-home lunches and dinners for your dining pleasure. But take note, these country-style portions are so massive, you should share them with a friend; or three.


With words like southern and fried, we shouldn't be surprised that the Southern Fried Chicken has 1,640 calories, 100 grams of fat, and 4,730 milligrams of sodium. Yes, one hundred grams of fat. And that's beyond your two-day salt max.

Pass up your cravings for a BLT; the Homestyle Fried Chicken BLT, without coleslaw, soup, or a country side, has 1,180 calories, 60 grams of fat, and 2,560 milligrams of sodium.

You might want to sit down for this: one serving of the Barrel-Cut Sugar Ham has 1,020 calories, 55 grams of fat, and 5450 milligrams of sodium. That's three day's-worth of salt in one meal.

Not that we expect burgers to be diet food, but The Barrel Cheeseburger packs in 990 calories, 60 grams of fat, and 1,070 milligrams of sodium, leaving room for one more, smallish, meal for your entire day.

Fish for something healthier

What are some healthy (er, healthier) options on the menu? 


Surprisingly, the Meatloaf has just 460 calories, 27 grams of fat, 640 milligrams of sodium. Just watch those country sides.

Another tasty option is the Grilled Sirloin Steak with 350 calories, 17 grams of fat, and 210 milligrams of sodium. An 8-ounce steak is hefty, so that's a lot of food for just 350 calories. Don't be tempted to ruin it with the three optional sides (via Eat This, Not That!).

There are two respectable seafood choices worth highlighting. The Lemon Pepper Grilled Rainbow Trout (two fillets) with 330 calories, 14 grams of fat, and 610 milligrams of sodium, and the Spicy Grilled Catfish (also two fillets) with 260 calories, 11 grams of fat, and 650 milligrams of sodium.

And although fried chicken is more country-style, the Grilled Chicken Tenders are an excellent option. You get six tenderloins for 270 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 620 milligrams of sodium.

So, the good news is, you can still enjoy a comforting, homestyle meal, in a cozy country setting, as long as you order wisely. 

Robin Miller is a nutritionist, chef, and food writer.