Why You Should Think Twice About Getting Southern Fried Chicken At Cracker Barrel

Whether you're stopping in to get some breakfast or you're in the mood for a big hearty dinner, Cracker Barrel promises that you're getting a down-home, country-style meal. From buttermilk pancakes and biscuits to country-fried steak and pot roast, the chain offers customers a wide variety of American comfort food. Of course, Cracker Barrel couldn't bill itself as offering Southern classics without offering one of the keystone staples: fried chicken.

Southern Fried Chicken is a relatively new menu item for Cracker Barrel, having been introduced back in 2019 to celebrate the chain's 50th anniversary (via PR Newswire). Cracker Barrel boasts that its fried chicken is "authentically prepared, double-breaded by hand with a custom blend of three types of black pepper and several seasonings and spices, then fried until it is perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside." It seems that this bold claim isn't just fancy marketing, as reviews seem to be positive for the most part. Redditors on the subreddit r/FriedChicken, for example, describe the dish as "light, flavorful, and juicy," noting how tasty the chicken is when drizzled with honey. 

But before you dig into a hunk of golden-brown thigh or breast, there's something you should probably know about the Southern Fried Chicken and what exactly is in it.

The Southern Fried Chicken is high in sodium

If you were expecting the Southern Fried Chicken to be made of something shocking, such as chicken beaks or even fake processed chicken, you would, fortunately, be mistaken. The Southern Fried Chicken isn't made with any grotesque ingredients, but that doesn't mean it's good for you.

According to Cracker Barrel's nutrition guide, the Southern Fried Chicken has 1,640 calories, 100 grams of fat, 475 milligrams of cholesterol, and an extraordinary 4,730 milligrams of sodium. To put that into perspective, the CDC suggests that Americans ingest fewer than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, meaning that Cracker Barrel's Southern Fried Chicken will give you more than twice that in one sitting. (This also doesn't take into account the amount of sodium in the two sides you get when ordering the chicken.)

Of course, this isn't meant to scare you or convince you that Cracker Barrel is trying to sell you "sodium bombs" without your knowledge. If you're a fan of Southern Fried Chicken, you shouldn't feel guilty about enjoying it. Just keep it in moderation! And if the fried chicken isn't for you, you could try some of the other best Cracker Barrel menu items.

Grandpa's Country-Fried Breakfast will leave you salty

If Cracker Barrel is known for one thing, it's breakfast. With a selection of pancakes, French toast, bacon, grits, eggs, biscuits, and plenty of other down-home breakfast items, the chain has a pretty impressive morning line-up. If you're on a long road trip, or maybe you don't want to make breakfast at home, there's nothing wrong with visiting your local Cracker Barrel to fill up.

But there's one particular dish that may leave you feeling full in more ways than one. The Country Boy Breakfast, according to Cracker Barrel, consists of "three farm-fresh eggs with grits, Fried Apples, and Hashbrown Casserole, your choice of Country Ham, Sugar Ham, or Sirloin Steak." This breakfast also includes buttermilk biscuits and plenty of gravy. It's a hearty dish, to be sure, but the amount of food you get isn't the only thing you'll get a lot of.

According to Fast Food Nutrition, one serving of a Country Boy Breakfast consists of 671 calories, 26 grams of total fat, 590 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 grams of carbs, and 740 milligrams of sodium. The sodium level depends on what type of meat you order. If you order the Sirloin Steak, for example, you'll add 210 milligrams of sodium to the meal. Still, that doesn't mean you need to avoid the Country Boy Breakfast at all costs. If you enjoy this hearty breakfast, consider having a light lunch and dinner afterward.

The Homestyle Chicken Salad isn't the best choice

If you've said to yourself, "Wow, thank goodness I don't eat fried chicken or steak for breakfast! I'll just stick to good old salads," you might be operating on the assumption that Cracker Barrel's salads are relatively healthy. You'd partially be right. Fresh vegetables aren't exactly as unhealthy as sugar-cured ham and gravy-soaked chicken, to be sure. But there's one salad that may not be as good for you as it seems.

Cracker Barrel's Homestyle Chicken Salad consists of your choice of grilled or fried chicken, served atop a bed of greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, Colby cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and your choice of dressing. While this may not sound too offensive, according to Cracker Barrel's nutrition guide, the grilled chicken version of this salad still contains 470 calories, 21 grams of fat, 305 milligrams of cholesterol, and 920 milligrams of sodium. Compare that to the House Salad, which contains 260 calories, 15 grams of fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, and 600 milligrams of sodium.

While the amount of sodium, cholesterol, and calories may not make this salad a suitable starter for some people, it can be used as a relatively inexpensive lunch if you're not in the mood for any of the heavier items on the Cracker Barrel menu.