Cracker Barrel should not be your first choice when it comes to eating out on the ketogenic diet, but it certainly has come a long way since it first became popular years ago.
Back then, there was hardly anything on the menu that wasn’t deep fried or smothered in gravy. But now, low-carb dieters have several options for a meal.
Keep in mind that while you might be able to find something low carb at Cracker Barrel or any other restaurant, it won’t support your strict keto requirements.
It’s always best to do your own grocery shopping and prepare your meals at home. This allows you to have complete control over the ingredients you’re cooking with. Try not to eat out more than once or twice a month.
If you find yourself in a situation where eating at Cracker Barrel is unavoidable, then use these tips to help you make a smart food choice.
Tips For Eating at Cracker Barrel
Cracker Barrel has Tennessee roots, which means that most of their dishes have a southern flare.
If you’ve never been to the south before, then expect a lot of heavy side dishes such as macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, and dumplings. Sure, They are tasty, but they don’t exactly meet the standard for low-carb.
You might be able to satisfy your hunger with a bunless bacon cheeseburger at Cracker Barrel, but your meats and cheeses might be conventionally-raised and pumped full of hormones, antibiotics, added sugars, and nitrates/nitrites.
On top of that, fast foods in general will probably be prepared in cheap vegetable oils instead of high-quality avocado, coconut, or olive oil.
The good news is there are some healthy items on the menu as well, such as steamed broccoli and boiled cabbage. The trick is not to accidentally ruin your meal by ordering the wrong thing.
Stick with the following tips and you’ll be able to eat low-carb at Cracker Barrel.
#1. Take a look at their menu before you go
You might have to treat Cracker Barrel as if you were preparing for a test. In some ways, eating out on the ketogenic diet is a test.
You can either pass or fail. If you fail, you might end up getting kicked out of ketosis. But if you do it right, then you can enjoy a meal out every once and awhile without wrecking all your hard work.
We recommend looking over the menu at Cracker Barrel before you go so that you have an idea about what to order before you get there. Most locations are open from 6 AM until 10 PM, so you could eat any of your meals or snacks here.
They have a lighter twist menu that offers meals with fewer calories, but you’ll still need to customize these to make them low-carb.
#2. Order breakfast
Breakfast is served all day at Cracker Barrel. This is great news because it’s one of the easiest ways to eat low-carb.
Just order some eggs, bacon, and cheese, and you’ll be good to go. Ask to hold the toast, fruit juice, and hash browns that come with your meal and get a side of sausage or ham instead.
Your best bet is to order an omelet or over-easy eggs. This is because many restaurants add milk to their scrambled eggs to make them light and fluffy. Keep this in mind the next time you visit any breakfast buffet. Some places add milk to omelets as well, so be sure to ask for your meal without it.
Order your omelet with some low-carb veggies such as spinach, onions, and mushrooms for some extra fiber and antioxidants.
#3. Stay away from the daily specials
When you visit a Cracker Barrel restaurant, your server will probably hand you a separate menu with their daily specials on it. Don’t get too excited about these. Specials might be a good deal, but it’s for food that you don’t need or can’t eat on a low-carb diet.
For example, you can get a pick two combo on Monday through Friday when you visit Cracker Barrel for only $5.99, but your options include things like a grilled cheese sandwich, a baked potato, and a cup of soup.
Other daily specials include meatloaf and mashed potatoes, chicken pot pie, and fish fry. None of these are low-carb, so it’s best to stick to the regular menu.
Additionally, specials tend to be premade. When the restaurant runs out of them, then they become unavailable. This means that they will be less likely to customize your order. So you won’t be able to ask for no gravy or to swap out your side dish for something that isn’t deep fried.
What To Order at Cracker Barrel For Every Meal
The nice thing about Cracker Barrel is that you can always order breakfast. According to their website, Cracker Barrel offers breakfast morning, noon, and night. This means you can get some eggs and bacon with your choice of cheese and meat anytime you visit.
If that doesn’t sound good to you, then they have plenty of entrees you can get as well. We’ll show you what to order (and how) for every meal here.
When ordering breakfast at Cracker Barrel, stick with their everyday favorites and stay away from all other parts of the menu, such as pancakes and sides.
These dishes are safe choices:
- Grandma’s sampler (hold the pancakes, hash browns and fried apples; ask for extra sausage or bacon instead)
- The Cracker Barrel’s country boy breakfast (minus the grits and hash browns, gravy, buttermilk biscuits, and strawberry jam)
- Smokehouse breakfast (minus the grits and hash browns, gravy, buttermilk biscuits, and strawberry jam)
- Double meat breakfast (minus the grits and hash browns, gravy, buttermilk biscuits, and strawberry jam)
- Uncle Herschel’s favorite (get this with an eight ounce steak; hold the grits, hashbrowns, gravy, buttermilk biscuits, and strawberry jam)
- Good morning breakfast (order this without the grits; if you’re strict keto, then don’t eat the fruit)
- One egg and bacon or sausage (this is a good meal if you just need a snack; hold the biscuits and jam)
- Black coffee and unsweetened tea
Cracker Barrel has a lighter fare section on their menu that appears to be healthy at first glance, but you’ll still need to watch out for sugary sauces and side dishes that are carb-heavy. Stick with the following dishes instead.
- Chef salad (hold the croutons and dressing; ask for hard-boiled eggs in place of deviled eggs and oil and vinegar dressing in place of house)
- Grilled chicken salad (hold the croutons and dressing; ask for hard-boiled eggs in place of deviled eggs and oil and vinegar dressing)
- Southern grilled chicken Caesar (hold the croutons and ask for hard-boiled eggs in place of deviled eggs)
- House salad (no croutons; ask for oil and vinegar dressing)
- Lemon pepper grilled rainbow trout (get this with a side salad or steamed broccoli and hold the biscuits or corn muffins)
- Chicken BLT (choose grilled chicken instead of fried; ask for no bread and get a side salad in place of fries and coleslaw)
- Prime rib French dip sandwich platter (hold the bun, au jus sauce, and horseradish sauce; ask for a side salad in place of fries and coleslaw)
- Chicken tenderloin (ask for grilled chicken instead of fried; make your sides steamed broccoli and a side salad with oil and vinegar dressing)
- Grilled chicken tenderloins (order these with steamed vegetables or a side salad)
- Seasonal fresh fruit and fresh apple slices are OK if you are low-carb but NOT ALLOWED for strict keto
Many of the dinner entrees at Cracker Barrel are breaded. Therefore, we recommend going with a burger or sandwich and holding the bun and sauce. You can also go with a salad without the dressing. Here’s some suggestions.
- Grilled pork chops (ask for steamed broccoli or a side salad instead of country vegetables; hold the biscuits or corn muffin)
- Broccoli cheddar chicken (hold the cheese sauce and ask for shredded cheese instead; ask for steamed broccoli or a side salad as your side)
- Maple jam and bacon burger (ask for no maple onion jam or bun; get a side salad in place of fries and coleslaw)
- Signature burger (no bun or mayo; ask for a side salad in place of fries and coleslaw; you can also get this with two patties)
- Roast beef dinner (ask for no gravy on the roast beef; your sides should be steamed broccoli and a side salad)
- Ten ounce ribeye steak (make your sides steamed broccoli and a side salad with oil and vinegar dressing)
- Grilled sirloin steak (make your sides steamed broccoli and a side salad with oil and vinegar dressing)
- Half pound hamburger steak (choose a side house salad with oil and vinegar dressing and steamed broccoli as your side dishes)
- Hickory smoked country ham (choose a side house salad with oil and vinegar dressing and steamed broccoli as your side dishes)
Foods To Avoid at Cracker Barrel
While you could probably customize just about any dish on the menu to make it low-carb, some meals at Cracker Barrel just aren’t worth your trouble. There are plenty of other options on the menu that you can get to fulfill your low-carb requirements.
We suggest staying away from the following meals and sticking to something that’s easier to order. Your server will thank you!
- Old timer’s breakfast (you could order this minus the hash browns, fried apples, grits, gravy, biscuits, and strawberry jam, or you could just order something else on the menu)
- Sunrise sampler (again, you could order this without the hash browns, fried apples, grits, gravy, biscuits, and strawberry jam, or you could just order meat and eggs)
- Grandpa’s country fried breakfast (sorry, grandpa; there is nothing low-carb about this dish)
- Country morning breakfast (comes with too many carbs and not enough low-carb foods)
- Fresh start sampler (includes yogurt, fruit, granola, and a muffin)
- All pancake and french toast dishes (momma’s pancake breakfast, wild Maine blueberry pancakes, pecan pancakes, buttermilk pancakes, momma’s french toast breakfast, eggs in the basket, and regular french toast)
- Fresh fruit and yogurt parfait breakfast
- Apple and cinnamon oatmeal
- Two eggs and biscuits (or get this with meat instead of the biscuits)
- Hash browns, fried apples, and biscuits
- Meat, biscuits, and hash brown casserole or fried apples
- Egg sandwich (or get this without the biscuits and grits)
- Biscuits and gravy
- Bacon or sausage with fried apples or hash brown casserole (you could get this without the fried apples or hash brown casserole or you could just order something else on the menu)
- Sweetened coffee or tea including lattes and mochas, juice, and milk
- Fried chicken salad (get the grilled chicken salad instead and hold the croutons and dressing)
- Country vegetable plate
- Apple cider BBQ chicken breast
- Baked chicken and dressing
- Meatloaf and mashed potatoes
- Pot pie
- Turkey and dressing
- Fish fry
- Homestyle chicken
- Chicken and rice
- Open faced roast beef sandwich (or you could get this without the bread and gravy; ask for a house salad as your side)
- Country fried steak
- Cracker Barrel sampler
- Chicken fried chicken
- Fried chicken livers
- Country fried shrimp
- Farm-raised catfish
- Sugar cured ham (it’s best to avoid ham with sugar added to it)
- All soups
- Sides of beans, potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and corn or other starchy vegetables
- All desserts
The menu at Cracker Barrel has undoubtedly improved over the years, but you’ll still need to customize your dish if you plan on eating low-carb here. Watch out for fried and breaded foods and added gravy.
Side dishes tend to be heavy in carbs. We recommend sticking with a side house salad (hold the croutons) made with oil and vinegar dressing or steamed broccoli as your sides. Pair these with a steak, grilled chicken dish, or even boiled fish.
You can also get a sandwich or burger without the bun and sauce that comes on it, including mayo. Cracker Barrel has several salads that you can get. We recommend asking for a hard-boiled egg in place of the deviled eggs that come with each one. You’ll also want to hold the croutons.
Most dishes at Cracker Barrel come with homemade biscuits, so you’ll also want to avoid these as well. Study the menu before you go and stick with breakfast if you can (they serve it all day).
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