Jennifer Hanes MS, RDN, LD
Cracker Barrel, a beloved American restaurant chain renowned for its Southern-style comfort food, has long been a go-to destination for many diners seeking a taste of nostalgia.
However, for those following a vegetarian lifestyle, navigating the menu can be a bit challenging. With its emphasis on meat-heavy dishes and traditional Southern flavors, finding suitable options can seem like a daunting task.
Nevertheless, as the demand for vegetarian choices continues to rise, it’s crucial for restaurants like Cracker Barrel to cater to a wider range of dietary preferences.
In this blog post, we’ll delve into the world of vegetarian dining at Cracker Barrel, exploring the existing options, providing tips for customizing your meal, and shedding light on the benefits of choosing vegetarian dishes.
So, if you’re a vegetarian or simply curious about vegetarian offerings on the Cracker Barrel menu, read on to discover how you can enjoy a satisfying and flavorful dining experience.
The Challenge of Finding Vegetarian Options at Cracker Barrel
Cracker Barrel prides itself in making food “the traditional Southern way.” This means that they use lots of animal products in places where they aren’t really necessary. Think bacon in green beans, lard in the potatoes, etc.
Because of this choosing vegetarian options can be quite difficult. As the number of people intentionally reducing their meat intake increases, many restaurants have made an effort to include at least 1 or 2 vegetarian options.
This increase in meat-reducing population is seen even in the South, so having options is increasingly important. But, for the most part, Cracker Barrel has not made this a priority. However, this may be getting better…
Backlash of Vegan Sausage
Apparently, in 2022, Cracker Barrel added a vegan sausage option to the breakfast menu.
And boy did the anti-progressive crowd have feelings... Rather than say, “I don’t want that,” they instead took to social media decrying “woke-ness” and anti-Cracker Barrel rhetoric.
You’d have thought that the president had declared that everyone that enters Cracker Barrel must have at least one sausage patty.
Keep in mind that Cracker Barrel did not remove any menu items to accommodate the vegan sausage. Turns out they were actually against giving other people choices.
So long story short… Impossible sausage appears to still be on Cracker Barrel’s menu almost 1 year later.
Vegetarian-Friendly Menu Items at Cracker Barrel
Cracker Barrel is the first restaurant I’ve reviewed that actually straight-up provides a list of vegetarian menu options on its website. Unfortunately, their definition of the word vegetarian needs some work. It is in fact, their pescatarian menu, as most options are fish dishes.
Looking at their “vegetarian” menu, the actual vegetarian options are:
Vegetarian Breakfast at Cracker Barrel
- Build Your Own Homestyle Breakfast – Your choice of eggs, plus your choice of fried apples, grits, or tomato slices. Can be upgraded to include vegan sausage and fruit.
- Pancakes – options include buttermilk, blueberries, and pecan.
- French Toast
- Egg Sandwich – 2 eggs on sourdough and a side
There isn’t much going on here for a vegan. Your best bet is to choose your own homestyle breakfast and upgrade your eggs to vegan sausage. Choose fried apples, tomato slices, or seasonal fruit as a side. You could also ask if the grits are vegan, though they likely contain milk.
Vegetarian Lunch and Dinner at Cracker Barrel
Weeding our way past the fish…
Our vegetarian options are:
- Country Vegetable Plate – Your choice of 4 sides
- House Salad – ask for no bacon
The vegetarian side options are mashed potatoes, homestyle fries, macaroni and cheese, breaded fried okra, sweet baby carrots, corn, steamed broccoli, cole slaw, fresh seasonal fruit, fried apples, sweet potato casserole, and hot vegetable soup.
Potential vegan options are fries, baby carrots (depending on how they’re sweetened), corn, broccoli, fruit, fried apples, and hot vegetable soup. But verify.
Cracker Barrel serves breakfast all day. So brinner may be in your future.
Tips for Ordering Vegetarian at Cracker Barrel
The options listed above are pretty safe to consider vegetarian. However, it is highly doubtful that even the vegan sausage gets its own cooking surface.
You should determine your comfort level regarding the cooking of vegetarian or vegan (veg*n) foods on the same surfaces as animal products. The only people that can tell you for certain are the staff, so please ask.
As for vegan options, while the sides are listed as vegetarian, and some menu items do include animal products that you may not expect, there is a decent chance that some of those vegetables have butter on them.
My top tip for eating veg*n at Cracker Barrel is to call ahead rather than waiting to ask the server. This way you can decide if a trip to this restaurant is worth it.
However, if someone has already decided on the restaurant, please inquire with the servers for any clarifications you may need. Nicely.
Potential for Options not Listed on the “Vegetarian” Menu
There are some options that can be fairly easily modified to suit a vegetarian. Consider:
- Biscuit Benny – Basically Eggs Benedict on a biscuit instead of an English muffin. Ask for no meat.
- Pancake Tacos – just what it sounds like. Order with no meat.
- Stuffed Cheesecake Pancakes – not sure why this isn’t listed on their vegetarian menu.
- Grandma’s Sampler Pancake (or French Toast) Breakfast – sub meat for another egg.
- Biscuit Beignets – appears vegetarian on the menu already.
- Grits – the menu states it includes margarine and salt only.
- Loaded Steak Fries – no bacon
- Country Fried Pickles
- White Cheddar Bites
- House Salad – no bacon and vegetarian friendly dressing such as balsamic herb vinaigrette
In conclusion, while Cracker Barrel may be renowned for its meat-centric country cuisine, there are indeed vegetarian-friendly options available for those seeking a plant-based meal.
By exploring the existing vegetarian choices, customizing your order, and incorporating alternatives and additions, you can create a delightful and satisfying dining experience at Cracker Barrel.
It’s important for restaurants to recognize the growing demand for vegetarian options and accommodate diverse dietary preferences to create a more inclusive and welcoming atmosphere.
Whether you’re a committed vegetarian, looking to reduce your meat consumption, or simply curious about trying something new, don’t hesitate to explore the vegetarian offerings at Cracker Barrel and other establishments. Bon appétit!
There are a few options for a vegetarian meal at Cracker Barrel. You can choose a vegetable plate, salad and baked potato, or have a vegetarian breakfast option, which are served all day.
Not really, vegetarians and vegans aren’t exactly their target market. They do appear to be offering more options though. However, make sure to ask about the sides as animal products are often included in what could be expected to be vegetarian.
The mashed potatoes, homestyle fries, macaroni and cheese, fried okra, baby carrots, corn, steamed broccoli, cole slaw, fruit, and sweet potato casserole all appear to be vegetarian from looking at the menu.
But make sure to verify there is not meat in the products when placing your order.
Jennifer Hanes MS, RDN, LD is a registered dietitian, mom, wife, and vegetarian in North Texas. She has dedicated Dietitian Jenn to be a source of information, ideas, and inspiration for people like her, vegetarians that live with people with different dietary beliefs and/or needs in a multivore household.