How many calories are in a chicken and dumplings side at Cracker Barrel?

Quick Answer

The chicken and dumplings side dish at Cracker Barrel contains approximately 380 calories per serving. The exact calorie count can vary slightly depending on the specific ingredients and preparation, but a standard serving of Cracker Barrel’s chicken and dumplings contains about 380 calories.

Calories in Cracker Barrel’s Chicken and Dumplings

Cracker Barrel’s chicken and dumplings side dish is a popular item on their menu. It consists of pieces of chicken and soft, fluffy dumplings in a thick chicken broth.

According to Cracker Barrel’s nutrition information, one serving of their homestyle chicken and dumplings contains:

Calories 380
Total Fat 16g
Saturated Fat 4.5g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 75mg
Sodium 960mg
Total Carbohydrates 33g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 3g
Protein 26g

As you can see, one serving contains 380 calories, along with 16g of fat, 960mg of sodium, and 33g of carbohydrates. The majority of calories come from the dumplings, chicken, and broth.

Factors Affecting Calorie Count

While Cracker Barrel states that their chicken and dumplings contains 380 calories per serving, the actual amount can vary slightly depending on:


– Type and cut of chicken: Chicken thighs or legs will be slightly higher in calories than chicken breast. The size of the chicken pieces may also cause small variations.

– Amount of dumplings: More or larger dumplings will increase the calorie count.

– Type of fat: Chicken broth or dumplings made with butter, bacon grease, or other fats will be higher in calories than broth made with oil.

– Thickeners: Flour, cornstarch, or roux used to thicken the broth will add calories.

– Seasonings and flavorings: Ingredients like salt, pepper, herbs, and spices have minimal effects on calories.

Cooking Method

– Frying vs. simmering: Frying the chicken and dumplings will add more calories from oil or other fats.

– Length of cooking: Longer simmering times may reduce calories through moisture loss.

– Use of thickeners: Extra flour or cornstarch mixed with broth increases calories.

Portion Size

– Serving size: The stated 380 calories is for one serving or cup of chicken and dumplings. Larger portions will increase calorie intake.

– Add-ons: Adding biscuits, cornbread, or other sides will add more calories to the meal.

So while the standard nutrition info lists 380 calories per serving, the actual amount could be slightly higher or lower based on small variations in ingredients, cooking method, and portion size. But the calorie count should remain fairly close to 380 calories for a typical serving.

Nutritional Profile of Chicken and Dumplings

In addition to calories, some other key nutritional facts about Cracker Barrel’s chicken and dumplings include:


With 26g of protein per serving, this dish provides over half of the daily protein needs for most adults. Chicken and dumplings make a filling, protein-packed meal.


There are 33g of carbs per serving, mostly coming from the dumpling mix. This counts as a high-carb side dish.


The 16g of fat per serving mainly comes from the chicken, dumplings, and broth. Saturated and trans fats are relatively low.


There is 960mg of sodium in one serving, accounting for about 40% of the daily recommended limit. The broth and seasonings contribute most of the sodium.


With only 2g of fiber per serving, chicken and dumplings are not a significant source of dietary fiber.


The sugar content is low at 3g per serving, with no added sugars. Natural sugars come from small amounts in the dumplings and vegetables.


The 75mg of cholesterol comes primarily from the chicken. This accounts for about 25% of the daily recommended limit.

So in terms of nutrition, chicken and dumplings provide a good source of protein, along with decent amounts of carbs and fat. They are relatively low in fiber, sugar, and cholesterol.

Health Benefits of Chicken and Dumplings

Eating Cracker Barrel’s chicken and dumplings can provide the following potential health benefits:

Lean Protein

The high protein content from the chicken provides amino acids that help maintain and repair muscle. Protein also keeps you feeling fuller for longer.

Complex Carbohydrates

The dumplings provide long-lasting energy from their complex carbohydrates. Whole grains in the dumpling mix also supply B vitamins, iron, and fiber.

Lower Saturated Fat

Chicken and dumplings are relatively low in saturated fat, especially if made with lean chicken and broth rather than fatty meats and oils.


Onions, carrots, celery, and other veggies in the broth offer phytonutrients with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.


The dish can be made gluten-free by using corn-based dumpling mix rather than wheat-based.

Overall, chicken and dumplings can be part of a healthy balanced diet, providing lean protein, complex carbs, and vitamins and minerals from the vegetables. Be mindful of portion sizes and sodium content.

Tips for Making Lower Calorie Chicken and Dumplings

For people looking to reduce the calories in this comforting dish, here are some tips:

– Use skinless, boneless chicken breasts instead of thighs.

– Choose lighter dumplings made with egg whites, low-fat buttermilk, and flour.

– Cook the chicken and dumplings by simmering rather than frying.

– Use chicken or vegetable broth instead of fatty meats for flavor.

– Boost flavor with herbs and spices instead of salt.

– Increase low-cal veggies like carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms.

– Mix in some spinach, kale, or other greens.

– Use milk or cornstarch instead of a butter/flour roux to thicken.

– Limit portion size to 1 cup servings.

– Avoid dunking buttery biscuits or cornbread on the side.

With some simple substitutions and cooking methods, you can still enjoy the classic flavor of chicken and dumplings in a lighter, healthier way. The standard 380 calories can easily be reduced to 300 calories or less per serving.

Does Cracker Barrel Offer Low Calorie Chicken and Dumplings?

Unfortunately, Cracker Barrel does not offer a lower calorie or diet version of their chicken and dumplings on their standard menu. The nutrition info lists 380 calories for a regular serving.

However, there are some ways you can request a lighter preparation when dining at Cracker Barrel:

– Ask for chicken breast instead of fried chicken.

– Request chicken broth rather than beef or pork broth.

– Skip adding dumpling drippings or gravy on top.

– Order a smaller half-size portion.

– Replace biscuits or cornbread with a side salad.

While they don’t advertise it on the menu, you may also be able to request dumplings made with egg whites or lower-fat buttermilk instead of whole eggs and full-fat dairy.

So with some simple substitutions and smaller portions, you can reduce the calories, fat, carbs, and sodium in Cracker Barrel’s chicken and dumplings. But the standard recipe they use will still come in around 380 calories per serving.

Low Calorie Homemade Chicken and Dumpling Recipes

If you want even more control over the nutrition, consider making healthier homemade chicken and dumplings. Here are some ideas for lighter recipes:

Lighter Chicken and Dumplings

– Swap chicken thighs for boneless, skinless breasts
– Use reduced-fat baking mix for the dumplings
– Cook in chicken broth, not heavy cream or fatty meats
– Boost flavor with onions, carrots, celery, herbs, and spices
– Use milk and flour instead of butter and flour to thicken
– Top with a sprinkling of parsley rather than heavy gravy

Skinny Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

– Cook chicken breasts in the slow cooker on low for 5 hours
– Shred chicken and return to slow cooker
– Prepare dumplings with Greek yogurt and whole wheat flour
– Drop spoonfuls of dumpling dough on top of chicken
– Cook on high for an additional 30 minutes

Clean Eating Chicken and Dumplings

– Poach chicken in low-sodium chicken broth with mirepoix veggies
– Make dumplings with almond milk, whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder
– Steam dumplings on top of the chicken and broth
– Garnish with fresh dill and lemon zest

With some simple substitutions and smart cooking techniques, you can create healthier homemade versions of this comfort food classic while still enjoying the delicious flavor. The calorie count can easily be reduced to around 300 calories for a 1 cup serving.

Comparisons to Other Common Foods

To put the 380 calories in Cracker Barrel’s chicken and dumplings in context, here’s how it compares to some other popular foods:

Food Calories
Cracker Barrel chicken and dumplings (1 serving) 380
Chick-fil-A chicken noodle soup (1 cup) 200
Olive Garden zuppa toscana soup (1 cup) 270
Panera broccoli cheddar soup (1 cup) 310
McDonald’s Big Mac 540
Burger King Whopper 670
Starbucks blueberry muffin 460

As you can see, Cracker Barrel’s chicken and dumplings contains more calories than soups like Chick-fil-A’s or Olive Garden’s, but less than a fast food burger or bakery muffin. The comfort food is hearty and filling, but still lower in calories than many less nutritious options.

Should You Avoid Chicken and Dumplings If Watching Calories?

Chicken and dumplings can absolutely still be part of a healthy diet when trying to manage your calorie intake, in moderation. Here are some tips:

– Stick to a 1 cup serving size

– Avoid eating corn muffins, biscuits, or other high-calorie sides

– Balance it out by choosing lower calorie foods for the rest of your meals that day

– Make it at home using lower-fat ingredients to cut calories

– Enjoy it only occasionally as a special treat, not every day

Rather than avoiding this favorite comfort food completely, just pay attention to portions, preparation, and how often you indulge. When eaten in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet, chicken and dumplings can definitely still fit into your calorie goals.

Should You Avoid Chicken and Dumplings If Watching Sodium?

For people concerned about their sodium intake, chicken and dumplings may need more caution. With 960mg of sodium per serving, it accounts for a significant portion of the recommended daily sodium limit.

If you are sensitive to sodium for health reasons, consider these tips:

– Request low-sodium chicken broth

– Avoid adding extra salt, seasoning salt, or salty gravy

– Choose homemade with reduced sodium broth and limit added salt

– Enjoy smaller 1/2 cup portions to reduce sodium intake

– Opt for other lower sodium soups and sides at Cracker Barrel

For those restricting sodium, be mindful of portion sizes of this dish, and balance it out with lower sodium foods for the rest of the day. Making it at home also gives you control over the amount of sodium used.

Low Sodium Homemade Chicken and Dumpling Recipes

To make chicken and dumplings with less salt at home, try:

– Use reduced or low-sodium chicken broth

– Skip adding salt to the broth, or use just a small pinch

– Season with lemon juice, herbs, pepper, garlic, and onion instead of salt

– Use unsalted butter in the dumplings

– Avoid canned soups, broths, or seasonings that are high in sodium

With homemade versions, you can control the sodium content and create chicken and dumplings recipes that are heart-healthy as well as delicious. This allows you to enjoy the flavors and satisfaction of the dish without excess salt.

Healthier Ways to Satisfy Your Comfort Food Cravings

Chicken and dumplings make for an indulgent, comforting meal. But you don’t have to resign yourself to only eating it occasionally as a treat. There are many ways to enjoy the flavors and satisfaction while still sticking to your health goals:

– Try lighter homemade recipes using healthier ingredients

– Portion out single-servings in advance for grab-and-go lunches

– Replace biscuits or cornbread with a side salad or steamed veggies

– Bulk it up by mixing in extra vegetables like carrots, peas, kale

– Find other lighter comfort food recipes online or in healthy cookbooks

– Stay active with regular exercise to balance out occasional treats

With some creativity and smart substitutions, you really can have your chicken and dumplings and eat it too – even when watching your calories, sodium, weight, or other nutrition goals. This satisfying down home dish can definitely still have a place in a balanced, healthy lifestyle.


Chicken and dumplings from Cracker Barrel provides the comforting flavors of homestyle cooking. While the standard recipe contains about 380 calories and 960mg sodium per serving, there are many ways to lighten it up through ingredient swaps, cooking methods, and portion sizes. Enjoy this classic in moderation alongside an overall balanced diet and active lifestyle. With some small tweaks, chicken and dumplings can be wholesome as well as delicious.

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