Crafting the Cracker Barrel Thanksgiving Menu in Your Own Kitchen

Is Cracker Barrel open on Thanksgiving?

According to their website, they will open during their regular business hours.

If you don’t want to go to a restaurant for Thanksgiving but want to celebrate the holiday Cracker Barrel style you have two options:

  • Use their take-home meal service
  • Replicate their menu options at home.

For several years now, however, Cracker Barrel has offered their customers the advantage of taking home a heat-n-serve turkey-day dinner with all the trimmings.

And, more importantly, none of the prep work.

For a cool $94, you can pick up a feast that will melt in your mouth (even if it isn’t quite grandma’s home cooking) that goes from oven to table in 2 hours flat.

It’s a smart move on their part.

They’re making it easier for folks to enjoy a delicious holiday meal experience that is undoubtedly much faster than preparing one from scratch and requires no clean-up.

Now, I’ve been tempted to try the take’n’bake fare on more than one Thanksgiving past (I do love me some Cracker Barrel).

But, I’ve never pulled the trigger because it’s frankly too much food for my 3-person family.

Not to mention, the almost $100 price tag is really more than I want to spend.

Plus, to me, it just doesn’t feel like a turkey holiday unless certain criteria are met.

Criteria like:

  • lovingly preparing food
  • while snacking
  • while sipping wine
  • while listening to someone shout about football

But one early November day in 2022, when I realized Thanksgiving was speeding our way and I had to plan a menu, I had an epiphany.

What about making a Cracker Barrel meal at home?

It wouldn’t have to be 100% made from scratch, but I could hand-modify and upgrade some store-bought ingredients to really give it that homey, old-country-store feel.

So, that’s what I decided to do.

I opened my browser and started searching their site.

I found out what they would be offering.

Then, I researched and downloaded several other recipes that I could tweak until the Cracker Barrel dinner was built.

Keep reading to learn how you, too, can make a delicious Cracker Barrel Thanksgiving dinner at home!

Spend a lot less time slaving over the stove and more time relaxing with family!

What Will Be On The Menu At Cracker Barrel?

This year, the heat and serve dinner includes:

  • Turkey gravy
  • Cranberry relish
  • Sweet yeast rolls
  • Cornbread dressing
  • Sweet potato casserole
  • Oven-roasted turkey breast
  • Your choice of one country side

Country side dish options are as follows:

  • carrots
  • green beans
  • fried apples
  • mashed potatoes
  • hashbrown casserole
  • macaroni and cheese
  • broccoli cheese casserole

How to Make Thanksgiving Dinner Easier and Faster

My main goal was to ensure the food was not only delicious with a Cracker Barrel feel, but it also had to be more efficient than cooking a traditional meal.

So, I strategized.

Now, one thing they don’t give you on their site is much detail about the food.

So, with multiple browsers and windows open, I searched everything from Cracker Barrel imitation recipes to ready-to-eat products I could buy at any grocery store.

I read reviews from readers, dove deep into spices and seasonings, and ultimately decided which options I could recreate to give my family the best experience of the restaurant but at home.

Early on, I realized that I had an advantage with the latest technology at my fingertips (in other words, my countertop air fryer).

With that piece of equipment, I could easily achieve the fried apples with just some freshly peeled and sliced apples, a little cinnamon and sugar, and some avocado oil cooking spray.

Side dish: done.

But what about the star of the show, the roast turkey breast?

I didn’t want to roast a whole turkey as that was expensive and time-consuming, and we would be swimming in leftovers for at least 8eight months.

Luckily, I found Jennie-O Oven-Ready Boneless Turkey Breast.

At $15 for close to three pounds of frozen turkey breast, it was the perfect option to feed three people without a bunch of prepping.

According to the package, it could require up to three hours to cook, but if all I had to do was take it from the freezer, plop it onto a baking sheet, and throw it in a preheated oven, that felt way more efficient to me.

Plus, it came with a packet of gravy, so I was sold.

My plan was to upgrade the gravy with some extra pepper and maybe some Worcestershire sauce and brush the bird breasts with some browned butter to give it a little homemade touch.

Main dish plus gravy: check.

Admittedly, the turkey, gravy, and fried apples were the easy part.

The Rest of the Thanksgiving Sides

It proved a little more difficult to achieve a home-cooked feel to the rest of the dishes while still keeping them quick and easy.

However, I was up for the challenge and felt very supported by my husband.

He even bought me an extra bottle of wine to enhance my experience.

I decided on this recipe for the sweet potato casserole because it said you could prepare it up to 2 days before baking, saving me a ton of time on Thanksgiving day.

I also used canned sweet potato in lieu of boiling and peeling my own, which made it much faster.

Additionally, I substituted the marshmallows for an easy crumble topping of brown sugar, butter, flour, and pecans.

Then, I didn’t have to buy any ingredients I didn’t already have on hand while still giving it that Cracker Barrel feel.

I knew the cornbread dressing needed to be amazing, as it was one of my favorite parts of the holiday meal.

To keep it easy, I decided to use Pepperidge Farm Cornbread Classic Stuffing mix that you can buy almost anywhere for cheap and doctor yourself to give it that homemade flavor.

I followed the package directions (mostly) but personalized by using one less tablespoon of butter and 1/2 cup less chicken broth, subbing in 1 can of cream of mushroom soup (which gave it the homemade flavor that I’m used to and love in a dressing).

For my last two turkey accompaniments, the rolls and the cranberry relish, I decided to split the difference.

The day before, I made the relish completely from scratch with this easy recipe and bought dinner rolls from a local bakery (along with a pumpkin pie, because, c’mon).

Bada bing, bada boom, Cracker Barrel Thanksgiving was built.

On Thanksgiving Day, I Rested

I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, but I have to say, this might have been the best Thanksgiving meal I ever made.

It was delicious- the turkey was moist, the cornbread dressing was perfection, and the fried apples were a decadent treat.

My family loved it and ate it up.

In all, I made one dish completely from scratch, one completely store-bought, and four were a mash-up of pre-packaged products that were hand-modified to feel more homey and special.

Because I was able to make several dishes one or two days beforehand, I only spent about 2.5 total hours in the kitchen on Thanksgiving day (including clean-up).

Our Cracker Barrel Thanksgiving at Home Verdict

It was glorious.

Not only was the food great, but I had so much fun planning and executing this meal- it was truly the best experience I’ve ever had when it comes to holiday cooking.

I urge you readers to try this for yourselves, and I can almost guarantee you and your family won’t be disappointed!

Tell me about your Thanksgiving cooking experiences in the comment section!

What’s your favorite dish to prepare?

Have you ever had a Cracker Barrel Thanksgiving?

I would love to hear from you!

Lia works as a meditation teacher, mentor, and spiritual guide for anyone seeking lasting happiness and fulfillment. After earning a bachelor's degree in health sciences from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, she spent 17 years as an entrepreneur in the food service industry. It was from fulfilling leadership and management duties in this industry that Lia became interested in what makes and keeps people happy. In her quest to uncover the golden rules of lasting happiness, she traveled to India and studied meditation at Ekam-Oneness, A World Center For Enlightenment, and then became a Certified Meditation Instructor with Chopra Global in 2020. Today, Lia combines her knowledge of science and spirit in classes and workshops on meditation and science-based spirituality practices. She writes to share information and insights about meditation, happiness, personal growth, healing, and self-discovery. Lia lives with her family in Montana, where she enjoys hiking, snowboarding, adventuring, and reveling in the beauty of the natural world.
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