Are Cracker Barrel's Mashed Potatoes The Real Thing?

Restaurant chains are known to take shortcuts with their food because of how many customers they need to serve in such a short amount of time. The Cheesecake Factory's cheesecakes, for example, are made off-site and delivered frozen to each location. So are Olive Garden's breadsticks, which are simply buttered and reheated before serving. It wouldn't be too surprising, therefore, if Cracker Barrel used instant mashed potatoes at its restaurants.

Instant mashed potatoes are convenient for busy food establishments like KFC — the only thing employees need to do is add water and mix. The peeling, cooking, and mashing, has already been done. The downside to instant mashed potatoes is that they aren't as fluffy and tend to be bland. 

But despite the fact that they're technically a side item, Cracker Barrel refuses to sacrifice the quality of a Southern staple and confirms that its mashed potatoes are made with fresh, not instant, potatoes.

Why Cracker Barrel doesn't use instant mashed potatoes

Cracker Barrel has hundreds of locations across the United States. But the restaurant's core values have never wavered since 1969, when it first opened. Founder Dan Evins started Cracker Barrel with the intention of serving hungry customers Southern comfort food that tasted like it was made at home. Using high-quality ingredients was (and still is) a major part of that.

Staying true to Evins' vision, Cracker Barrel still makes its mashed potatoes as authentically as it did back in the day. "'Homemade' may not be an ingredient, but it's something you can taste," the restaurant explained of its decision

Despite the fact that there are two different mashed potato offerings, as well as two types of gravy, on the menu, Cracker Barrel doesn't cut corners when making them. No matter which you decide to order, you can count on it being made fresh.

How Cracker Barrel makes its mashed potatoes

Cracker Barrel's mashed potatoes start with potatoes that are grown in the United States. While you might assume they're prepped and cooked every morning before food service starts, the mashed potatoes are actually made throughout the day. To keep up with demand, however, they're made in large batches and Cracker Barrel employees don't mash the potatoes by hand but rather with an electric mixer.

Margarine, black pepper, and salt are added to Cracker Barrel's plain mashed potatoes, while the loaded mashed potatoes are mixed with bacon bits, shredded Colby cheese, and green onions. Both types of mashed potatoes can be served with sawmill gravy, brown gravy, or none at all. You might also notice that the mashed potatoes also have bits of potato skin, and people have even found large chunks of potato in theirs. But most would say that's a pretty fair trade-off, considering the mashed potatoes are made from scratch.