7 Best Grocery Store Cupcakes, Ranked 

The best grocery store cupcakes should meet the following cupcake criteria: thick frosting that doesn’t immediately dissolve on your tongue like aerated fluff, moist cakes with a balanced density and sweetness, and no artificial aftertaste. (That’s not to say the ingredients can’t have artificial flavors—the cupcake just shouldn’t taste like it was injected with chemicals.) I want to be fooled. Bamboozled. Convince me that a real person made these in a real kitchen. I’m not asking too much, am I? 

If you can’t already tell, I have a fraught relationship with grocery store cupcakes. Here’s why: About a half-hour before any birthday party I’m ever invited to, you can find me in the bakery section of the nearest grocery store, perusing their selection of mini cupcakes with crippling indecisiveness. I’m searching for the best grocery store cupcake on offer, but I never know what to buy. If I was a chef, I’d look at ingredients, but I’m decidedly not a chef, so I’m always going off vibes. Vibes, cupcake aesthetic, and more vibes. 

But now, after this taste test, my entire life has changed. I’m a freaking grocery store cupcake connoisseur. I’m never going to bring a dry, sickly-sweet cupcake to a party ever again. The Sporked taste test team and I tried twenty grocery store cupcakes and we found the seven best store bought cupcakes available, including the best chocolate cupcakes, the best vanilla cupcakes, and even the best vegan cupcakes. Here they are, in all their frosted glory.


Best Chocolate & Vanilla

Favorite Day Bakery Chocolate & Vanilla

Here’s something to consider when trying to find the best store bought cupcakes: People are fickle. Maybe one day your pal is a chocolate fiend and the next they can’t get enough vanilla. How are you to anticipate their current dessert mood?. Luckily, if you can’t decide between chocolate or vanilla cupcakes, Target’s Favorite Day Chocolate & Vanilla Cupcakes are the yummiest mixed batch of the bunch. The frosting is slightly thicker than typical frosting fluff, the sprinkles are decently sized and crunch nicely with every bite (though they could be more evenly distributed, if you ask me), and the cake is soft and moist. You might notice a slightly artificial aftertaste, but look, we tried so many grocery store cupcakes, and that aftertaste is really hard to escape. We can’t have it all. But we can have some of the best chocolate cupcakes and the best vanilla cupcakes in the same tray, at the very least. 

Credit: Merc / Target

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Best for Oreo Lovers

Two Bite Oreo Mini Cupcakes

Here’s the deal: If you bite into these Oreo Mini Cupcakes expecting to taste an Oreo cookie in cupcake form, you’re going to be a little disappointed. These don’t taste like Oreo cookies—they do, however, taste alarmingly similar to Oreo O’s, Oreo’s briefly discontinued but now back-on-the-shelves cereal brand (and some of the best chocolate cereal you can buy). These cupcakes have muted chocolate and vanilla creme flavors, and the frosting, much like an Oreo’s center, leaves a distinctly milky aftertaste. It’s weird, sure, but it made this list of the best store-bought cupcakes for a reason. It’s pretty damn good—especially if you manage your expectations. 

Credit: Merc / Vons

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Best Vegan

Rubicon Vegan Chocolate Blackout Cupcake

The best vegan cupcake at the grocery store was hard to find—they don’t sell very many. I was concerned we weren’t going to find a decent contender, but then came Rubicon’s vegan chocolate cupcake. If it wasn’t advertised on the package, you really wouldn’t know this was a vegan cupcake. (I know, because I asked several people to try it without telling them!) Unlike most of the mini cupcakes gracing this ranking, this vegan chocolate cupcake is large and dense. It’s extremely decadent. The cake itself has a thick, fudgy consistency, which gives way to a rich chocolate icing in the middle. If you’re looking for the best grocery store cupcakes to buy for a vegan, look no further. 

Credit: Merc / Instacart

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

Best Chocolate Cupcakes

Sprouts Two Bite Chocolate Cupcakes

We’re jumping up in our spork rating here, because these last four cupcakes seriously delivered on taste. Out of all the chocolate cupcakes I tried–-and I tried a lot—Sprouts mini chocolate cupcakes were the best chocolate cupcakes. They check off nearly all of my cupcake criteria. The cake itself is light and moist (check). There isn’t a trace of artificial, sickly sweet aftertaste (check). And the frosting? Well, that is mostly aerated fluff. But you know what, I don’t mind. These mini chocolate store-bought cupcakes aren’t meant to be super decadent. Their purpose is to be consumed, one after the other, until they mysteriously disappear. 

Credit: Merc / Sprouts

Rating:

9.5/10

Sporks

Best Wild Card

Just Desserts Classic Carrot Cupcake

After putting an oatmeal cookie in first place for our Aldi cookies ranking, I hope some of you at least saw this coming. Yes, a carrot cupcake made our top three best grocery store cupcakes. But it’s seriously so good and rich and soft and dense. That thick cream cheese frosting? Those delicate carrot flakes in the cake? This blew my cupcake criteria out of the water. I’d give it 10 sporks, but I know we’re talking about a cupcake that has a vegetable in it, and that’s going to put a lot of you off. And I respect that. But if, by chance, you’re searching for the best store bought cupcakes that someone without the biggest sweet tooth would really enjoy, you’ve found it.

Credit: Merc / Kroger

Rating:

9.5/10

Sporks

Best Vanilla Cupcakes

Marketside French Vanilla Cupcakes

Here’s a message for anyone who knows me and is reading this: Buy me these cupcakes for my birthday. Marketside French Vanilla Cupcakes are Walmart’s answer to perfect mini vanilla cupcakes. The cake is moist, delicate, and tastes like real vanilla. If I found these in the window of a patisserie, I’d totally believe they were handmade by a pastry chef. The simple touch of granular sugar on top of the frosting is the real star of the show. That added crunch on an otherwise beautifully simple cupcake elevates it to something elegant and unique. These are the best store bought vanilla cupcakes, and no one will convince me otherwise. 

Credit: Merc / Walmart

Rating:

10/10

Sporks

Best of the Best

Bakery Fresh Cookies & Creme

Well slap me in the face and shower me in sprinkles. I’m never going to have to deliberate for twenty minutes in the bakery aisle ever again. I’m only ever bringing these Kroger bakery cupcakes to parties for the rest of my life, because these are pure bliss. The delicate, spongy chocolate cake and vanilla swirl frosting blend together in perfect harmony, carrying just the right amount of sweetness with every bite. The frosting is dusted with cocoa powder, allowing the flavor to permeate from top to bottom. They may seem like Oreo cupcake dupes, but these taste closer to cookies and cream ice cream. While I’m personally more of a vanilla cupcake fan (please see my call to action in #2), I can’t deny that these are easily the best grocery store cupcakes on the market. 

Credit: Merc / Ralphs

Rating:

10/10

Sporks

Other store bought cupcakes we tried: Bakery Fresh Goodness Strawberry Mini Cupcakes, Bakery Fresh Goodness Mini Vanilla Cupcakes, Bakery Fresh Goodness Mini Chocolate Cupcakes, Kimberley’s Bakeshoppe Vanilla Flavored Filled Gourmet Cupcakes, Kimberley’s Bakeshoppe Chocolate Filled Gourmet Cupcakes, Marketside Red Velvet Cupcakes Filled With Real Cream Cheese, Marketside Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes, Sprouts Two Bite Vanilla Cupcakes 12 Pack, Vons 6 White & 6 Chocolate Cupcakes, Vons Two Bite Cupcakes Vanilla, Vons Two Bite Cupcakes Chocolate, Sweet P’s Vanilla Cupcakes 6 ct., Sweet P’s Mini Chocolate Cupcakes, Pavilions Cupcakes


About the Author

Ariana Losch

Ariana Losch is a Sporked contributor, webcomic writer, java junkie, and bad TV enthusiast. She only ever feels at peace laying out on a beach like a kebab, roasting in the sun; sadly, she can never move back to Florida, her home state, because there simply isn’t enough good Mediterranean food. You can find her overstaying her welcome at just about every LA coffee shop, working on a screenplay and avoiding all eye contact. (She is embarrassed to be there, please leave her alone.)

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  • Sporked absolutely LOVES to recommend stuff that can only be found in California its actually so dumb

    Reply
  • What no gluten-free tries? There were a lot of us out there who are gluten-free. Not because it’s a fun diet. Because it’s not because if we don’t eat that way we will kill our intestinal track and die.. think of all the extra money the grocery stores will make charging two and three dollars more for gluten-free items than they do for others.

    Reply
  • The review for the vegan cupcakes is missing. Copy/paste error while the editor was sleeping…

    Reply
  • Bought NY first chocolate Marketside cup cakes, and found them moist and delicious and easy to digest.

    Reply
  • Cupcake Comparisons? It has to be VEGAN VS. VEGAN!

    Reply