The best snack cakes combine the joy of eating baked goods with the convenience of a packaged snack. A frosting-slathered cupcake from your local bakery is great, but you usually can’t shove one in your backpack or purse without making a big-ass mess. That’s where brands like TastyKake, Entenmann’s, Hostess, and Drake’s come in.
I’m pretty proud of the assortment of snack cakes I sourced for this taste test. I’d say Hostess and Little Debbie are the dominant snack cake brands across the U.S., but there are regional favorites to take into account, like Drake’s and TastyKake. We got a little bit of everything and tasted a bunch of cupcakes, coffee cakes, and other, often creme-filled snack cakes head to head to find the best. (Please don’t scream at me for not including Star Crunch or Nutty Bars on this list—those aren’t really cakes.) We were looking for cakes that were sweet without being nauseatingly sugary, and ones that didn’t taste like they were packed with preservatives (even though they’re all obviously packed with preservatives). I hope you’re hungry for something sweet and squishy, because these are the best snack cakes at the grocery store.
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- Little Debbie Swiss Rolls
I know I said we were looking for snack cakes that didn’t give us toothaches, but I made an exception for Little Debbie Swiss Rolls. They’re sugary as all hell, but they’re a classic. The chocolate coating is delicate and pleasant to eat, and the cake component—which, granted, there isn’t much of—tastes nice and chocolatey. If you’re craving a lot of sugary creme, Swiss Rolls are the best snack cakes out there.
Credit: Merc / Walmart
- Drake’s Devil Dogs
I hadn’t had a Devil Dog since I was a kid, and I’m so glad I got to revisit this little hot dog bun-shaped chocolate cake. If you’re not famils, a Devil Dog is basically two chocolate cakes with creme sandwiched between them. They’re squishy, the cakes have a good cocoa flavor, and the creme has a nice, smooth consistency. These aren’t coated, which keeps them from being barfy sweet. Compared to the coated cakes on this list, Devil Dogs practically feel like a health food. I could eat a lot of these.
Credit: Merc / Walmart
- Drake’s Ring Dings
In the Ring Ding (Drake’s) versus Ding Dong (Hostess) battle royale, Ring Dings came out on top. For starters, these puck-shaped chocolate treats look more like homemade baked goods than Ding Dongs. The chocolate coating is thicker, which is nice because it actually tastes good. Ding Dongs are lighter, but they also lack flavor. Ultimately, Ring Dings were more chocolatey, and if we’re going to eat a puck-shaped chocolate-coated chocolate cake, we want to taste chocolate. This is one of the best snack cakes for chocolate freaks.
Credit: Merc / Meijer
- TastyKake Creme Filled Chocolate Cupkakes
My colleague Jordan Myrick loves a Hostess cupcake, but TastyKake’s version of the creme-filled snack just tasted better. These have a thick layer of chocolate frosting on top that hangs over the edges of the cake (it seems to be part of TastyKake’s signature aesthetic). Jordan ultimately agreed that the TastyKake chocolate cupcake was “nicer,” saying that it “feels more like cake” than the Hostess version. If you’ve been eating Hostess, give these a shot instead.
Credit: Merc / Giant
- Drake’s Coffee Cake
There’s an episode of Seinfeld that aired in 1992—that’s 31 years ago, if you’re keeping track at home—that involved Drake’s Coffee Cake, and to this day, Drake’s has an as-seen-on-Seinfeld call-out on their box of coffee cakes. I love Seinfeld (unique!) and now I can say I love these as-seen-on-Seinfeld cakes. It’s the only coffee cake we tried that had a discernible cinnamon streusel layer on the top. They’re fresh and squishy and extremely tasty. And they’re not filled with creme like TastyKate coffee cakes—who wants coffee cake filled with creme?? I know I’m blending Seinfeld ep references here, but let me just say, we don’t hate the Drake.
Credit: Merc / Target
- Entenmann’s Minis Pound Cake
I tried more than a dozen snack cakes, many of them oozing with creme, coated in chocolate, and overflowing with gooey fruit filling, but I’m telling you, these understated little personal pound cakes are the best snack cakes we tried. I’m an Entenmann’s man and these really hit the spot. They taste like freshly baked cakes—rich and light and fluffy. Their consistency is almost like angel food cake. They’re absorbent for dunking into coffee or tea, but sweet and flavorful enough to enjoy for an afternoon pick-me-up that doesn’t feel egregious. Buy a box of these. I’m confident you’ll love them.
Credit: Merc / Target
Best Coffee Cake
Best of the Best
Other products we tried: TastyKate Chocolate Cupkakes, Oreo Cakesters, TastyKake Coffee Kate Cupcakes, Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Zebra Cakes, Hostess Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cakes, Drake’s Mini Pound Cakes, Drake’s Funny Bones, Hostess CupCakes, TastyKake Creme Filled Buttercreme Cupcakes, Little Debbie Strawberry Shortcake Rolls
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