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The Best & Worst Baked Goods on Shelves in 2021—Ranked!

Here's what to grab or leave behind when you're craving a quick, sweet treat.
FACT CHECKED BY Meaghan Cameron

As you walk down your grocery store's aisles, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by boxes and boxes of tempting-looking treats and baked goods. A pack of enticing honey buns or that bag of yummy donut holes may have you doubling back to grab them as a treat for yourself or your family.

While there's absolutely nothing wrong with buying a favorite childhood snack or letting your kids have a sugary sweet every now and then, it can become an issue for your health and waistline if you start to make it a routine.  That's why it's helpful to know the best and worst baked goods on most national grocery store chains' shelves right now based solely on nutrition. This ranking will help you make smarter, healthier choices that won't derail your diet. Keep reading to see how these popular baked goods rank, and be sure to balance things out with these 20 Go-To Snacks Nutritionists Always Have on Hand.

13

Little Debbie Swiss Rolls

little debbie swiss rolls

PER 2 CAKES (95 G): 410 calories, 18 g fat (9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 220 mg sodium, 60 g carbs (1 g fiber, 42 g sugar), 2 g protein

Swiss Rolls are a lunchbox staple filled with creamy white frosting and a chocolate glaze, but at 410 calories and a whopping 42 grams of sugar, these are one of the worst baked goods currently on grocery store shelves. The American Heart Association recommends men should consume no more than 36 grams of added sugar per day, and women shouldn't have more than 25 grams per day, so these Swill Rolls should just be a once-in-a-while treat.

RELATED: 15 Sweet Snacks to Have on Your Shelves at All Times

12

Little Debbie Zebra Cakes

little debbie zebra cake rolls

PER 2 CAKES (74 G): 330 calories, 14 g fat (8 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 150 mg sodium, 48 g carbs (0 g fiber, 33 g sugar), 2 g protein

Zebra Cakes are the vanilla cousin to Swiss Rolls, and in turn, are slightly better for you… but not by much. Try splitting the serving of two cakes with a friend to reduce the calorie count per serving while still satisfying your sweet tooth.

11

Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies with Chocolate Chip Candy

little debbie cosmic brownies

PER BROWNIE (66 G): 280 calories, 11 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 160 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (1 g fiber, 24 g sugar), 2 g protein

Cosmic Brownies are a throwback classic for kids and adults, but with 11 grams of fat and 280 calories per brownie, you'd be better off swapping this out with several pieces of dark chocolate to curb your chocolate cravings.

RELATED: 5 Brownie Mixes You Should Leave on the Grocery Store Shelves

10

Hostess Twinkies

hostess twinkies

PER 2 CAKES (77 G): 280 calories, 9 g fat (4 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 390 mg sodium, 48 g carbs (0 g fiber, 32 g sugar), 2 g protein

Twinkies have been a celebrated baked good-aisle staple for decades, but with 280 calories and 390 milligrams of sodium per two cakes, they aren't the best for you. If you must have a Twinkie, consider splitting the package with a friend or wrapping the second cake up for another time. Plus, not to be a buzzkill, but you should always take into consideration what a Twinkie will do to your body once eaten.

9

Thomas' Plain Original Pre-Sliced Bagels

thomas plain bagels

PER 1 BAGEL (95 G): 270 calories, 1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 450 mg sodium, 53 g carbs (2 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 9 g protein

Many of us eat bagels for breakfast every day and think we're making a healthy choice, but a plain bagel even without fatty toppings packs a punch with 450 milligrams of sodium and 53 grams of carbs. If you must have a bagel, consider healthier toppings like avocado or light cream cheese, or eat just half with a healthy serving of fruit on the side.

RELATED: What Happens to Your Body When You Eat a Bagel

8

Entenmann's Little Bites Fudge Brownies

little bites fudge brownies

PER POUCH (55 G): 260 calories, 13 g fat (4 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 150 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (1 g fiber, 23 g sugar), 2 g protein

These little packs of chocolatey brownies are a decent post-lunch snack if you want something a little sweet without completely ruining your day. Pouches typically have multiple brownie bites inside, so try having one at a time, then put the others in a resealable bag for another day.

Related: We Tasted 7 Brownie Mixes, and This Is the Best One!

7

Entenmann's Glazed Donut Pop'ems

entenmenns popems glazed donut holes

PER 4 PIECES (52 G): 240 calories, 13 g fat (6 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 160 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (0 g fiber, 18 g sugar), 2 g protein

At 240 calories for four, Pop'ems aren't horrible, but there are still healthier baked good options out there. And honestly, who can stop at just four?

6

Little Debbie Honey Buns

little debbie honey buns

PER PASTRY (50 G): 230 calories, 13 g fat (6 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 150 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (less than one g fiber, 13 g sugar), 2 g protein

Honey Buns are one of our favorite grocery store baked goods, and they run towards the middle of the pack in terms of nutritional value. But don't take this as an endorsement to eat these every day. With 230 calories and 13 grams of fat, you will need to stop at just one.

Related: What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Honey

5

Hostess Powdered Sugar Donettes

hostess donettes

PER 3 DONUTS (56 G): 230 calories, 12 g fat (6 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 200 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (0 g fiber, 15 g sugar), 2 g protein

If the soft, satisfying bite of a powdered sugar donut is more to your liking, then Hostess Donettes are a decent option. Just beware of the sneaky amount of sodium and extra sugar, and consider eating just one or two donuts.

RELATED: The Best Donut in Every State

4

Entenmann's Raspberry Danish Twist

entenmanns raspberry danish twist

PER 1/8 SLICE (53 G): 220 calories, 10 g fat (5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 85 mg sodium, 29 g carbs (less than one g fiber, 15 g sugar), 2 g protein]

This Raspberry Danish Twist is a surprisingly middle-of-the-road baked good. While we don't think this should be an everyday pantry staple, getting this every once in a while isn't going to hurt either.  The creamy frosting and tangy raspberry filling make this feel decadent. Just be careful to slice off a proper portion.

3

Entenmann's Little Bites Chocolate Chip Muffins

little bites chocolate chip muffins

PER POUCH (47 G): 190 calories, 9 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 150 mg sodium, 27 g carbs (less than one g fiber, 17 g sugar), 2 g protein

Kids love these little pouches of chocolate chip muffins for breakfast or as a treat in their lunch box. This is a decent option with a piece of fruit on the side, considering these muffins don't contain high-fructose corn syrup—an added sugar that's been linked to diabetes and obesity.

RELATED: The Best & Worst Muffins at Costco—Ranked!

2

Hostess Chocolate CupCakes

hostess cupcakes

PER 1 CAKE (44 G): 170 calories, 5 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 130 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (0 g fiber, 22 g sugar), 1 g protein

Hostess Chocolate CupCakes have been a traditional treat in the baked goods aisle for years. The snack has 170 calories for a large cupcake and just five grams of fat, which is pretty shocking. However, with 22 grams of sugar, these should be considered a rare indulgence.

1

Tastykake Pecan Swirls

tastykake pecan swirls

PER ROLL (28 G): 100 calories, 3.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 50 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (1 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 7 g protein

The best item in terms of nutrition in the snacks and baked goods aisle is the Tastykake Pecan Swirls. This sweet treat has 100 calories per roll and 7 grams of protein thanks to the pecans. The trick is you have to eat just one.

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Read this next:

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Megan duBois
Megan duBois is a food and travel journalist with bylines at Forbes, Insider, Delish, Popsugar, SmarterTravel, Travel and Leisure and more. Read more