Every Cereal Brand in America in 2021—Ranked!
You've probably heard people tell you time and again about the importance of a healthy breakfast, but sometimes it can be tough to understand what that actually means in practice. After all, when every breakfast food on the shelf is advertising itself as a healthy pick, especially when you're in the cereal aisle. It can be tricky to figure out which cereal will actually leave you feeling good until lunch, and which are going to lead to a sugar crash within a couple hours.
"Cereal can make for a quick breakfast option or tasty afternoon snack. However, not all breakfast cereals are created equally," explains Lisa Moskovitz, founding RD and CEO of The New York Nutrition Group. "While some are highly nutrient-dense, others can be mostly empty calories."
She added that if you want to feel full and stay energized, you'll want to "look for at least 5 grams of fiber and protein per 1 cup serving." Even better if the cereal "contain[s] at least 10% daily value of three or more nutrients including iron, calcium, zinc, B-vitamins, and Vitamin C." Plus, if you're really looking for a solid start to your day, Moskovitz recommends adding nuts or fresh berries to your cereal for an "extra dose of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory fats."
While you likely already know this, there are definitely foods that could make you feel more or less satisfied between meals. So, to help you make your cereal choice, we ranked cereal boxes from the most popular cereal brands, from the least to the most satisfying option. That way you can enjoy a bowl that will leave you feeling full and focused, and not just find yourself munching on empty calories! For more, check out What Happens To Your Body When You Eat Cereal Every Day, and when you're shopping for snacks consult this list The Best & Worst Snacks in America in 2021—Ranked!
Mega Stuf Oreo O's
Having Oreo cookies for breakfast probably isn't a great way to start the day. Having Mega Stuf Oreos in the form of a crunchy cereal for breakfast definitely isn't a great way to start the day, either.
And that goes for the regular Oreo O's, too. As a general rule, any breakfast that's just a popular dessert cereal-ified isn't going to be the healthiest choice.
Chips Ahoy! Cereal
It's a bowl of cookies. Not the best.
Honey Maid S'mores
Cereal-ifying s'mores is hardly a recipe for a healthy start to your day (though it may be a recipe for a happy start).
Honey Maid Cinnamon
Better to eat a bowl of plain graham crackers than a bowl of s'mores, but only just slightly better.
Marshmallow Fruity Pebbles
You probably don't need us to tell you that adding marshmallows to Fruity Pebbles won't keep you alert and energized.
Birthday Cake Pebbles
Like Fruity Pebbles, but higher calorie and higher sugar—maybe birthday cake shouldn't be your go-to breakfast if you're going for nutrition.
More sodium, otherwise similar to Fruity Pebbles.
Lots of sugar, lots of artificial colors. In general, you're probably better off going for a cereal made with ingredients you can see and pronounce.
Lucky Charms Honey Clovers
Adding honey to Lucky Charms doesn't make it any better a choice…
Chocolate Lucky Charms
Yeah, neither does adding chocolate.
Fruity Lucky Charms
Nope, even adding "fruit" doesn't make it much better.
Sorry to Cookie Crisp fans, but it's the same deal as Chips Ahoy! Cereal—eating a box of cookies, no matter how they're presented, just isn't ideal.
Dunkin' Caramel Macchiato
More sugar without protein and fiber? Unlike the latte this cereal is based on, it won't keep you awake or alert.
Dunkin' Mocha Latte
Same deal, just with one last gram of sugar.
Froot Loops with Marshmallows
As if Froot Loops needed any more sugar, the marshmallow version made its way onto store shelves.
Golden Crisp may look more like cereal than, say, Cookie Crisp, but it's still basically a bowl of sugar.
Lots of sugar, but not too much sodium compared to other options. Still, it's not a great pick.
Apple Jacks with Marshmallows
As a general rule of thumb to always keep in mind, adding marshmallows to any cereal rarely makes it a smarter pick—no matter the serving size.
Caramel Apple Jacks
Pretty much just the same as regular Apple Jacks, but a little more sugary.
Chocolate Frosted Flakes
Sorry, but Frosted Fakes didn't really need chocolate—no one ever had a bowl of Frosted Flakes and thought, "This tastes good. I just wish it had more sugar."
Not a lot of protein or fiber, but plenty of processed ingredients is what you'll get here.
In case you were wondering, there isn't any actual fruit in this cereal. It's just plenty of sugar and dyes that give these loops their colorful hues.
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As you might expect, a bowl of Reese's Puffs is pretty much just a bowl of sugar. Fine for a treat, not great for a breakfast.
Honey Nut Frosted Flakes
A little less sodium than traditional Frosted Flakes, but that's not saying much.
Not a lot of nutrients and plenty amount of sugar, so that's not grrrrrrreat. But it's fortified with iron, vitamin C, vitamin B12, and others, so there is a bit of an upside.
Don't be fooled by the 3/4 cup serving size—not a lot here to make you feel full or energized.
No matter how you spin it, a bowl of marshmallows is generally not going to be the most nutritiously well-rounded way to start the day. Even if they're said to be "magically delicious."
High sodium, high carb, high sugar. You can do better for breakfast.
A lot of sugar, a lot of canola oil, a lot of hard to pronounce ingredients. Go for waffles, or go for cereal—don't split the difference.
A lot of sugar and a lot of sodium, with no fiber and not that much protein. Not looking too hot!
Are there a lot of nutrients? No. But if you stick to a little less than the serving size as a snack some day (go with 1 cup), enjoy your nostalgic trip down memory lane.
Chocolate Toast Crunch
A good amount of sugar and fat, not a lot of fiber or protein, and plenty of processed ingredients—not the healthiest pick.
Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Another pick that's almost pure sugar, so it's probably not going to keep you full.
Cinnamon Toast Crunch Churros
More sodium, sugar, and processed ingredients. In general, no version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch is going to be the healthiest option on the shelf.
French Toast Crunch
French Toast Crunch has fewer processed ingredients than the churro version, but otherwise not great.
Krave Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cereal
These types of cookies just aren't the best breakfast choice, and that includes cookie dough flavored cereal, too.
15 grams of sugar and only 2 grams of fiber per serving—you'll probably be exhausted before noon.
Krave Double Chocolate
A little less sugar and a little more protein than the cookie dough version, the double chocolate version of Krave is only the teeniest bit better.
One bowl of this, and you're in for 18 grams of added sugar, barely any fiber, plenty of artificial flavors.
Again, you're looking at a bowl of 12 grams of sugar and not a lot of anything else. No thanks.
Honey Bunches of Oats Frosted
Well, frosting a sugary cereal rarely makes it a better choice…
Honey Bunches of Oats Vanilla
This cereal is high in carbs, high in sugars, and low in the kinds of energy sources that would keep you feeling satisfied.
Honey Bunches of Oats With Real Strawberries
This cereal has a little bit of protein and a little bit of fiber, but it's still plenty of refined sugar.
Honey Bunches of Oats Apple Caramel Crunch
Similar, though Honey Roasted is slightly slower in sugar than the strawberry and apple caramel crunch varieties.
Honey Bunches of Oats Honey Roasted
Slightly lower in sugar still.
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Honey Bunches of Oats With Cinnamon Bunches
Almost exactly the same, nutritionally speaking, though the cinnamon flavor has just a little more fiber.
Honey Bunches of Oats Whole Grain Honey Crunch
Higher calorie than its non-whole grain counterpart? Sure, but it's also higher fiber and higher protein.
Honey Bunches of Oats With Almonds
The almond may help you feel a little more satisfied than the Honey Roasted flavor.
Honey Bunches of Oats Pecan & Maple Brown Sugar
Slightly lower calorie than the non-whole grain almond variety, this flavor also has more unsaturated fats from nuts to satiate you.
Honey Bunches of Oats Whole Grain Almond Crunch
5 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein, plenty of good fats—this cereal may be higher in sugar, but it's a fairly solid choice from the Honey Bunches of Oats line.
Frosted Mini Wheats Strawberry
The most sugary Frosted Mini Wheats flavor you'll find—you're better off choosing another variety.
Frosted Mini Wheats Cinnamon Roll
This one's not much better than the strawberry flavor, though.
Frosted Mini Wheats Blueberry
Just a little less fiber than the non-blueberry variety, but beyond that, the cereals are pretty comparable.
Frosted Mini Wheats Little Bites Chocolate
Lots of sodium, though the Little Bites Chocolate flavor has a slightly lower carb count than cinnamon roll or strawberry.
Apple Cinnamon Cheerios
Slightly more caloric and fattier than Honey Nut Cheerios, but it's more or less a toss-up between these Cheerios and the other sweetened flavors.
Honey Nut Cheerios
A less healthy option than original Cheerios, with the added sugar, but not bad.
Higher fat, lower sodium, lower carb—take your pick, since it's about equal.
Same deal. Similar nutritional value, different flavor.
Chocolate Strawberry Cheerios
Similarly, not significantly healthier or less healthy than the other sweetened Cheerios. Definitely pinker though.
Lower carb than Chocolate Strawberry, but only just.
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A little less sodium than the chocolate option, a little higher carb. With the sweetened Cheerios flavors, it's basically just a matter of preference.
Just about identical—if you like maple, go for it.
Similar nutritional profile—made with real blueberry, which is a plus.
Cheerios Oat Crunch Cinnamon
Lots of carbs, a fair amount of fat, and a lot of sodium, but the fiber and protein help make this a smarter pick than other Cheerios.
Cheerios Oat Crunch Almond
Slightly lower calorie, and the almonds will help keep you satisfied, but otherwise more or less the same.
Total is a very high carb pick, but at least the proteins will keep you full for a while.
Cheerios Oat Crunch, Oats 'N Honey
Same story, same nutritional profile.
Not a lot here that would leave you feeling satisfied.
Similar deal—it's not going to leave you feeling great.
These are about the same as the vanilla. They're not going to be terribly harmful, but they're not going to keep you full.
Honey Nut Chex
All in all, not a terribly unhealthy cereal, but you're better off going for the lower sugar varieties of Chex.
Berry Berry Kix
These are basically just a slightly less healthy version of original Kix—higher sugar, lower protein.
Sorry, but this is just yet another high carb (and high sodium) filled cereal.
Original Kix is not the most nutrient-rich cereal, but 1 cup a half cups only has 160 calories, so if nothing else, it's a pretty neutral vehicle for milk.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios
These are higher calorie, higher fat, and higher sodium than a lot of the other sweetened varieties of Cheerios. On the flipside, the peanut butter could keep you a little more satisfied than some of the other flavors.
Alpha-Bits are fairly sugary, and generally don't have a lot going for them (aside from taste and their educational value).
Not calorically dense, but Cocoa Krispies are just a more sugary version of an already fairly low-nutrient cereal.
Cracklin' Oat Bran
The name may sound healthy, and the fiber content is fairly high, but the sugar might leave you feeling tired.
Life Cinnamon Multigrain Cereal
Not a lot of fiber or protein in this cereal, but it's fairly low calorie, if you keep to the recommended portion. You may be a little hungry though.
Honey Bunches of Oats Whole Grain Honey Crunch
High sugar and high calorie—not the best choice.
This cereal is high in sodium, high in sugar, and low in protein and fiber, so it's not going to be the most feel good choice.
Special K Apple Cinnamon Crunch Cereal
A little saltier than other Special K varieties, and it includes hydrogenated oils that might be better to avoid, all else being equal.
Special K Banana Cereal
As far as a cereal that will actually taste sweet, Special K Banana Cereal's not a terrible option—a little bit of fiber, a little bit of protein.
Special K Vanilla Almond Cereal
Special K Chocolatey Delight Chocolate Cereal
As far as chocolatey cereals go, at least this one has a little bit of fiber and protein.
Special K Chocolatey Strawberry Cereal
With recognizable ingredients and 60% of your daily value of iron, it's not bad for a sweet cereal.
Special K Chocolate & Almond Cereal
Well, no cereal was ever made less nutritious by the addition of almonds.
Special K Cinnamon Pecan Cereal
Better than the chocolate varieties. Plus, it's got nuts in it, to keep you fuller for longer.
Special K Honey Oat Cereal
A fair amount of sugar, but it beats cereal with marshmallows and artificial colors.
Special K Blueberry with Lemon Clusters Cereal
This cereal may have a little more salt than would be ideal, but dried fruit is always a good addition.
Special K Raspberry Cereal
This cereal is plenty sugary, but hey, it's made with whole grains, and the raspberries don't hurt.
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Special K Fruit & Yogurt Cereal
Despite the addition of nonfat yogurt powder, this one's not actually any more protein-filled than any other variety of Special K.
Special K Blueberry Cereal
Not much better or worse than any other Special K variety—at this point it's mostly a matter of flavor preference.
Special K Protein Honey Almond Ancient Grain Cereal
Lower sugar, higher fiber, and higher proteins than other varieties of Special K, this is your best pick of the bunch.
With no fat, no fiber, and very little protein, Crispix may not be overly sugary, but this cereal is certainly not going to keep you satisfied.
Similar to Crispix, are corn flakes the single best option to keep you feeling full? No, you may still be hungry, but could be worse.
Raisin Bran with Cranberries
50 grams of carbs in 1 1/4 cups, and only 4 grams of protein—this Raisin Bran may sound healthy, but you could do better.
Raisin Bran Crunch
46 grams of carbs, and only 4 of them come from fiber—you're not going to feel amazing after this one.
Raisin Bran Toasted Oats & Honey
Almost exactly the same as the Crunch variety—not amazing.
Raisin Bran with Bananas
Also very sugary, but slightly less than the cranberry version.
Raisin Bran Crunch Vanilla Almond
A little less sugar than some of the other Raisin Bran varieties, but it's worth noting that it's also a little lower in protein. Still, the almonds will help keep you full until lunch.
More fiber than the other versions, and enough protein to make it a solid choice. Although it is high in sugar, thanks to those raisins, so just be mindful of that.
Cascadian Farm Organic Raisin Bran Cereal
Nutritionally, this is pretty comparable to Kellogg's Raisin Bran. The organic ingredients, however, give it the clear edge.
Cascadian Farm Organic Berry Vanilla Puffs Cereal
Not a lot of protein or fiber here, but your body will be grateful for the organic ingredients.
Cascadian Farm Organic Cinnamon Crunch Cereal
This Cascadian Farm cereal also doesn't have much protein or fiber, but it's a much healthier alternative to, say, Cinammon Toast Crunch.
Cascadian Farm Organic Fruitful O's Cereal
Similarly, the organic ingredients make this one a great counterpoint to some of the sweeter Cheerio flavors.
Cascadian Farm Organic Honey Nut O's Cereal
Not a lot of fiber or protein, but the whole grains in this cereal make it a great buy for Honey Nut Cheerios fans looking for a healthier choice.
Significantly more sugary than would be ideal, Mueslix is also made with whole grains, nuts, and dried fruits that will keep you satisfied.
Smart Start Original Antioxidants
This cereal may have a fairly high sugar and carb content, but it's not too high in calories, and the antioxidants won't hurt.
Hardly a nutrient-packed nutritional powerhouse, but Rice Krispies are pretty plain and more of a no-frills option compared to other cereals on the market.
Corn Chex are higher sugar than other kinds of Chex, and corn may not be the best grain for your body, but they're still a decent choice.
Rice Chex doesn't have a lot of sugar, and it's made with whole-grain rice—pretty good.
Wheat Chex may be high carb, but the protein and the fiber make this cereal a great choice to start your day.
On the one hand, this cereal has plenty of sugar and is a fairly high-calorie option. On the other hand, the oats and almonds will help you get through the morning energized.
Special K Protein
Plenty of protein, not many calories, a little bit of fiber—all in all, a rather solid choice.
Toasted Coconut Cheerios
Don't be fooled by 3/4 recommended serving, compared to other Cheerios' 1 cup—it's about the same.
Multi Grain Cheerios
These may be higher carb than other sweetened Cheerios, but they're lower sugar and made with whole grains.
Frosted Mini Wheats
Is it high carb? Sure, but it's got a solid helping of fiber and protein, and is lower in sodium.
Cascadian Farm Organic Honey Oat Crunch Cereal
While the nutritional content may not be exactly what you're looking for—high carb, calorie, and sodium—the whole grains and natural ingredients secure this cereal's place fairly low on the list.
Kashi Go Peanut Butter Crunch
The peanut butter variety is higher fat and lower fiber than the original flavor, though it's still a satisfying breakfast with plenty of nutrients to keep you satisfied.
Kashi Go Honey Almond Flax Crunch
Surprisingly, the almond and flax flavor has less fiber than original—a good option, but not the healthiest Kashi variety you could pick.
Kashi Go Crunch
With lots of protein and fiber, Kashi Go Crunch is one of the better cereals on your grocery store's shelf.
Kashi Go Chocolate Crunch
Believe it or not, the chocolate variety is actually less sugary than the non-chocolate kind. Plus, it has more protein.
Kashi Go Toasted Berry Crisp
As much fiber, fewer carbs, and less sugar than the original flavor, plus fewer carbs and fewer calories than the chocolate variety—might be the best Kashi Go on the shelf.
Cascadian Farm Organic Graham Crunch Cereal
If you have a sweet tooth but don't want to start every day with corn syrup and refined flour, Graham Crunch Cereal is a great choice.
Great Grains Blueberry Morning
This would be a great pick if it weren't for the 16 grams of sugar, which could lead to a mid-morning crash.
Great Grains Cranberry Almond Crunch
5 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein, whole grains, fruits, and nuts—sugary, but still not a bad choice.
You may need to eat more than the recommended one cup serving if you want to feel satisfied, which could risk some seriously high carb content, but Wheaties have fiber and protein, and they're made with whole grain.
Cascadian Farm Organic Purely O's Cereal
This may not be a 10/10, nutritionally speaking, but the whole grains and organic ingredients make it not a bad choice.
Can't go wrong with Original Cheerios. They're a solid choice—some protein, some fiber, and not a lot of sugar.
Fiber One Honey Clusters
This is a high carb option, but the 10 grams of fiber will help stave off hunger until lunch.
Great Grains Banana Nut Crunch
A bit high in sugar? Sure, but the fiber and protein will keep you feeling good.
Great Grains Raisins, Dates & Pecans
Some healthy nutrients in here, but 13 grams of sugar is a lot. Still, the fruits and nuts make this a decent choice.
Raisin Nut Bran
While the sugar content might be a little higher than ideal, the natural, visible ingredients—raisins, almonds, and bran, as the name implies—help make this cereal a fairly smart pick.
Decent ingredients, decent fiber content—all in all, a good choice.
Cascadian Farm Organic Buzz Crunch Cereal
Grits, wheat, cane sugar, and whole grain oats make up the main ingredients of this nutty cereal.
Cascadian Farm Organic Gluten Free Honey Vanilla Crunch Cereal
With whole grain flours and natural sugars, this cereal is a great choice for anyone looking to keep to a gluten-free diet.
With less protein and less fiber than the non-flake Grape-Nuts, these remain a great choice, but you're better off opting for the original.
Cascadian Farm Organic Vanilla Chia Crunch Cereal
This is a higher calorie option than a lot of the ones we've seen, but with the chia seed boost, it's not a bad cereal for when you have a long day ahead of you.
Cascadian Farm Organic Multi Grain Squares Cereal
You may be put off by the high carb count, but this cereal has just about everything you could look for in a cereal—fiber, protein, and organic ingredients. Not a lot of vitamins and minerals, but otherwise pretty close to perfect.
Cascadian Farm Organic Hearty Morning Fiber Cereal
Similar deal here. You'll feel satisfied and energized with the sustaining nutrients.
With the high fiber and protein, the 16 milligrams of iron, and the 80% of your recommended daily Vitamin B6, Grape-Nuts are a great way to start your day.
Great Grains Crunchy Pecan
Good nutrients, with the added bonus of the fats from the peanut to keep you satisfied.
Shredded Wheat The Original
Whole grain, fiber, protein, no sugar, and no sodium—all the good energy sources and none of the crash. Shredded Wheat is easily one of the most nutritious (if, admittedly, not one of the tastiest) cereals on the market.
This high fiber, whole grain cereal fortified with lots of essential vitamins and minerals is a smart pick (if a little bland). But hey, it gets the job done!
Fiber One Original Bran
The sky-high fiber content here will go a long way toward starting your day off right—a great choice to keep you satisfied and energized. PLus, it will help you keep you regular, too.
With almost as much fiber and significantly more protein, All-Bran is the best bet to keep you feeling full until lunch or later. Plus, if you want more flavor, you can always add the Moskovitz-recommended chopped nuts or fresh berries to supercharge your All-Bran for the day ahead.