Skip to content

I Tried Every Cereal at Trader Joe's & the Best Was Crispy, Crunchy, Sweet

The winner among these grocer's mainstream knockoffs might surprise you.
The product recommendations in this post are recommendations by the writer and/or expert(s) interviewed and do not contain affiliate links. Meaning: If you use these links to buy something, we will not earn a commission.

Cereal can make or break a morning. The beauty of the box, the crunch of the pieces, the flavor of each spoonful—it needs to be more than sustenance; it needs to be worth getting out of bed for. Trader Joe's is known for cranking out creations that are well worth the effort to navigate its wacky parking lots, the well-trafficked frozen section, and mosh pit-style checkout lines, but how do its breakfast cereals stack up?

Thanks to in-house private labels, Trader Joe's organized selection of cereals looks much more cohesive than the chaos of a typical supermarket cereal aisle, although many of the varieties look suspiciously similar to mainstream brands. Trader Joe's fans on Reddit are very divided on whether the brand's cereals are worth it, so I decided to check out every variety. At $2.49 to $4.79 per box in New York City, the cereals were all affordably priced.

As I tasted my way through the cereals, I was surprised that the cereal most resembling my mainstream favorite was the one I liked the least. Here's how each variety compared, ranked in descending order from my least to most favorite.

Super Nutty Oat Clusters Cereal

trader joe's super nutty oat clusters cereal box and bowl.
Photo: Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner, Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per 3/4 Cup):
Calories: 270
Fat: 10 g (Saturated Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 130 mg
Carbs: 41 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 12 g)
Protein: 5 g

Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds is my favorite cereal, so I was excited for this Trader Joe's version. A box costs $4.79.

The look: The oat clusters were huge and the mix included a lot of nuts: pecans, almonds, and Brazil nuts, too.

The taste: What a letdown. The flakes tasted almost stale and didn't have that satisfying crunch of the OG cereal. Meanwhile, the massive oat clusters proved too much of a jaw workout for a morning meal. Yes, there were a lot of nuts, but nuts for breakfast were not what I had in mind. The entire bowl was also too sweet. I hate food waste, and getting through a bowl of this was a challenge.

 12 Unhealthiest Cereals—Ranked by Sugar Content

Crunchy Cinnamon Squares

trader joe's crunchy cinnamon squares cereal box and bowl.
Photo: Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner, Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per 1 Cup):
Calories: 160
Fat: 2.5 g (Saturated Fat: 0.5 g)
Sodium: 300 mg
Carbs: 32 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 10 g)
Protein: 4 g

This cereal is TJ's version of General Mills' popular Cinnamon Toast Crunch. A 12.2-ounce box costs just $2.99.

The look: Similar to the original. The tan-colored squares come dusted with cinnamon sugar.

The taste: Like the box it comes in. While the squares have a nice little crunch, they're airy and bland, and the cinnamon sugar just melts off in the milk. Cinnamon Toast Crunch fans should certainly skip it, as they'll be disappointed.

Flakes & Strawberries Cereal

trader joe's flakes and strawberries cereal box and bowl.
Photo: Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner, Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per 1 1/4 Cup):
Calories: 140
Fat: 0.5 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 260 mg
Carbs: 33 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 11 g)
Protein: 3 g

A riff on Kellogg's Special K Red Berries, this cereal combines crisp flakes with freeze-dried strawberries. An 11.7-ounce box costs $2.99.

The look: A little light on the strawberries, frankly. More dried fruit would be welcome, as is generally the case in these types of cereals.

The taste: The flakes were sweet and crunchy and got better as they soaked in milk for a bit. The bowl was fine, and would be perfectly perfunctory at a complimentary continental breakfast buffet, but it's not something I'd look forward to eating.

 9 Best Healthy Cereals on Grocery Shelves, According to Dietitians

Frosted Shredded Bite Sized Wheats

trader joe's frosted shredded wheat cereal box and bowl.
Photo: Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner, Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per 1 Cup):
Calories: 230
Fat: 1 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 0 mg
Carbs: 49 g (Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 12 g)
Protein: 6 g

Similar to Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats—but with a much longer name—TJ's Frosted Shredded Bite Sized Wheats come in a 20-ounce box for $3.49.

The look: Much like the original. Each bite-sized wheat piece is coated on one side with a dense frosting.

The taste: Not only is the name of this cereal a mouthful, but so is the experience of eating it. The frosting is nice for the first few bites until the shredded wheat dissolves in milk and turns to mush. The cereal also has gelatin, making it not vegetarian, and this box is high in calories and sugar for a morning meal. I preferred the cubes dry, as a sweet snack, rather than in milk as a cereal, which is why they ranked higher than the Super Nutty Oats, which were bad all around.

Tiny Fruity Cuties

trader joe's tiny fruity cuties cereal box and bowl.
Photo: Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner, Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per 1 Cup):
Calories: 150
Fat: 1.5 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 180 mg
Carbs: 33 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 13 g)
Protein: 2 g

This cereal would seem like Trader Joe's answer to Kellogg's Froot Loops or General Mills' Trix, only the various corn and oat bits have a very different appearance. Compared to the more obvious knockoffs in this survey, it's probably the most unique. A 16-ounce box costs $3.99.

The look: The aesthetics of this box alone make it worth a purchase. It's stylish! It enhances a countertop like art. Anyone who lives in a small apartment and hates staring at a family-size box of Rice Krispies that only fits outside your cabinets will know what I mean. The cereal itself, meanwhile, is colorful like other fruity cereals. But instead of loops or round puffs, it comes in flower and moon shapes.

The taste: Better than Froot Loops or Trix. They had less artificial flavor and were light and airy. While these colorful berry blossoms look like a treat for kids, they have a similar sugar level to the other TJ's cereals.

 12 Once-Popular Cereals You Wouldn't Touch Today

Honey O's Cereal

trader joe's honey o's cereal box and bowl.
Photo: Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner, Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per 1 1/4 Cup):
Calories: 160
Fat: 2 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 210 mg
Carbs: 34 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 14 g)
Protein: 3 g

No mystery here. This cereal is a clear copycat of General Mills' Honey Nut Cheerios. A 13.5-ounce box costs $2.69.

The look: Round and light brownish—a dead-ringer for the market-leading toasted whole grain oats cereal.

The taste: Delicious. A little sweet, but so good. Cane sugar, brown cane sugar, honey, and molasses are all top ingredients, but if you want a little sugar spike in the morning, these crunchy O's are the move. The sweetness flavors the milk in seconds, and the O's keep their crispiness. They're also neutral in flavor enough that any fruit or nuts could be a nice addition to keep a daily bowl of these fresh.

 I Tried 11 Trader Joe's Frozen Desserts & the Winner Was Delightfully Decadent

Frosted Flakes

trader joe's frosted flakes box and bowl.
Photo: Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner, Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition (Per 1 Cup):
Calories: 140
Fat: 0 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 180 mg
Carbs: 33 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 13 g)
Protein: 2 g

Of all the TJ's cereals, this one is clearly the most obvious imitation—even carrying the same name as the popular Kellogg's item. And at $2.49, it's also the cheapest in this list. The cereal has a bunch of added vitamins, like Folate and B12, but it is noticeably low in fiber.

The look: Spot on. Each golden-colored corn flake comes coated in frosting like the original.

The taste: Crispy, crunchy, and sweet. These flakes also held up in their cold milk bath. Nothing too different here from the original, but it doesn't feel like a cheap knockoff, either. Each flake had a nice, firm texture, resulting in a satisfying bite.

If you're a Kellogg's Frosted Flakes fan, this cereal is it.

Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner
Melissa is a writer and recipe developer based in Brooklyn, where she lives with her wife and rescue dog. Read more about Melissa