17 Little Debbie Snacks, Ranked Worst To Best

Little Debbie is a family-owned snack cake brand with Southern roots. Its parent company, McKee Foods, was founded during the Great Depression in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Little Debbie brand itself came to be in 1960, which is when McKee started selling the family packs of snack cakes we're all familiar with today. Unlike many other food mascots, Little Debbie is a real person. In fact, she's a member of the McKee Family, and today she's an executive vice president at McKee Foods.

Many of us have fond childhood memories of tucking Oatmeal Creme Pies or Swiss Rolls into our lunchboxes when we were kids, but we were curious if the Little Debbie stable of products would taste as good now that we're a little older and (debatably) wiser. We acquired as many different types of Little Debbie snacks as we could and ranked them for your reading pleasure. Some of them hold up, and some of them very much don't. Keep on reading to see which Little Debbie snacks you should buy the next time you're in the mood for a nostalgic sweet treat.

17. Christmas Cherry Cordials

Rather than cheer, the Christmas Cherry Cordials filled us with holiday fear. It says on the box that these are naturally flavored, but we're not sure any real cherries got within 500 yards of these things during the manufacturing process. The filling is a marshmallowy "cherry" creme that tastes like Robitussin. The two allegedly vanilla-flavored cookies that sandwich the filling taste more like stale graham crackers that have gone soft. The "chocolatey" coating (a word which here means "can't legally be called chocolate") is fine, but it can't make up for the sins of the other components.

What this reminded us the most of was a MoonPie, the marshmallow, graham cracker, and chocolate confection that's popular down South. It would have been acceptable, if underwhelming, without the cherry flavoring, but the cherry sent this straight to ick territory.

16. Powdered Mini Donuts

Prepackaged donuts are a difficult thing to get right. We all know that donuts taste best when eaten straight out of the fryer, so any donut that has to sit in a bag on a grocery store shelf for an undetermined length of time is going to be at a disadvantage.

These Powdered Mini Donuts fulfilled all of our worst fears about shelf-stable donuts. They are dry, dense, and stale, and they don't have much flavor. So much of the taste of a real donut comes from the hot oil and freshly-baked dough. Without that, these donuts pretty much just taste like straight-up powdered sugar and nothing else. The only other flavors we picked up were weird chemical notes. Many other Little Debbie snacks taste surprisingly natural (or at least not like chemicals), so these donuts are quite subpar compared to other products in the company's lineup.

15. Frosted Mini Donuts

Hilariously, the description for this product on the Little Debbie site says "Don't let those busy mornings get in the way of breakfast! Start your day off right with some delicious Mini Frosted Donuts," as though mini cake donuts covered in fudge frosting are in any way a sensible thing to eat in the morning.

Dubious claims aside, these donuts have many of the same problems as their powdered siblings. The donut itself is very dry and doesn't taste like much. However, it isn't as chemical-y as the powdered version, so that's why it ranks one place ahead of the powdered donut.

We didn't much like the fudge frosting on these donuts. The chocolate coating on most Little Debbie products is yummy, but this one is different: It has a waxy texture and doesn't taste much like chocolate.

14. Christmas Tree Cakes

First, what we like about the Christmas Tree Cakes: They look great. They really are festive, and they look just like the picture on the box, with a perfect Christmas tree shape, nice red stripes, and bright green sprinkles. We would have a dish of these sitting out on the counter around Christmastime purely as an edible decoration.

The flavor we're much less into. We tried a few different types of vanilla layer cakes for this ranking, and they all tasted pretty different from each other. The Christmas Tree Cakes were our least favorite of the vanilla layer cakes because they had the most creme in between the cake layers, which made them way too sweet. Also, the cake itself was noticeably drier compared to similar cakes, at least in the batch we bought. It's possible that we just got unlucky with these, but either way, they weren't the best. The one aspect of these that we did really enjoy was the crunch from the sprinkles.

13. Donut Sticks

These were the best donut product we tried from Little Debbie. We thought they would be the size of a donut stick from a donut shop, but they were on the small side. However, they were still much larger than the mini donuts, which might have helped them retain moisture since they were much less dry and stale.

The Donut Sticks just tasted like pretty good plain glazed donuts, though obviously still nowhere near fresh donuts quality-wise. There wasn't much going on in the flavor besides sweet bread and sugar. The texture was good: fluffy yet dense, just like you want from a cake donut. The thick layer of sugary glaze was perhaps a touch too heavy-handed. Ultimately, these would make a serviceable companion to a cup of coffee, but they weren't exciting or notable in any way.

12. Honey Buns

Honey Buns were our favorite Little Debbie breakfast pastry. We thought they were a little better than any of the donuts, mostly because of their texture. They were super fluffy and soft, like a fresh piece of white sandwich bread. The glaze was also soft, not hardened into a sugary shell like it was on the Donut Sticks. The ratio of glaze to cake was perfect, and the Honey Buns weren't unbearably sweet. We wouldn't eat them for breakfast every day, but we could see wanting them in the morning occasionally.

The flavor of the Honey Buns was a little underwhelming. With honey in the name, we were hoping for more honey flavor. Much like the Donut Sticks, these mostly just tasted like sugar, with just a faint hint of honey.

11. Strawberry Shortcake Rolls

After our traumatic experience with the Christmas Cherry Cordials, we were a little apprehensive about this product. We didn't know if we could trust Little Debbie to pull off a fruit-flavored snack, but fortunately, the Strawberry Shortcake Rolls were perfectly tasty.

This is a unique product in the Little Debbie lineup. The shortcake is different from the cake in any of the other snacks — it's dark yellow, quite dense, and eggy. The strawberry filling tastes blessedly like actual strawberry jam, despite the prominent placement of the words "artificially flavored" on the box. If we're going to nitpick, it's a little too sweet and could use some acidity to wake it up. The creme filling doesn't overpower the other elements. The bottom of each roll is dipped in white frosting to keep it from unrolling, but there's not so much frosting that it makes our teeth hurt from all the sugar. This is a perfectly serviceable snack cake, but Little Debbie makes many excellent products, so it doesn't place particularly high on this list.

10. Birthday Cakes

These little fingers of vanilla layer cake covered in frosting and topped with multicolored sprinkles are quite cute. Little Debbie knows how to make an aesthetically pleasing treat, that's for sure. Texture-wise, these are awesome. The cake is incredibly soft and fluffy, sort of like angel food cake. The almost impossibly-light cake layers have a pretty thick layer of creme in between them, but it's not as excessive as in the Christmas Tree Cakes. The icing on the outside has a nice snappy, slightly crispy texture, and the large sprinkles are satisfyingly crunchy.

These taste overwhelmingly like fake vanilla, which some people like and some people don't. It does deliver on the birthday cake concept — the flavor is quite similar to Funfetti cake mix. These do veer a little into overly-sugary territory, but if you have an industrial-grade sweet tooth, you'll like the Little Debbie Birthday Cakes.

9. Fudge Rounds

Fudge Rounds are sandwich cookies that sort of resemble a chocolate version of Little Debbie's iconic Oatmeal Creme Pies (which make an appearance later on this list). They're made with two chocolate cookies with chocolate creme filling and chocolate zebra stripes. For a triple-chocolate treat, these have a surprisingly mild cocoa flavor, which is a little disappointing. However, they have other good attributes that make up for their lack of intense chocolate flavor.

For one, the mouthfeel of the cookies is awesome. They're super chewy and almost fudgy, and they're very satisfying to bite into. The creme is nice and fluffy and makes the cookies feel fresh and moist. There's enough salt in the Fudge Rounds to balance all the sugar, and they really don't seem too sweet at all. Their almost savory flavor makes them seem almost tame compared to some of the other sugary treats on this list.

8. Christmas Gingerbread Cookies

This is another cute Christmas confection from Little Debbie. The Christmas Gingerbread Cookies are picture-perfect gingerbread men that would look great in any holiday cookie spread. They don't taste quite as good as they look, but they're close.

Unlike the crunchy gingerbread men you may have had before, these cookies have a crisp exterior that gives way to a soft, chewy interior. The sugar glaze and sprinkles on top also add some more crisp texture. They taste like Christmas. The ginger flavor is just strong enough to assert itself without being harsh. If you like your ginger desserts to be flavorful but not spicy, these would be right in your wheelhouse. We also thought we could taste some cinnamon in the mix, which was nice. If your family has a traditional gingerbread recipe they make every year, you'll have no use for these, but for the rest of us, they're a marvelous way to get into the holiday spirit.

7. Zebra Cakes

Now we come to the superior vanilla layer cake product: Zebra Cakes. Little Debbie makes Zebra Rolls and Zebra Donuts too, but we tried the original version with a unique hexagonal shape and trademark fudge stripes.

We're not sure why, but Zebra Cakes come off as significantly less sweet than the other Little Debbie vanilla cakes. It could be that the cake itself is different; it does seem a little denser and less soft than the Birthday Cake. It definitely has less fake vanilla flavor in it, though there is still some of that taste. Our other theory is that the mild bitterness of the chocolate fudge stripes helps to offset the sweetness. The fudge stripes definitely add a nice textural element, giving the exterior of the Zebra Cake a pleasantly crisp bite. The fact that these aren't as intensely saccharine as the other vanilla cakes is what puts them higher on the list.

6. Swiss Rolls

Per the company's website, Swiss Rolls are a very long-lasting and popular member of the Little Debbie family. They're best-sellers and they've been around for over half a century, and we can see why. They're seriously good.

The thin chocolate cake is a little dry, but it's intensely flavorful. It has a pleasant cocoa powder taste and a dense texture that reminds us of devil's food cake. The creme filling is the same one used in so many of the other Little Debbie cakes, but it tastes especially good when paired with slightly bitter chocolate to temper its sweetness.

If we have one gripe about the Swiss Rolls, it's the fudge coating. It has a nice chocolatey flavor, but it's a little bit waxy and flakes off of the roll very easily. We want all the chocolate to end up in our mouths, not on the table, so the flaking is a little annoying. Other than that small problem, these treats are excellent.

5. Star Crunch Cosmic Snacks

Star Crunch shares its galaxy-inspired branding with Little Debbie's famous Cosmic Brownies (which you'll meet soon), but other than the name, it has nothing in common with its spacey cousin. And that's not a bad thing — Star Crunch is amazing in its own special way.

Star Crunch has a unique texture. The outside is a very thin layer of fudge with crispy puffed rice that brings the titular crunch. Per Little Debbie, the inside is a chocolate cookie with caramel on it, but in reality, it's more like the caramel and cookie are blended together into one homogeneous mass. The resulting texture is a combination of chewy and fluffy, like a halfway point between a Butterfinger and the nougat in a Milky Way. It's really fun to eat, and the flavor is great too, with rich buttery notes from the caramel and just enough chocolate taste. Star Crunch is one of the smallest Little Debbie treats, and it's very tempting to eat more than one.

4. Nutty Buddy Wafer Bars

At this point in the list, it's very hard to pick where to place each snack because all the remaining ones are so good. There are no losers here; from here on out, it's all perfect 10s as far as we're concerned.

Nutty Buddies are like the halfway point between Reese's peanut butter cups and KitKats you never knew you needed. You've got layers of delightfully crispy wafers with sweetened peanut butter in between, all covered in a super-thin sheath of chocolatey coating. For the peanut butter and chocolate lovers out there, it's hard to imagine anything better. The light airiness of the wafers makes these seem almost dainty, though they're quite a bit larger than a KitKat. The peanut butter brings in a salty element that contrasts nicely with all the sugar. The only thing that would make them better would be if they were covered in real chocolate instead of chocolate-flavored candy coating.

3. Chocolate Cupcakes

Little Debbie Chocolate Cupcakes are clearly knockoffs of Hostess Cupcakes, which were first sold in 1919. Per the company's site, McKee Foods, which makes Little Debbie snacks, wasn't founded until 1934. The Little Debbie version even has the same distinctive white frosting squiggle on top as the Hostess ones do. Here's the thing, though: Just because you're the first doesn't mean you're the best. Hydrox was the first chocolate sandwich cookie, but we all love Oreos. And Little Debbie Chocolate Cupcakes blow the Hostess original out of the water.

Hostess Cupcakes are dry and tasteless. Little Debbie Chocolate Cupcakes, on the other hand, are made with soft, moist, chocolate cake that actually tastes real. The fudge icing on top is nice and soft as well, and the white squiggle adds a little crunchy contrast. There's the perfect amount of cream in the center as well —enough to know that it's there, but not so much that you're wincing from all the sugar. The only reason these aren't in the top spot is that we're docking points for lack of originality.

2. Cosmic Brownies

Cosmic Brownies are the platonic ideal of a prepackaged brownie. Cakey brownies are redundant — if you want chocolate cake, eat chocolate cake. We think all brownies should be as dense and fudgy as Cosmic Brownies are. Their thick, chewy texture is perfect, and the layer of fudge frosting on top adds moisture and richness. The cocoa in the brownies brings some bitterness to the table and makes them some of the least sweet of the Little Debbie snacks.

The sprinkles on top are no afterthought, either. They're not normal sprinkles, but rather, little chocolate chips covered in a colorful and crunchy candy coating. They taste a lot like mini M&M's. The crunch of the chocolate candy is the crowning touch that elevates Cosmic Brownies from excellent to extraordinary. They're not quite in the top spot because when eaten with adult tastebuds, the chocolate flavor isn't quite as strong as we remembered it.

1. Oatmeal Creme Pies

If you're a Little Debbie fan, you knew these had to be at or near the top of this ranking. Oatmeal Creme Pies were Little Debbie's original snack, and though it's come close, the company has never released anything to top them. And they have oatmeal in them, so you can almost trick yourself into thinking they're healthy.

You can really taste the oats in the cookies, and they do a lot to make the flavor more complex. The cookies also have notes of brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. They're chewy and firm and make the snack feel pretty substantial. Most importantly, they have some salt in them and they're pretty savory, so they counteract the sugary creme filling. If you've been paying attention, you'll have noticed by now that we tend to favor the less sweet Little Debbie snacks, and these are the least sweet of them all. The rich, toasty notes of the cookie and the moderate sweetness make for the ideal combination, so we feel confident about putting Oatmeal Creme Pies in the top spot.