We Tasted 9 Name-Brand Cereals Against Their Generic Version. Here’s What We Found.

Breakfast might be the most important meal of the day, but it shouldn't be the most expensive! We compared generic cereals to name-brand versions to see when it makes sense to save on the off-brand box.

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A bowl of cereal has long been the go-to breakfast option for busy families. It’s quick to pour, relatively inexpensive and easy to customize with different milks or sliced fruit.

With grocery store tricks like strategic shelving influencing our decisions, reaching for the name-brand cereal without a second thought is common. But if you take a moment to compare the available options, you’ll find a lot of off-brand cereals could be a better—and even tastier—deal. For the exact same quantity of what seems to be the same cereal, there is often at least a dollar difference in price.

Wondering if we could save a few bucks on groceries without sacrificing flavor, we compared nine name-brand cereals against their generic counterparts. Keep reading to see how these head-to-head battles shook out.

Check out the healthiest cereals you can buy, plus the ones you should avoid.

General Mills’ Lucky Charms vs. Walmart’s Great Value Magic Treasures

General Mills' Lucky Charms and Walmart's Great Value Magic Treasures on a wood table with orange juice and milkTMB Studio

Ah, Lucky Charms—who can pass up those sugary frosted oat bites mixed with colorful marshmallows shaped like rainbows, pink hearts, green clovers and purple horseshoes? Walmart’s Magic Treasures look a lot like Lucky Charms, but good luck determining what the marshmallow bits are. Is the green one supposed to be broccoli? Is the purple one a steak? Might the blue one be a dolphin, or a wave?

But if you don’t mind unidentifiable marshmallows in less-vibrant shades, Magic Treasures does an excellent job mimicking Lucky Charms. The flavors of Lucky Charms, in both the marshmallows and the oat bits, are a little bit tastier, but pour on the milk and either of these cereals will send you back in time to a childhood morning spent watching Schoolhouse Rock!, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or whatever your cartoon of choice was.

Conclusion: If you don’t mind mystery marshmallow shapes, you can save with Magic Treasures.

Kellogg’s Rice Krispies vs. Target’s Market Pantry Toasted Rice

Kellogg's Rice Krispies and Target's Market Pantry Toasted Rice on a table with strawberries and milkTMB Studio

Poppy, noisy Rice Krispies is one of the OGs of the cereal aisle. But Target’s Toasted Rice gives mascots Snap, Crackle and Pop a real run for their money (by the way, they’re gnomes, not elves—that’s Keebler’s thing). Both cereals serve up bubbly toasted rice pieces that make a fun crackly sound in milk. Rice Krispies features puffier, fatter cereal pieces, while Toasted Rice’s pieces might have been run over by a steamroller before making it into the box. But honestly, the flavor of the two cereals is as similar as the three little guys are to each other.

Conclusion: Both snap, crackle and pop, but if you prefer a puffier cereal texture, Rice Krispies wins. We think most cereal eaters won’t notice a difference.

Quaker Life Cinnamon vs. Target’s Market Pantry Cinnamon Oat Bites

Quaker Life Cinnamon vs. Target's Market Pantry Cinnamon Oat Bites on a wood table with bannanas, blueberries, and milkTMB Studio

Quaker Life Cinnamon and Target’s Cinnamon Oat Bites are both sweetened multigrain cereals that look like miniature drink coasters woven by your grandma. Pour them into bowls, however, and you’ll see that Cinnamon Oat Bites features dark brown stripes slashing through its cereal pieces. That sounds kind of disturbing, but it makes sense when you taste them: Cinnamon Oat Bites has a stronger cinnamon flavor, although Life Cinnamon seems to more evenly distribute its cinnamon levels. Cinnamon Oat Bites also offers thicker pieces, while Life Cinnamon is lighter and crispier.

Conclusion: If you like a stronger cinnamon flavor, get the cheaper box.

Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes vs. Walmart’s Great Value Frosted Flakes

Kellogg's Frosted Flakes and Walmart's Great Value Frosted Flakes on a wood table with blueberries, raspberries, and milkTMB Studio

While Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes and Walmart’s Frosted Flakes are fairly similar in appearance, their textures and flavors don’t match up. We preferred Kellogg’s crispier and fresher-tasting flakes to Walmart’s harder, denser ones. Plus, Kellogg’s version of the cereal has a bit more frosting, which helps the flakes keep their shape and crispiness in milk.

Conclusion: Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes’ superior flavor and flake texture are worth the extra money.

General Mills’ Cinnamon Toast Crunch vs. Walmart’s Great Value Cinnamon Crunch

General Mills' Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Walmart's Great Value Cinnamon Crunch on a table with orange juice, bananas, and milkTMB Studio

The General Mills Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Walmart Great Value Cinnamon Crunch cereal matchup had us seeing and tasting double! Other than General Mills’ more defined cinnamon swirls, the name-brand and off-brand versions of this cereal are matched in their strong cinnamon-sugar taste and crisp crunch.

Conclusion: This generic cereal is a near-twin to its name-brand version, and will likely save you money.

Kellogg’s Raisin Bran vs. Walmart’s Great Value Raisin Bran

Kellogg's Raisin Bran and Walmart's Great Value Raisin Bran on a table with bananas, milk and teaTMB Studio

The first thing that stands out between Kellogg’s Raisin Bran and Walmart’s Great Value Raisin Bran is how different the flakes and raisins look. The Kellogg’s bran flakes have more texture and substance—we could see pieces of bran and wheat—while Great Value’s flakes look more uniform and flat. When it comes to the raisins, Great Value’s appear to be covered in much more sugar than Kellogg’s, which results in a much sweeter cereal.

Conclusion: The hearty texture and light sweetness make Kellogg’s Raisin Bran worth the extra cash.

Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats vs. Walmart’s Great Value Frosted Shredded Wheat

Kellogg's Frosted Mini Wheats and Walmart's Great Value Frosted Shredded Wheat on a table with coffee, blueberries, and strawberriesTMB Studio

Out of all the head-to-head comparisons, these two wheat cereals are the most different from each other. First, Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats has coarser and looser wheat threads that break apart more easily when chewed, compared to the tightly wound wheat shreds of Walmart’s Great Value Frosted Bite Size Shredded Wheat.

The frosting on Kellogg’s version of the cereal is applied more lightly than Great Value’s, but is actually much sweeter, with some vanilla flavors coming through. While these cereals are very different, we don’t dislike the changes from name brand to generic.

Conclusion: It comes down to preference. If you’re used to eating Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats, you probably won’t be satisfied with this generic version. However, if you prefer a cereal that’s less sweet and more crunchy, Great Value’s version is a great option that might save you a few bucks.

Post’s Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds vs. Walmart’s Great Value Almond Crunchy Honey Oats

Post's Honey Bunches of Oats with Crispy Almonds and Walmart's Great Value Almond Crunchy Honey Oats on a table with honey and muffinsTMB Studio

This is another comparison where the name-brand and generic cereals are very different. We prefer the look and texture of Post’s Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds: The flakes have a more natural hue and there are more oat and almond pieces than we found in the Great Value Almond Crunchy Honey Oats cereal. That means a crunchier and more varied texture. And all those almonds give Post’s version a toasty-nut flavor that complements the oats and honey. Great Value’s cereal tasted more like corn flakes, but crunchier.

Conclusion: Post’s Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds has a much better look, texture and flavor, but likely costs more than the store-brand version.

General Mills’ Honey Nut Cheerios vs. Walmart’s Great Value Honey Nut O’s

General Mills' Honey Nut Cheerios and Walmart's Great Value Honey Nut O's on a table with milk, coffee and blueberriesTMB Studio

Many of the differences between General Mills’ Honey Nut Cheerios and Great Value’s Honey Nut O’s are minor. The two cereals taste very much alike, though Cheerios has a slightly nuttier flavor with rings that are a bit larger and less dense than Honey Nut O’s rings. And the Cheerios are coated in a glossy glaze that allows them to retain their crunchiness longer when milk is added.

If you’re looking for a gluten-free cereal, take note: The General Mills cereal is gluten-free, but Great Value’s cereal is not, since it contains wheat starch and wheat germ.

Conclusion: If gluten isn’t an issue, Great Value’s Honey Nut O’s is a decent way to save a few dollars. But if you need something gluten-free, stick with General Mills’ version.

So, Is Name-Brand Cereal or Off-Brand Cereal Better?

Ultimately, it comes down to the type of cereal. Our taste test proves that you can swap out many cereals for their generic version, especially if your family doesn’t have a longtime favorite that can make or break a morning. But, if your family is already partial to a particular brand, they’ll probably be able to tell the difference in a snap (or a crackle or pop).

Cereal Isn't Just for Breakfast
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Caroline Stanko
As Editor, Caroline writes and edits all things food-related and helps produce videos for Taste of Home. When she’s not at her desk, you can probably find Caroline cooking up a feast, planning her next trip abroad or daydreaming about her golden retriever, Mac.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is a pop culture junkie and the co-author of Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops and The Totally Sweet '90s. She covers TV, movies, books and pop culture, as well as food news of all kinds. Gael is a weblog pioneer who started her first blog, Pop Culture Junk Mail, in 1999.