- We tried three popular brands of packaged doughnuts to determine which one tasted best.
- We compared Hostess, Entenmann’s, and Little Debbie – all of which are found in common grocery stores.
- It was a tough decision, but ultimately Little Debbie won for having the most flavour and tasting most like a powdered Dunkin’ Doughnuts munchkin.
- The Hostess variety had a hidden spice that made it tasty, while Entenmann’s tasted very fresh.
I love doughnuts (or doughnuts, as they are more commonly spelled these days). I love them so much, my friends threw me a doughnut-themed bachelorette party, complete with punny shirts and extravagant confections. And I don’t limit my doughnut consumption to the best doughnut spots in every state, though I am slowly making my way through the list. I’m just as happy with a fresh-out-of-the-oven Fruity Pebble doughnut (you can find this at PVDonuts in Providence, Rhode Island, and it’s divine) as I am with a pre-packaged doughnut that I can grab at the grocery store.
So needless to say, I felt up to the task of finding the best brand of packaged powdered doughnuts on the market. As part of an ongoing INSIDER taste test series, my husband and I put three popular brands of store-bought doughnuts to the test to see which can fill your doughnut needs in a pinch. In the past, we’ve sampled everything from pumpkin lattes to breakfast sandwiches to hot chocolate.
The brands we tried were:
- Little Debbie
We bought all three brands at a grocery store in New York City. For consistency’s sake, we sampled each brand and judged it based on three main criteria: flavour, freshness, and resemblance to a classic: the powdered Dunkin’ Doughnut munchkin.
Keep scrolling to read our thoughts and learn which packaged doughnut reigns supreme.
We started with Hostess Donettes, which had a surprising spice
Just by looking at the doughnuts I could tell we were in for a sweet treat. Rather than a light, or even medium, dusting of powdered sugar, the Hostess Donettes were covered in white, sans a few cracks where you could see a golden cake.
This worried my husband, who is not a fan of overly sugared doughnuts.
“A lot of times, with powdered doughnuts, the sugar sticks to the roof of my mouth,” he told me before hesitantly biting into the donette. But much to his surprise, the sugar stayed on the doughnut and went down without a problem.
An even bigger surprise, however, was the aftertaste of the Hostess doughnut. We were expecting an abundance of sweetness but tasted a subtle spice. We debated over the source of the surprise flavour – I thought nutmeg while he assumed cinnamon, and the ingredient label didn’t settle the debate – but we agreed that it added to the doughnut’s appeal.
As flavorful as it was, however, the Hostess brand fell short in the freshness department. The doughnuts tasted as though they had been left out of the bag for a few hours. Still edible, of course, but the doughnut lacked the light, fluffy texture you expect from a fresh doughnut (and want from a doughnut in general).
The dry texture paired the unique flavour, while not bad, also made the Hostess variety very different from that of Dunkin’ Doughnuts.
We moved on to Entenmann’s Pop’ettes, which were surprisingly fresh
The Entenmann’s Pop’ettes seemed to have significantly less sugar than Hostess and Little Debbie. Understandably, we worried how this would affect the flavour of the treat. Would the lack of sugar make them a bland baked good? Or would it allow the flavour of the doughnut to shine through?
It turns out, neither.
The Entenmann’s doughnuts were the right amount of sweet – but that’s all they were. They didn’t have any spice or extra flavour to make them a little more special. It was a perfectly OK tasting doughnut.
But what it lacked in flavour, it made up for in freshness. It felt like a cake that had been baked earlier and given just the right amount of time to cool. It wasn’t as dense as your average cake doughnut, but I didn’t find that to be a bad thing.
The texture made Entenmann’s more comparable to a powdered munchkin, but not an exact replica.
Last we tried Little Debbie’s Mini Powdered Doughnuts, which has a subtle lemon flavour
Not entirely full from our doughnut taste test, we moved on to the final competitor: Little Debbie’s Mini Powdered Doughnuts.
We had high expectations for the flavour, as they were covered in the sweet stuff. Seriously, it looked like the baker painted several coats of sugar onto them.
When we bit into the tiny treats, we immediately tasted the sugar as well as a hint of lemon. As fans of citrus confections, we were pleasantly surprised by this additional flavour. It gave the doughnut a little something special that was missing from the Entenmann’s brand, but was slightly more palatable than the spice of the Hostess brand.
So Little Debbie had won over our stomach when it came to flavour. But what about freshness?
Perhaps it’s because lemon makes everything seem “just made,” but these doughnuts tasted the freshest of the bunch. Like a typical yeast doughnut, it was light and soft to the point that it melted in your mouth but still had a slight chew to it so it wasn’t complete mush.
Though it tasted fresh, it wasn’t as fresh as a munchkin. Additionally, the hint of lemon is not something you would find in the munchkin.
It was clear to us that Little Debbie’s Mini Powdered Doughnuts were the best of the bunch
Unlike when we taste tested frozen waffles, my husband and I had an easy time naming Little Debbie the winner of the packaged doughnut taste test.
Although it was not identical to the munchkin (though, to be fair, no store-bought doughnut can be, as the munchkins are more of a yeast doughnut, which is impossible to pre-pack), we agreed that Little Debbie’s Mini Powdered Doughnuts were the next best thing. They tasted the freshest of the pre-packaged bunch, and had the best flavour.
In addition to flavour and freshness, the Little Debbie doughnuts were the best deal: $US1.99 for a pack of about 20 mini doughnuts.
That said, not everyone likes lemon baked goods. My sister, for example, prefers her baked goods to be tart-less. In this case, you may be better off with (what I believe to be) the subtle cinnamon flavour of the Hostess Donettes or the just-enough-sweet Entenmann’s Pop’ettes.
But the biggest take away from this taste test is that a doughnut doesn’t have to be fresh out of the oven or decorated in edible mermaid tails to be delicious. If you’re in a pinch, a bag of packaged powdered doughnuts can easily satisfy your craving.
And I should know – I’m basically a doughnut expert.
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