Are Dollar Tree Foods Better Than Name Brand Foods? Let the Kiddos Decide!

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Two kids sitting at a table with various snacks

Is Dollar Tree food as good as name-brand food? The results are in!

Ever wonder if the cheaper and less popular food brands at Dollar Tree taste just as good as their widely-known competitors? Just because the big brands are pricier doesn’t necessarily mean they taste better.

In search of the yummiest versions of a few popular foods, my kiddos and I went on a Dollar Tree food sweep to see how the budget-friendly brand items stood up against the same name-brand items from the grocery store.

little girl taste testing Dollar Tree food

For each brand comparison, my kids did a blind tasting and also weighed in on which item looked more appetizing at first glance. Of course, they’d never turn down a pop tart or cookie of any brand, but I was quite surprised by their feedback during our Dollar Tree food comparison test.

Here’s what we tested:

1. Mott’s Applesauce vs. Dollar Tree Applesnax Applesauce

A hand grabbing a pack of applesauce off a store shelf

Applesauce is one of the most popular lunch box staples but is Mott’s brand the best brand? After just two bites, there was a clear winner amongst the popular brand and its Dollar Tree rival. The applesauce was identical in color, but Mott’s had a slightly thicker, more desirable consistency.

Mott's Applesauce on store shelves

Taste-test winner: Mott’s 🏆

Applesauce is one Dollar Tree food item that we probably won’t buy again and the unit price difference is only a mere 8¢. Price tags aside, the Dollar Tree applesauce wasn’t as sweet and “appley-tasting” (in the words of a 6-year old) as the Mott’s timeless classic.

2. Tyson Chicken Nuggets vs. Dollar Tree Earth’s Best Chicken Nuggets

Two kids tasting different chicken nugget brands at a table

My kids have had enough chicken nuggets to know when one doesn’t taste very good and that was, unfortunately, the case during our chicken nugget taste-test as the Dollar Tree brand didn’t even come close to the popular Tyson brand.

A hand holding a bag of Tyson chicken nuggets at the store

Taste-test winner: Tyson 🏆

After two bites of the Dollar Tree chicken nuggets, my kids had already had enough and asked if they could just eat the Tyson chicken nuggets. The Dollar Tree food version wasn’t as flavorful as Tyson and the nuggets were substantially smaller and darker in color. My kids even asked if they were burnt.

3. Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts vs. Dollar Tree Toast ‘Em Pop-Ups

A little girl eating pop tarts at a table

I honestly didn’t think any brand could stand up against Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts that retail for $2.99 at most grocery stores, but the Dollar Tree food version did not disappoint in taste or appearance.

Pop tarts on a plate next to the boxes

Taste-test winner: Dollar Tree Toast’Em Pop-Ups 🏆

The Dollar Tree frosted strawberry pop-tarts had more frosting and sprinkles than the Kellogg’s brand, making it look much more appealing and after a few bites of each pop-tart, the Dollar Tree version seemed to have a lot more strawberry filling inside. Go Dollar Tree!

4. Cheez-Its vs. Dollar Tree Baker’s Harvest Cheese Crackers

Two kids at a table with boxes of crackers

My kids love Cheez-Its SO much that I have to keep them on the top pantry shelf that they can’t reach, so I was quite eager to find out if I could stock up on their favorite crackers at a fraction of the cost with the Dollar Tree version opposed to the $2.69 price point of the Cheez-It brand.

At first glance, the only difference between the two different crackers was the color, as the Cheez-Its were slightly darker than the Baker’s Harvest crackers.

A hand grabbing a box of cheese crackers off a store shelf

Taste-test winner: Dollar Tree Baker’s Harvest 🏆

My kiddos both agreed that the Dollar Tree crackers tasted almost exactly the same as the Cheez-Its brand. If your kids go through snack crackers like crazy, just imagine how much money you’ll save over time when you go with the $1 version!

5. Smuckers Strawberry Preserves vs. Dollar Tree Frutessa Strawberry Preserves

A hand holding a jar of Smuckers preserves in front of a store shelf

Smucker’s is the go-to PB&J ingredient that many of us have probably been using for years, but after our Dollar Tree food comparison, we’ll be saying buh-bye to the popular brand and opting for the more affordable Dollar Tree brand.

A hand holding a jar of strawberry preserves at a store

Taste-test winner: Dollar Tree Frutessa 🏆

While the Smuckers Strawberry Preserves had more of an actual preserve consistency than the Dollar Tree brand, my kids and I both agreed that Smuckers just didn’t taste as good and it was actually harder to spread on a piece of bread. The Dollar Tree version had a bolder fruit flavor and even a more pleasing aftertaste.

6. Totino’s Pizza Rolls vs. Dollar Tree Michelina’s Pizza Snack Rolls

Pizza rolls in the bag on a table

My kids don’t eat pizza rolls very often, so I was pretty curious how they would compare the popular Totino’s brand to the Dollar Tree brand. The pizza rolls looked slightly different on the outside and even on the inside once bitten into.

A little girl eating pizza rolls at a table

Taste-test winner: Totino’s 🏆

This was another Dollar Tree food item that my kiddos didn’t even care to finish eating. While the lesser-known brand is less than half the price of the Totino’s brand, my kids said they didn’t have as good of a pizza flavor inside and were also a bit harder and chewier.

7. Jif Peanut Butter vs. Dollar Tree Nature’s House Peanut Butter

Jif peanut butter on a shelf at a store

Peanut butter is one of those food items that’s impossible to mess up, or so I thought. While the Dollar Tree food brand wasn’t necessarily bad, it wasn’t nearly as good as Jif even though the ingredients are literally identical.

A hand holding a jar of peanut butter

Taste-test winner: Jif 🏆

I had to weigh in on this taste-test because I’m a bit of a peanut butter fanatic, but my kids were pretty spot-on with their thoughts on the two brands. The Dollar Tree version had a lot of oil sitting at the top and it was quite messy stirring it all in because it was so thick. It also had more of an artificial taste than Jif and we weren’t a big fan.

8. Nabisco Wheat Thins vs. Dollar Tree Baker’s Harvest Thin Wheat Crackers

Two boxes of crackers on a table

Is $2.39 worth a 9.1 oz. box of Nabisco Wheat Thins when you can get a 7 oz. box for just $1? I’ve always thought the generic wheat thins from my local grocery store tasted just as good as the name brand, but does the $1 version taste good, too?

Two kids eating crackers at a table

Taste-test winner: Dollar Tree Baker’s Harvest 🏆

There was a noticeable difference between the two cracker brands as the Dollar Tree thin wheat crackers looked a lot darker than Nabisco Wheat Thins. My kids asked if they were burnt at first, but after tasting both brands, the Dollar Tree crackers took the cake for better flavor and saltiness.

9. Keebler Fudge Stripes vs. Dollar Tree Oven Baked Fudge Striped Shortbread

Two packages of cookies on a table

Although it’s pretty obvious that the Keebler Fudge Stripes are the prettier cookie, looks can be deceiving and that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the tastier cookie. Before my son tasted each (and without knowing which one was which), he said the Keebler Fudge Stripes looked way better and probably tasted better too.

Two kids eating cookies at a table

Taste-test winner: Dollar Tree Oven Baked 🏆

To my surprise, both of my kids were big fans of the Dollar Tree food brand cookies. The $1 cookies had a stronger vanilla-like flavor and the chocolate tasted richer compared to the Keebler brand.

10. Quaker Chewy Granola Bars vs. Dollar Tree Select Choice Bars

A boy eating granola bars on a plate next to the boxes

Another popular lunchbox staple that kids love gobbling up! Quaker’s Chewy Smore’s Granola Bars typically retail for $2.49 per 8-count box while the Dollar Tree food brand comes with 6 bars per $1 box. After inspecting the two different granola bars, the Chewy bars appeared to have fewer marshmallow pieces, but that might vary depending on each individual bar.

A hand holding a box of granola bars

Taste-test winner: A tie! 🏆

My kids thought the granola bars tasted EXACTLY the same, but we had to give Dollar Tree big props for creating a yummy granola bar that tastes no different than the popular and pricier brand.

A little girl at a table with crackers in hands

Don’t underestimate budget-friendly Dollar Tree food.

If you’re like me, maybe you assumed that the majority of Dollar Tree food items are poor quality and not very tasty. However, I seemed to have judged Dollar Tree a little too soon and was quite happy to discover flavorful and more affordable snacks that my kids enjoy!

Prefer to make your own snacks? Check out our yummy snack recipes here!

Join The Discussion

Comments 51

  1. Crystal

    Wow! That was very interesting. I already but several items from Dollar Tree. Anyone that is a fan of country ham, our Dollar Tree sells 5.3 ounce packages for $1. Which is just the right size for breakfast. My husband thinks it taste better then most country ham.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Oh cool! Thanks for sharing that with us, Crystal!

    • LaurieG

      I’m always looking for a bargain however Ck where products are made and the ingredients. I have seen some really good foods and I have seen some product that are VERY questionable. We want good deals but we also want to keep our families healthy. My thoughts hope I don’t offend.

      • Taylor (Sidekick)

        Thanks Laurie! I agree with you, we try not to make a habit of snacking TOO much on processed foods, it’s all about a healthy balance I think. I appreciate your feedback!

  2. AngieM

    There’s a lot of good food buys at the Dollar Tree that are pretty good just as there is some that are not. Totino’s pizza rolls are actually available at the Dollar Tree 🙂

    • Mina

      I have a question. My 99cents store vegetables and fruits not frozen. Like cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes etc etc. and all kinds of fruits. They are cheaper some have brand names and some are not. What do guys think of these fruits and vegetables

      • Mina

        They sell vegetables and feuits

      • Deanna

        As far as the 99 cent store goes, its hit or miss with the fresh fruits and veggies. I used to work there and it just depends on the season and where they are buying the shipments. The reason they are able to sell name brand at only 99 cents and up is because they are closer to the “sell by date.” So when I buy fruits and veggies there I make sure I will be using them within the next few days cause sometimes they dont last long.

      • AngieM

        You know, when I go grocery shopping I start at the 99cents store especially for fruits and vegetables. The bread is good too but sometimes the expiration date is within a couple of days so you gotta use it pretty soon

  3. Evie

    Dollar Tree does sell name brands. Where I live they sell Cheez its, Bush’s Baked Beans and others you would spend more at the grocery store.
    They have frozen veggie meatballs,spicy and good if you like Indian food! Makes 2 meals for me!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Awesome! Thanks for letting us know about the items you’ve enjoyed from your store!

  4. Marsha Wolfe

    My husband’s favorite store bought cookie is the dollar tree fudge stripe

    • Brittany

      Fun Fact! Oven Baked is owned by one of the same companies that makes Girl Scouts cookies. That is why their thin mints taste exactly the same that you can pick up at the Dollar Tree.

      • Taylor (Sidekick)

        Wow, who knew?! Thanks for sharing that info Brittany!❤️

  5. Patricia Clayton

    My 6 year old absolutely loves Dollar Tree “Blueberry Belvita”, I’m happy paying 1 Dollar for 6 pack, but last time they had a few boxes of 9 packs, bonus boxes. I may or may not have bought all 6 bonus boxes 🙂

  6. Jill Legault

    Wow!! Great article! Cute kids 🙂

    • Taylor (Sidekick)

      Thank you Jill! Glad you enjoyed the read!❤️

  7. Katibell

    Curious to know the sugar content differences in the items where dollar store version won

    • Emily

      Yes. I was wondering about nutrition differences on the products too. Generics are often made by the name brand companies, but the ingredients, and nutrition, can vary.

    • Maggie

      If you’re feeding your kids any of these is nutritional value really important?

  8. Dansjen

    Great post! : ) I love the kids’ faces in the Cheez-it picture. They look ready to be Food Network judges. 🙂

    • Taylor (Sidekick)

      Haha so glad you enjoyed this, Dansjen! My kiddos were definitely taking it seriously!🤣

  9. Mary

    Please check packages when purchasing from dollar stores! Most of the meat and fruits in the dollar tree frozen section are made in China! Not worth saving money on junk!!

    • Lana

      I agree! I will not eat them let alone feed them to children.

  10. R

    That’s a whole lot of junky processed food.

  11. Chrissy

    I actually LOVE the “dollar tree” poptarts. The cherry and blueberry flavors the best! They were actually the first brand that made “toaster pastries” a thing if I’m not mistaken, they just were beaten to the mass market by Poptarts.

    • Lana

      Yes, Toast’ ems have been around since I was a kid and I am 60. My Mom always got those instead of PopTarts.

    • Jamie

      We hate the Toast Em’s lol, all of us here in this household. Especially their version of the brown sugar and cinnamon.

    • Taylor (Sidekick)

      They really are better than the name brand! Thanks for reading Chrissy!🥰

    • Lauren

      Yes, they actually were the original toaster pastry. I used to love the unfrosted cherry when I was a kid. They’re softer and have more filling than PopTarts. I was so happy to see them at Dollar Tree!

  12. Tina

    Toast’ems!! Winn Dixie used to carry them I worked there back in the late 80s/early 90s. Love them!!

    • paul

      I see them at several different stores. I know that they are carried by our local Shoppers Value supermarket chain and Rose’s Discount stores. Really, I never buy Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts, unless there is some kind of extraordinary deal, because Toast’ems are always $1.

  13. susan

    Check where the Dollar Tree food is made. I once bought Sharks that were supposed to be like Goldfish and my toddler was throwing up all night. The Sharks were made in the Philippines. I will only now buy brand names at Dollar Tree.

    • Amber

      Well be careful because a lot of name-brands are imports too….

  14. Rae

    That is so scary. I am more picky about what I feed my children than myself because I am responsible for their well being. Thank you for letting us all know about your experience so no other little ones have to go through unnecessary pain.

  15. MaryP

    Thank you so much for this post! I have always purchased name brand items at Dollar Tree, but never risked my dollars on sampling the store brands. I actually had such little faith in any of the items passing your kiddos’ taste tests, that I only had a tiny scrap of paper handy to right down the winning results. My list ended up with all these Dollar Tree brand products: fudge striped cookies, poptarts, cheese crackers, wheat crackers, granola bars, and strawberry preserves!

    I was just in a local Dollar Tree on Friday getting all kinds of goodies for Christmas. Everyone was was wearing masks and social distancing was being practiced. I was floored after checking out, however. I was returning my cart and there was only one return area instead of the usual two, one has been for sanitized carts and the other for the uncleaned ones. I asked the cashier if there is just the one cart area now and she said yes…wait, what?!! Sanitized carts are a major deal at all the stores now, and this is definitely not a good time to stop sanitizing! I’ll be heading to a different location from now on…hopefully this isn’t a chain wide decision?!!

    • Jen

      Maybe you should just wash your hands? Just like we have done for years during flu season?

      • faithanne


    • Taylor (Sidekick)

      Bummer! I’m so sorry to hear that was the case at your local store. Hopefully you have better luck at another location! Thanks for reading and taking note of the winning items, Mary!🥰

    • Evie

      “Sanitizing a cart” Is wiping off with a wipe.
      I think too much sanitizer and wipes are overrated for an airborne disease.
      I think the smell of the chemicals will not help respiratory health. Just a mask is good enough for me.

  16. Deb E

    So lucky to have 2 Dollar Trees within walking distance and I do find some name brand items, including foods. I hope they do start to carry more nutritious foods, but I have found some things like Jiffy Pop popcorn kernels for my air popper, and plain oats, both from the U.S.

    • Taylor (Sidekick)

      You are lucky! If only Dollar Tree had a produce section, right?! Thanks for reading Deb!

  17. Idahomomof6

    This was a super helpful post! I have to admit, I never would’ve taken a chance on these products prior to the informative taste tests performed by your cute kiddos! I’ll likely now try 1 or 2 of these suggestions each time I’m in DT, to see if our discerning (picky) palates agree. I don’t want to offend anyone, but I’m disappointed in the number of Hip2Savers who are judging her and making insensitive comments because these were processed or sugary foods, questioning the ingredients, where products were made, and saying you’d never give such items to your kids. These ladies are people like you and I, with feelings too! Please remember how hard they work to bring us helpful, informative and diverse posts. She never said these are the items she buys on each visit, or feeds her kids daily. She likely only bought these items all at once for this post. Let’s try to lift one another up as women!! 💕

    • Taylor (Sidekick)

      Wow, I so appreciate your kind words!🥰 You are spot-on and my kiddos definitely aren’t solely eating Dollar Tree snacks on an everyday basis. The veggie police visits quite often haha! I’m really glad you enjoyed this post and thank you for being so sweet and encouraging!❤️

    • Baker's Wife

      Exactly, Idahomomof6! You took the words right out of my mouth. Whole lot of judging going on in this post.

  18. Katie

    What a fun experiment! I might try something similar with my kiddo using ALDI products! 😊

  19. Penny

    Ive been buying the jelly at dollartree for years. It has sugar in it and smuckers has HFCS. Im interested to get the cheezits and wheat thins dollar tree knockoffs.

    • MJ

      Thanks for the info, it takes sooo much time trying to read all the labels and weigh in your mind what ends up being the best option. Price vs. ingredients vs. convenience vs taste preference, I just wish labels were a little more clear instead of reading all the tiny print. Will definitely try a few of these dupes and see if my family even notices the difference!

  20. Amarylis Capers

    Soooo helpful thanks a bunch. I always get the toastems pop tarts my kids love them over the brand pop tarts. Is there a YouTube video for this? I would love to see this in person lol.

    • Taylor (Sidekick)

      I’m so happy you enjoyed this post, Amarylis!💕 We did not get a YouTube video unfortunately, that would have been hilarious though!

  21. Momof6

    Everyone reading this post from the dollar tree, stop criticizing an honest review from a mom that is just sharing information.Take the info in a non-judgmental way, either you decide to buy the products or don’t. For anyone suggesting they don’t feed their kids processed foods, stop bashing us chemical babies that like the chemicals. Go to whole foods and compare prices. Apparently the dollar tree posts aren’t your thing. For all you that love the dollar tree, keep buying what you want and enjoy. Momof6

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