12 Store-Bought Pudding Brands, Ranked Worst To Best

 store-bought pudding brands
store-bought pudding brands - Megan Hageman/Tasting Table

Pudding is one of those confections that gets lost in the shuffle of American desserts. When it comes to spoonable sweets, ice cream often takes the cake. If creamy is the sensation you're after, a slice of cheesecake is never far from reach. Needless to say, classics like cookies, brownies, and pies steal the spotlight time and time again at restaurants and in households alike.

However, I'm a strong proponent of pudding and think it's high time to give it a proper spot on the dessert menu — beyond its stereotypical placement within the walls of school and hospital cafeterias. Of course, I'm talking about sweet rather than savory puddings -- including the likes of chocolate, vanilla, butterscotch, rice pudding, tapioca, and even the beloved banana pudding. These iterations are easy to love because making homemade pudding is so easy. For days when turning on the stove and mixing ingredients sounds like a hefty chore, though, store-bought puddings will always be there for you.

Box mixes and pre-packaged pudding cups offer convenience. But they are not all created equal when it comes to taste, and in the following list of store-bought brands, I'll explore which products deserve a coveted spot in your fridge. I assessed each product's creaminess and sweetness level and kept an eye out for brands that offered a dose of comfort and nostalgia like it was born out of grandma's recipe book.

Read more: 23 Whole Foods Baked Goods, Ranked

12. 365 Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods 365 chocolate pudding
Whole Foods 365 chocolate pudding - Megan Hageman/Tasting Table

I would expect nothing less than a dairy-free pudding alternative from Whole Foods. The organic market's chocolate and chocolate and vanilla duo cups are made with almond milk instead of dairy milk, making them certified vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free. Of course, if you are hankering for some good ol' milk-infused pudding, that's still on the table thanks to the brand's instant pudding boxes — which will likely be your best bet for a quality pudding.

While standard pudding and the adjective "creamy" often go hand in hand, this hodge-podge of ingredients appears to swing towards the lumpy side. Once your spoon hits your tongue, though, you realize the reality is much worse. Instead of rich and smooth, it's saturated, runny, and chalky, almost as though the grainy cocoa powder didn't have a chance to dissolve all the way during the amalgamation process. It's a disappointing flavor experience, to say the least, and surely a letdown to any lactose-intolerant eaters who were holding their breath about this dairy-free product.

11. Nilla

Nilla banana pudding cups
Nilla banana pudding cups - Megan Hagema/Tasting Table

Banana pudding has an intriguing history, from the simple journey of the tropical fruit to the United States to the first official recipe published by Laura Kerley in 1921. I won't get too many layers deep into the backstory, though, since all you really need to know is that this pudding creation is delicious. Gobbling down grandma's homemade rendition of the pudding, bananas, and vanilla wafer mash-up may just be the most comforting feeling in the world.

In 2020, Nabisco and Raymundo's crafted their own banana pudding cups to replicate the classic recipe. But while this solution does manage to eliminate kitchen time, it also eliminates much of the enjoyment of this dessert. Besides its unnatural yellow shade, this goopy pudding also has an artificial taste akin to banana Laffy Taffy.

Physical chunks of the fruit are missing from the product— which is an understandable, yet regrettable, omission given packaging concerns. Lastly, the wafers, which I thought would be the product's saving grace, turned out to be nothing more than a stale cookie dusting and something grandma would have never let slide. That being said, if you ever find yourself craving this icebox-style fruity confection, you should just cut your losses and stick with the tried and true DIY method.

10. Petit Pot

Petit Pot oatmilk chocolate pudding
Petit Pot oatmilk chocolate pudding - Megan Hageman/Tasting Table

France is filled with amazing pastries and desserts. Crêpes, macarons, éclairs, madeleines — ooh la la, what a spread! As a French-inspired pudding, you would expect the same kind of je ne sais quoi from the Petit Pot brand, which I purchase from Whole Foods. Unfortunately, it fails to delight.

Oat milk serves as a main substitute for dairy milk in this plant-based product. Yet, coconut milk is the surprise ingredient that overtakes the entire experience, even overshadowing the rich and deep taste of dark chocolate. It's far from a "taste of magique" as the foil lid would suggest — unless, of course, you're partial to the oily and milky taste of coconut and don't mind it smacking you in the face when you were anticipating something entirely different.

To make matters worse, the consistency of this oat milk pudding is puzzling. At first, it appears to be completely solid and unmoving in the jar and eats like a mousse over the next few bites. After a stir and some settling, though, it succumbs to a slimy texture that's nearly drinkable. It's an acquired taste, to say the least. But, at such a high price for just two small jars, it's not something I could get used to — désolé Petit Pot.

9. Kroger

Kroger chocolate pudding cups
Kroger chocolate pudding cups - Megan Hageman/Tasting Table

When it comes to generic store brands, Kroger presents a respectable lineup. Between its specialty label, organic Simple Truth brand, and its basic Kroger line, there is always a bounty of quality items to love at the store — and the best part is they come sans the big-name price tag.

Kroger's off-brand pudding cups are unlikely to go down in the store's product hall of fame. Oddly enough, the custard-like dessert tastes both fake and forgettable at the same time. A packaged and artificial flavor radiates from each dollop like it's been encased in its plastic dwelling for far too long. But, other than this tainted taste, it had no other unique identifiers or attributes. At the end of the day, it's still better than the watery mess that was 365's almond milk pudding and the coconut-laden flop of Petit Pot, yet it is certainly not a top choice.

8. Snack Pak

Snack Pak chocolate fudge pudding cups
Snack Pak chocolate fudge pudding cups - Megan Hageman/Tasting Table

It was always a good day in grade school when you unzipped your lunchbox to find a Snack Pak staring back at you. As an adult, peeling back the treat's red top still sparks a touch of nostalgia. However, when compared side by side with other top pudding players, Snack Pack's flavor itself doesn't elicit quite the same level of childhood euphoria.

The chocolate fudge flavor is a classic. But, once that initial pang of joy wears off, you realize the pudding is more boring than bold and more bitter than sweet. I could have sworn some spoonfuls even tasted salty — which was an unwelcome and unpleasant surprise indeed. The good news for this kid-approved brand is that it does, in fact, taste like it's made with real milk, as its packaging attests, which gives it a leg up in the texture department. Plus, it doesn't give off a strong artificial essence, automatically advancing it beyond contenders like Kroger and Nilla — but not by much.

7. Jell-O

Jell-O zero-sugar chocolate pudding cups
Jell-O zero-sugar chocolate pudding cups - Megan Hageman/Tasting Table

We've always wondered if the famous slogan "There's always room for Jell-O" also applies to the brand's selection of non-gelatin desserts -- like its chocolate pudding. I figured there was only one way to find out, so I promptly added a four-pack of chocolate cups to my grocery list.

The case I grabbed happened to be from Jell-O's zero-sugar line, which also offers 50% fewer calories than the original recipe. Luckily, and surprisingly, this low-calorie recipe didn't hinder its taste. It's actually sweeter than Snack Pak and is also smoother in nearly every sense of the word. At first glance, I thought this chocolate pudding was able to achieve its lower-calorie status thanks to a smaller cup size. But, after a quick comparison, I found that the size is nearly identical to other top brands at around 3.625 ounces per cup. It's even larger than Snack Pack's 3.25-ounce containers.

Jell-O's light and refreshing chocolate pudding is most definitely a product I will always have room for — which proves the brand's slogan to be universally applicable. However, there are other pudding treats that I liked even more.

6. Great Value

Great value instant chocolate pudding
Great value instant chocolate pudding - Megan Hageman/Tasting Table

The first product in my test that required a touch of TLC to prepare was Walmart's Great Value chocolate instant pudding. It was the first one I sampled that required more work than the peel-and-enjoy process, and although intimidating at first, it turned out to be wildly simple to make. All I had to do was whisk the powder with 2 cups of cold milk for a couple minutes then cool in the fridge for another five, and presto! I had myself a sweet snack that could also double as pie filling.

At first, the DIY mixture appeared lumpy and suspicious — which I swear wasn't due to a lack of elbow grease. However, its taste was uniquely silky with a touch of homemade finesse that you just don't get from pre-made cups. I wouldn't necessarily call it "rich and decadent" as Walmart describes, though it does get the job done with a satisfying taste to boot.

One grievance I do want to air about Great Value's pudding is that it comes with a few objectionable ingredients, including Red 40, Yellow 5, and Blue 1 food dyes. I'm unsure why a chocolate product would need an extra dose of artificial coloring, but I suppose that's for Walmart to know and for me to be left wondering — and slightly worrying — about.

5. Dove Chocolate

Dove instant milk chocolate pudding
Dove instant milk chocolate pudding - Megan Hageman/Tasting Table

Dove chocolates are like small droplets of heaven that always come with the guarantee of silky smoothness. I guess that's why the brand named its bite-sized confections "promises" (that, and because each individually wrapped chocolate comes with an inspirational message). But, for some reason, this sleek taste of the brand's chocolates doesn't translate into its instant pudding. There's no melt-in-your-mouth quality or a surprise caramel or peanut butter filling that elevates the otherwise one-note chocolate.

I mixed this pudding together using the same easy-as-chocolate-pie process as Great Value's. After a quick trip to the fridge to cool and settle, the substance emerged sporting an auspicious shade and consistency. The flavor, though, was just a touch too subtle. You don't get that true Dove quiddity until the very end, and even then, it's almost imperceptible. For these reasons, Dove gets lost smack dab in the middle of the chocolatey pudding pack. But, with a few instant pudding upgrades, it has the potential to become an absolutely irresistible dessert.

4. Hershey's

Hershey's milk chocolate instant pudding
Hershey's milk chocolate instant pudding - Megan Hageman/Tasting Table

Hershey's is yet another well-known chocolate brand turned pudding. The Hershey's milk chocolate instant pudding is said to offer "the ultimate chocolate indulgence by bringing the rich, milk chocolate candy bar flavors you know and love." To the dismay of Hershey's lovers everywhere, I can't confirm that its pudding is a dead ringer for the brand's rich chocolate squares. However, the sugar-coated silver lining is that the pudding is still delicious -- no matter how you slice it, spoon it, or the like.

This box mix is a hit. It's ridiculously sweet, velvety, and easy to make. It had a strong punch of flavors, making it immediately leap-frog in front of Dove and many of the other chocolate creations I sampled. Its only setback is that, like Great Value's pudding, it includes a few artificial dyes, including Red 40, Yellow 5, and Blue 1. These additions are a bit easier to overlook when paired with such a divine taste, but they still knock the product down a few pegs.

3. Oreo

Oreo cookies 'n creme pudding
Oreo cookies 'n creme pudding - Megan Hageman/Tasting Table

Did you know that you can now find milk's favorite cookie transformed into a spoonable sweet treat? That's right. Oreo teamed up with Jell-O to offer its iconic chocolate sandwich cookies in instant pudding form. And let me be the first to say that it's the dessert mashup I didn't know I needed.

Initially, the concoction appears a bit unappetizing as it settles into a speckled grey goo. Once you have your first taste, though, any prior hesitation washes away in a flurry of pure, creamy bliss. The taste of Oreos is obvious and abundant — although I do wish there were more large chunks throughout — and the remainder is sweet with an icing-like tang.

With each bite, I couldn't help but be reminded of dirt cake or every kid's favorite no-bake dessert: dirt pudding. All that's missing is the wiggly gummy worms. At the same time, the pudding is also reminiscent of cookies and cream ice cream, and I wondered if I could achieve the same frosty demeanor by giving the bowl some time to solidify in the freezer.

2. Señor Rico

Senor Rico rice pudding
Senor Rico rice pudding - Megan Hageman/Tasting Table

Rice and pudding are two foods that don't sound like they should go together but somehow work beautifully side by side — just like olive oil and ice cream or chocolate and potato chips. And I've never seen this combination work quite as well as it does in Señor Rico's arroz con leche: Mexican rice pudding.

As soon as I popped open a cup and spied the generous sprinkling of cinnamon, I knew I was in for an authentic experience. The base underneath is creamy and vanilla-spiked, just like a luscious, albeit non-frozen, scoop of ice cream. Meanwhile, small grains of rice dance throughout, tender enough to melt in your mouth yet plentiful enough to give the entire treat body. A spoonful of everything together — cinnamon spice included — fondly reminds me of a cozy holiday dessert.

This unique flavor, paired with the product's simple ingredient list, made Señor Rico a shoo-in for one of the top spots. I understand that lumpy pudding like rice or tapioca doesn't hit the spot for some people. If this is you, you have my permission to skip this offering. But I think you would be missing out, but hey, that just leaves more for me.

1. Kozy Shack

KozyShack chocolate pudding
KozyShack chocolate pudding - Megan Hageman/Tasting Table

The Kozy Shack brand sounds like a collective of grandmas who combined their baking prowess and kitchen know-how to create one of the most comforting pudding recipes in the country. In reality, this is far from the truth, and the idea was actually born from the mind of a man hungry for success — and pudding, apparently — in the Big Apple. But you could have fooled me, given the unparalleled homemade, ultra-creamy nature of this product.

The Kozy Shack chocolate pudding is a revelation; it's not too sweet, yet it's chocolatey to the max. Overall, it's indulgent while still modest. I thought Kozy Shack balanced perfectly on the halfway point between thick and thin, which means it flows effortlessly from tub to spoon to mouth. It's a classic flavor everyone can agree on, and it's not even the brand's most prized product.

Kozy Shack, conversely, specializes in rice and tapioca pudding. These sweet specialties are the company's real bread and butter, and I can't wait to escape to my inner Kozy place to give these products a taste in the future. If they're half as good as the original recipe chocolate pudding, then I know I'm in for a treat.


12 pudding brands
12 pudding brands - Megan Hageman/Tasting Table

If you've ever had a quality cup of pudding, you know exactly how the dessert should taste. It should be creamy beyond belief with a buttery thickness. And, it needs to be sweet and sugary -- but not to the point where you feel like you're developing a cavity on impact. It sounds so simple. However, it's actually quite a difficult balance to strike. Few brancan to replicate this silky smooth homemade taste, and I'm on a mission to find out which ones can deliver.

For my store-bought pudding taste test, I grabbed some of the most well-known generic and name brands to test side-by-side. I tried to sample chocolate puddings only to give each product an equal opportunity to shine, but inevitably, I had to purchase some non-chocolate flavors based on brand offerings. After careful consideration and plenty of sweet spoonfuls, I was able to uncover the pudding prizewinners.

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