I Tried 7 Grocery Store Sheet Cakes and the Best One Is Wedding Worthy

It's our favorite for all occasions.

<p>AllRecipes / Abbey Littlejohn</p>

AllRecipes / Abbey Littlejohn

The sheet cake is a thing of beauty: tasty, versatile, and crazy convenient. A wedding couple’s secret budget-saving weapon (hello, catering slices out of the back), the focal point of a graduation or birthday party, and—thanks to whatever genius thought to cut it into individual squares—a perfect everyday grab-and-go after-dinner snack.

Making a sheet cake at home is incredibly simple, especially since the invention of the box mix. But sometimes the schedule doesn’t even allow a dump-and-bake situation or the crowd is just too big and our kitchen doesn’t have that many pans. Luckily, grocery store bakeries and their commercial capacities easily save the day. So, which flat cake stacked up? Polish your fork and get ready to dig in.

How I Chose the Sheet Cakes

When searching for the best of these flat-but-fabulous confections, there are a lot of things to consider. For control, I sampled the standard vanilla cake (or whatever was closest), but from there, things got a little less straightforward. Sheet cakes have frosting and they, of course, go together. So, although the frosting is not the focal point, the winner must be an excellent combination of both because we here at Allrecipes are assuming you’re eating the two together in one forkful, no matter what your personal cake-consuming habits might be behind closed doors.

The Best Store-Bought Sheet Cakes, Rankd

7th Place: Sam's Club's White Cake With White Frosting

<p>AllRecipes / Abbey Littlejohn</p>

AllRecipes / Abbey Littlejohn

It’s always fascinating to me when a company tells you its flavors, but instead lists colors. (We all do this with Gatorade. “What flavor do you want?” “Blue!”) Sam’s Club follows suit. They offer three “flavors”: white, chocolate, and marble, going 1 for 3 in things you can actually taste.

For this experiment, white was the only way to go, though vanilla wasn’t actually an item in the ingredients listed on the box. What does the Sam’s Club white cake taste like then, you ask? It tastes, like, well, white. They have performed the impossible I criticized up front, managing to give flavor to a color. More specifically, it is plain, sugary air.

The cake is dense, but so underbaked it turns into Play-Doh when squished between your fingers. There’s actually a perfect word for this sponge and it’s courtesy of our friends across the pond and frequently uttered on their delightful baking TV show... claggy.

The frosting is so greasy, I worry it would be more appropriate to fix a squeaky door hinge than for a celebration. It’s attempting to be the light, whipped cream-like stuff beloved by so many, but thanks to the coconut oil, it doesn't come close.

6th Place: Costco's White Cake With White Icing Filled With Vanilla Cheesecake Mousse

<p>AllRecipes / Abbey Littlejohn</p>

AllRecipes / Abbey Littlejohn

Yup, I’m shocked too. Costco used to offer regular sheet cakes—in fact, my family swore by them for every special occasion (There’s even a delightful family story from my wedding when my dad took one look at our four-figure wedding cake and exclaimed “Do you have any idea how much Costco sheet cake we could have gotten for that?!”), so I thought they’d knock this out of the park. They’re a sheet cake staple, for Pete’s sake!

But boy did they whiff. Like Sam’s, Costco likes to pretend colors have flavor, offering white, chocolate, or marble, but in a recent twist, they’re now forcing a vanilla cheesecake mousse filling on all their shoppers. You can special order it without it, but I’m told by bakery staff that you have to be really specific and it isn’t offered on any menu. So for the sake of what you can buy out of the store, I must proceed as is with the mousse.

The mousse on its own is fine, but it really throws a stick in the cake’s wheel. The cake itself is everything I remember, moist and tasty, but the cheesecake-y center combined with lemon-scented frosting (thanks to sodium citrate, a kind of citric acid used to imply tartness) is off putting. The lemon flavor is just so jarring.

If this were simple the cake—no frosting or filling—it would hands-down be the best in terms of flavor, texture, and bake. But sadly, I cannot hypothesize nor reminisce. This is the new world we’re living in and I must rank accordingly.

5th Place: Target's or Whole Foods' Rubicon Bakers Birthday Cake

Oh, dear buyer, do not let the adorable size and festive sprinkle coat fool you. All is not a celebration with this vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. It bears noting that this cake is a small, round cake and not actually a “sheet” variety. But since birthday cake was allowed in the assignment, I figured it was best to be thorough.

The high point of eating this cake comes in the fact that the vanilla flavor really lets itself be known, especially at the end of the bite. The texture was chewy; less “sheet” cake and more “slab,” but not to the degree that it was entirely unpleasant. No, the biggest issue here was the sugar content. The cake is so, so sweet and the frosting is akin to dessert Crisco, adhering the bite to the roof of your mouth. The initial tasting wasn’t bad, but the more I ate it, the more I didn’t care for it.

4th Place: Walmart's Yellow Cake With Chocolate Frosting

<p>AllRecipes / Abbey Littlejohn</p>

AllRecipes / Abbey Littlejohn

What its big-box counterpart does with white cake, Walmart does with yellow. Here is another generic plain-tasting sponge, but this time with a bright, highlighter-yellow tinge.

But besides the absence of vanilla flavor (or really anything discernable other than sugar), there were some pros to this one. First, it was fluffy to cut into, with an airy weave and a nice structure. Second, the chocolate frosting was incredibly tasty, looking and tasting close to homemade. And finally, it was available in little individual squares, which is not only adorable and helpful for this particular experiment (you should see my fridge), but for random mid-week hankerings of added joy.

3rd Place: Kroger's Yellow Cake With Chocolate Frosting

The bakery worker at Kroger wasn’t terribly sure whether yellow or white was their vanilla option, but we both discerned that the white was likely more almond, so yellow it was.

This cake was neck-and-neck with Walmart. But though its frosting was cloying and plastic-y. like the stuff out of tubs you snuck into as a kid, the cake was superior and—to reiterate what was said up front—this is a cake competition first and foremost. The sponge was less sweet, more moist, and a smidge of vanilla even snuck in.

You know what would be perfect? Kroger’s cake with Walmart’s frosting. Maybe buy both and set up your own Frankenstein lab at home.

2nd Place: Whole Foods' Vanilla Cake With Multicolor Frosting

<p>AllRecipes / Abbey Littlejohn</p>

AllRecipes / Abbey Littlejohn

This is a more natural-looking yellow cake, but it specifies vanilla on the label and truly delivers. The cake is a little more dense (perhaps sturdier than I’d prefer) and verges on underbaked, but the difference between this and the bottom few offerings is palpable.

I could convince myself this is real buttercream (Technically it can claim it is as the label says vegetable glycerin and palm oil, but also butter). I would be happy to buy this and bring it to a pop-up party.

1st Place: Publix's White Cake With White Frosting

This cake made a mockery of this contest. With its airy texture, delicate crumb, definitive vanilla flavor, and whipped cream style, lighter-than-light icing that gives a shining spotlight on the vanilla flavor, it’s the best of both worlds.

Bless you, you sweet (but not too sweet) cake, with your tender, pillowy layers and cloud-like wisps of frosting. This cake could grace tables for all occasions and the happy little slices should consistently be “added to cart.” It hits the spot so perfectly, that it was even worth stabbing my husband in the hand with my fork when he attempted to snag the last bite.

Read the original article on All Recipes.