Sam's Club Bakery Items Ranked From Worst To Best

Just as I was settling into my post-holiday delusion of healthy eating, I decided to review nine of Sam's Club's most popular bakery items. You all know Sam's Club, right? It's Walmart's answer to Costco, a warehouse club store that's great for buying massive quantities of Tillamook cheese and toilet paper and has a bakery department that calls out "Who caaaaares about calorieeeees ...." when you try to look the other way.

Before I get started, I'd like to point out that there's nothing small at Sam's Club. You can't walk in there and buy a slice of apple pie, or even a normal-sized apple pie, because Sam's does not do normal-sized anything. Instead, you must buy the most ginormous apple pie you've ever seen plus eight other ginormous things and after you're done tasting, you must figure out what to do with the leftovers. Fortunately, I have four teenagers in my house and one is a 19-year-old bodybuilder, so I was not forced to consume all of those calories solo.

Quick note: Before I chose this selection of gigantic goodies, I consulted consumer reviews and Sam's Club's own website to see what the most popular bakery items are and whether they're generally raved about, though my ultimate decision was based on what I found most delicious (more on that at the end). The good news is, unless baked by toddlers, all desserts are delicious, so you'll almost certainly find something to love in the Sam's Club bakery, even if it didn't make this list.

9. Tiramisu

Confession: I don't like tiramisu. Go ahead and take some time to curse me and my know-nothing opinion. Yes, I'm aware that tiramisu is beloved by all. So maybe this ranking is slightly unfair but I did lean a bit more heavily on my family's opinions here, and I do think the Sam's Club tiramisu deserves the low ranking I have bestowed upon it. Here's why.

As a tiramisu disliker, I'm not qualified to say what a perfect tiramisu should be like, and after a cursory look around the internet, I don't think anyone else is, either. You do hear talk about the perfect custard-to-ladyfingers ratio, which at the very least should be 50-50. Well, Sam's tiramisu (priced at $14.98) is almost all custard — or technically "mascarpone cream," basically indistinguishable from custard — with very few ladyfingers. It did have a nice coffee flavor, I mean, once I got over the whole "My mouth is full of custard" and "Nothing this texture should be edible" thing.

It was also ugly, just a slab of goo topped with cocoa powder. Based on Sam's Club's marketing photos, the sliced tiramisu should have these pretty ladyfinger ribbons running through it, but it does not. At best, there's something indistinguishable as a ladyfinger in the sloppy, misshapen bottom of the slice, though it was barely visible through all the custard. To be fair, though, not everyone agrees — some people on Reddit even claim it as their favorite. If you like custard, I guess?

8. Cookies variety pack

There's nothing as basic as a cookie, and yet there are millions thousands of cookie recipes. Crispy cookies, soft cookies, cookies with a crispy exterior and a soft interior, chocolate chip, M&Ms, raisins, nuts ... even amongst chocolate chip cookies the style and quality can vary wildly from product to product. At this point in my life, I've tried so many different cookies that I need to be wowed by something that is really spectacularly different or is absolute perfection. Sadly, Sam's Club's variety pack didn't achieve either of those things.

The variety pack costs $7.48 and features three different cookies: chocolate chunk, white chunk macadamia nut, and oatmeal raisin. All three had a nice, chewy texture but no single one of them was shockingly delicious. I usually love chocolate chunk cookies, but I've definitely had better ones (usually home-baked, though Safeway cookies are also pretty good). The white chocolate macadamia nut cookies were okay; some of my family members liked them better than I did, but I really couldn't taste the macadamia nuts and the white chocolate wasn't super present, either. The oatmeal raisin cookies, though, were the ones that tipped the scales in favor of this being my second-to-least favorite Sam's Club bakery item. I've had some great store-bought oatmeal raisin cookies, and this wasn't one of them. The cookie had a sufficient number of raisins but it was kind of salty, and I could definitely taste the baking soda. 

7. Turnovers

Sam's Club sells three different turnovers for $5.98 a pack: apple, cherry, and queso y guayaba. Sadly, the queso y guayaba was not available at my local Sam's, because it sounds delicious and unique enough that it might have landed a bit higher on this list than the one I did try: the Tart & Sweet Cherry Turnover. On Sam's website, though, the cherry turnover is much more popular than the queso y guayaba turnover, so I'm guessing the latter is a special offering or one that is only available at select stores.

I did like the cherry turnover. It was tasty when warmed up and served with a cup of coffee. Turnovers, jelly doughnuts, and other filled pastries are often kind of overstuffed, which is great if you are a kid who could also eat frosting with a spoon but not so great if you're at the age where very rich things make you feel like you swallowed sugar-coated gravel. 

I did appreciate that Sam's Club's turnovers were lightly filled, with just enough cherry puree to make them lively but not so much that I spent my morning feeling remorseful and bloated. I will say, though, that the turnover I tried did not have the "real cherry slices" promised on Sam's Club's website, which was rather a disappointment. I'm happy not to have too much of that glossy puree but the additional texture of real pieces of fruit would have been kind of nice. Hence the turnover's seventh-place ranking.

6. Carrot bar cake

Sam's Club's carrot bar cake actually has a reputation as one of the worst grocery store cakes; some people have even complained that it goes moldy after a couple of days. Mostly, though, reviewers are unimpressed by the frosting. Some complain that it's not cream cheese frosting or that it's just bland, and those are pretty valid points. Good carrot cake needs a rich, cream-cheesy frosting to balance out all the, um, vegetables.

I love carrot cake, but the reviewers are mostly right about this one. The frosting has an unpleasantly greasy mouthfeel and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it's made with shortening, though I could not find that ingredient on the label. Shortening is sometimes used in frosting to make it more white,  but the downside is that it is essentially flavorless, so if you overdo it you just get greasy frosting. I can't say whether Sam's Club's frosting is made this way, but however they do make it, it's not great. It does taste very slightly of cream cheese, but only enough to be insulting. Overall, it seemed like the frosting was only there because someone realized last minute they needed frosting and then discovered they were out of cream cheese.

The cake itself — which costs $16.98 — was pretty decent. It was moist and had just the right ratio of walnuts to cake. The carrots gave it a nice flavor without being overwhelmingly carroty. And mine didn't get moldy, so bonus points?

5. Iced cinnamon squares

The iced cinnamon squares cost $6.98 a pack and are really just miniature scones, and though they're not especially unique I did find myself going back for a second one almost immediately after finishing the first. These are nice breakfast-y snacks that go great with a cup of coffee and don't necessarily need to be warmed up, though they are pretty nice after 15 seconds in the microwave. My only real complaint was that I couldn't really taste any cinnamon, so perhaps they should be renamed "iced squares" for the sake of accuracy.

My opinion, however, seems a bit out of step with the opinions of Sam's Club website reviewers. Overall, the iced cinnamon squares got around 3.6 stars out of 5, with most one-star reviewers complaining they were hard and dry. The ones I bought were neither of those things. They were moist and easy to eat, and though they weren't drowning in frosting (another reviewer complaint), I don't personally think something drowning in frosting makes for an especially good breakfast, unless you like having indigestion all day I guess.

It's worth pointing out, though, that the ones I tried look nothing like those in Sam's headline marketing photo, which do look a lot less like scones and a lot more like stale blondies, or maybe weird, misshapen biscottis. So I guess there may have been a recipe change at some point, or that the recipe varies from location to location.

4. Thin Mint brownies

At the base level, these are just chocolate brownies. And as long as chocolate brownies are soft and chocolatey, you can't really criticize them. I would have been more than happy if these did not have a mint and cookie topping, but the mint and cookie topping elevated them from "basic brownie" to "very, very, good brownie."

Sam's Club's Thin Mint brownies cost $7.98. They're topped with mint-green frosting, streaks of chocolate, and crumbled Thin Mint Cookies, yes, the actual Girl Scout cookies you buy 15 boxes of every year but only because you want to "help out" your local Girl Scout (don't worry, I won't tell anyone your secret). One container supposedly serves eight people, but in reality, you will eat one and then fist-fight the other members of your household for the rest of them.

The only reason Sam's Club's Thin Mint brownies did not rank a bit higher is that they weren't as moist as some of the brownies I've eaten elsewhere, and brownies do tend to benefit from being super moist and kind of gooey. In texture, these were a little more like cookies than brownies, but that's not necessarily a negative.

Before I sign off on this one, I must add that not every Sam's Club reviewer agrees with me; these brownies have slightly less than four stars online, though to be fair, most one-star reviewers complained that their brownies were stale, which is probably more of a location problem than a quality problem.

3. Apple lattice pie

If you're having a big group over for dinner, definitely pick up one of these monster pies. Sam's Club's apple lattice pie measures a full foot in diameter, so you can feed a lot of people for just $10.98. It also has a very pretty lattice top, so that makes it especially good for dinner parties (Who doesn't like to hear their guests go "Oooh" when they catch sight of a beautifully presented dessert?).

As for the flavor, well, apple pies tend to distinguish themselves based on the crust. I've had some pretty awful pie crusts, many of them bland and overcooked. I've had some undercooked ones, too. A good pie crust is flaky on the top and tender in the middle without being doughy. It does not overwhelm the filling, it complements it. And the edges should not be burnt, even though they often are.

Sam's Club's apple pie hit all those points, and I'm not alone in this thinking. One Redditor even calls it "the best crust I've ever eaten." The filling was good, too. Sometimes apple pie filling is too heavy on the cinnamon or the apples are cooked down to mush, but this pie had just the right amount of cinnamon and the apples were firm but not too firm. For extra joy, warm it up before serving and top it with some good-quality vanilla ice cream (I'm hesitant to admit I put Cool-Whip on mine, but I totally did).

2. French silk pie

Though not quite as big as the apple pie, Sam's Club's French silk pie is still a pretty generous size. It's 10 inches across, and at $8.98 it costs less than the dinky little Marie Callender's French silk pie you can get in the freezer section of your regular grocery store. Marie Callender's pie does have one thing over this one, though — the crust.

I am aware that all French silk pies do not have an Oreo cookie crust or a graham cracker crust, but this is one case where I think that some interpretations of this classic are dead wrong. French silk pie should have a cookie crust, not a pastry crust. This is the main reason why I've ranked the Sam's Club's French silk pie as its number two bakery item and not as its number one.

Everything else about this pie is fantastic. It's maybe a little heavy on the whipped cream, but whatever. I love whipped cream. Let's put whipped cream on everything. Under the whipped cream, the chocolate filling is rich but also exactly the right texture. The shaved bits of chocolate add some additional bite and depth of flavor. If it had had a cookie crust, I would have been in heaven, but the pastry crust was not quite enough to make me not love what I was eating. And in this case, the online reviewers agree with me — this pie is overwhelmingly rated as four and a half stars.

1. Salted caramel and cookies 'n crème cheesecakes

Full disclosure: I love cheesecake. And I must also tell you that I generally believe that cheesecake should be topped with fruit. Chocolate and caramel do not usually make good cheesecake toppings, because the result tends to be the best of neither the cheesecake nor the topping.

Boy, was I wrong. This is the first time I've had the cheesecake and caramel combination and the cheesecake and chocolate combination and did not think it made for mediocre cheesecake. And I'm not alone — these cheesecakes are so good they've even been featured in TikTok love letters.

First, let me tell you what to expect when you buy these. On one side of the package are cheesecakes made with a caramel base and topped with whipped cream, caramel drizzle, and a vanilla crumble. On the other side are the cookies 'n creme cheesecakes, which feature a New York-style cheesecake, vanilla and Oreo cookie frosting, and chocolate cookie crumbles.

I will admit to only trying one bite of the cookies 'n creme cheesecake because my family ate them all before I could claim one. I ate an entire caramel cheesecake and then hid the one remaining one where no one could find it. I can say that both were so decadent you might have a hard time eating them in one setting, but who cares. This is cheesecake at its finest, completely flawless, and that's saying something coming from someone who thinks cheesecake needs fruit.

How I selected and tasted each item

I used Sam's Club's website to find its best-selling items, and I also consulted Reddit and other forums where consumers like to rave or complain about food. I excluded items that were popular but also kind of boring (butter croissants are butter croissants no matter where you buy them) and I also excluded the party-sized offerings because 1) the regular-sized offerings were already plenty huge, thank you very much, and 2) because party-sized options aren't necessarily popular because they're good but because when you need something big you just buy whatever is going. I was also sadly forced to leave out a few items I couldn't find at my local Sam's Club (for example, they did not have the popular tuxedo bar).

I also skipped the cupcakes. I know, cupcakes are classically delicious but in my experience, they're like butter croissants: Not much variation from store to store. Fight me.

When ranking these items, I thought about things like flavor, sweetness (Too much? Too little?), and texture. I compared them to each other as well as to other versions of the same dessert I've had elsewhere. I first ranked them in larger categories according to whether or not I tried to hide the leftovers from the rest of my family after tasting, and then I settled on the final order after comparing their assets and flaws, with some input from consumer reviews and members of my family.