Special K Vs. Cheerios (Which is Best?)

Breakfast cereals are often marketed as healthy choices, but although they might have lots of added vitamins and minerals, some are high in sugar or additives.

When it comes to Special K and Original Cheerios, both are marketed as healthy options, but which is the best of the two?

In this article, I’ll be comparing each cereal head-to-head to find out which is the best for nutrition and cost, and you can also help us find out which is best for flavor by voting for your favorite.

Ingredients Comparision

Before we start comparing the nutritional categories for each cereal, let’s look at the main difference between Special K and Cheerios when it comes to ingredients.

As you can see from the ingredients table below, the main difference between the two kinds of cereal is that Special K is a rice-based cereal, whereas Cheerios are predominately made from whole grain oats.

Both kinds of cereal have added sugar and salt, and both are fortified with a range of vitamins and minerals to make them more healthy.

Cereal TypeIngredientsAdded Vitamins and Minerals
Kellogg’s Original Special K Rice, wheat gluten, sugar, defatted wheat germ, contains 2% or less of salt, malt flavor, bht for freshness.Reduced iron, Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), niacinamide, Vitamin E acetate, beta-carotene, folic acid, Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), Vitamin B1 (thiamin hydrochloride), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12.
Original Cheerios Whole Grain Oats, Corn Starch, Sugar, Salt, Tripotassium Phosphate. Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) Added to Preserve Freshness.Calcium Carbonate, Iron and Zinc (mineral nutrients), Vitamin C (sodium ascorbate), A B Vitamin (niacinamide), Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), Vitamin A (palmitate), Vitamin B1 (thiamin mononitrate), A B Vitamin (folic acid), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3.

Special K Vs. Cheerios Nutritional Comparison

To keep things fair and accurate, this will be based on a weight-for-weight Comparison using a serving weight of 39 grams which is the recommended portion size for both Special K and Original Cheerios.

To confirm, I will be comparing Kellogg’s Special K Original cereal against General Mills original Cheerios, which are available in stores in the USA; please note nutritional values might vary slightly depending on the country they’re manufactured in.

Best for Calorie Content

Starting with the calorie content comparison, I can confirm that Cheerios are the lower calorie option of the two at 140kcal per 39g serving compared to Special K, which contains 150kcal.

Cereal TypeCalories Per 39g Serving
Original Special K150kcal
Original Cheerios140kcal

Best for Carbohydrate Content

Neither Special k nor Original Cheerios can be classed as low carbohydrate compared to some other breakfast options, with both containing 29g of carbs per 39g serving of cereal.

Cereal TypeCarbohydrates Per 39g Serving
Original Special K29g
Original Cheerios29g

Best for Sugar Content

When choosing a breakfast cereal, sugar is an important factor because many contain much more sugar than you might expect, especially if they’re marketed as healthy.

The cereal lowest in sugar per serving of the two is Cheerios with 2g per 39g, whereas a serving of Special K contains 5g, which is the equivalent to a teaspoon of sugar per portion.

To put this into the context of a daily recommended percentage, Cheerios contain 4% compared to Special K, which contain 8%.

Cereal TypeSugars Per 39g Serving
Original Special K5g
Original Cheerios2g

Best for Protein Content

If protein is an important consideration for you when choosing a breakfast cereal, then of the two, the better option is Special K which contains 7g per serving of cereal, compared to Original Cheerios, which contain 5g.

Both kinds of cereal contain a reasonable amount of protein per serving compared to some other popular choices.

Cereal TypeProtein Per 39g Serving
Original Special K7g
Original Cheerios5g

Best for Fat Content

Special K Original and Original Cheerios are both low in fat, but of the two, Special K is the lowest with only 0.5g of fat per serving and no saturated fat.

Neither Special K nor Cheerios contains any cholesterol per serving of cereal.

Cereal TypeFat Per 39g ServingOf Which is Saturated Fat
Original Special K0.5g0g
Original Cheerios2.5g0.5g

Best for Fiber Content

Another important consideration for many when choosing a breakfast cereal is fiber content. Still, when comparing the two, the best option is Original Cheerios which contain 4g of dietary fiber per serving, compared to Special K, which contains a trace amount per 39g.

Cereal TypeDietary Fibre per 39g Serving
Original Special K<1g
Original Cheerios4g

Best for Sodium/Salt Content

Most popular breakfast cereals have added sodium for extra flavor, and for our comparison, Original Special K contains more sodium per serving than Original Cheerios.

In terms of a daily value percentage, Special K contains 12% of the recommended daily intake per serving compared to Cheerios, which contain 8%.

Cereal TypeSodium/Salt per Serving
Original Special K270mg
Original Cheerios190mg

Best for Vitamins/Minerals

Both Special K and Cheerios are fortified with added vitamins and minerals to make them more healthy and to help consumers reach their daily values of nutrients.

Although both have a wide range of added nutrients, Original Cheerios contain more vitamins and minerals in most categories when compared to Special K (see table below).

Vitamin/Mineral TypeOriginal Special K Daily Value %Original Cheerios Daily Value %
Vitamin D10%10%
Calcium10%
Iron60%70%
Phosphorus10%
Potassium6%
Magnesium15%
Thiamin20%20%
Riboflavin20%
Vitamin B620%20%
Vitamin C10%10%
Vitamin A10%10%
Vitamin B1220%20%
Niacin20%10%
Folic Acid100%20%
Zinc20%

Best for Flavor/Texture

Which is best for flavor and texture is subjective and ultimately down to the individual’s taste.

To get an idea of the public favorite between Special K and Cheerios, you can help us by voting for the cereal you prefer. Once you vote, the winner so far will be revealed (no personal information is required to submit your answer).

Which do you prefer?

Best for Price

At the time of writing this article, an 18oz family pack of Original Special K and the same-sized box of Cheerios both cost an average of $3.98, which is equivalent to 22¢ per ounce.

Based on this information, both kinds of cereal cost the same, although this can fluctuate depending on pack sizes, offers, and where you buy them.

Overall Winner

All categories have now been compared for nutrition and cost, and I can now reveal the cereal that is best in most categories is – Cheerios!

Original Cheerios came in best for calories, while being lower in sugar and sodium, but higher in fiber and certain vitamins and minerals than Special K Original.

It’s worth pointing out that they were similar for some categories and Special K came in best for fat and protein content.

Which is best for you ultimately comes down to which cereal you like best, but hopefully, this article has helped you make an informed choice on which is best nutritionaly.

Comparison CategoryWinner (Special K or Cheerios)
Best for Calorie ContentCheerios
Best for Carbohydrate ContentBoth the same
Best for Sugar ContentCheerios
Best for Protein ContentSpecial K
Best for Fat ContentSpecial K
Best for Fiber ContentCheerios
Best for Sodium ContentCheerios
Best for Vitamins/MineralsCheerios
Best for PriceJoint Winners
Overall WinnerCheerios

Related Articles

I hope this article has helped you to find the information you were looking for; you might also find the following articles helpful too:

Froot Loops Vs. Cheerios (Which is Best?)

Cheerios Vs. Honey Nut Cheerios (Which is Best?)

References Used for this Article

To ensure the nutritional information used in this article is accurate, I have used data from the manufacturer; the links below contain the source information:

Original Special K Manufacturer Nutritional Information

Original Cheerios Manufacturer Nutritional Information