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Best boxed cake mix for delicious cakes, according to an expert

Cake mixes come in a variety of sizes, flavors and options — here are the best ones to make desserts and treats at home.
Image: Cropped Image Person Preparing Cake Batter
Find the best boxed cake mix for chocolate cake, yellow cake, gluten-free cakes, and other flavors from Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Simple Mills and more.Erika Straesser / Getty Images/EyeEm

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We’ve all had to get creative in the kitchen lately. Maybe you had to learn how to cook for yourself, find healthy lunch options while working from home or try to make dinner in 30 minutes. But have you considered your newest kitchen helper might be on a back shelf in your pantry right now? Go ahead and dig out that box of yellow cake mix. With sourdough bread taking over Instagram and yeast and flour in short supply, cake mixes could be your starting point for everything from dessert to dinner rolls. This guide will help you navigate the world of cake box mixes, which come in a wide variety of flavors and even some diet-friendly options.

In this article

  1. What is cake mix
  2. How to choose the best cake mix
  3. Best cake mixes to shop

What is cake mix

Cake mixes typically include all the dry ingredients you need to bake a cake, cupcakes or bread in a pinch: flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. While mixes take the guesswork out of baking with pre-measured ingredients; you should still take the time to read what’s included in the package. Most mixes don’t tend to include some fairly significant supplements to your cooking project:

  • Frosting
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Vegetable oil

As these are common additions to the dry ingredients included in a cake mix package and while hopping to the store for a quick grab is less than ideal right now, be sure you know what your cake mix requires of you when the cooking begins.

Most cake mixes come in a variety of sizes, too, so consider how many people will be eating your dessert. Mug cakes, named for their petite size and what you use to cook the batter, are single serving options. A box of cake mix usually fills two nine-inch round pans, which is helpful if you’re making a cake with layers. Grease the pans with butter or shortening, and line the bottom with parchment paper to keep the batter from sticking.

How to choose the best cake mix

The cake mix aisle — both in stores and online — has grown to include everything from Unicorn Cake Cups to Molten Chocolate Lava Cake. With an increasingly wide array of options, then, the best place to start is to think about flavors and dietary restrictions.

When it comes to flavors, the more specific the mix — Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake, for example — the less likely you can adapt the cake or substantively change its flavor. White or yellow cake, like Betty Crocker Yellow Cake Mix, are basic, sweet cakes that can be transformed into gooey bars, pineapple upside-down cake and even zucchini bread. If you have specific dietary needs, there’s likely a chocolate cake mix out there for you.

Best cake mixes to shop

The right cake mix is subjective, really: It's the one that makes the amount of cake you need with the flavors you want and the ingredients that match your diet.

1. Duncan Hines Yellow Cake Mix

This mix is useful in your pantry because it’s versatile. The sweet dense base can be turned into dinner rolls, coffee cake or chocolate chip bundt cake.

2. Simple Mills Almond Flour Cake Mix

A gluten-free blend of almond and coconut flour gives this moist cake a light texture. Add a tablespoon of orange or lemon zest for a bit of brightness.

3. Duncan Hines Mug Cakes

Mug cakes are all about instant gratification. These petite, spongy cakes only need five tablespoons of water or milk and are ready in minutes.

4. Keto & Co. Chocolate Cake Mix

Keto & Co.’s cake mix is a good option if you have dessert lovers with a lot of different dietary needs. The mix is gluten-free, diabetic and keto-friendly and can be dairy free, if you swap coconut oil for butter.

5. Pillsbury Vanilla Cake Mix and Funfetti Frosting

Funfetti is nostalgic and whimsical. The vanilla cake is studded with candy pieces and the vanilla frosting is dotted with rainbow sprinkles. The popular Pillsbury lineup also features strawberry and yellow cake, as well as neon-colored icings.

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