The 16 Best Store-Bought Cake Mixes, Ranked Worst To First

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Nothing tops a homemade cake, but you don't always have the time to make one. And, truth be told, homemade cakes can be complicated — not everyone's baking skills are up to the task just yet. Boxed cake mixes are an excellent way for new bakers to get a feel for the process and practice their cake-making skills.

Though dozens of options are available, not all boxed cake mixes are created equal. And while your boxed cake may not turn out like a homemade version, great strides have been made in recent years to make boxed mixes more impressive. Even some old-school brands have upped their game, making mixes for cakes that taste like they could have been made from scratch.

The only problem with the abundance of available varieties is that you might not know which box to buy. This is a problem because some are available at grocery stores, while others can only be found online. Fortunately, we're here to help — we've got plenty of cake mix options, along with tips to help you decide which one best suits your purposes.

16. Miss Jones baking organic

You might be tempted to try this brand if you're a novice. It's available in most stores and online and comes in pretty packaging. It also gets high marks and a lot of attention for being all-natural. The Miss Jones website lists a keto and paleo-friendly chocolate muffin and cupcake mix that received mixed reviews. While most tasters liked it, one commented that "they didn't taste like muffins." She suggested using them in a donut pan and making keto donuts instead.

And a review on Amazon questioned whether the vegan-friendly description was even accurate. The package directions say to add milk, eggs, and butter, none of which are vegan. And while you could make the necessary substitutions yourself, if you are buying mixes because you're new to baking, you may not know what substitutions to make. If you don't have hours to spend online researching and then buying additional ingredients, this cake mix brand may not be the one for you.

15. Kroger wicked white

Professional baker and author of Baking with Blondie tested three different white cakes and gave her feedback. Kroger's wicked white scored high marks on color, but the finished product had air pockets and a less-than-desirable crumb. She also noted that it cooked faster than the other varieties she tested. This could prove problematic for new bakers since oven temperatures vary widely, and it could be easier to burn.

The cakes were a bit concave on the top when she removed them from the oven, but they were larger and denser than the other options. She complimented them on their looks from the outside but found large air pockets in the cake rounds once she cut into them. And she wasn't as impressed with the flavor. She commented that this one was overly sweet and tasted artificial. It was moist but had a pancake-like flavor that turned her off.

14. Foodstirs

Foodstirs began as a subscription service selling baking kits made from all-natural ingredients to families. In its review of one of the baking kits, Champagne and Coffee Stains explains that Foodstirs launched itself as a "junk-free kitchen." She and her children loved the baking kit, but not everyone is as impressed with the cake mixes now available individually in stores and online.

Despite festive packaging, some reviews of the flavor and texture were lackluster. Many enjoyed that this cake, made with artificial sweetener, wasn't as sugary as traditional varieties. But one reviewer "found the Stevia made the product just too sweet" (via Walmart).

Others didn't care for the consistency of the finished cake and complained that it didn't have much vanilla flavor. And one commented that "all the extras that you need to bake the cake I didn't like" (per Walmart). Some Amazon reviewers were equally unimpressed, commenting that "the texture was dense," while another complained that there was "too much butter. Too heavy for a cake," despite having followed directions.

13. Betty Crocker

A review on Insider that compared three brands of boxed cake mixes found the Betty Crocker devil's food cake mix to be lackluster. It was moist but not exceptionally flavorful. Author and reviewer Alana Al-Hatlani reported that the cake this mix produced "was very moist and has a nice crumb and soft texture throughout, but it was by far the least chocolaty of the bunch." She thought the flavor was watered down.

Reviewers on Influenster and Amazon disagreed with the analysis. Most were big fans of this cake mix. One reviewer, however, agreed that "it could be more chocolaty," and another commented that "this cake is spongy, airy, and has a delicious chocolate flavor, but is not as moist as a homemade chocolate sponge" (via Influenster). On Amazon, one reviewer rated Betty Crocker cake mix five stars and pointed out that you could "cook it in your instant pot!" But another noted "a weird chemical taste" and gave it only two stars (via Amazon).

12. Wholesome

The Wholesome cake mix brand is an organic option with mostly good reviews on its website. One reviewer loved that this didn't contain coconut-based products because she hated the taste. She said, "this will be my go-to cake mix now if I do not want to make a scratch cake."

But the one negative review on the site mentions a large amount of oil the instructions say to use. The mix was rated only two stars and a reviewer reported that she "had to throw the cake away because of how oily it was." Another reviewer who rated it high admitted they didn't use the recommended amount because it seemed like more oil than the cake should need. Since you might not realize this if you are new to baking, this mix is rated lower on our list. However, a review at Natura, a Canadian market, gave the cake five stars, saying they liked that this cake was "truly golden, looks lovely cut into."

11. Sweet Laurel

According to The Chalkboard Mag, the Sweet Laurel brand was born out of a personal quest for grain-free desserts she could eat. Unsurprisingly, she found others with similar dietary restrictions and needs, which led to her opening a grain-free bakery in Los Angeles. Her recipes became hits, and she created a box mix that you can use to make her chocolate cake at home.

On their website, Sweet Laurel states that their recipes are grain, dairy, refined-sugar free, all-natural, and paleo. And reviewers on the website found the chocolate cake delicious and liked that it was made with clean, all-natural ingredients. One reviewer commented, "I'm so glad there's finally a cake mix out there with only clean ingredients" (via Sweet Laurel).

Because these are made with almond flour, they may not be as shelf-stable as traditional varieties. And while they have options to make their mixes vegan, it often requires bakers to purchase many additional ingredients, sometimes at great expense.

10. Belle epicurean

Like Sweet Laurel, Belle Epicurean started out as a bakery, this one located in Washington State. While the bakery serves various breakfast dishes, they also sell high-end, gourmet cake mixes. Their basic yellow cake mix got good reviews on Amazon, with one reviewer saying that it was "much better than any mix I've ever tried in terms of ease and taste!" Several buyers didn't recommend ordering from Amazon, though, reporting issues with damaged packaging.

When compared with their yellow cake mix, Belle Epicurean's other cake mix flavors didn't get the same positive reviews. Of the Seattle Spice variety, one Amazon reviewer complained that this "made one of the driest cakes I've ever baked. The flavor was wonderful, but the texture was so disappointing." The French Almond received mixed reviews. Another Amazon reviewer reported, "My whole family loved this almond cake mix," while another complained, "flavor not the best," and thought the mix was overpriced.

9. Pamela's gluten-free

The reviews for Pamela's gluten-free cake mix were impressive. One Amazon reviewer even questioned whether the mix was truly gluten-free because it tasted so good. She said she and her children, who can't eat gluten, "bought a case we love it so much." But some people found it disappointing.

One reviewer thought the vanilla cake flavor was fine as a starter mix but said she "had to add a lot to make the flavor okay" (via Amazon). Other reviewers also found the flavor bland; one noted that it dried out quickly after being baked.

The chocolate cake flavor was also highly rated on the company's website. According to one reviewer, this is "the best chocolate cake mix around, dense, fudgy, and moist" (via Pamela's). And many who didn't have to eat gluten-free products said they liked this as much, if not more, than the alternatives they were more familiar with.

8. Pillsbury cake mix

On the review site Influenster, Pillsbury's cake mixes got rave reviews. People liked that the Moist White cake mix was easy to alter, with many mentioning that they added colors and flavors. But some stated they preferred the Betty Crocker brand to this one, which they found to be on the dry side. Others complained the taste was bland.

Fortunately, for those that found the taste lacking, other flavors are available. There are abundant flavors, including lemon, pineapple, strawberry, four varieties of chocolate, golden butter, and yellow (via Pillsbury). In fact, one Influenster reviewer said she likes using the classic white mix "to layer with another flavor like strawberry or chocolate." Flavored frosting can also contribute a bit of extra oomph. And Pillsbury's yellow cake mix was rated 4.5 out of 5 stars on Influenster. A reviewer noted, "It's my go-to for cakes and cupcakes. There are many different flavors and they all taste great."

7. Bob's red mill

There aren't many gluten-free boxed cake mixes that were rated high. There's just something a little off about gluten-free mixes if you're used to eating cakes made with flour. And ingredients like almond flour can go bad if they sit on a shelf for too long. Bob's Red Mill was an exception, but it still didn't rate as high as traditional mixes.

The vanilla cake mix seemed to be a hit or miss, with all the reviewers either loving or hating it. On the Bob's Red Mill site, one reviewer reported, "After 15 years gluten-free, happy to find the perfect vanilla cake for our celebrations or just a sunny day!" But a different reviewer said they prefer gluten-free mixes made with rice flour because while the texture of this cake was great, due to "the overwhelming amount of potato flour, it smells and tastes like instant potato mash."

6. Jiffy

Jiffy is probably best known for its cornbread mix. But they also make a golden yellow cake mix that, according to Jiffy, can be used for a simple cake, cake pops, or one of their many other recipes. These include Applesauce Spice Cake, Red Velvet cake, lemon pound cake, and German chocolate cake, among others. And the cake mix scored 4.3 out of 5 stars with reviewers at Walmart

One reviewer stated that the mix was just the right size for when you don't need a big cake, commenting, "They're perfect for one or two people!" Another commented that Jiffy's yellow cake mix made an excellent base that can be "easily made into things like pineapple upside down cake." And the $0.98 price tag doesn't hurt, either. Most of the reviews on Amazon were also good. Although, one reviewer complained that "the flavor was not good; the cake was dry."

5. Annie's organic

You've probably seen Annie's Organic in the pasta aisle of your local grocery store, where you can find their boxed macaroni and cheese. They aim to create products from natural ingredients that are good for you and to be socially conscious by working with farmers and others along the supply chain for their products.

The same goes for their cake mix, which is one of the things people like most about it. One reviewer at Walmart raved, "This cake is fabulous . . . not too sweet either. Made with good ingredients you've heard of and can pronounce." But a few people complained about the flavor, commenting that it was artificial or chemical. One Amazon reviewer was disappointed that the company no longer uses organic flavors in its products. They complained: "Annie's is skimping on organic flavoring and using 'natural flavors'", and the cake mix's flavor has suffered.

4. Duncan Hines

According to Alana Al-Hatlani, a reporter and reviewer for Insider, this is the best cake mix of the three major brands. She liked Duncan Hines's consistency, sweetness, and flavor best. The reviewer noted a richer, more buttery taste to the Duncan Hines compared to Betty Crocker or Pillsbury and just the right amount of sweetness. Although the Duncan Hines mix calls for separating your egg whites, which can sometimes be tricky for new bakers, Al-Hatlani felt the extra effort was worth it.

Other reviewers shared this opinion, giving this easy-to-find brand high ratings. One Influenster reviewer called this a "versatile cake mix in the sense that you can add to it to make all kinds of different desserts." This also comes in a wide variety of flavors, unlike some other options. Those flavors include eight types of chocolate, orange, lemon, strawberry, pineapple, spice, carrot, angel food, and confetti. However, some of the more recent reviews on the brand's website have noticed a decline in the quality of these mixes in recent years.

3. King Arthur

King Arthur makes a variety of cake mixes, and while their flavors tend to be more traditional — yellow, white, chocolate — they also offer keto and gluten-free versions. Most of the 300+ reviews on the company's website were five stars, including the gluten-free products. The gluten-free chocolate cake has a 4.8 out of 5-star rating, which one reviewer called "Soft, fluffy, delightful. A very quality cake" (per King Arthur).

The lemon buttermilk version didn't fare as well, earning only 4.3 stars. One reviewer complained, "It was easy to make, but disappointing in the end" (per King Arthur), commenting it had little to no lemon flavor and that the glaze was more like syrup. Most of King Arthur's reviews raved about this cake mix's delicate crumb, moistness, and flavor. But a few dissenters found the finished product drier and heavier than they'd have liked. And several found the coconut flavor in the keto versions overpowering and unpleasant.

2. The caker

The Caker is more expensive than many brands on this list and a bit tougher to come by, but the flavors and quality rank it high. You can get individual boxes through Amazon or buy directly from the manufacturer. A flavor bundle will cost you $80 but gets you 1 box of each of the following flavors: Coconut Raspberry Lime, Flourless Dark Chocolate Gold Leaf, Banana Cinnamon, and Spiced Carrot with Salted Caramel.

Despite the hefty price tag, The Caker's cake mixes are worth the extra money for several reasons. The first is that it comes with all the dry ingredients you need, including the parchment paper lining you would use for a higher-end from scratch recipe. These also produce single-layer cakes that look and taste extravagant, making them worth the expense for special occasions. Reviewed, a division of USA Today, recommended these for holidays because they are comparable to a cake purchased from a bakery at a fraction of the price.

1. Ghirardelli

Ghirardelli's boxed mix takes the cake. It comes in dark and double chocolate. It was more expensive than other brands available at grocery stores (though not as expensive as The Caker), but everyone agreed the flavor was worth the extra cost. A review of the dark chocolate flavor on The Influenster site commented, "It's very moist and has very decadent chocolate, which is hard to find." Some even commented they choose to make this boxed cake mix instead of baking one from scratch.

An Amazon reviewer called it "absolutely the richest, easiest chocolate cake I have ever made." And a Walmart reviewer explained, "This is the best cake you will ever eat! It contains shredded rich dark chocolate which after baking is moist and dark." It only makes one 9-inch cake, so you'll need two boxes for a layer cake, but it still gives you the best flavor for the price.