Your Cake Mix Guide

This post may contain affiliate sales links. Please see my full disclosure policy for details

 
 
 
 All your boxed cake mix questions answered. This is the best guide for what types of cake mix to choose. What cake mix is the most chocolaty? What cake mix has the best rise? I’m answering all your questions.
 All your boxed cake mix questions answered. This is the best guide for what types of cake mix to choose. What cake mix is the most chocolaty? What cake mix has the best rise? I’m answering all your questions.

All your boxed cake mix questions answered. This is the best guide for what types of cake mix to choose. What cake mix is the most chocolaty? What cake mix has the best rise? I’m answering all your questions.

PIN THIS POST FOR LATER

Listen, it’s no secret that we use a lot of cake mix around here. Why? Because I think anyone should be able to make something amazing and if that means you need to start with a cake mix, that’s okay with me. In general, we are not just making a cake mix and slapping some canned frosting on it. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever did that. I generally alter my cake mixes in some way shape and form. If you don’t like cake mix, that’s okay to, because I am sure you have a favorite homemade cake you can substitute.

What is the best boxed chocolate cake mix? This post will answer your questions. It is the best guide explaining the differences between boxed cake mixes.

Given the amount of baking I’ve done in the past four years, I definitely have my preferred brands, and sometimes I’ll even specify that for you. So this post is meant to be a deep dive into variety of cake mixes that are available and to see how each one is different from one another.

Let’s just take a moment and talk about ALL the cakes I made in one day- which also meant all the taste testing. I had cake spread out over all of my counter. I should have planned better when the beau was here to help me. After all he pretty much only eats chocolate cake and Rice Krispie Treats. Anyway.

All cake mixes offer a wide variety of flavors and some that have pudding in the mix. There’s always a chocolate, vanilla and even a devils food, but than there’s different variations of Funfetti, maybe a lemon or red velvet. For the purposes of this test, we’re talking Devil’s Food and we’re working with the top three: Betty Crocker, Pillsbury and Duncan Hines.

What is the best boxed chocolate cake mix? This post will answer your questions. It is the best guide explaining the differences between boxed cake mixes.

There are certainly other brands available such as Ghirardelli, King Arthur Flour, Jiffy or even a generic store brand, but I felt that these were the top 3 most common brands when it comes to cake mix.

I often get asked questions about how many cupcakes each box makes because people feel that is varies between brands. So I will update this post at a later time. Otherwise you can definitely check out my tips for baking cupcakes where I talk about how much batter for each cupcake and the different types of pans that are available.

For the purposes of this experiment, I used only the ingredients called for on the box: water, oil and eggs. All three boxes were 15.25 ounces / 432 grams but each one varied in the liquid ingredients that are required.

All your boxed cake mix questions answered. This is the best guide for what types of cake mix to choose. What cake mix is the most chocolaty? What cake mix has the best rise? I’m answering all your questions.

Betty Crocker: 1 ¼ cup water, ½ cup vegetable oil and 3 large eggs
Pillsbury: 1 cup water, ½ cup vegetable oil and 3 large eggs
Duncan Hines: 1 cup water 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 3 large eggs

How does this affect the actual batter? Well, here are my findings:

Betty Crocker cake mix was by far the thinnest, due to extra ¼ cup of water. In fact, when I measured out the amount of batter in each prepared cake mix, there was an extra 1 cup of prepared batter in this box.

What is the best boxed chocolate cake mix? This post will answer your questions. It is the best guide explaining the differences between boxed cake mixes.

The Pillsbury batter was the darkest in color, so it’s no surprise when you see my conclusion that this was the most chocolately flavored cake.

What is the best boxed chocolate cake mix? This post will answer your questions. It is the best guide explaining the differences between boxed cake mixes.

The Duncan Hines batter what the thickest, which makes sense because it has the least amount of liquid.

What is the best boxed chocolate cake mix? This post will answer your questions. It is the best guide explaining the differences between boxed cake mixes.

Usually, a boxed mixed can be baked in a 9-inch by 13-inch pan or two 9-inch rounds. In my kitchen, I normally bake with 8-inch round pans, which results in a thicker/taller cake. For this post, I tested these cake mixes in two different ways and it should be noted that I did NOT use my beloved bake even stripes.

One tip I have is that I always grease my pans with Crisco and line the bottom with parchment paper. This helps ensure the cake releases easily from the pans. It’s also nice because when I am cooling the cakes on the wire rack, the bottom of the cake won’t stick since it is lined with parchment paper. It also makes it easier to transport from surface to surface.

Test 1: 9-inch round pan using 1 ½ cups of batter for each cake mix. Each cake baked for 19 minutes. As opposed to dividing the batter in half (because not each cake mix had the same amount of liquid batter), I wanted to control the amount of batter in each pan.

All your boxed cake mix questions answered. This is the best guide for what types of cake mix to choose. What cake mix is the most chocolaty? What cake mix has the best rise? I’m answering all your questions.

Test 2: Two 8-inch pans using 1 ¾ cups batter for each cake mix. Each one baked for 19 minutes except for Duncan Hines, which needed an extra 2 minutes.

All your boxed cake mix questions answered. This is the best guide for what types of cake mix to choose. What cake mix is the most chocolaty? What cake mix has the best rise? I’m answering all your questions.

So what were are my conclusion?

What is the best boxed chocolate cake mix? This post will answer your questions. It is the best guide explaining the differences between boxed cake mixes.

Betty Crocker: In both tests, the Better Crocker has the least amount of rise on the cake, which again might be due to the increased liquid in the batter.

Referring back to the 9-inch cake, the Betty Crocker had the most compact crumb but I also felt like it had the most air bubbles with Duncan Hines being a heavy competitor.

When I baked a second batch (8-inch cakes) of Betty Crocker, I did this test twice because I wanted to do a test using half the batter ( 2 cups & 2 tablespoons) but you can see it is significantly higher/taller because there the additional liquid batter.

Betty Crocker Devil's Food Cake Mix. What is the best boxed chocolate cake mix? This post will answer your questions. It is the best guide explaining the differences between boxed cake mixes.

Pillsbury: The Pillsbury cake had the best chocolate flavor. In both cases, the Pillsbury one baked most unevenly, meaning that it needs to be “torted” if you are making a layer cake. Torted is a fancy word for cutting off the dome of the cake.

Pillsbury Devils Food Cake Mix. What is the best boxed chocolate cake mix? This post will answer your questions. It is the best guide explaining the differences between boxed cake mixes.

Duncan Hines: The Duncan Hines cake had the lightest and fluffiest texture and it was also the most moist cake mix. This was surprising to me given that the batter was the thickest. This cake also has the most cocoa flavor, which is not to be confused with the best chocolate flavor (looking at you Pillsbury). This cake also had the best rise. It should also be noted that Duncan Hines is a Wilton approved cake mix that is used in their test kitchens.

Duncan Hines Devils Food Cake Mix. What is the best boxed chocolate cake mix? This post will answer your questions. It is the best guide explaining the differences between boxed cake mixes.

You really can’t go wrong with any of these cake mixes, but I would make your judgments based on what you’re looking for in a cake mix. Do you have more questions? Please let me know!

Follow Beyond Frosting:

Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

If you love no-bake recipes, be sure to check out my cookbook, No-Bake Treats!

You might also like:

Cupcake Baking Tips & Research

Tip and Tricks for making perfect cupcakes. This is your go-to guide for how to bake cupcakes including pan sizes and how full to fill each liner.

How to Decorate the Perfect Cupcake

51 Responses
  1. Shannon

    I have a recipe that says to add pudding mix to the cake mix. I’ve read many of the cake mixes already contain pudding mix, but it doesn’t state that on the package. Can I add more pudding mix? Should I refrain from adding it since it might already be in the cake mix. Not quite sure what to do. If you know, please post the answer. Thank You!

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Shannon- when in doubt, follow the recipe you are making. I often adding a box of pudding to a cake mix (even if the cake mix has pudding in it).

  2. Rosalind

    I’m furious. The Betty Crocker mix I just used had timing for a bundt cake, which implies that it will fill a bundt pan. Of course it doesn’t and my pretty little house shaped pan didn’t work out properly. Cake mixes have steadily shrunk over the years. I have lots of old recipes that call for an 18 ounce cake mix. Instead of skinflinting us, manufacturers need to provide the same amount for whatever price they need to charge.

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Jennifer, I am not as familiar with angel food cake, but a regular cake mix should be fine, you’ll just need to adjust the baking times accordingly.

  3. Michelle

    Here’s my “cake mix” enhancer method that I use:

    Read the instructions on the box
    Add 1 or 2 more eggs (your preference)
    Replace the oil with melted butter but double the amount of butter
    Replace the water with milk
    Bake as directed on the box

  4. Karen

    Thanks for doing this. I always wondered why I thought Duncan Heinz was always the “fanciest” cake mix. My brain is weird, but there is actually a difference. Duncan Heinz seems to turn out the way I like my cakes.

  5. Kimiko

    I’ve read about “enhancing” box mixes by substituting whole milk for the water, melted butter for the oil, and increasing the number of eggs. The suggestions seem pretty consistent for milk to water (1 to 1), but the melted butter is inconsistent (everything from a couple of tablespoons in addition to the oil, to doubling the oil amount). Do you have any suggestions on tips to use to improve box mixes?

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Kimiko, yes there’s lot of recipes out there for improving cake mixes, personally the one I like is from The Cake Mix Doctor, and it uses the regular oil, eggs and water, but then adding vanilla extract and sour cream. I’ve never done the butter substituting for oil myself but I’ve heard it’s pretty common

  6. Eric Ericson

    Can I divide a dry 16 oz cake mix in half and make 2, 6 in cakes cooked on seperate days. I am widowed and cooking for 1.

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Sorry Eric, I have no tried this myself, so I can’t say for certain. You might try baking them at the same time and freezing one of them

  7. Pat

    It would have been very helpful if you had listed the total cups of batter for each mix. I need to know how many cups batter in Pillsbury? I’m making 2 boxes, 1 white & 1 Devils food to make 4 ea 9″ marble layers. It would be difficult to eyeball exact amount of batter in each. Any idea how much batter in the Pillsbury? I cannot find the answer anywhere in the internet, not even on Pillsbury site.

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Pat, unfortunately I don’t have the answer at this time. Can you measure out the batter before you start pouring in your pans? You could also try weighing it if you have a scale, and then dividing it accordingly.

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Ellen, I am sorry I can’t answer that. I haven’t done it myself. When baking 8 inch cakes, I usually start at 20 minutes and assess from there.

  8. Anshu

    Hi!
    I would like to ask – how much cake batter ( in grams) should I bake so that I get 1 kg of ready dry cake? Would love to get the answer for this asap. Thanks!

  9. Kathleen Erickson

    Thanks so much for this interesting blog. You really did a great job accounting for all the various factors: amount of liquid, size of pan and measuring the same amount of prepared batter into each pan. Very scientific! Well done!

  10. Kaykay

    My mother always said Duncan Hines was best. For many years I baked cakes for a living and only used their mixes. I still prefer them. I also make a lot of cinnamon rolls using the yellow mix. It has (by far) the best flavor of any mix. Yesterday I made a double batch (60 rolls) and used one of the other brands. My son bought me the wrong brand! The quality and flavor is totally different and I almost want to throw them all away.

  11. Shannon Harvey

    Great post! I’ll be working on a basics blog post soon too and will include links to these. Sometimes you gotta bring it back to the basics. For the record, I am a Pillsbury girl all the way! It might be the branding and colors (which always get me) but it is what it is! Ha!

  12. wendyk

    when you can’t make from scratch Duncan Hines is the one to use! I go by the direction on the pk. but always add either a couple of tbl. of sour cream or 2 tbl. of melted butter for extra moist /flavor!

  13. 4Graces

    I don’t know why anyone would think that 15.25 ounces of cake mix could make the same size cakes as an 18.25 ounce mix, no matter how much extra leavening or whatever the manufacturer puts in it. Still, the mix boxes claim it does. Why won’t they just be honest? I just finished baking a Duncan Hines Classic White cake mix batter and it made a very nice 7 inch by 11 inch cake at a little over one inch high. I have tried the D.H. batter in a 9 x 13 pan and it comes out about half an inch high which I find unacceptable. I prefer the D.H. brand, but I resent having to open two boxes of mix to get the amount of product I need to make a nine inch cake. The main selling point of these mixes is that they are easy and quick. Now they are neither if one is to get an appropriate sized cake.

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi there. Thank you for your comment. I totally understand the frustration. All of my recipes use a 15.25 oz size but I hardly ever make a 9inch cake, I always make an 8inch cake. I’ve never tried using two boxes. However I am confused why your 9-13 pan was only half an inch high, I agree that seems small! Most of the time I use Betty Crocker and my 9-13 inch cakes are definitely higher.

    2. Freda

      I buy two mixes just to make up what they take now…. big mistake when they changed the amount .. but we all know it’s about money and us having to buy double ??

  14. Tia

    Hi you inspire me so much, however, I have to bake some eggless cupcakes for my daughter’s school cake sale and I was considering using box cakes.
    What can I use to substitute the eggs and still make the cake fluffy and moist???

  15. Linda Colgan

    Hello, I have a question How can you use a box cake mix using a a Wolfgang puck 1.5 mini rice cooker? I have searched and can’t find a recipe for measurement s can you please help. I’m just one person and want cake:)
    Thank you,please email if you can

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Linda, I am not sure what the Wolfgang Puck 1.5 mini rice cooker is or how you would make a cake in a rice cooker. If you are looking for a single serving cake, I might suggest looking for recipes for “mug cakes”. There are quite a few on the internet.

  16. ColleenB.

    Great Information. I tried to tell my daughter that Duncan Hines was the best.
    Thank You for taking the time out of your schedule for doing this experiment.

  17. Lisa @ NatureImmerse

    If you’re short on time and aren’t confident in the kitchen, cake mixes are an easy way to whip up a sweet treat. Whether you make it from scratch or out of a pack, a good cake should be slightly moist and evenly risen with an even colour and thin crust. It should melt in your mouth when eaten and not be too sweet or have a chemical or salty taste or aftertaste.

  18. Amanda

    This was an amazing scientific experiment! I didn’t know you were a scientist for your other job. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this–and so thoroughly! Submit this to America’s Test Kitchen (or Milk Street now.)
    Thanks, Julianne.
    Can’t wait for what you come up with next! No other blogger I came across has ever taken the time to do this 🙂
    ~A

  19. Alison

    Great post Julianne….and a lot of work! I have never had much luck with the Pillbury mix as it never rises. I’ve been told that maybe it’s because of the elevation and living in the southeast? Duncan Hines has always been my favorite go to cake mix. It always rises nice and has a great taste and texture….never dry.

    1. Brooke

      I also find Duncan Hines my go to cake mix. I just made a cake using their yellow cake mix. Instead of using water I used milk (but left the other ingredients the same). It was super thick but was turned out so moist. Easily the best cake I’ve ever made (and I bake a lot).

      Thanks for the side-by-side comparison, Julianne! 🙂

Share a Comment

5 BAKE FROM SCRATCH SECRETS!
Subscribe to my newsletter and get my fav tips to take your cakes & cupcakes to the next level.
Skip to content