Your Cake Mix Guide

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 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.

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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!

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53 Responses
  1. Dia

    Hi I use the Betty Crocker mix and it turns out yummy but I use one 9 inch pan so it rises in too much of a dome shape so that I have to cut a lot out to straighten it then cut horizontally through middle to get two layers for putting frosting etc. so my question is how do I avoid this too much dome shape which is also asymmetrical means more higher from one side? Also if I bake in two pans instead of one, what should the baking time be? I have only made three cakes with the baking time as mentioned on the box I.e 40-45 min. Kindly advice.

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Dia. Thanks for your note. If you see in my post, doming of a cake is normal, unless you’re using something like bake even stripes. 9 inch pans in particular are curved at the bottom edge, instead of straight up and down which I think is what causes the cake to be higher on one side than the other, also a common issue. Baking a whole cake mix in 1 pan is a lot, so I am not surprised that you have a large dome. In my post, I noted that I baked my 9 inch rounds for 19 minutes. But baking times are estimated as each oven and pan bakes differently. As a rule of thumb, I always put 15 minutes on the clock, check it and add time from there.

  2. 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).

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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

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