When we think of a good cake, we always think homemade—like something Grandma would make. But in reality, we know that making a cake from scratch isn’t always practical. Seriously, who hasn’t forgotten to make cupcakes for that bake sale until the morning of? That’s why so many home cooks like to keep a backup plan in the cupboard: a box of cake mix. If you’re going to make a boxed mix, you want it to taste as homemade as possible.
That’s why our Test Kitchen put eight brands of yellow cake mix (a great standard mix) to the test to find the one that will make those last-minute bakes really shine.
What Makes a Great Cake Mix
Our Test Kitchen sampled all these cake mixes with the following standards in mind:
- Flavor: A good yellow cake (from a box or not) should taste buttery and sweet—not artificial
- Texture: We want cake to be light, fluffy and moist. Dense, crumbly cakes need not apply!
- Appearance: The cake should look like something we want to dive right into (with plenty of frosting, of course!).
With all this in mind, our Test Kitchen grabbed their forks and dug into eight brands of cake mix including the big names and some store brands.
Want to learn more about how our Test Kitchen chooses their favorite products? Check out our testing methods.
Our Test Kitchen Preferred Cake Mixes
After much cake debate, our Test Kitchen found three mixes that really stood above the rest. Here are the boxes you should keep in your pantry in case of a baking emergency.
Lightest and Fluffiest Yellow Cake: Pillsbury
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When you need a good cake mix, don’t hesitate to grab one of the biggest brands in the aisle! Pillsbury yellow cake mix produced a light and airy cake that was also perfectly moist—quite the difficult balance to strike. When it came to flavor, Pillsbury delivered. Our Test Kitchen thought this sponge had that great buttery taste that you want from a yellow cake along with a hint of vanilla to give it just a bit more complexity. You can’t beat this brand for a tender, flavorsome cake, one that will serve as a great foundation for all kinds of desserts.
Butteriest Yellow Cake: Betty Crocker
Baking big shot Betty Crocker’s yellow cake mix produced a light and airy cake with a beautiful golden hue. This brand also offered a good buttery flavor and a nice sweetness that makes you think of a traditional birthday cake. This is a great option for kids’ cakes especially. You can turn it into your own version of a confetti cake by tossing your favorite sprinkles right into the batter.
Richest Cake: Baker’s Corner from Aldi