If you love baking, there’s nothing better than baking a cake from scratch. It’s the whole process that can be delightful, including gathering the ingredients, getting out your mixer, and measuring everything to perfection. However, some people just don’t have that kind of time. Other people simply don’t have the willpower. And for those folks, boxed cake mixes exist. Hey, you may even love to bake, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to have to whip out all your baking tools every time you want something sweet straight from the oven.
You’ve seen our reviews for boxed chocolate cake mix, so you have an idea of the kind of standards we set when it comes to good boxed cake. The good stuff? It may even be better than what you could whip up from scratch, especially if you’re a novice baker. But the bad stuff? Well, it’s definitely not worth making it into your cart, even if at a steep discount. Now, we’re ranking boxed vanilla cake mixes.
If you’re like us, you don’t want to spend money on a cake mix that’s going to leave you feeling disappointed and dissatisfied. And even though it may come together quicker than a cake made from scratch, that’s time you could still spend picking up a cake from a local bakery rather than baking a sup-par sweet. That’s why you should take a good look at which cake mixes are worth your time and which you should leave behind.
13. Pillsbury Moist Supreme Sugar Free Classic Yellow Cake
Here’s the thing: We know Pillsbury tried to make a "healthier" cake, but if health is what you’re going for, you can definitely skip this one. In fact, if taste is what you’re going for, you can skip this one as well. That’s because Pillsbury’s Sugar Free Classic Yellow Cake is just not up to snuff in either category. Sure, you may not be eating a lot of sugar, but that’s because you’re actually eating a lot of maltitol instead. Maltitol is a sugar-free sweetener that can’t be totally digested by your body, according to Healthline. It’s technically safe to eat, but do you really want to try to ingest something your body can’t fully process?
And of course, without the actual sugar, it just doesn’t taste as good as it really should. What you’re left with is a slightly sandy cake that, despite its decent outward appearance, just doesn’t make the cut in the flavor category. There are other boxed cake mixes out there that are both healthier and tastier, so why would you even consider this option?
12. Simple Mills Vanilla Cake Almond Flour Mix
Unfortunately, some people can’t have gluten, and that may leave them at a loss for what kind of boxed cake mix to get. That’s because, until the last few years, there just haven’t been that many gluten-free options on store shelves. Now, though, you can find quite a few options that will help you stave off that sweet tooth a little bit longer. That doesn’t mean that every gluten-free option is worth your time though, and that’s especially the case with Simple Mills’ Vanilla Cake Almond Flour Mix.
One reviewer on Amazon wrote about why she wasn’t a fan of this cake: "Man! Normally I make my own gluten-free cake from scratch but decided to give this a try. I made this with their frosting for my birthday today, and it baked beautifully! Cutting into it, it’s so moist and has a lovely texture. I took a bite and ack! Loaded with salt! What the heck?!"
The last thing we want is to bite into a salty cake. And since there are a wealth of gluten-free options out there, it just makes sense to try something else and leave this one at the grocery store.
11. Pillsbury Funfetti Cake Mix
Perhaps one of the most iconic boxed cake mixes on store shelves is Pillsbury Funfetti. In fact, The Spruce Eats even called it a "classic choice." You probably had it for a birthday cake at least once when you were a kid, or maybe you made it for a birthday party for a child in your life. Nobody can deny that this box mix makes a cake that’s cute and fun to look at. But when you actually bite into a slice of it for the first time? Well, it’s not likely to impress.
Despite the vanilla cake’s colorful appearance, it just doesn’t have much flavor or much texture. It basically just feels like you’re biting into a soft blob of nothing. Even the sprinkles do nothing more than add color, even though it looks like they might provide some extra crunch.
The one flavor you can taste in this boxed cake mix? Sugar, and lots of it — probably more than you really need in a single day. If you combine the Funfetti cake with the Funfetti frosting, you might feel like you need to brush your teeth for a week. If you’re making a cake just to look at, Funfetti may be the way to go. But if you actually plan on eating your creation? You can do better.
10. King Arthur Baking Company Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix
You already know that we’re not a big fan of the Simple Mills gluten-free cake mix, so you might not expect much from the next gluten-free mix on our list. And you’d be right. We do think that the King Arthur Baking Company Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix is much better than Simple Mills’ gluten-free option, but that’s not really saying much considering how we felt about that cake. The flavor of this cake is better, though it’s not particularly flavorful on its own if you don’t add any frosting on top.
However, it still has that gluten-free consistency you’d expect. The cake is almost a bit tough and hard to chew, which doesn’t give you that light, buttery cake experience you’re probably on the lookout for. If you’re left with no other gluten-free box cake mixes at your local grocery store, then you may have to settle for this one. But we urge you to do some searching before you decide to put this box in your basket.
9. Duncan Hines Classic Yellow Cake Mix
If you’re on the hunt for a boxed cake mix that’s truly average, then the Duncan Hines Classic Yellow Cake Mix may just be right for you. We wouldn’t say it’s good, per se, but it’s not really offensive either. The texture? It doesn’t really feel like you’re biting into anything substantial, and it’s definitely not as moist as the box claims. Additionally, the flavor is nothing to be impressed by — you can’t really even taste the vanilla. That being said, not having a taste is better than having a bad one. At least, with this cake mix, you can dress it up with some store-bought frosting (or you could even make your own frosting).
Reviewers seem to agree with us. One reviewer from Amazon wrote, "I used it for my birthday cake and it was fine." "Fine" is probably the best we could muster for this cake too. But if there’s nothing else that looks appetizing in your grocery store aisle, we wouldn’t totally blame you if you took a box of Duncan Hines cake mix home with you.
8. Miss Jones Organic Cake Mix
When you first take a bite out of Miss Jones Organic Cake Mix, you’re probably going to think it’s great. It tastes good and overall seems like a solid vanilla cake. Of course, it still tastes like it came out of a box, but considering that it actually does, we can’t really hold that against it. But it’s not the first bite that’s the problem. It’s just about every bite that comes after it.
The thing about this cake mix is that it’s kind of bland. Since the flavor isn’t too strong, it feels like you’re not eating anything after a while. Expect that "not anything" still contains plenty of calories and other ingredients that may not be the best for you. Wouldn’t you rather enjoy every last bite?
With this cake’s mild flavor, we definitely can’t put it at the top of our list. However, if you’re looking for a cake for a child’s birthday, or you want to work with a really flavorful frosting, then you may have some kind of dessert to salvage here.
7. Jiffy Golden Yellow Cake Mix
Are you ready for a blast from the past? Well, you may just be surprised to find Jiffy Golden Yellow Cake Mix at your local store. (Of course, if you can’t, you can always find it online.) You may have had this boxed cake mix when you were younger, and you may have thought it was the greatest thing ever. At the time, you may have been right, but there are so many other, better boxed vanilla cake mixes on the market today.
At the same time, though, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be nostalgic for a slice of Jiffy. The cake is overall pretty good, especially when you add a top-notch frosting. It’s the kind of cake mix you can keep in the cabinet that will be easy to whip up at a moment’s notice. While there are others on this list we’d rather have, we definitely wouldn’t mind biting into a slice from time to time if there’s no other dessert in the house.
6. Krusteaz Organic Yellow Cake Mix
For those who prefer to eat organic, it can be difficult to find packaged products that really meet your needs. After all, not everything that claims to be healthier actually tastes good, and the last thing you want to do is slice into a freshly baked cake and find yourself disappointed. But when you choose Krusteaz Organic Yellow Cake, you won’t have that experience. Is it our favorite vanilla cake in the world? Not exactly. But it is a solid choice, and it’s one that you can find at most grocery stores, which makes it one of the most accessible options on this list.
One thing that cake bakers love about this cake mix? Not only does it taste good, but it’s also pretty affordable. Isabella K. of Amherst, Massachusetts, said, "The cake was moist and it comes at a very affordable price!" At Mashed, we love a good deal just as much as we love a good cake, so that makes this a solid vanilla boxed cake option in our books.
5. Foodstirs Organic Simply Sweet Vanilla Cake Mix
One thing is for sure: When you pick up a box of Foodstirs Organic Simply Sweet Vanilla Cake Mix, you’re going to love how the box looks. Sure, that may not always be a good indicator of what’s inside, but it should at least make you excited to try it out. And once you do, you’re not likely to be disappointed. This cake is definitely tasty, despite the fact that it boasts "25 percent less sugar." We find this claim dubious since the cake does taste so sweet, but we’re definitely not complaining about the flavor. Plus, since there are no artificial sweeteners, we don’t have to worry about ruining our healthy eating streak with every bite.
We did find this cake to be a little on the dense side, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Oh, and make sure you add frosting to this one, as well — it’s really going to take your cake to the next level.
4. Betty Crocker Super Moist Favorites Butter Recipe Yellow Cake Mix
Betty Crocker is one of those iconic brands that you see everywhere on store shelves. In fact, you may have a Betty Crocker product or two in your kitchen right now. And while it may not be known as a gourmet product, that doesn’t take away from the fact that it tastes really good — especially when you pick up the Betty Crocker Super Moist Favorites Butter Recipe Yellow Cake Mix. First of all, let us just say that "super moist" is not a lie. It may not sound delicious, or even appetizing, but it certainly is an accurate descriptor.
But what really makes this boxed cake mix one of our favorites is the butter recipe factor. It’s true that this cake really does have a buttery flavor, and it’s one that you won’t be able to get enough of. There may be more appealing brands at your local grocery store, but that doesn’t mean you should write this boxed vanilla cake mix off just yet.
3. Pillsbury Moist Supreme Yellow Cake Mix
Of course, Pillsbury is another classic of the processed food world. While we aren’t a big fan of the Funfetti or sugar-free flavors, we have to give Pillsbury Moist Supreme Cake Yellow Cake Mix a big thumbs up. The moistness of this cake mix almost makes the cake feel heavy and dense, but in the best way. Of course, you might feel heavy and dense after you eat it, but sometimes that’s what you’re going for.
We also love the color of this cake. It just looks appetizing from the second you slice into it. Raquel B., among other reviewers at Influenster, has given this box cake mix rave reviews. She said, "This is my go-to when I want a delicious, homemade dessert but don’t have time to bake from scratch. Simple instructions and minimal additional ingredients allow me to make this in no time. Its rich taste and moist texture will make you think the finished product was purchased at a bakery." Sounds like a ringing endorsement to us!
2. Arrowhead Mills Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake Mix
Judging by how we feel about the other gluten-free box cake mixes on this list, you may assume that we just hate all gluten-free foods. But that’s not the case. We just think that you should be picky when picking out gluten-free foods so you can truly enjoy what you buy. That’s why, if you’re looking for a gluten-free cake mix, we have to recommend Arrowhead Mills Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake Mix. While it may not match up to the top "normal" brand, we have to admit that this gluten-free option is out of this world.
Influenster commenters seem to agree with us. One said, "Although I was skeptical on the taste since it was gluten free, I was very surprised at how yummy it was! Will deff have to try again!" Another shared a similar sentiment, saying, "LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE these. I am gluten free and these are a great option for a quick and easy way to bake a cake, especially for a birthday cake." We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
1. Madhava Super Yummy Yellow Cake Mix
The name of this vanilla cake mix says it all: Madhava Super Yummy Yellow Cake Mix is seriously a super-delicious cake. We were surprised to discover that this cake is made from ancient grains, which makes it at least seem like one of the healthier options on this list (but keep in mind … it’s still cake). Most of the time, when it comes to sweets and pastries, you don’t expect the healthy options to taste quite as good as the regular stuff. But with this cake mix, you’ll get an organic, slightly healthier dessert without having to sacrifice on taste. Sounds great, right?
Some claim that this cake has a "slight coconut flavor," and we couldn’t agree more. The fact that tastes like more than just vanilla gives the flavor of this cake a nice depth you won’t find in every boxed cake mix. While it’s definitely on the more expensive side, you often get what you pay for. In any case, you’re not going to regret buying a box of this stuff.