I Tried Dolly Parton’s New Line of Duncan Hines Cake Mixes and This One Was the Ultimate Champ

published Jan 25, 2022
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Dolly Parton x Duncan Hines Cake Mixes
Credit: Ni'Kesia Pannell

For as long as I can remember, my grandmother has been a fan of Dolly Parton. Although summers at her mini-farm in Florida were filled with getting the clothes off the line before dark and heading to church both Sunday morning and Sunday evening, one of the many things she and I bonded over was our love for music. Al Green, Marvin Gaye, and artists who were a little more recent at the time were sounds I would regularly hear blasting each day, but there was one unexpected lady she loved most: Dolly Parton.

So, imagine my surprise (and eventually my grandma’s because she was the first person I called) when I found out that Dolly Parton was releasing her own Duncan Hines-branded, Southern-style-inspired line of cake mixes. Although I’m more of the sweet lover, my grandma was more than happy to hear what I thought about the product that one of her favorite country singers just released.

How to Make the Dolly Parton’s Duncan Hines Cake Mixes

Before the boxes arrived at my door, I honestly just assumed that they would be like any other flavored boxed cake mix and that all I needed to do was add in a little milk, a few eggs, and a bit of oil. To my surprise, however, Dolly included an alternate recipe for both cakes that require you to put in a little more work. And I was up for the challenge.

The mixes arrived in a package that was so Dolly and included the Southern Style Coconut-flavored cake mix, Southern Style Banana Pudding-flavored cake mix, Creamy Buttercream Frosting, and the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. And while I can wholeheartedly admit that I am neither a banana or coconut flavor lover, I was very excited to try both; I also figured that because I was not partial to either, an accurate review could be given.

Up first on my list was the coconut cake mix. Although the initial recipe does indeed call for the boxed cake mix, on the back of the box an alternative recipe with an additional ingredient of sweetened flaked coconuts is included, too. Since I really am not a huge fan of coconut, I just opted to go with the regular recipe for this one, which required 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, and 4 eggs.

Credit: Ni'Kesia Pannell

Much like the coconut cake mix, the banana cake alternate mix called for a little extra too. In addition to the banana-flavored boxed cake mix and the same amounts of milk, butter, and eggs as the previous mix, this recipe called for 1 package of vanilla instant pudding, 1 cup of both cold milk and heavy whipping cream, a large banana, and 18 vanilla wafers.

When you’re ready to bake, pour the batter into two greased 8-inch round pans (I used one square pan for the coconut cake, and the two 8-inch round pans for the banana cake) and place them in a 350°F oven for 24 to 28 minutes before cooling for no less than 15 minutes. As always, however, it may take more or less time depending on your oven, so be sure to keep an eye on it.

My Honest Opinion of Dolly Parton’s Duncan Hines Cake Mixes

The short version of this is that these mixes embody everything that Dolly Parton herself is: sweet, very Southern, and packing a lot of punch. As someone who is not a fan of either coconut- or banana-flavored things, both of these cakes gave me a big surprise.

To start, the coconut cake isn’t one that you can identify as being that when you open the package. It really isn’t until you mix the ingredients together (and maybe do a little batter taste test even though you’re not technically supposed to eat raw batter) that you can really sense that this is a coconut cake. I, however, do not mind that at all.

The banana cake mix, on the other hand, is identifiable right after you open the packaging. The smell was very reminiscent of the banana-flavored Laffy Taffy and I honestly don’t know how I feel about that. For people who love banana cakes, however, you’ll feel like you’re in heaven.

Credit: Ni'Kesia Pannell

Now, for the part I’m sure everyone is waiting for: the actual taste test. Out of both cakes, with the icing suggested for them, I was more of a fan of the coconut. The banana cake, although fixed with a lot more frills, was too banana-y for me. But I truly believe that was the point. (My boyfriend, who is a banana cake fan, absolutely loved it.) I did try the coconut cake with both the frostings and I was very pleased with both options.

Overall, I think these cakes are worth making. Although I don’t think I’ve changed my mind on buying anything banana- or coconut-flavored yet, I wouldn’t mind grabbing a bite or two of these cakes if someone happened to make them.

Tips for Making Dolly Parton’s Duncan Hines Cake Mixes

  1. The alternate recipes are worth the try. Although you can definitely go with the general recipes on the side of the boxes, channel your inner-Dolly and go big or go home. The inclusion of the additional ingredients takes these box cakes from regular to just-as-good-as-made-from-scratch.
  2. Don’t skimp on the pudding filling. Initially, I thought I was adding too much of the pudding filling on the banana cake, but once I cut into it, I realized I didn’t put enough. Layer it on so that you’re left with a nice, thick filling when you bite into your banana cake.
  3. Use the double pans. If you’re using the regular recipe on the side of the box, using one pan is just fine. If you’re stepping it up a notch with the alternate recipes, however, I do urge using the two 8-inch round pans as suggested. The double pans — especially for the banana cake — will deliver a presentation that you just can’t get with one long pan.
  4. Try the coconut cake with both frostings. Although Dolly’s coconut cake is suggested to be topped with the creamy buttercream frosting, it’s worth it to try that particular cake with both frostings; especially if you are not a huge coconut fan. This way, you’ll have the opportunity to figure out what really piques the interest of your tastebuds.
Credit: Duncan Hines

If you’re interested in picking up Dolly’s new cake mixes and the frostings to go along with them, a limited number of the same e-commerce kits I received (which include both mixes and frostings, a super-cute tea towel and spatula, the recipe cards for the alternative recipes, and a special letter from The Queen of Nashville herself) will be available on Duncan Hines for just $40 beginning January 26. Not into the glitz and glamor and just want to soothe your sweet tooth? You’ll be able to get your hands on the new line in stores nationwide beginning this March for a suggested retail price of $2.19 per cake mix box and $2.09 per frosting container.