I Tried and Ranked Every Duncan Hines Boxed Cake Mix — And the “Delicious” Winner Shocked Me

published 3 days ago
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An array of Duncan Hines Boxed cake mixes.
Credit: Carolyn Moore

I never underestimate the power of a good cake. To me, it’s the single most important food for ushering in life’s sweetest days. When I was born, a delicate pink cake announced my arrival — and the celebrations have long since continued. 

Every young birthday, my name was scrawled across a deep chocolate cake topped with candles and an inch of even more chocolatey frosting. For Christmases, graduations, bar mitzvahs, and the most beautiful and heart-wrenching days of my life, cake will be there. My wedding might bring a triple-decker fondant-laden feast. Perhaps even when I die, I’ll be lucky enough to be honored with a devil’s or angel food cake — depending on where things end up.

Credit: Carolyn Moore

Picking the right cake is no small feat, which is why I tested every flavor of Duncan Hines boxed mix (a baking aisle icon!) with an almost comical amount of sincerity. I gathered some friends to help bake 18 different cakes across three categories: the blondes, the chocolates, and the wildcards. We then ranked each flavor and narrowed our list to the top 10 worth eating. 

Credit: Carolyn Moore

Although we had many differing opinions, we found that these cakes have the best combinations of flavor, texture, nostalgia, and simplicity that we look for in a great boxed mix. In the process, we may have even found the best new cake of the summer. Let’s take a look. 

Credit: Carolyn Moore

10. Carrot Cake Mix

Carrot cake is one of those flavors that can divide a nation. Some may say that a vegetable has no place in a dessert, while others swear by it and make it every Easter. This one made our list because of the carrot pieces studded throughout, the sweet and savory balance, and the dense, zucchini bread-like texture. It’s even better topped with a cream cheese frosting. Although it’s nothing we’d make on a regular basis, it’s still a solid seasonal cake to welcome spring. 

Credit: Carolyn Moore

9. Fudge Marble Cake Mix

Fudge Marble is a sneaky favorite because of its beautiful design potential. Although the flavor is on the more muted side (it’s difficult to get an equal balance of chocolate and vanilla in the swirling process), this is the perfect cake to make when you’re trying to impress friends and family with some faux baking expertise. By zig-zagging the chocolate batter over the layer of vanilla and dragging a knife a few times down the middle, the fudge marble becomes an elegant treat for anyone looking for stunning visuals.

Credit: Carolyn Moore

8. Butter Recipe Fudge Cake Mix

Butter Recipe Fudge is the only chocolate flavor we tested that called for butter instead of the usual vegetable oil. The texture difference is noticeably more dense and slightly crumbly, with a salty aftertaste that competes with the mix’s lighter chocolate notes. Because butter tends to be around 18% water, the liquid evaporates and leaves less fat in the mix than it would with vegetable oil. Due to its crumbly nature, this mix would be ideal for making cake pops. 

Credit: Carolyn Moore

7. Lemon Supreme Cake Mix

When the sun is shining and the grass is cool, it’s time for a picnic in the park. This lemon Supreme cake is breezy, tart, and ready to serve in the shade of a hot day. It’s one of only two fruit flavors that made the list and is a zesty departure from other airy boxed classics. It’s light enough for non-citrus fans to enjoy, although if you’re a true lemon-lover, it may leave something to be desired. Double up on that citrus flavor with lemon icing to get a brighter combination.

Buy: Duncan Hines Signature Perfectly Moist Lemon Supreme Lemon Cake Mix, $1.99 on Instacart

Credit: Carolyn Moore

6. Butter Golden Cake Mix

Butter Golden is Butter Recipe Fudge’s more popular cousin. It’s the one that everyone tries to replicate — the original birthday cake with thick, luscious slices that somehow feel vintage when eating them. It’s so timeless you start to wonder if your mom had it for her birthday, and her mom before her. Although this creamier style cake is full-bodied and complex, its texture was ultimately beaten out by its oil-based alternative mix.

Credit: Carolyn Moore

5. Angel Food Cake Mix

The fact that one can make a seemingly homemade Angel Food cake from a boxed mix is a modern miracle — no beating egg whites, no anxiety of a proper rise, no cooling it upside down and praying all turns out well. The Duncan Hines version simply requires water and a whisk. While it would be impossible for a boxed mix to replicate the true homemade flavor and texture, this one comes fairly close. It’s a light, almond-like cloud of sweetness we could see being topped with fresh berries or whipped cream, although it’ll be hard not to eat forkfuls of it before it’s done cooling.

Credit: Carolyn Moore

4. Devil’s Food Cake Mix

Devil’s Food was the top-ranking chocolate flavor and greatly exceeded expectations for the panel of testers. Its spongy texture held moisture beautifully, while its deep chocolate flavor awakened memories of elementary school birthday parties and sneaking licks of batter off the spatula. We’d recommend pairing this cake with an equally rich chocolate buttercream frosting or chocolate ganache for a more sophisticated option. 

Credit: Carolyn Moore

3. Pineapple Supreme Cake Mix

Pineapple Supreme absolutely blew us away. Its aromatic batter caught my attention immediately, and I was surprised by its refreshing and fruity flavor — a rare achievement in a boxed mix. It won over our group, including several who are suspicious of artificially flavored fruit mixes, and emerged victorious as a tropical and comforting sweet treat reminiscent of piña coladas on the beach. It truly is the cake I’ll be making all summer. Serve this with a light vanilla (or coconut!) frosting and maraschino cherries for the full vacation effect.

Credit: Carolyn Moore

2. Classic Yellow Cake Mix

She’s beauty, she’s grace, she’s probably what you think of when someone says “boxed cake mix.” Classic Yellow has been doing the heavy lifting in many home celebrations for decades. Its light, airy texture provides the ideal base for being dressed up with frostings, fruits, sprinkles, and candles, while its golden, eggy flavor is simple and satisfying enough to be enjoyed on its own. It is the definitive blonde cake made by Duncan Hines, according to this list. Although there are many imitators, Classic Yellow will always reign supreme.  

Credit: Carolyn Moore

1. Spice Cake Mix

I was surprised to learn that Spice Cake was one of Duncan Hines’ four original boxed cake mixes. And from its springy, moist consistency and impressively layered flavor profile, it makes sense that they’ve had decades to perfect the formula. It’s got delicious notes of cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg, which we imagine taste even better on a cold, autumnal evening. This cake would be best topped with a cream cheese frosting, pumpkin glaze, or salted caramel drizzle to accentuate its delightfully seasoned batter.

Buy: Duncan Hines Signature Perfectly Moist Spice Cake Mix, $2.69 on Instacart

Do you agree with our ranking? Tell us about it in the comments below.