Without denying that homemade pancakes are almost always superior, there’s something to be said for the convenience of a boxed pancake mix. All the shelf-stable ingredients are combined and ready-to-go whenever an early-morning hankering for fluffy cakes arises—no measuring baking soda or sifting flour required.
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As you browse the dozens of offerings in the baking aisle, know that all pancake mixes are not created equal. Some varieties, like Hungry Jack Complete Buttermilk Pancake & Waffle Mix, only call for water to create the batter, while others, like Stonewall Kitchen Farmhouse Pancake & Waffle Mix, require butter, eggs, and milk in addition to the dry mix. The more added ingredients, the closer they’ll taste to homemade. However, is there anything worse than realizing you’re out of eggs and milk when you expect to be minutes away from pancakes?
In this taste test, our editors judged for both fluffiness and flavor, though certain cakes made the ranks for pure nostalgia’s sake. From gluten-free to organic, to brands you can pick up at a gas station, we think we’ve finally found the very best box. If pancakes are your favorite morning treat, this pancake mix will make your breakfast easier, fluffier, and even more delicious.
Best Flavor: King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Pancake Mix
Requiring the most additional ingredients of any taste-tested mix, it was no surprise that this boxed brand had a flavor that rivaled homemade. Although necessitating the most TLC (the batter needs to rest 10 minutes before cooking), our editors loved the sweetness and subtle tang of these cakes, calling the flavor similar to a Nabisco Nilla Wafer. If you’re all about a homemade flavor or need a gluten-free option, this pancake mix should be your go-to.
Try this mix: target.com, $4.29
Absolute Fluffiest: Bisquick Original Pancake and Baking Mix
For intensely fluffy cakes that almost mimic freshly-baked biscuits, pick up this tried-and-true baking mix. The words “sexy” and “oh, yes please” were thrown out in the tasting of this mix, and we loved how a platter of these pancakes transported us to a favorite neighborhood diner. The best part? These fluffy cakes are surprisingly filling, so it only takes a few batches to keep your crew full all morning long.
Try this mix: target.com, $3.39
Tastes Like Childhood: Annie’s Organic Pancake & Waffle Mix
If you’re after perfectly golden, picturesque cakes, this boxed mix is for you. So uniform, they looked (and tasted) like the frozen pancakes you’d pop into the toaster on a busy morning. Even though they reminded us of something you’d get from a fast-food chain’s breakfast menu, nobody was complaining. “Very basic, but would be happy eating these” pretty much sums it up.
Try this mix: amazon.com, $4.39
Most Kid-Friendly: Krusteaz Buttermilk Pancake Mix
Get ready to see your child’s eyes widen at the sight of these towering cakes. These pancakes are notably sweet even before maple syrup, although they have a nice absorbency when you drizzle some of the good stuff on top. All-in-all, they’re light, fluffy, and yummy, and as a just-add-water mix, they couldn’t be easier to whip up for your family.
Try this mix: target.com, $1.99
The Classic: Aunt Jemima Original Complete Pancake & Waffle Mix
Neither a favorite or the most forgettable, these pancakes were pleasing in a familiar way. The flavor is mild—perfect to pair with your favorite syrup and toppings—and the texture is fluffy with a slight chewiness. In a pinch, this complete boxed mix will satisfy your pancake cravings.
Try this mix: target.com, $2.69
The All-Around Champion
Trader Joe’s Buttermilk Pancake & All Purpose Baking Mix
After tasting 12 batches of pancakes, you’d think a clear winner would be hard to determine, right? Wrong. Trustee Trader Joe’s has done it again, folks, with some of the fluffiest, best-tasting pancakes we’ve ever had. Not only do these pancakes have serious height, they also have a buttery, rich flavor that makes them easy to mistake for homemade. This mix does call for eggs, but we think that’s why these cakes taste so satisfying and far from artificial. Between the light texture, golden color, and subtle sweetness, we’re calling these pancakes the next best thing to from-scratch.
Try this mix: traderjoes.com, store locator