- Duncan Hines is a favourite cake mix among chefs.
- Two chefs, however, prefer Pillsbury’s Funfetti cake.
- Many chefs update boxed cake mix by adding ingredients like vanilla beans or cocoa powder.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Though no one denies the greatness of a cake made from scratch, a boxed cake can be just as delicious and is much easier to make.
With the addition of just a few ingredients and an hour or so of your time, you can have a ready-made cake for any celebration. But how do you know which cake mix to choose?
INSIDER asked chefs from across the country what their favourite cake mix was. Here’s what they had to say.
The classic yellow cake with chocolate frosting combination brings back childhood memories for one chef.
“Like a lot of people, I grew up eating Duncan Hines classic yellow cake mix with chocolate frosting,” Donald Moore, chief culinary officer & EVP kitchen operations at The Cheesecake Factory told INSIDER. “Who didn’t love that? My mum used to make it for me every year for my birthday and it reminds me of my childhood and my childhood birthday parties.”
Pillsbury Funfetti is a favourite among two chefs.
“My favourite box mix is Pillsbury Funfetti. I like to add strawberry Jell-O mix to it as well – it adds a fruity punch and a bouncy texture,” said Tara Lewis, pastry chef at Hi Neighbour Hospitality Group.
Daniel England, corporate chef with OMG Hospitality Group, agreed saying, “I have a thing for sprinkles, so Pillsbury Funfetti is the only store-bought cake mix I ever reach for.”
This chef called Duncan Hines cake “easy” and “delicious.”
“As long as it’s Duncan Hines and as long as it’s butter golden or classic yellow. They are reminiscent of my childhood and what is not to love about an easy, delicious, and nostalgic dessert? Make your own chocolate frosting at home to really make it stand out,” Adam Biderman, chef/owner at The Company Burger, told INSIDER.
According to this chef, strawberry is a flavour that’s easier to create from a box than from scratch.
“Our go-to boxed cake mix is Betty Crocker’s strawberry cake mix. In our household, we can all agree that this is hands-down the best tasting mix. I frost and decorate with a cream cheese frosting that is made with confectioners’ sugar, butter, and Philadelphia cream cheese. I usually top with rainbow sprinkles as well,” said Ron Paprocki, executive pastry chef at Gotham Bar and Grill.
“Strawberry is one of those flavours that is easier to reproduce from a box than making from scratch,” added Paprocki.
Duncan Hines cakes hold their shape well, according to this chef.
“When I do use cake mixes, I generally go with Duncan Hines. They have more variety and flavours to choose from. It’s always moist and tender when finished. Also really great for thick frosting and hold their shape well (if you’re trying to make shaped cakes),” said Chef Robert Gomez, lead chef at Fresh n’ Lean.
King Cake is one chef’s go-to festive treat.
“Whether you live in Louisiana or elsewhere during Mardi Gras season, Mam Papaul’s King Cake Mix is a great product to use. The cake mix comes with everything you need – coloured sugar and a plastic baby to hide inside the cake. And the taste is excellent,” said Quinnton “Q” Austin, culinary director at Grindandprosper hospitality.
Duncan Hines devil’s food cake makes a great base, according to this chef.
When asked what her favourite boxed cake mix was, Claudia Sidoti, head chef at HelloFresh told INSIDER, “Duncan Hines devil’s food cake. I love this mix because it always works even if you forget something in terms of ingredients. It is moist, delicious and a great base when you want to doctor up a recipe.”
One chef prefers gluten-free mixes.
“If I’m going to use a boxed cake mix, it would be by Baked. Everything they make is amazing. For gluten-free baking, Bob’s red mill has solid products,” said Penny Stankiewicz, chef and instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education.
Williams Sonoma makes quality cake, according to one chef.
“While I personally don’t use any cake mixes, I was asked to judge a baking competition recently here in DC for the Jewish Community Center on Hanukkah. My favourite cake was a Meyer lemon cake that the winner confessed was the Williams Sonoma cake mix. So, I went home that weekend and baked it to see for myself, and it was solid. I would definitely recommend it for anyone that is looking for a lemony, pound cake,” Alex Levin, head pastry chef at Schlow Restaurant Group, told INSIDER.
According to this chef, Duncan Hines retains its moister when baked.
“I recommend Duncan Hines. It makes a moister cake and it’s easy to add different ingredients to it, such as puddings,” Kelly Macready, New Orleans-based baker and founder of Cupcakes by Kelly, told INSIDER.
If you can’t consume gluten, this chef recommends King Arthur Flour mix.
“By far my favourite cake mix is King Arthur Flour gluten-free chocolate cake mix. I know, it’s a mouthful … pun intended. I have a gluten sensitivity so this one is my go to. Of course, I have to put my spin on it so I add Madagascar Bourbon vanilla and a 1/2 cup of good cocoa,” Joshua John Russell, Bluprint instructor and master cake artist.
This New York-based chef recommends Duncan Hines.
“I love Duncan Hines. The cakes always come out super moist and they have just the right amount of sweetness. I’ve also been known to add some additional ingredients (peanut butter chips, cocoa nibs etc.) to give it the final touches, very quality product,” Darryl Harmon, executive chef of Clinton Hall and Slate in New York City, told INSIDER.
This chef reaches for what’s organic.
William C. Shine II, executive chef at Denny Bar Company, told INSIDER he prefers buying organic saying, “For cake mix in a pinch, I go toward either organic or Annie’s. Both organic and delicious.”