Cake is a popular subject here at MyRecipes. Our readers love cake, and we’re all for the convenience of a box mix (which can easily be doctored up, if you like). No matter who you are, at some point you’re gonna have to make a cake, so you might as well reach for the best box mix available. We compared boxed yellow cakes back in April, but hey, yellow cake isn’t everyone’s favorite flavor. So we baked a chocolate cake mix from every brand we could find in grocery stores and held yet another battle of the batters.
Before we begin, though, a quick note about flavors. If you stroll down the baking aisle and pay attention to what all the cake mix boxes say, you’ll soon find that none of the more conventional brands offer a simple “chocolate cake.” On our grocery runs, we found Chocolate Fudge, Triple Chocolate, Double Chocolate, Devil’s Food, and German Chocolate, among others. Devil’s food isn’t quite the same as chocolate, but in our opinion a slightly different chocolate cake is better than no chocolate cake from such a boxed cake brand giants. Interestingly, the only cakes labeled simply as “chocolate” were from smaller, organic or diet-specific brands like Miss Jones or Simple Mills. So yes, we pitted regular chocolate against Chocolate Fudge, Double Chocolate, and Devil’s Food, sue me.
Not the best, but still cake
Immaculate Chocolate Cake Scratch Baking Mix
As a “from scratch” cake mix, Immaculate’s chocolate cake requires a few extra ingredients (milk and melted butter, for example) and more work. Like its yellow cake counterpart, this mix was dry and crumbly, which is odd given the amount of fat we mixed in. This one might benefit from some cake enhancer.
Miss Jones Chocolate Cake Mix
If you look at our comprehensive cake photo above, you’ll see that one cake came out a little janky. That’s because both layers of the Miss Jones cake got so stuck to the pan that even beating on them like a bongo drum only got half of each layer out, and yes, we greased and floured those pans. Tasters gave mixed results ranging from “tastes like a Little Debbie and not in a cute way” to “nice conventional chocolate flavor.”
Simple Mills Chocolate Muffin & Cake Almond Flour Mix
Tasters who are fond of darker chocolate liked this one, even without the gluten. The rest of the group found it dry and spongy with a bitter aftertaste, because, surprise, dark chocolate. That being said, this one fared better than we predicted.
Middle of the road (er, shelf)
Pillsbury Devil’s Food Premium Cake Mix
Devil’s food cake is supposed to be fluffy, but here we mostly got dry and crumbly vibes. One taster noted that this cake “needs a milk buddy,” which is a valid assessment. A few of us also detected a slight minty taste.
Duncan Hines Devil’s Food Cake Mix
This one was “super spongey” and light, with a classic consistency. One taster said it “should be the baseline for acceptable,” which is what you’d hope for with a box mix. A few of us, however, loved it.
Betty Crocker Super Moist Chocolate Cake Mix
Betty Crocker’s box mix yielded a conventional, nostalgic feel and a good degree of fluff. However, some of us felt that it didn’t deliver enough chocolate flavor. We also got some Cosmic Brownie vibes.
Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Premium Cake Mix
The first thing you notice when you bite into Ghiradelli’s double chocolate cake is the moisture: The consistency is great, and it’s not too overwhelmingly rich. It’s fudgy, much like Ghiradelli’s boxed brownies, not overly sweet, and, according to one taster, tastes “like real chocolate.” We liked it, but most of us picked another cake as the favorite.
King Arthur Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix
Look, King Arthur knows how to make a cake mix, and they especially know how to make a gluten-free cake mix: With rice flour. This one was our clear favorite and, with more moisture than any of the other contenders and a nice, fudgy flavor. Basically, it’s a chocolate version of their gluten-free yellow cake mix, which nearly won the yellow cake taste test. It also has a nice, Matilda-esque shade of chocolate and pairs excellently with chocolate frosting and rainbow sprinkles.
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