Taste Test: Which store-bought pancake mixes are the best?

I just received a coupon for Krusteaz, and it got me thinking…pancakes. Delicious, light and fluffy homemade (and by that I mean, made-at-home-out-of-the-box) flap jacks. My first thought was, “How can I use this article as an opportunity to eat twice my body weight in pancakes?” Ooooooh, how about a blind taste test of store-bought pancake mixes!

Next immediate thought:  Now I have to 1) make them all, and 2) clean up. Nixed. So after a quick search, I discovered this Real Simple article where a panel of “tasters” tried out a few of the most popular store brands. See their comments below and let us know if you agree!

I also included my thoughts on the Stonewall Kitchen’s mix and posted a “real” pancake mix recipe for those of you who have the time and inclination (and cooking chops) to go the “from scratch” route.

(This taste test was performed by Good Housekeeping, and not me, unfortunately.)

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Winning Pick: Hungry Jack Buttermilk Mix
Tasters dubbed this mix as their favorite of our buttermilk category. These pancakes won volunteers over with their markedly “buttery” taste, “fluffy” consistency and sweet, but “not too sweet” quality. As one taster noted, this mix “has all the components of a great pancake.” When pressed in an iron, it yielded waffles that were crisp on the outside and “cake-y” on the inside. ($2.39 for 32 oz.)

Runner-Up Pick: Pioneer Original Buttermilk Mix
While not the winner of our buttermilk category, tasters were struck by this mix’s “extra crispy exterior.” Tasters were not as impressed by the center of the pancake, which they found “floury,” “slightly soggy,” and “pita bread-like.” If you’re more interested in waffles, however, the thinner consistency of this batter made for picture-perfect waffles. ($3 for 40 oz.)

Krusteaz Buttermilk Mix
Many tasters noted this mix’s fine cake-like consistency — sweet and fluffy with a “hint of vanilla.” However, it lost points for leaving a salty aftertaste and for being “a bit too fluffy” for a pancake. ($2.50 for 32 oz.)

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Market Pantry Mix
This mix stood out for its spongy texture. Although not thrilled with the density of the mix, volunteers enjoyed its toasty vanilla flavor. Some volunteers enjoyed the “nutty aftertaste,” while others found the nuttiness off-putting and not ideal for pancakes. ($1.80 for 32 oz.)

Aunt Jemima Original Mix
Tasters noted this mix’s striking sweetness. Some liked their pancakes “very sweet,” whereas others found it a tad cloying. Several volunteers wrote that the taste and soft texture of these pancakes reminded them of yellow cake. ($2.38 for 32 oz.)

Bisquick Complete Mix
Volunteers pegged this mix as “salty” and “eggy.” Though tasters weren’t thrilled with this mix as a pancake, Bisquick works for other breakfast items such as scones, muffins and biscuits. ($3.66 for 40 oz.)

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Great Value Buttermilk Mix (Walmart brand)
Many tasters commented on the “blandness” of this mix. While they found the flavor lacking, volunteers liked the pancakes’ fluffiness. One taster noted: “bland, but great with syrup.” ($1.62 for 32 oz.)

365 Organic Buttermilk Mix
This mix struck many as “soggy.” One volunteer even likened the mix to an “underworked biscuit.” However, this 100% whole grain mix provides breakfasters with a slightly healthy option that’s also the only organic one of our tested bunch. ($3.99 for 32 oz.)

Winning Pick: Quaker Oatmeal Whole Grain Mix
Of all our whole-grain options, this won won the most raves. Tasters liked the “perfect texture” of these pancakes: “moist,” “fluffy,” and “airy.” They were also fans of the mix’s wholesome, vanilla taste, reminding many tasters of “ a bowl of oatmeal” or “whole-grain cereal.” ($3.12 for 32 oz.)

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Runner-Up Pick: Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Mix
Cornmeal gave this mix a “nice nuttiness.” Some likened the taste and texture to that of a corn muffing, albeit a “slightly dry” one. ($4.10 for 32 oz.)

Arrowhead Mills Multigrain
The hearty texture of this mix was a bit too crumby for many tasters. However, volunteers did like the earthy, nutty flavor of these pancakes. As one taster said, “a good balance of salty and sweet.” Plus as a good-for-you bonus, this mix provides 22 grams of whole grains per serving. ($4.29 for 26 oz.)

Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Mix
Tasters found these pancakes to be sweet, but too flat and thin for their choice pancake. Some found the cakes tasted “raw” and “undercooked,” likening the mix to cake batter. As a health bonus, these cakes contain flaxseeds, and thus, a dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Plus the side of the bag has instructions for making different types of pancakes: apple, cheese, blueberry, nut and banana. ($3.69 for 26 oz.)

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Nature’s Path Multigrain Mix
Volunteers were not thrilled with the “gummy,” “underdone” texture of these pancakes. However, they did like the rich taste, which reminded some testers of “buttered bread.” ($6.38 for 26 oz.)

Kodiak Cakes Buttermilk & Honey Mix
This mix impressed volunteers with its sweetness and honeyed undertones. Tasters billed the cakes as “good even without syrup.” However, this mix lost points for its texture, which many described as “bread-like” and “doughy.” ($4.99 for 24 oz.)

Not on the list, but my personal review: Stonewall Kitchen Farmhouse Pancake and Waffle Mix
This mix is definitely more expensive than the others, but in a word, it’s wicked-frickin-good! It’s no secret why—this pancake mix calls for whole milk and melted butter. And, if you cook them on a buttered skillet, then add butter and syrup before eating…I think you can see where I’m going with this, mmmmm. Diet starts tomorrow.

My Personal #1 Pick: My Friend Jen’s Favorite Homemade Mix
This recipe came from Jen’s mom. Thanks Jen’s mom.
1 cup milk
1 egg
2 tbs Canola oil
1 cup flour (can use white or wheat)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Whisk it all together and pour onto the hot griddle.

Do you agree with the taster’s comments? What’s your favorite box or homemade recipe?

13 Responses

  1. Jen

    Nothing compares to the Stonewall mix – still remember the first breakfast at home with our newborn, thanks to the hospital goody bag.

    The Target Archer Farms mixes are very very sweet, but delish, and cook up nice. My favorite home made pancake recipe is from the Joy of Cooking: lemon pancakes made with sour cream, milk and lemon juice/zest. They are soooo good, but definitely on the dense side.

  2. Amy

    Even though the supermarket brands seemed to taste good, you should compare ingredients. The supermarket mixes are usually full of unhealthy chemicals and hydrogenated oils, with little nutrition, if any. I would not feed my children Aunt Jemima pancake mix.

  3. Jeri

    That is where labels can be tricky. Its actually the Stonewall that has artificial flavor, I would choose Krusteaz ( it has CS) or Aunt Jemima, it has no artificials, CS or preservatives. That being said, I like them all as long as the syrup is good!
    Jeri

  4. Becky

    Try adding a little vanilla extract to Jen’s mom’s recipe (or any store-bought brand)! It’s Pete’s trick and it really kicks it up a notch and smells fantastic!

  5. Hold the phone! I’ve tried all of the above and while they are good (particularly Stonewall) I’ve just discovered a new one – at Costco (of course). It’s Central Milling Company Organic 6 Grain Pancake & Waffle Mix and I think it’s about $6.99 or something like that for a 5 lb bag making it much cheaper. You just add an egg, milk, oil, and butter. The batter is fairly think and the flavor is on the more savory / nuttier side and in a word: phenomenal. Full disclosure – it was a target audience of 4 but it really did get outstanding reviews!!

    1. Zhora

      I agree that the Central Milling Company Organic 6 Grain Pancake & Waffle Mix is “phenomenal!” I’ve had other pancake mixes that were fine but after trying this mix it’s the only one I want to use anymore. (Maybe I’ll miss something else good along the way but I sure won’t be missing out on great pancakes…and that’s from someone who generally prefers baking from scratch rather than using a mix.)

      1. Papa John

        I have made a lot of pancakes from packages and scratch and a scratch made pancake is always much better than Anything premixed. Premixed pancakes usually have you only use water. Now come on folks nothing that you make that just has water added to it is ever good.
        And as far as I see it, Central Milling Company’s pancake flour ( this is not a mix) when added to eggs, milk,oil, and butter which is not provided in the package will make a good scratch made pan cake.
        Don’t try to compare apples to Oranges. Manufactured mixes never have the quality and fresh ingredients to make edible pancakes. You can make scratch made pan cakes as quickly as crap in a box.

  6. Corinne

    I grew up with Aunt Jemima and like the one in the red box: add egg, milk and oil. However, we now make our own from a Joy of Cooking recipe. To make it easier, we make lots of the dry part in advance, and store it in the pantry (like a mix). When we want pancakes we add the appropriate amount of eggs, butter, milk, proportionally. It’s one of my sons’ favorite things to do!

  7. Kim

    I recently tried Hannaford’s fancy “Taste of Inspirations” brand pancake mix, both the Vanilla Bean and Honey Cinnamon flavors. They are a bit pricey (there’s not much mix in a box), but very, very yummy.

  8. Craig

    My family loves the Cooks Country buttermilk pancake recipe. My son loves them when I add Hershey’s cinnamon chips to them after Ive poured them on the grill.

    2 cups all purpose flour
    2 Tbsp sugar
    2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp baking Soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 egg
    3 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
    2 cups buttermilk
    1-2 tsp vegetable oil

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