Bash yellow cake mix all you want, but there’s something undeniably delightful about that buttery, vanilla-infused flavor. Case in point: The “cake batter” trend of 2015, wherein everything from lip balm to protein powder was formulated to taste like the stuff. As much as we love a homemade cake, sometimes you need a shortcut—or just crave that flavor—which got us thinking: What’s the best yellow cake mix on the market right now?

Nearly four dozen eggs, a quart of vegetable oil and water, and 13 batches of chocolate buttercream frosting later, and we can definitively say: There’s a yellow cake mix out there for everyone. Here’s how they stack up.

RELATED: What’s the Best Chocolate Cake Mix? We Tested 15 to Find the Most Matilda-Worthy

Our Picks at a Glance:

Scroll down for in-depth reviews of each.

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CANDACE DAVISON

How We Tested Each Cake Mix:

At least three people sampled each cake, which was baked according to the package instructions and frosted with the same chocolate buttercream frosting. Reviewers vetted each flavor without knowing which brand it belonged to, tasting it with and without frosting, and rated it based on its texture, flavor and how well the notes of vanilla came through. (Since, as we soon learned, a cake can taste great in a sweet, rich sense without imparting much—if any—vanilla flavor at all. If a yellow cake is more about its buttery notes, you may prefer a blend with a lower vanilla score.) They were also vetted based on how easy they were to bake, level and frost, and overall value, based on what you get for the retail price.

13 Popular Yellow Cake Mixes, Ranked:

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mixes

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CANDACE DAVISON

1. Simple Mills Almond Flour Vanilla Cupcake & Cake Mix

Best Lightly Sweetened Cake

  • Value: 15/20
  • Ease of Assembly: 16/20
  • Flavor: 16/20
  • Texture: 16/20
  • Vanilla-ness: 15/20

TOTAL: 78/100

“Wait, is this a banana cake?” one reviewer asked. Nope, that darker-than-average, vanilla-flecked color comes from seven ingredients: almond flour, organic coconut sugar, arrowroot powder, organic coconut flour, baking soda, sea salt and vanilla beans. Each box makes only one layer, and you have to provide your own vanilla, but the end result is a springy, mellow-flavored cake. It’s not particularly sweet, though that also means you won’t have a stomachache after a slice (or two).

BUY IT ($7)

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CANDACE DAVISON

2. 365 by Whole Foods Market Gluten-Free Classic Yellow Cake Mix

Best for Making Sculpted Cakes

  • Value: 16/20
  • Ease of Assembly: 15/20
  • Flavor: 16/20
  • Texture: 17/20
  • Vanilla-ness: 17/20

TOTAL: 81/100

While this cake wound up being much shorter than the other gluten-free options, it tasted the most homemade, with a buttery-fresh flavor and lingering sweetness. Overall, the texture was a little dry, but it wasn’t gritty, nor did it crumble when sliced, making it great for getting your Cake Boss on and finally baking that replica of Daniel Tiger your kid’s been asking for.

BUY IT ($3.50)

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CANDACE DAVISON

3. Pamela’s Gluten-Free & Non-GMO Vanilla Cake Mix

Best Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix

  • Value: 16/20
  • Ease of Assembly: 17/20
  • Flavor: 18/20
  • Texture: 18/20
  • Vanilla-ness: 18/20

TOTAL: 84/100

If you’re looking for a dairy-free, gluten-free option, look no further. Pamela’s scored the highest marks overall in this category, thanks to its strong vanilla flavor, fluffy texture and how easy it was to whip up. (You simply whisk the wet ingredients and stir in the dry, pour it into a greased pan and pop it in the oven—so, basically, foolproof.)

BUY IT ($5)

Keto-Friendly Yellow Cake Mixes

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CANDACE DAVISON

4. Birch Benders Keto Classic Yellow Cake Mix

Most Instagram-Worthy Cake

  • Value: 14/20
  • Ease of Assembly: 18/20
  • Flavor: 15/20
  • Texture: 16/20
  • Vanilla-ness: 13/20

TOTAL: 76/100

Looks aren’t everything, but this cake rose so evenly and was so easy to slice that people couldn’t wait to whip out their phones and snap a pic that we had to call it out. Birch Benders’s cake clocks in at 5 net carbs per serving, and while you may want to skip frosting altogether to keep it keto, we couldn’t resist trying it with it. And, admittedly, it’s a little dry without it.

BUY IT ($6)

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CANDACE DAVISON

5. Duncan Hines Keto-Friendly Classic Yellow Cake Mix

Best Keto-Friendly Cake Mix

  • Value: 16/20
  • Ease of Assembly: 18/20
  • Flavor: 18/20
  • Texture: 16/20
  • Vanilla-ness: 14/20

TOTAL: 82/100

Unlike most cake mixes, which call for vegetable oil, Duncan Hines’s keto-friendly option requires 3 tablespoons of coconut oil. That said, make sure you use refined coconut oil, unless you want an overpowering coconut flavor infused into every bite (which is delicious, sure, but not at all like a vanilla cake). It makes for a moist, light cake with just a hint of that sweet, sweet aftertaste you only get from erythritol.

$5 AT AMAZON

Classic Vanilla/Yellow Cake Mixes

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CANDACE DAVISON

6. Trader Joe’s Vanilla Cake Mix

Most Pound Cake-Like

  • Value: 17/20
  • Ease of Assembly: 17/20
  • Flavor: 15/20
  • Texture: 16/20
  • Vanilla-ness: 12/20

TOTAL: 77/100

Have a long day on the farm ahead of you? This hearty cake is for you. Unfrosted, this ultra-dense dessert is almost like pound cake; the batter is so thick, it’s almost biscuit-like as you spread it in the pan. Vanilla bean flecks add a very subtle crunch to this cake, almost like eating raspberries, though the vanilla flavor is relatively mild. Overall, it makes for a solid snacking cake. (That’s a thing, right?)

BUY IT ($4)

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CANDACE DAVISON

7. 365 by Whole Foods Market Classic Yellow Cake Mix

Best Base for Flavored Cakes

  • Value: 17/20
  • Ease of Assembly: 19/20
  • Flavor: 15/20
  • Texture: 16/20
  • Vanilla-ness: 12/20

TOTAL: 79/100

In a word, this mix is inoffensive, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s more sugary-tasting than buttery-vanilla, making it a great base for transforming into an upside down cake, a poke cake or a dump cake. Turn to this mix when you want to experiment without going totally from scratch.

$3 AT AMAZON

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CANDACE DAVISON

8. Great Value Yellow Cake Mix

Best Budget-Friendly Option

  • Value: 19/20
  • Ease of Assembly: 19/20
  • Flavor: 15/20
  • Texture: 17/20
  • Vanilla-ness: 13/20

TOTAL: 83/100

At less than a dollar a box, this yellow cake mix can’t be beat in terms of value. It produces a light, sponge-y cake that’s almost angel food-like. It fills the kitchen with a buttery sweet scent as it bakes (though it calls for oil, not butter, in the ingredients). The vanilla flavor isn’t as strong as we’d like, but overall, it makes for a pleasant, fluffy confection.

BUY IT (88 CENTS)

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CANDACE DAVISON

9. Betty Crocker Super Moist Yellow Cake Mix

Best for New Bakers

  • Value: 19/20
  • Ease of Assembly: 19/20
  • Flavor: 17/20
  • Texture: 18/20
  • Vanilla-ness: 13/20

TOTAL: 86/100

If you’re convinced you’re not a baker, this mix is the ideal confidence-booster. You simply dump, stir and toss it in the oven. Bought medium eggs instead of large (the standard when recipes call for “eggs” without specifying)? This mix will still taste great. Cook it a little too long? It’ll be a bit drier, but still OK. Made according to the specifications, you’ll get an airy cake that’s sweet without making you feel like you’ve gotten instant cavities two bites in.

BUY IT ($1.20)

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CANDACE DAVISON

10. Duncan Hines Perfectly Moist Yellow Cake Mix

Moistest Cake

  • Value: 18/20
  • Ease of Assembly: 19/20
  • Flavor: 17/20
  • Texture: 19/20
  • Vanilla-ness: 17/20

TOTAL: 90/100

We know, we know: Everybody hates the word ‘moist,’ but when it comes to cake, it’s crucial. And when you name your cake “perfectly moist,” it better live up to the claim. Thankfully, this one delivers. It practically melts in your mouth; the cakey equivalent of cotton candy, only not so sweet.

BUY IT ($2)

Butter Yellow Cake Mixes

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CANDACE DAVISON

11. Betty Crocker Super Moist Butter Recipe Yellow Cake Mix

Best Butter Flavor

  • Value: 19/20
  • Ease of Assembly: 19/20
  • Flavor: 18/20
  • Texture: 17/20
  • Vanilla-ness: 15/20

TOTAL: 88/100

What’s the difference between yellow cake mix and butter yellow cake mix, you ask? Simply put, butter mixes require butter in the ingredients; yellow cake mixes can use any type of fat, though they typically call for vegetable oil. If you like a buttery flavor, Betty Crocker’s mix is on point. It creates a light, moist cake, where the butter flavor stands out more than the vanilla, though it may take a little extra work to level it—ours domed significantly in the oven.

BUY IT ($1.20)

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CANDACE DAVISON

12. King Arthur Golden Yellow Cake Mix

Bakery-Caliber Cake

  • Value: 15/20
  • Ease of Assembly: 18/20
  • Flavor: 18/20
  • Texture: 19/20
  • Vanilla-ness: 19/20

TOTAL: 89/100

When this cake entered the mix, reviewers thought we were cheating. It looked—and tasted—like something straight out of a high-end bake shop. It had tall layers and a pale buttercup hue, and you could sink your teeth into this treat, but it wasn’t at all brick-like. While some thought it was a tad dry, overall, reviewers loved its strong vanilla flavor.

BUY IT ($7)

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CANDACE DAVISON

13. Duncan Hines Perfectly Moist Butter Golden Cake Mix

Most Classic Birthday Cake Flavor (aka Best All-Around)

  • Value: 19/20
  • Ease of Assembly: 19/20
  • Flavor: 18/20
  • Texture: 18/20
  • Vanilla-ness: 18/20

TOTAL: 92/100

Just the scent of this batter makes you feel like a kid again, getting pumped to tear open presents and wow your fourth-grade crush with how well you can pin the tail on a donkey. This mix makes for a well-balanced cake, where the buttery flavor doesn’t overpower the vanilla. The cake itself is soft, almost dissolving as you eat it, which means it’s not great for creating towering, sculpted cakes—but it is great for devouring by the fistful (er, forkful).

BUY IT ($1)

RELATED: The 10 Best Brownie Mixes for Every Kind of Sweet Tooth

The PureWow100 is a scale our editors use to vet new products and services, so you know what’s worth the spend—and what’s total hype. Learn more about our process here.

PureWow may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

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