Taste of Home
When it comes to baking, I consider myself pretty practiced. I’ve made everything from dinner rolls to cake rolls, however, I have to admit that I’ve never made a blueberry muffin from scratch. Never. Lemon poppy seed muffins? Sure. Pumpkin muffins? Absolutely. But never blueberry. I’ve never made them before because—this is a bit embarrassing—I just love the kind that comes from a box. However, as a boxed mix blueberry muffin-lover, I can also assure you that all mixes are not the same.
To prove this point (and to find the best brand for all my future baking), I had the Taste of Home Test Kitchen whip up six batches of muffins from six different brands: Betty Crocker, Duncan Hines, Jiffy, Krusteaz and Pillsbury. As much as I love these treats, I couldn’t judge them alone. Along with an expert panel, I put these to the test. Find out what we thought!
Honorable Mention: Duncan Hines Simple Mornings Wild Maine Blueberry
Inspecting the batch of Duncan Hines Simple Morning muffins, the testers noticed immediately that they looked a bit different than the rest. A few folks asked, “Are these the healthy ones?” To that, I say sort of. The Simple Mornings mix advertises right on the box that it contains whole grains and real blueberries (courtesy of a tin inside), has no preservatives and doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup. That’s all great news and it means that these muffins are a bit better for you, though I’d still consider them a sweet treat!
But how did these better-for-you muffins taste? Well, testers found these muffins to have the most delectable crunchy top—an absolute must for muffin connoisseurs. Inside, we found that the muffins had a pretty good texture but were a bit crumbly. They also had some great blueberry taste thanks to the can of real blueberries that came in the box. However, we felt that these muffins needed more berries, and the crumbly texture would benefit from a bit of butter (be sure to grab the best butter to spread on top!). In the end, the preservative-free and whole grain formula is a great selling point and made for some good muffins, but I’d toss a few extra fresh blueberries in the mix to make these muffins perfect.
Runner-Up: Krusteaz Wild Blueberry
Jumping up a bit in the rankings was Krusteaz Wild Blueberry Muffin mix. These muffins didn’t quite have the perfect appearance as our first and third picks thanks to their flat tops, but what they lacked in muffin top perfection, they made up for in taste.
Cutting these muffins in half, we found that they had plenty of real blueberries hiding inside—again, thanks to a can of blueberries that came with the mix. In each bite, tasters got some authentic blueberry flavor and tartness, which is precisely what we were looking for. As for the muffin itself, we liked the rich, golden color and moist texture. A few folks likened the muffin to a yellow cake, which was great for cake-lovers but a bit of a miss for people looking for that slightly crumbly muffin consistency. Overall, though, we approved of this mix and its wealth of real blueberry taste!
Best in Show: Betty Crocker Wild Blueberry
At the very top of the pack with a seriously impressive score came Betty Crocker. These muffins were a favorite from the very start. Looking at the buffet of muffin options at this test (unlabelled, of course, to prevent any sort of bias), almost every tester pointed at these and said they looked the best. And can you blame them? These muffins had that perfect dome on top with bits of blueberries showing through.
When we sliced through these Betty Crocker muffins, we found that those blueberries carried all the way through—finally a batch with enough berries to satisfy us! Taking a bite, the testing crew found them to be exceptionally light and not the least bit dry (but also not overly moist or cakey). The muffin top (the best part!), had just a bit of crunch that contrasted nicely with the airiness of the rest of the muffin.
As for all those berries, they were juicy and perfectly tart. This is thanks to the can of wild blueberries packed inside the box. As with the other top contenders in this test, real blueberries made a big difference and helped Betty Crocker grab an impressive score of 9.3 (one of the highest ever!).
Real blueberries are necessary!
In this test, an obvious pattern emerged. All the mixes that came with a can of real blueberries inside took top spots. Each of these was commended for its great blueberry flavor and appearance. The other lower ranking mixes didn’t come with these cans. In fact, they didn’t come with real blueberries at all! Reading those labels, we found a lot of “natural and artificial flavors” and even “artificial blueberry bits” made from dextrose and palm oil. A blueberry muffin that doesn’t contain blueberries?! We were totally stunned to learn no trace of the fruit was inside, but we weren’t too surprised as to why these other options ranked so low.
So in the case of prepared mixes, real is not only better but a requirement. So long as your mix contains the real deal—whether you prefer Betty Crocker, Krusteaz, Duncan Hines or even one we didn’t test—you’ll end up with some pretty good muffins.