Taste of Home
On the weekends, my morning ritual is like many: I ease into the day with a good old-fashioned homemade breakfast. My go-to? Fluffy Pancakes. Without the a.m. rush, I have time to carefully measure ingredients and even dabble with new flavors like orange-ricotta and pumpkin. On weekdays, though, the kitchen scene is much different—there’s hardly enough time to down a cup of coffee, much less break out the measuring cups. Still, I can get golden-brown pancakes on the table—and I don’t have to put my morning routine into hyperdrive to do it.
How do I do it, you ask? I reach into my stash of box pancake mix, and then—wham-bam!—a stack of pancakes is ready to devour. It’s one of my favorite cooking shortcuts. The hardest part is selecting the right mix. With so many brands on the market, it’s difficult to know which one will produce fluffy, golden brown delights and which will fall flat.
To solve this problem, pancake lovers from across the company gathered to take part in a blind taste test, and we put six popular brands of buttermilk pancake mix to the test. With each brand’s product hot off the griddle, we were able to judge the pancakes solely on their flavor and texture…without any marketing claims, fancy packaging or price tags in the way! Curious to know which mixes made our taste testers flip? Read on to find out.
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A Great Better-for-you Pick: Bob’s Red Mill Buttermilk Pancake & Waffle Whole Grain Mix
Average score: 5.5/10
“It tastes healthier—in a good way.”
Though you’re likely to find Bob’s Red Mill products in the specialty food aisle of your store instead of alongside the blockbuster box mixes, we were curious to see how their high-fiber, whole-grain pancakes stacked up against the competition. After a single bite, it was clear this was a healthier product, as the whole wheat flavor was very apparent. While some tasters enjoyed the heartier spin, others gave it low marks. It’s also worth noting that the mix had a very dense consistency. A stack of these would definitely fill you up until suppertime.
The Best “Just Add Water” Brand: Betty Crocker Buttermilk Pancake & Waffle Mix
Average score: 6/10
“There’s more salt in this one.”
“It’s got the texture of cake!”
“There isn’t a ton of flavor, but it’s still enjoyable.”
Another top pick came a pancake that was pillowy-soft on the inside and a heartwarming golden brown on the outside: Betty Crocker. The brand delivered a stack that had a consistency much like tender, fluffy cake. There was a hint of salt that really boosted the flavor in these cakes. Surprisingly, this was a “just add water” mix.
Our Top Pick: Bisquick Original Pancake & Baking Mix
Average score: 7.75/10
“I like the appearance of these the most.”
“Big and fluffy. Yum!”
“I love the big buttery flavor.”
Surging to No. 1 on the scoreboard was Bisquick (a Betty Crocker brand). Testers said these tasted almost like the from-scratch cakes they make at home. One judge exclaimed, “As a kid, I’d definitely want my mom to make this kind!” The pancake had the perfect texture and crisp golden appearance you look for in your Sunday stack. The creamy, buttery flavor gained high marks as well. It’s safe to say, our hungry taste testers flipped over these pancakes!
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A Few Final Takeaways
Take a Gander at the Ingredients
If you’re looking for a true quick-fix pancake, opt for a box mix that calls for only water. We’d recommend Betty Crocker’s Buttermilk Pancake Mix. (An individual pouch costs less than a dollar, too!) But if you’ve got a few minutes to spare, brands like Bob’s Red Mill and Bisquick offer a lot more flavor with the addition of simple ingredients like milk, oil and eggs.
Make Sure Your Heat Is Nice and Even
During our made-to-test set up, we had some minor snafus with the griddle’s temperature. For the perfect pancake, ensure that the surface you’re cooking on—be it griddle or skillet—is producing even heat. Here’s a trick I learned from my mom: To tell if the cooking surface is ready for pancakes, splash a few drops of cold water on it. If the water bubbles and evaporates immediately, it’s time to get cookin’!
As icing is to cake, syrup and butter are to pancakes. There’s just something missing if you don’t have a pat of butter melting on top of your stack. Butter, syrup and other tasty toppings can enhance the flavor of any pancake. So whether you use Market Pantry, Bob’s Red Mill or Bisquick—they’ll taste similar if you’re prone to sprinkling fresh fruit or chocolate chips on top (or stirring them into the batter).
Want to do more with pancakes? Here are dozens of recipes ready for you to try.