Best Boxed Chocolate Cake Mix

I’ve happily eaten chocolate cake my whole life—yes, even after watching that chocolate cake scene from Matilda (you know the one). So I felt not only equipped, but eager to eat my way through a bakery’s worth of cakes in search of the best boxed chocolate cake mix for you. 

I tried ten boxed chocolate cake mixes in total, prepping and baking each according to package instructions, before eating a corner piece of every cake. Why a corner piece? Because the journey from a cake’s spongy midsection outwards is a dynamic experience of varying moisture, texture, and flavor as we approach the edges where our old friend Maillard imposes his bold reaction. Plus, I wanted to give these cakes away to friends after I was finished tasting, and didn’t feel like explaining why their cakes had a scoop gouged out of the middle. 

I blind-tasted each cake plain. No frosting, and none of those back-of-the-box recommendations reading “for a kicked-up version, add…” No. I was already baking ten cakes. I’m tired. I’m weary. I’m worn. I want my sugar, and will not exert any extra effort. 

Through this tasting I found the best chocolate cake mix in a box—including the best German chocolate cake box mix—and I also learned that I might take cake instructions a little too personally. Let’s dive into the former, shall we? 


Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge

Best Dark Chocolate

Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge

A lot of the chocolate cakes I tasted for this ranking were sweet without being especially chocolatey, but not this one. The chocolate flavor is deep and dark and bitter, yet somehow still sweet. I was pleasantly surprised by the complexity, knowing it was an off-the-shelf boxed chocolate cake mix, and not-so-pleasantly surprised by my own prejudice surrounding boxed mixes. I tasted these cakes with some die-hard milk chocolate fans, who ranked this considerably lower than the dark chocolate lovers. While the milk chocolate fans agreed that it was perfectly good cake, this is truly the best chocolate boxed cake mix for dark chocolate fans and dark chocolate fans only. It’s also the best boxed chocolate cake mix to buy if you need an excuse to not invite that annoying coworker to your party because, “Oh, I thought you hated dark chocolate.”

Credit: Liv Averett / Walmart

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Betty Crocker Oreo Chocolate Cake

Best Basic Chocolate Cake

Betty Crocker Oreo Chocolate Cake

In the kindest, most complimentary way possible, this tastes like grocery store sheet cake. But grocery store sheet cake is a familiar, unassuming, drama-free flavor that I know and love. While it’s more than palatable on its own, it invites, nay, it begs to be taken to its full potential. It yearns to be made into a cake pop, to become a poke cake, or decorated to the nines. Per the guidelines I set for myself in tasting, I left out the Oreo pieces they included in the box (they’re separate from the mix so you could choose to mix them into the batter or use them to top your cake). But you know what, Betty Crocker? I see you. Even that basic mix is some of the best chocolate cake mix in a box. It’s a delicious blank canvas. I respect that.

Credit: Liv Averett / Walmart

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

Pillsbury German Chocolate Cake Mix

Best German Chocolate

Pillsbury German Chocolate Cake Mix

I used to think that German chocolate cake was a simple chocolate cake—any chocolate cake—laden with the characteristic coconut and pecan filling. So, I was real mad when none of that stuff was included with this German chocolate cake box mix. It felt like false advertising. Because, without the filling, isn’t it just chocolate cake? Wrong! The German chocolate cake box mixes we tasted were distinct from the others in that they were far lighter on the chocolate, and almost tasted more brown-sugary. This German chocolate cake box mix tasted like an odd but intriguing mix of almond extract, Tootsie Roll, and Yoo-hoo. Is it confusing? A little. But, did I take multiple bites and enjoy each one? Absolutely. This cake on its own probably won’t satisfy an intense chocolate craving, but it is tasty. And it’s the best chocolate cake mix box to grab if you’re looking to make your own, true German chocolate cake—coconut and all. 

Credit: Liv Averett / Walmart

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

Pillsbury Moist Supreme Dark Chocolate

Best Moist

Pillsbury Moist Supreme Dark Chocolate

Sorry to everyone who hates the word “moist” because “Moist Supreme” is right on the money for this boxed chocolate cake mix! This doesn’t have the punch of chocolate flavor that some of the others do, but it has the crowd favorite texture. It’s dense and melts in your mouth. It would hold up really well to soaks or drizzles if you want even more moisture. Not even close to being the sweetest of the bunch, the relatively subtle chocolate flavor and the beautiful bounce of this cake makes it some of the best boxed chocolate cake mix for pillowy frosting, luscious custard, or to play a part in a show-stopping trifle.

Credit: Liv Averett / Instacart

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

Betty Crocker Triple Chocolate Fudge

Best of the Best

Betty Crocker Triple Chocolate Fudge

This happened to be the last cake tasted, and turned out to be the chocolate cake we were all waiting for. Unanimously the favorite of the tasting panel, this cake elicited a pretty immediate, “Oh, this is the best one,” from dark and milk chocolate lovers alike. Between the mini chocolate chips that melted into little gems of bonus chocolate flavor and the pudding integrated into the mix that gives the cake a richness that we loved, this cake had us going back for seconds, despite being ten cakes deep and staring down the barrel of a sugar coma. It’s packed with chocolate flavor yet light in texture. Maybe it’s the chocolate chips. Maybe it’s the pudding. Maybe it’s what I have to assume is the blessing from angels that they somehow worked into the mix, but something about this boxed chocolate cake mix produced a cake that smelled half like chocolate, half like campfire, and tasted like one bite would never be enough. This is the best chocolate boxed cake mix, no question.

Credit: Liv Averett / Target

Rating:

10/10

Sporks


About the Author

Hebba Gouda

Hebba Gouda is a freelance contributor to Sporked who will die on the hill that a hot dog is not a sandwich. She’s proud to spend weekends falling asleep at 9 p.m. listening to podcasts, always uses the Oxford comma, and has been described as “the only person who actually likes New Jersey.” She’d love to know how on earth she somehow always has dirty dishes, if donkeys hear better than horses, and how the heck you’re doing today? Hopefully swell - thanks for reading!

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  • Nice to read insights as it gives you a better idea of what the person is really like.

    Reply
  • Loved reading your comments. Could you do the test with gluten free cakes?

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  • And every one has some version of palm oil. Healthier to make one’s own cake.

    Reply