8 Boxed Lemon Cake Mixes, Ranked Worst To Best

Although not as popular as the standard chocolate and vanilla, lemon cake has a special place in our hearts. It has the perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess, and can bring a brightness to an otherwise plain cake. Lemon cake is perfect to serve as a celebratory dessert or even just as a quick, sweet snack during the day. When you don't have the time or energy to whip up a lemon cake from scratch, a wide variety of cake mixes are available online and at your local supermarket. 

While they all make baking quicker and easier than making it homemade, not all cake mixes deliver on flavor. That's why we put eight store-bought lemon cake mixes to the test, and ranked them from our least to most favorite. Now you can make an informed decision next time you're craving lemon cake and want to indulge in this tasty treat.

8. Baked Double Lemon Buttermilk Loaf

Our least favorite cake mix is, surprisingly, also one of the more expensive options. Found in select Whole Foods Markets and online, New York City-based bakery Baked released their Double Lemon Buttermilk Loaf so people can recreate their signature treat at home. We were intrigued by the spelt flour and flax seeds incorporated into the mix. And the promise of "double lemon" was especially exciting. However, this cake disappointed us in two ways. 

First of all, it's expensive and requires a lot of extra specialty ingredients. Not everyone has buttermilk on hand, and the steps are almost as complicated as making a cake from scratch. Secondly, all of the fancy ingredients have little to no payoff. It's impossible to ignore how dense this cake is. It's tough and heavy, and was almost painfully dry. The flax seeds sprinkled throughout add a strange texture without contributing any flavor. For such a high price, this cake tastes worse than your standard supermarket offerings.

7. Duncan Hines Signature Perfectly Moist Lemon Supreme Cake

Duncan Hines is one of the most accessible and reliable brands for cake mix — as long as you don't include their lemon cake. Like other Duncan Hines products, you can find this cake at most major supermarkets and it comes together with just a few ingredients and minimal steps. The end result is light, moist, and fluffy, and that's where the positives end. 

Although they get a bonus for using natural lemon flavoring, you can barely even taste it. In fact, you can't really taste much of anything. The taste is more similar to cardboard than it is to lemon cake. For such a reputable brand, we were surprised to see Duncan Hines rank this low on our list. You could maybe make up for the lack in flavor by adding a lemony frosting, but you're better off looking into another cake mix that satisfies with the texture and the taste.

6. Krusteaz Meyer Lemon Pound Cake

Pound cakes are famous for their richness and buttery flavor. Krusteaz's Meyer Lemon Pound Cake, however misses the mark on both fronts. First off, this cake mix requires a whopping 10 tablespoons of butter, far more than the other cakes on this list. You would think that the finished product would be perfectly rich, but the cake just tastes dense, heavy, and overly sweet. One reviewer online wrote that the cake had a lead-like texture, and we're inclined to agree.

Secondly, we wanted more flavor. The most important part of the cake is the lemon, and it was nowhere to be found. The lemon flavor isn't just subtle, it's almost nonexistent. This cake may be one of the more affordable options on this list, but you can cakes at the same price point that deliver on texture and pack a lemony punch. The Krusteaz Meyer Lemon Pound Cake just isn't worth it.

5. Pillsbury Moist Supreme Lemon Cake

Pillsbury combines natural and artificial lemon flavor for their Moist Supreme Lemon Cake. You would think that this cake would be bursting with lemon, but the finished product barely has any citrus flavor. In fact, it doesn't have much of a taste at all. The dominant note is just sugar, which would taste good to a little kid but might be too sweet for more discerning palates. 

From a textural standpoint, it's one of the better options on this list. Pillsbury's lemon cake is light and fluffy, while only requiring a few simple ingredients. And it's one of the most common and least expensive cake mixes on our list. With that being said, you could serve this cake at a kid's birthday party and not get any complaints. If you're looking for something a bit more flavorful, though, you're better off buying one of the cakes that we ranked higher.

4. Nordicware Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake

At $17 a box, Nordicware's lemon cake is by far the most expensive one of the bunch. And with such a steep price tag, we had very high expectations. Unfortunately, we found that this cake fell a bit flat. 

Although the natural lemon flavor and the buttermilk powder in the mix made for a balanced, flavorful cake, the texture left much to be desired. The final product was super dense and heavy. It's not dense in a good way, like a pound cake would be. If anything, the texture is more similar to a hockey puck. 

Nordicware's cake mix is also not the easiest to find, since it's not stocked at most grocery store, so you'd most likely have to order it online. If you're looking for a reliable, affordable cake mix, Nordicware's Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake is certainly not the best option. Our advice? Spend your money somewhere else.

3. Trader Joe's Meyer Lemon Cake

Next time you're wandering the aisles of Trader Joe's and are craving something sweet, grab this lemon cake mix off the shelf. Unlike standard supermarket cake mixes that call for oil and water, Trader Joe's Meyer Lemon Cake uses butter and milk to add more richness while still staying light and fluffy. The end result has a more complex flavor that tastes as good as a lemon cake made from scratch. You don't get hit with an overwhelming sweetness and you can actually taste the butter. The use of Meyer lemon also adds a bit of a floral note, along with the traditional tang. 

We find that this cake's lemon flavor is very subtle, but Trader Joe's gets bonus points for including a lemon icing to drizzle over the cake. The brightness of the icing definitely makes up for the weak lemon flavor in the cake. For just a couple bucks for a box, this cake is a no-brainer.

2. Magnolia Mixes Gluten-Free Lemon Pound Cake

Gluten-free food can often get a bad rap for having a strange texture and flavor. Sometimes, this criticism is deserved, but this cake mix blew its competitors out of the water. Magnolia Mixes, a family owned business, retails their fan-favorite Lemon Pound Cake at around $7. It may be a bit pricier than your typical supermarket cake mix, but this cake is absolutely worth shelling out a couple extra dollars for. 

The cake mix is naturally gluten-free, nut-free, and soy-free, all while using ingredients you can pronounce. You also have the option to make your cake dairy-free by swapping the required sour cream and butter for vegan substitutes. If you're nervous about adding sour cream to your cake, don't be. The tanginess of the ingredient pairs beautifully with the natural lemon flavor. 

Its soft, fluffy texture is indistinguishable from the other cakes on this list. Next time you're baking for someone with or without dietary restrictions, try making a batch of this lemon cake.

1. Betty Crocker Delights Super Moist Lemon Cake

Sometimes you just can't go wrong with a classic. Our favorite cake of the bunch has a 4.5-star rating on Betty Crocker's website. Although this cake mix uses artificial lemon flavoring, it is by far the most moist out of all the other cakes. 

Betty Crocker advertises the fact that they incorporate pudding mix into the cake itself — and it really pays off. The pudding incorporates more richness into the cake without weighing it down. Just by mixing a few pantry items into the mix, you'll end up with a light, spongy interior and bright lemon flavor. This lemon cake is easy to assemble, widely accessible, and reliably delicious. Pairing it with Betty Crocker's Lemon Frosting would certainly add another hit of lemon flavor, but the cake is perfect on its own. 

Another bonus: this cake is one of the cheapest options on this list! Coming it at around $2, you can actually have your cake and eat it too.