The Best Store-Bought Pancakes Mixes, According To Chefs

Pro tip: Don't sleep on Krusteaz.

Feeling like a delicious pancake breakfast, but don’t feel like going out to a restaurant? Or maybe you’re not sure if you have all the ingredients to whip up some batter for homemade?

No problem. Reach for a pancake mix and you’ll be cooking up and eating pancakes in no time.

Although making pancakes from scratch doesn’t require many ingredients, sometimes having a mix will make the difference. Pancake mixes are convenient, with some only requiring you to add water.

“Pancakes are an occasion, but prepared mixes make them so much more attainable, said Olivia McCoy, the head chef of Daily Chew in Atlanta. “Making a batter doesn’t have to be a chore, but that finished result should still be a wonderful memory.”

Tiffany Swan, a professional chef and food scientist, keeps a pancake mix in the pantry for times when a pancake craving strikes.

“Making pancakes before coffee can sometimes be challenging, so keeping it simple with a top-notch mix is ideal,” Swan said.

HuffPost spoke with chefs about the best store-bought pancake mixes.

What they look for in a pancake mix

Finding a product that uses good, quality ingredients is important.

“I always look for a clean label that offers a healthier way to enjoy pancakes from quality products that are free of hydrogenated oils, fillers and artificial colors or preservatives, and low in sugar,” explained Christina Kaelberer, the executive pastry chef at Four Seasons Hotel and Residences Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “I like to use mixes that do not have a plethora of stabilizing ingredients that are unhealthy,” she added.

Swan said she looks for “pantry ingredients ― those that you would find in your own pantry ― no dough softeners, emulsifiers or other tough-to-pronounce ingredients.”

Convenience is also important. “For a store-bought pancake mix, I look for ease and accessibility,” McCoy said. “If I have a box of mix in the pantry, I want to make sure I can make those pancakes at the drop of a hat- just add water.”

There are also pancake mixes with added nutritional elements that can keep you feeling full longer.

“I often want a bit of additional nutritional boost ― whole grains or added protein from wheat or whey (as opposed to soy or pea),” Swan said. “This is primarily so it will keep me full and fueled as long as possible.”

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King Arthur Buttermilk Pancake Mix
“Personally, I stand by everything and anything King Arthur — as a baker and chef, the King Arthur brand has a special place in my heart,” McCoy said. She’s a fan of the brand's consistency. “I also trust and follow their online recipes when testing and developing new menu items,” she said. “When I saw that they came out with a pancake mix (just add water!), I knew I had to get that home and whip some up right away.”
Krusteaz Buttermilk Pancake Mix
Krusteaz is a top favorite for a variety of reasons for chefs. “I have always leaned toward Krusteaz products for their consistency, flavor, as well as ease,” McCoy said. “They make a pancake mix with added protein and whole wheat flour, which still has the super-fluffy texture that everyone looks for in a delicious pancake.”

Krusteaz stands out for straightforward ingredients. “I prefer this brand over all others first because it has no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners, making it both a better option nutritionally while also giving you an open canvas for adding your own flair,” said Steve Chiappetti, executive chef at the Albert restaurant in downtown Chicago. If you want simplicity, you’ll have great pancakes every time as long as you follow the instructions. “The mix rises well on its own, and you don’t really need to do anything besides follow the directions on the box,” he said.
Kodiak Power Cakes Flapjack & Waffle Mix
With 14 grams of protein per serving and whole grains, you’ll want to add Kodiak Power Cakes to your list. And if you're looking for additional protein sources and ways to easily add them to your diet, this brand makes it easy. “They fuel me for a full day of adventures or cooking, taste great, and the mix is super versatile,” Swan said.

Making the mix your own is easy, too. “I have added beer to the mix to make a really lovely beer-battered fish for fish and chips, or added butter, sugar, and chocolate chips to make cookies," Swan said.
Simple Mills Organic Pancake & Waffle Mix
Looking for a pancake mix with no added sugar and a non-wheat flour? “Simple Mills Organic Pancake & Waffle Mix is my go-to at home for their use of chestnut flour,” Kaelberer said. “The chestnut adds natural flavor without adding sugar or artificial flavors, which also allows me to have more fun, and be more generous with the toppings!”
King Arthur Gluten Free Classic Pancake Mix
King Arthur also serves up a gluten-free option, which is good to have on hand if anyone in your household has a gluten intolerance or allergy. “While we make our own pancake mix from scratch, I like to use King Arthur Gluten-Free Pancake Mix as a high-quality option available when we have special requests that come in at the time of order,” Kaelberer said. “King Arthur’s mixes are restaurant-quality products that are not bleached or overprocessed.”

How chefs customize premade pancake mix

“When I have family in town or invite my friends over for a mimosa brunch, I bust out the pancakes before any guests arrive and jazz them up,” McCoy said. “If the box just calls for water, I will substitute one-third the amount of water called for with buttermilk (whoops, I forgot buttermilk at the store ― no biggie, just mix 1 teaspoon of white vinegar with 1/2 cup of milk and give it 15 minutes). This is going to create a chemical reaction with the baking soda in the mix and make ultra-fluffy pancakes.”

Diana Manalang, chef and owner of Little Chef Little Café in New York City, said she adds milk and eggs, even if the mix calls for water, “to add additional flavor and make a fluffier pancake.”

Pancakes are a great base to use and then add your own flare.

“Sometimes I want to take my breakfast in a different direction, so I’ll take part of the pancake mix and add additional eggs, milk and vanilla extract to thin down the mix and make some delicious crepes,” McCoy said. “Another fun time is to make bacon pancakes; it’s the best of both worlds: savory and sweet.”

Swan likes the ease of a mix to create new flavors.

“It is so easy to customize a pancake mix for the exact flavors you are looking for, ” she said. Want gingerbread pancakes? Add molasses, ginger and cinnamon.

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