It's the weekend once again, and for many people, it's an opportunity to enjoy a big breakfast with the family. And that means pancakes. Big brands may dominate store shelves, but there are plenty of specialty pancake mixes, too. Although a single pancake mix doesn't emerge as the hands-down favorite, a few brands do earn consistent praise from reviewers.
We found pancake mix reviews at sources including Real Simple magazine, Food and Wine magazine, the foodie websites Chowhound.com and TheNibble.com, Canada's National Post newspaper and the Canadian consumer show "The Shopping Bags." We also found some excellent pancake resources and some clever pancake humor, too.
Choosing the best pancake mix
How many pancake mixes are available? Well, at least 99, according to TheNibble.com. That's how many mixes, all of them whole wheat or multigrain, writer Stephanie Zonis samples in this epic pancake review. Although it's incredibly detailed -- discussing methodology, as well as offering cooking tips and a history of this simple food -- it's also a bit over the top. Many of her favorites, such as Gaukel Grown and Ground Whole Wheat Pancake Mix (made in Wyoming) and Nitty Gritty Grain Company of Vermont, are made by smaller manufacturers and are therefore hard to find in stores. Bob's Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills, two brands that are more readily available in stores, are also noted.
Real Simple magazine surveys more commonplace mixes in its brief review. Editors sample pancakes, both plain and with maple syrup, made from mixes by Aunt Jemima, Hungry Jack, Bisquick, Jiffy, Krusteaz and Up Country Naturals. Their favorite is Aunt Jemima: The Original Pancake & Waffle Mix, which produces "rich," "buttery" pancakes that are "light without being too full of air."
Another Aunt Jemima variety, Buttermilk Complete, is recommended by Food and Wine magazine in a very short review. Editors there sample 30 pancake mixes before settling on three, including Arrowhead Mills Multigrain and Robby's Pancake Mix, a specialty brand that got its start at a Clearwater, Fla., pancake house.
Aunt Jemima Original doesn't fare nearly as well in a review of four pancake mixes conducted by Canada's National Post newspaper, however. In that taste test, editors favor Bisquick, which one reviewer praises for having "all the things you look for in a mix, especially the fluffiness." They also pick Coyote Pancake Mix, a small brand manufactured by the Hutterite Colony, a religious community in Alberta.
Syndicated Canadian shopping columnists Anna Walner and Kristina Matisic also pick Bisquick as their favorite in a comparison of five pancake mixes on their TV show "The Shopping Bags." Bisquick pancakes have "a great sweet melt-in-your-mouth-flavour, plus they were the fluffiest." One of their tasters does prefer the whole-grain taste of Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Pancake and Waffle Mix, however.
As we've come to expect, consensus is a hard thing to come by on the foodie website Chowhound.com., but it's a good site for recommendations that professional reviewers sometimes overlook. In one thread, more than 100 readers post their thoughts on the best pancake mix; a second thread attracts about two dozen replies. Among Chowhounds, Krusteaz gets the most mentions, but readers also like mixes by Kodiak Cakes mix, Carbon's Golden Malted and Stonewall Kitchen.
Our thoughts on the best pancake mix
Given the sheer number of mixes available, it's difficult to choose one single pancake mix as best -- it's all a matter of taste. If you're looking for a general-purpose mix, Bisquick is a good choice. It's readily available in stores, and it's a versatile product that can also be used for waffles, biscuits and casserole toppings. Krusteaz isn't quite as commonly available, but foodies swear by it. If you're on a high-fiber diet, prefer organic products, or if you just like your pancakes with a little more texture, mixes from Bob's Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills both earn positive comments from foodies, and they're relatively easy to find in larger grocery stores.
Pancake tips and links
Do you flip for flapjacks? Here are some useful tips and links we found: