December 7, 2023


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The Best Boxed Cornbread Mix: A Blind Taste Test

2 min read

No, you don’t need to make everything from scratch on Thanksgiving. In this holiday edition of our taste test series, we’re sharing the supermarket staples worthy of your holiday spread. Take a task or two off your plate by substituting boxed versions—we’ve found the best options.

If there is one thing I know to be true in this world, it’s that everyone has a different idea of what constitutes “good” cornbread. Some people prefer it sweet, others savory. Some like buttery, others plain. Crumbly or cakey. Crusty or fluffy. Yellow cornmeal or white cornmeal. The variables are seemingly endless. Perhaps that’s because cornbread recipes date back hundreds of years.

In North America, corn, or maize, has been cultivated for thousands of years by Indigenous people, but the crop took hold in the American South because it would thrive in the South’s hot, wet climate, while wheat would rot. Cornbread, and other cornmeal recipes like cornpone and hoecakes, became a staple in the soul food cannon, and corn is now a major part of the American diet.

We love homemade cornbread—that’s why we’ve developed so many recipes—but on a busy prep day (looking at you, Thanksgiving), a boxed mix can save precious time. Plus, if you’ve grown up in a home loyal to one brand, its nostalgic taste outshines even the best from-scratch stuff.

We tested eight popular boxed cornbread mixes to find the most flavorful of the bunch, with a just-crumbly-enough crumb. Our testers judged on taste, texture, and ease of preparation, and while debates around the “right” amount of crustiness and grit were fierce, we settled on a top pick that made everyone happy. Here’s our ranking.

Photograph by Isa Zapata

Hard No: Bob’s Red Mill

What’s inside: Whole wheat flour and whole grain cornmeal—“both very thirsty ingredients,” according to food editor Shilpa Uskokovic. Because they have the germ and bran still intact, these flours usually require extra liquid to compensate, and, ideally, some resting time to fully hydrate. Instructions on the label require a cup and a quarter of water to hydrate two and a third cups of mix, and they don’t mention any resting time.

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