Nothing beats homemade, but these are the best mixes in a pinch.
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taste test cornbread mix head photo with taste test icon
Credit: Tiffany Stevens

In a piece for the Institute of Culinary Education, Chris Scott makes a point that you can best know a country through its iconic breads. And for the United States, that bread is cornbread — a versatile staple that, while pegged as Southern, has spread to every corner of America in some form or other.

Cornbread not only symbolizes the primary cash crop that helped America build its population, but it also is emblematic of the immeasurable debt the United States owes to its Black chefs and culinary artists. As Toni Tipton-Martin mentions in Jubilee: Recipes From Two Centures of African-American Cooking, cornbread derivatives like griddle cakes and hush puppies may not have come about if not for adaptations made by Black chefs, not to mention the tireless effort among Black family members to pass down cornbread recipes both before and after the end of slavery.

Often, family recipes are considered essential for making the best cornbread. But if you've misplaced your passed-down recipe cards, then don't fret; there are plenty of pre-made cornbread mixes to choose from. To find out which brand of cornbread best deserves your dollar, we tested out four brands available online or in stores. So grab some butter and a warm muffin and settle in for our rankings of the boxed cornbread mixes. 

Best Cornbread Mix At a Glance

What We Looked For When Ranking Cornbread Mix

Taste: As always, taste is the primary factor we consider during these tests. For this test, we looked for a moist cornbread that packed in plenty of corn taste without too much sweetness. We also judged the cornbread's consistency and whether it tended to fall apart when taken out of the pan.

Price: You couldn't ask for cheaper ingredients than what generally goes into cornbread mix: cornmeal, flour, some sugar and some sort of leavening agent. Given that it shouldn't take much for companies to make up their mix, it shouldn't cost much for you to buy it.

Required Add-Ins: A primary concern when making up boxed baked goods is how many extras the mix will require. Most of our picks required at least an egg and some milk. One required those ingredients as well as some butter. One required only water. Mixes that required fewer add-ins while retaining good flavor got a more favorable placement in our rankings. 

Sugar Quantity/Type: Just like with other tests we've conducted in the past, we took consideration of how much sugar was included (or added) to these cornbread mixes. Most were relatively low on sugar, containing around 10 grams per serving; one, however, contained more than double that amount.

How We Tested Each Cornbread Mix

This taste test was conducted with the help of one of my housemates, primarily my wife. Each batch of cornbread was baked according to the maker's instructions into mini cornbread loaves. The same loaf pan was used for each batch to cut down on variables that could influence the taste test. 

Best Overall: Marie Callender's Restaurant Style Cornbread Mix 

marie callender's cornbread mix bag
Credit: Amazon

There's really no downsides that we can think of to this ridiculously simple (and ridiculously tasty) cornbread mix. Besides only requiring water, it also cooks quickly, holds together well once allowed to cool, and it has the smoothest crumb of any of the brands we tried. Marie Callender's cornbread might be a bit harder to find affordably online, but it came in under the cost of our most expensive pick when we found it in stores, so it's not likely to break any budgets. If you want the best cornbread for the least amount of effort, Marie Callender's has you covered.

Buy it: $13.55 for a pack of 2; Amazon

Runner-Up: Famous Dave's Cornbread Mix

famous dave's cornbread mix
Credit: Target

The most disappointing aspect of Famous Dave's mix was that there wasn't enough of it. It only yielded five out of the eight mini loaves our pan was capable of creating. Those loaves had the second best taste to Marie Callender's, however, while also retaining a lot of moisture and managing not to get too crumbly. You may want to grab two boxes, but if you want homemade cornbread without the effort, Famous Dave's will sate your craving. 

Buy it: $2.39, Target 

Best Budget Cornbread: Jiffy Honey Corn Muffin Mix

jiffy honey corn muffin mix
Credit: Walmart

If you're looking for cheap cornbread, then look no further. After all, in most stores, you can buy boxes of Jiffy for just around a dollar. Granted, it's that cheap because it's nearly half sugar; it contains twice the sucrose content of its competitors, which would explain why the corn taste is more muted. But it is affordable, and it has been a saving grace during times when our wallets have been leaner than we prefer. If you're looking for the best cornbread, then Jiffy can't help you. But if you're looking for the cheapest, then this is the box to grab.

Buy It: $0.67, Walmart

Best Gluten-Free Cornbread: Open Nature Gluten Free Cornbread Mix

open nature cornbread mix
Credit: Safeway

Open Nature is a decent-tasting cornbread option for those who can't eat mixes that include wheat-based flour. It's comparable to Famous Dave's in sweetness and quantity, though we got one more loaf out of Open Nature's mix than we did from Famous Dave's. Our biggest complaint is that Open Nature's cornbread is, well, kind of dry. Not fatally dry, but you still might want to keep a glass of milk or two close by. Beyond the need for a bit more moisture, however, this blend is perfect for the wheat-free folks in your life.

Buy it: $2.99, Safeway

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