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12 Grocery Store Banana Bread Mixes, Ranked Worst To Best

Grocery Store Banana Bread Mixes
Grocery Store Banana Bread Mixes - Jenny Kellerhals/Mashed

Whether you've been fond of banana bread for as long as you can remember or you discovered its soul-nourishing benefits sometime in the spring of 2020, when the collective banana bread obsession reached its peak, you know that the perfect slice can change the course of your whole day (emotionally speaking, anyway). There are as many different banana bread recipes as there are bakers making it, all claiming that theirs is the best. But who has time to test all of those recipes out? And what if you just want a comforting slice of banana bread now, without waiting a week for your bananas to turn brown on the counter? Meet your new favorite grocery store banana bread mix.

Boxed mixes aren't just for cakes and muffins. Banana bread boxed mixes are available from nearly every major baking mix brand and cater to a wide range of tastes and dietary needs. So, I set out to taste as many banana bread mixes as I could find, looking for the very best options for a quick bake with minimal effort. Over the course of several days, I baked, tasted, and then re-tasted 12 grocery store banana bread mixes, and here's how they stack up.

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12. Jiffy Banana Muffin Mix

A loaf of Jiffy Banana Muffin Mix
A loaf of Jiffy Banana Muffin Mix - Jenny Kellerhals/Mashed

At just $1.32, I was cautiously optimistic that this little box of Jiffy Banana Muffin Mix would be a hit. Technically, the mix is meant to make six muffins, not a loaf, but I poured the batter into a smaller loaf pan anyway. Jiffy's mix also requires the fewest additional ingredients, asking for only an egg and ⅓ cup of milk.

Unfortunately, the results didn't meet expectations. It's not that it doesn't have any banana flavor; it does, sort of. It's more like someone melted a few banana-flavored Runts candies into the mix. Somehow, that synthetic banana flavor doesn't translate to a loaf of sweet bread, but instead, the Jiffy Banana Muffin Mix ended up being the most savory of all the mixes tested. A quick look at the ingredients list gave me an idea of where the distinctively savory flavor of this bread comes from.

Lard. That's right, the magic ingredient that makes pie crusts flaky and savory and helps make Jiffy's Corn Muffin Mix one of the best around. In fact, if you're trying to wrap your mind around what this mix tastes like, imagine the corn muffin mix with flour instead of corn and a little fake banana flavor. If you've got a spare banana on hand, some walnuts, and a few tablespoons of brown sugar, I think it would be easy to make this mix more banana bread-like, but as it is, it's one of the strangest banana mixes I've ever tasted.

11. Pillsbury Banana Bread Batter

A loaf of Pillsbury Banana Bread Batter
A loaf of Pillsbury Banana Bread Batter - Jenny Kellerhals/Mashed

Pillsbury's Banana Bread Batter hit grocery stores in the middle of 2023 and was one of the banana bread options I was most eager to try. Skipping the need for additional wet ingredients, the banana bread batter takes a page from premade cookie dough — just cut open the package, put it in your choice of baking pan, and bake.

Banana purée is listed in the ingredients, which made me especially curious. Bananas tend to oxidize quickly once exposed to air, turning banana bread batter brownish-grey after sitting for as little as an hour. Sure enough, when I squeezed the batter out, it had a familiar greyish hue, but not as much as I expected. To combat the discoloration, the batter has ascorbic and citric acid in it to help keep the banana purée fresh and stop the color of the batter from changing too much. Unfortunately, the extra acid lends an unappealing sourness to the banana bread, making it hard to enjoy.

The banana flavor is fine, and the texture of the bread is about what you'd expect from any other boxed mix. It's also not worth the small amount of time it saves to squeeze the batter from the package over mixing it from the box since you have to let the batter sit for about 15 minutes before baking it anyway. Hopefully, a better version of the premade batter will come out eventually, but until then, I'd stick with a boxed mix.

10. Chiquita Banana Bread Mix

A loaf of Chiquita Banana Bread Mix
A loaf of Chiquita Banana Bread Mix - Jenny Kellerhals/Mashed

Perhaps more than any other brand, it makes sense that Chiquita Banana would have a banana bread mix available. What better way to sell more bananas, right? But Chiquita isn't known for its baking mixes like the other options on this list, so I didn't know what to expect before baking. The mix is made by Concord Foods, which also makes a limited amount of baking mixes for its own brand, Concord Fresh Success — but it isn't a household name like Chiquita.

The mix calls for 1 cup of mashed bananas, which the instructions estimate is about two bananas. Two and a half bananas got me closer to a whole cup, but I was left with half a banana to snack on while I waited for the loaf to bake. The mix smelled strongly like additional banana flavor during mixing, which didn't make much sense, given that it's got the real thing in it, too. Unfortunately, that fake banana flavor is what shines through after baking, even though it's made with real bananas and banana flakes. It's just too much.

The bread's texture is a little gummy, which could have been from the additional half a banana that I added. It's plenty moist but doesn't have a lot of complexity, just an overwhelming fake banana flavor. Adding nuts and spices might go a long way towards balancing this mix, although I'd stay away from chocolate chips, as it's sweet enough as-is.

9. Krusteaz Banana Bread Mix

A loaf of Krusteaz Banana Bread Mix
A loaf of Krusteaz Banana Bread Mix - Jenny Kellerhals/Mashed

Fresh out of the oven, the Krusteaz Banana Bread Mix loaf looked, smelled, and tasted mostly like the platonic-neutral version of banana bread. The crumb is tender and moist, sweet and spiced, and the banana flavor is noticeably synthetic but not as overpowering as the Chiquita banana loaf.

But we all know that banana bread's flavor develops over time, and you're guaranteed to have a more impressive tasting experience the day after baking. Unfortunately for the Krusteaz loaf, the flavor that got more intense was the synthetic banana flavor. The texture of the banana bread loaf was just as nice as when it came out of the oven, perhaps even better. But the magnified fake banana taste was a huge turn-off at that point. Mix-ins would absolutely help temper the flavor some, but no additional sugar or spice is necessary. And if you take your coffee especially strong, you might not find it all that offensive anyway.

8. Pillsbury Banana Quick Bread & Muffin Mix

A loaf of Pillsbury Banana Quick Bread
A loaf of Pillsbury Banana Quick Bread - Jenny Kellerhals/Mashed

In a side-by-side tasting of a Krusteaz Banana Bread loaf and a Pillsbury Banana Bread loaf (made with the boxed bread mix, not the refrigerated batter), I might have difficulty telling them apart initially. And even after tasting both loaves half a dozen times each, I still wasn't entirely sure which one came out on top. Only on the day after each was baked was I able to choose between the two, with Pillsbury coming out on top.

What made the decision difficult was that I really appreciated the texture of the Krusteaz Banana Bread loaf. It's super moist and soft and didn't dry out overnight. The Pillsbury version is fluffier and more cake-like, which is fine but not quite swoon-worthy. But, on the second day, when the synthetic flavor of the Krusteaz banana bread became almost too overpowering to enjoy, the banana flavor of the Pillsbury banana bread stayed relatively mild. The synthetic banana flavor is still present in the Pillsbury bread, but it's manageable.

7. Simple Mills Banana Muffin & Bread Almond Flour Baking Mix

A loaf of Simple Millk Almond Flour Banana Bread
A loaf of Simple Millk Almond Flour Banana Bread - Jenny Kellerhals/Mashed

It's gotten much easier to find gluten-free baking mixes that cater to nearly every desire, from cake mix to pizza dough and, of course, banana bread. Simple Mills offers a gluten-free Banana Muffin & Bread Mix made primarily with almond flour instead of wheat flour. With that said, this isn't a "banana nut" baking mix; it just happens to have nuts in it.

If sweeter banana bread isn't really your style, you'll probably be very into the loaf from Simple Mills. It has a delicate sweetness that gives way to a soft and pillowy bread that's heavy on earthy notes. On the other hand, if you like sweeter banana bread, I can't recommend adding some chocolate chips enough. A bite of this banana bread is vaguely reminiscent of brown bread, which I adore, served with a soft pad of salty butter — a serving suggestion that applies to a slice from this loaf. It's much fluffier than what I'd expect from banana bread, but otherwise, a satisfying bake that will easily fool people who don't know it's gluten-free.

6. Betty Crocker Banana Nut Muffins & Quick Bread Mix

A loaf of Betty Crocker Banana Nut Quick Bread
A loaf of Betty Crocker Banana Nut Quick Bread - Jenny Kellerhals/Mashed

During testing, two things stood out about Betty Crocker's Banana Nut Muffin & Quick Bread Mix. The first is that the walnuts in this recipe are reasonably-sized chunks, which walnut lovers like myself will notice and enjoy. The second is that, even though this is a banana nut mix, it seems to be awfully light on the banana.

Unlike some other mixes, the Betty Crocker mix doesn't include banana flakes, only natural and artificial flavors — luckily, they didn't go overboard on those. On the other hand, the loaf came out tasting more like lightly-scented coffee cake instead of the rich and spiced banana bread I was expecting. But Betty Crocker seems to know where its weaknesses lie, and recommends adding ½ cup of mashed ripe banana to the banana bread mix (about one large banana), which it doesn't include in the muffin preparation instructions for some odd reason. But if it were me, I'd just go ahead and add it anyway, and maybe a second banana just for good measure.

Ultimately, I'd rather have a quick bread that's a little light on the banana flavor instead of a bread that's inedible from the overpowering fake banana flavor, but it's still not quite the banana bread that comfort food dreams are made of either.

5. King Arthur Baking Company's Gluten-Free Banana Bread Mix

A loaf of King Arthur's Gluten Free Banana Bread
A loaf of King Arthur's Gluten Free Banana Bread - Jenny Kellerhals/Mashed

If you're looking for a gluten-free banana bread mix that more closely resembles your typical banana bread, King Arthur Baking Company's Gluten-Free Banana Bread Mix will be a better fit than the Simple Mills mix. Instead of almond flour, this mix is made with rice flour, and its banana flavor is derived from dried bananas.

You'll need butter or oil, eggs, and milk to bring this mix together, but the instructions also list a cup of chopped nuts as an optional mix-in. I keep walnuts in the cabinet for just such an occasion and tossed them in, which was a great choice. I wouldn't hesitate to try the Chocolate Banana Bread suggestion on the box either, and would readily make this mix if cooking for someone who wanted a gluten-free option.

The only thing that didn't really wow me was the overall texture of this banana bread. The rice flour makes for a slightly drier texture that doesn't provide the same dense and moist crumb you'll find with wheat-based breads. It's not a deal-breaker, but it's not quite as indulgent as a more mainstream banana bread.

4. GoNanas Original Banana Bread Mix

A loaf of GoNanas Original Banana Bread
A loaf of GoNanas Original Banana Bread - Jenny Kellerhals/Mashed

Sure, we've all tried to convince ourselves at one point or another that banana bread is a relatively healthy treat, made with plenty of potassium-rich bananas, protein-packed walnuts, and an egg or two. But most banana bread recipes are usually made with a generous helping of sugar and can be a minefield of allergens, from dairy to gluten, nuts, and eggs. GoNanas Original Banana Bread Mix is an allergen-friendly mix made without nuts, gluten, dairy, eggs, or preservatives, all while claiming to be the indulgent comfort food you crave.

I'll admit that I didn't even register that this mix was gluten-free until after tasting the final product and reading through the ingredients list. Somehow, it's even more moist and tender than many of the other wheat-based mixes and has a bold banana flavor, thanks to the addition of three ripe bananas to the mix. It seems like the loaf is really just mashed bananas, held together with some oat flour and brown sugar, but is that really so bad?

The biggest downside is that the bread is a little difficult to handle since it doesn't have much structure. Next time, I'd consider baking it in muffin form to bypass slicing off harder-to-manage pieces from the loaf.

3. Trader Joe's Banana Bread Mix

A loaf of Trader Joe's Banana Bread Mix
A loaf of Trader Joe's Banana Bread Mix - Jenny Kellerhals/Mashed

Even though Trader Joe's Banana Bread Mix doesn't call for any actual bananas, getting all its banana flavor from dried banana flakes, the bread still manages to have an overall natural taste. The ingredients list is straightforward: sugar, unbleached enriched wheat flour, banana flakes, baking powder, wheat germ, bran, salt, and natural vanilla flavor. Other than that, you provide the eggs, vegetable oil, and water.

Trader Joe's Banana Bread mix calls for an 8" loaf pan, but given how much it produces, it could reasonably be baked in a 9" loaf pan, too. The loaf baked for about 45 minutes, and still felt a little tender in the center, but it passed the toothpick test at that point and ultimately baked all the way through.

This mix doesn't create the most complexly-flavored banana bread you've ever tasted, but it does taste substantial and balanced, likely due to the wheat germ, bran, and vanilla flavor included. It also has the potential to be a great mix to doctor up with your own additions. I'd absolutely add nuts, chocolate chips, and maybe even a single overripe banana. The box also gives alternative baking instructions for making muffins and a Caramelized Banana Upside-Down Cake, which calls for adding butter, brown sugar, ripe bananas, eggs, oil, and water.

2. Chrissy's Ultimate Banana Bread Mix

A loaf of Chrissy's Ultimate Banana Bread Mix
A loaf of Chrissy's Ultimate Banana Bread Mix - Jenny Kellerhals/Mashed

This is not your grandma's banana bread recipe — not by a long shot. Chrissy Teigen's banana bread recipe is no secret. It's published for everyone to make on her Cravings website and has been making the rounds online since she first posted the recipe on Twitter, just before releasing her second cookbook. Even though the recipe is easily accessible, it's still a little bit of an effort to make, which is why we'll gladly take the boxed mix shortcut on this one. But reading the list of ingredients alone doesn't quite prepare you for how unorthodox this recipe is. It's studded with notably large chocolate chunks, flecked with unsweetened coconut flakes, and is a richly dark color that sets it apart from the other mixes on this list.

It's dense and moist, and while it clearly has bananas in it, the banana doesn't seem like the star of the show here. The luscious chocolate chunks stand out as the lead character, supported by the banana and coconut flakes. Interestingly, you only need to add eggs, oil, and water for this large loaf, not bananas, which are so pivotal to the original recipe. One box contains two packages of banana bread mix, which is why it costs a little more, and the box is quite a bit heavier than the others. Technically, two packages make a single recipe from the cookbook, which is enough to fill a bundt pan if you're feeding a small crowd.

1. Dolly Parton's Banana Nut Muffin & Bread Mix By Duncan Hines

A loaf of Dolly Parton's Banana Nut Muffin & Bread Mix by Duncan Hines
A loaf of Dolly Parton's Banana Nut Muffin & Bread Mix by Duncan Hines - Jenny Kellerhals/Mashed

It's clear that Dolly Parton's Banana Nut Flavored Muffin & Bread Mix by Duncan Hines is meant for people who enjoy baking or at least want a slightly more authentic baking experience. Whereas most of the other mixes call for two or three additions, the back-of-the-box recipe for "Dolly's Extra Special Chocolate Chip Banana Bread" calls for eggs, milk, melted butter, oil, ripe bananas, and chocolate chips — so be prepared to do some measuring. Even more impressively, this particular boxed mix comes with two dry ingredients packages, one for the banana bread and one packet of topping mix that makes a streusel-like topping for your loaf.

Given the additional preparation for this mix, it took a little longer to assemble than the other mixes, but the result was worth the effort. The loaf is impressively large, barely contained by the 9x5" pan in which it was baked. The mix is made with brown sugar and includes ground cinnamon and spices, just like homemade banana bread. It also took just over an hour to bake, so don't expect immediate gratification from this mix. But if you're patient enough to let it cook and completely cool, you'll be met with a banana bread that's sweet and tender, slightly crunchy from the streusel topping, and has an authentic banana taste. When it comes down to it, this baking mix is so much more than clever marketing, it's the real deal.

The Criteria Used To Judge Each Banana Bread Mix

Testing banana bread mixes
Testing banana bread mixes - Jenny Kellerhals/Mashed

Most banana bread recipes use the same handful of ingredients: flour, sugar, bananas, eggs, oil or butter, spices, and maybe some nuts or chocolate chips. But even still, I was impressed by the wide variety of banana bread styles available, using those basic ingredients in different arrangements. When testing each recipe, the most important consideration was the banana flavor of the bread, how authentic it tasted, and how powerful it was. From there, I considered the texture of the bread, and how well the rest of the flavors played with the main banana taste.

After flavor and texture, I considered how much effort was involved in putting the mix together, whether any special ingredients stood out, and whether there was any room for playing around with the mix's ingredients. Since you taste banana bread with your soul, I didn't worry too much about the nutritional information of the mixes, except where that was the main feature of the mix. Finally, I questioned whether or not I'd believe it if someone told me that the loaf had been made from scratch, and those that passed the scratch test were the banana bread loaves that made it into the top five.

Read the original article on Mashed.