Duncan Hines Cake Mixes: The Dairy-Free & Vegan Options

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It has been decades since I’ve tried Duncan Hines Cake Mixes, so this is an informational review post only. I cannot give this product line a rating or offer personal notes on the taste, texture, etc. But if you have tried it, please do leave a comment with your own review!

Updated! Duncan Hines Cake Mixes were a standard at many of our childhood celebrations, and continue to be a way for people to produce a spot on, birthday-worthy, cost-effective dessert with little fuss and no muss! Plus, the flavors have been specially formulated (in a lab no less!) to perfectly greet our taste buds, and the leavening is added in just the right ratios to create a nearly foolproof cake.

Eat Dairy Free - Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and SweetsThough Duncan Hines Cake Mixes don’t make it into my shopping cart these days (please note that they contain many artificial ingredients and hydrogenated oils), they are a go-to for millions of people. These highly accessible boxes have gained quite a following in the dairy-free community, especially when frugality and ease is in order. Yes, most Duncan Hines Cake Mixes are Kosher Parve (OU) and contain no dairy ingredients . But use caution, as some do contain milk. At last check, I found the following varieties to be milk-free by ingredients (always verify for yourself as ingredients and labeling can change!):

Dairy-Free Duncan Hines Cake Mixes - Most varieties are kosher parve, and we tell you how to make them vegan, too!

Again, this is just a list to give you ideas for what Duncan Hines Cake Mixes might be accessible for dairy-free needs. Always read the ingredient statement and verify on processes where severe milk allergies are concerned!

Make it Vegan

The dairy-free Duncan Hines Cake Mixes are typically vegan, too (the Angel Food Cake does contain eggs). However, they call for eggs in the instructions. To circumvent this, you can use 1 15-ounce can of pumpkin or 1 12-ounce carbonated beverage (soda water, cola, etc) in place of the eggs, oil, AND liquid called for.

Dairy-Free Duncan Hines Frosting

If you need a convenient topping, some of the Frosting Tubs are dairy-free, too! Please note that like the Duncan Hines Cake Mixes, the Frosting Tubs are made with highly processed ingredients. That said, I found the following flavors were made without milk ingredients.

  • Creamy Home-Style Classic Vanilla
  • Creamy Home-Style Coconut Pecan
  • Creamy Home-Style Buttercream
  • Creamy Home-Style Classic Chocolate
  • Creamy Home-Style Dark Chocolate Fudge
  • Creamy Home-Style Lemon Supreme
  • Creamy Home-Style Cream Cheese (not the Whipped!)
  • Creamy Maple Spice (seasonal)
  • Creamy Salted Caramel
  • Creamy Chocolate Mint (seasonal)
  • Whipped Vanilla
  • Whipped Fluffy White
  • Whipped Chocolate

This is for informational purposes only. Always read the label and check with the manufacturer if potential cross-contamination is an issue for you.

The Facts on Duncan Hines Cake Mixes

Certifications: Many of the Duncan Hines Cake Mixes are Certified Kosher Parve.

Dietary Notes: By ingredients, these Duncan Hines Cake Mixes are dairy-free / non-dairy, and most are also egg-free, nut-free, peanut-free, vegan / plant-based, and vegetarian. Nonetheless, always read the ingredient statement and check with the company on their manufacturing processes for all varieties if potential allergen cross-contamination is an issue for you. Processes and labeling are subject to change at any time for any company / product.

For More Product Information: Visit the Duncan Hines website at www.duncanhines.com.

For More Dairy-Free Guidance, Get Go Dairy Free:

Go Dairy Free 2nd Edition - The Ultimate Guide and Cookbook for Dairy-Free Living with Over 250 Recipes!

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

77 Comments

  1. Susie Shillinglaw on

    Is it just a given that the vegan adjustments toDuncan Hines mixes just do not rise? I made 4 separate batches using a 12 oz bottles of cream soda to replace the ingredients to be added. The batter looked and tasted amazing. I was really psyched about finding a way to easily make vegan cupcakes. I set the oven timer to the longest cook time and then started adding 5 minutes each time the timer ran out. The cupcakes rose at first and then sunk back down almost halfway through the paper cup. I kept adding time until I got up to 45 minutes, which seemed exhorbitant. The tops were crunchy and they were still slightly raw in the middles. I was so disappointed! Any ideas on what might work better?

    • Hi Susie, when they rise and then sink, that is usually an over-rising issue, not underbaking, so continuing to bake for an extended period of time won’t help. Do you live at high altitude (over 3000 feet)? From what you are saying, they rose just fine – the sinking is one of two things: they rose too much in too short of a time (high altitude issue) or there simply wasn’t enough binder to hold the rise in that batch. I lean toward the former since Duncan Hines mixes usually have enough binder, even without the egg.

  2. Complex Carbivorous on

    Most of those cake mixes you mentioned have palm oil? Do you know if they’re ethically sourced palm oil products?

    Thanks and have a nice day.

  3. I’ve noticed that banana can be used as a egg substitute can I use this also do I still use the water an oil you’re awesome love you’re advice an recipes
    Tysvm nikki
    Daughter that has to have vegan gf df food

    • It can, but I’d hesitate on using it as a sub for the oil and water too. It has a lot of pectin, which will affect the texture and density, and that much banana will make it a “banana cake” in taste.

  4. I tried substituting a can of ginger ale for the egg,water and oil and it turned out too airy and sunken in. Maybe o shouldn’t have used my mixer? Has anyone had any success doing it this way?

  5. Success! Duncan Hines Chocolate (Deviled) Cake Mix with Pumpkin. I was apprehensive as I wasn’t sure the flavors would compliment each other. Used the pumpkin in place of the liquid, eggs and oil. The batter was thick as I tried to put it into the cupcake holders. Did not look pleasing. Wet a spoon by dipping it into warm water and smoothed each cupcake leaving just a bit of moisture. Was pleasantly pleased with the way they rose. After cooing, frosted with chocolate vegan frosting. My husband and I both tested and I have deemed this a success! Thank you.

  6. Thanks Alisa for info on the variety of cake mixes by Duncan Hines that a person trying to avoid dairy products may not have realized is vegan. I’ve used Duncan Hines to bake cupcakes in the past and although I always read over the ingredients listed on the packaging of everything I buy to make sure it’s suitable for vegans, when it comes to cake mixes I’d wonder if some of those ingredients I’d never heard of or couldn’t quite pronounce actually contained an animal product. Your article has been very helpful.

  7. HI Alisa,
    Have you found that replacing the “1 stick of softened butter” with an Earth Balance buttery stick has the same result, in general, when baking? Especially something like a Duncan Hines Cake mix?
    Thank you for any insights! You’ve been a lifesaver for our milk-allergic daughter (now 10 years old and not “missing out” on anything!)

    • Hi Laura, for cake, yes. This swap should work in most cake recipes. It’s a bit more finicky for things like cookies, where the recipe isn’t leavened as much.
      Happy that I can help!

  8. These are NOT vegan. They use regular sugar. All white/refined sugar (used in almost everything) is filtered using bone char. Bone char is from cows’ bones, and they can use up to 70,000 pounds of it in one filter. Surprised no one else has mentioned this

  9. Amanda Krause on

    I was looking up cake mixes on the Target website and for Duncan Hines, under the product description, it says “may contain milk”.

  10. Thank you for this post! I made the classic white Duncan Hines with 12oz (1 1/2 cups) and they came out great! I made cupcakes and followed the baking directions on the package with no problem. Even non vegan liked them! They didn’t rise allot, but once covered with frosting, you don’t even notice.

  11. I make chocolate cake from box and replaced the milk on recipe for unsweetened coconut milk instead. Still used the eggs but it was great with the coconut milk

  12. Karen Wicker on

    hi…i am allergic to dairy…i use the duncan hines cake mixes and pillsbury frostings…all the duncan hines frostings i have checked contained milk..we are in the us…ncan hines brownies contained o milk…have used them before with no problems…

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  16. I have an app called “Is It Vegan”. When I heard Duncan Hines had some vegan options, I was stoked and used my app to scan the barcode to find that some of the flavors were vegan. This was over a year ago. I recently used the app again only to find that it now says “May Not Be Vegetarian”. I trust the app and use it all the time. Once in awhile I recheck the barcodes because I know that sometimes ingredients can be added that is not vegan friendly. What are your thoughts on this?

    • Hi Mari, I couldn’t tell you for sure. Vegan involves quite a few more considerations than dairy free in terms of ingredients. It’s possible they aren’t strictly vegan.

    • That app has terrible reviews. It isn’t reliable at all. You have to read labels. Even in the above list, she has Angel Food, and it is DAIRY free, but it contains egg in the mix, therefore is isn’t vegan and can not be made vegan, just vegetarian. An ingredient that my husband and I run into all the time is Whey. We see it listed a lot on items where manufacturers haven’t actually used milk, but have used a milk derivative the item still contains dairy. We have also run into things recently saying they are Lactose free, but when reading the ingredients realized that they are just that. The lactose has been ‘removed’ from the milk, but the product still has milk in it. So that item is off limits as well. It’s hard and takes a lot of reading labels, but after a while you come to know what you can and can’t trust. We also love that a lot of companies are putting the word vegan or a vegan logo on their products making it so much easier to locate safe foods!

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