Real Simple's panel tried the pancakes first plain, then with a generous drizzle of pure maple syrup.
Aunt Jemima: The Original Pancake & Waffle Mix
The batter: Smooth and pourable, with perfect little lumps.
The cakes: Even without syrup, testers found these flapjacks "rich" and "buttery," with "excellent consistency"―light without being too full of air. They cook up fluffy and golden, and taste, said one sampler, "like Mom's."
Bisquick Original All-Purpose Baking Mix
The batter: Substantial, making for easy-to-flip cakes―perfect if you like them large.
The cakes: Testers found the texture pleasantly "light" but the taste a tad too "salty" and "yeasty." Bisquick has less sugar than some other mixes―a plus for those who like their flapjacks savory (others can add a tablespoon of sugar).
Hungry Jack Original Pancake & Waffle Mix
The batter: Easy flowing and lump flecked―good for silver-dollar pancakes, but larger ones spread out thin and posed some flipping challenges.
The cakes: "Hearty, substantial," and chewier than the rest, these got points for heft, especially after they'd soaked up the syrup. One happy eater exclaimed. "They bring out the lumberjack in me!"
Up Country Naturals Certified Organic Pancake & Waffle Mix
The batter: The runniest of the bunch. You'll have to make tiny pancakes (or scrape the mixing bowl) to get the 5 to 7 that 1 cup of mix is supposed to yield.
The cakes: They cooked up "flat as a pancake" and tasted "spongy" and "bland." One tester went so far as to say, "They taste like a cardboard box with syrup on top."
Jiffy Baking Mix
The batter: Too runny at first, but it thickened almost immediately and continued to rise in the pan. The result: a nice, flippable flapjack.
The cakes: Crisp around the edges yet soft and tender on the inside, they tasted "pleasingly eggy," with an airy, elegantly "crepelike" texture―a good choice for those who like them light.
Krusteaz Light & Fluffy Homestyle Pancake Mix
The batter: So thick it plopped, rather than poured, into the pan. And testers detected an overly strong, sweet scent of sugar and vanilla.
The cakes: These powder puff-like flapjacks (a stack of 4 rose 1/2 inch higher than the others) were "very sweet," with a slight "chemical" aftertaste. Overall, testers deemed them more synthetic than scrumptious.