KANSAS CITY — A convenient staple in grocery stores, boxed mixes are taking off in premium and innovative directions as manufacturers think out of the box for their newest baking mixes.

Health food companies are seeing the baking aisle as a next step in the expansion of their product portfolios. For example, better-for-you ice cream company Halo Top, a Wells Enterprises business, recently debuted its line of baking mixes, which features both boxed and single-serve mixes.

Halo Top Desserts, which will be manufactured by General Mills, Inc., features a light cake mix in single-serve cups, and light baking mixes for fudge brownies and peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. The microwavable light cake mix in single-serve cups is available in three varieties: chocolate, strawberry and birthday cake, and contains 170 calories.

“Halo Top was founded on an idea to make a lower calorie ice cream that doesn’t sacrifice flavor and indulgence,” said Peter Gargula, brand manager at Halo Top. “We’ve been constantly innovating products to give consumers indulgence they can feel good about. We can’t wait to bring our loyal fans into the baking aisle in this trusted extension from cold to warm with Halo Top Desserts.”

In October 2022, PB2, whose portfolio featured powdered nut butters, launched a line of baking mixes. The PB2 Pantry baking mixes are formulated with roasted peanut flour and are also gluten-free, vegan and kosher.

Classic brands also have made an effort to attract health-and-wellness-minded consumers. In December 2022, staple boxed brand Hungry Jack, which is owned by Hometown Food Co., was given a refresh to reflect more modern consumer values, according to the company.

As part of the refresh, Hungry Jack’s packaging was redesigned to feature “a bolder and more modern design that signifies where the brand stands today,” the company said. The pancake mixes also have been reformulated with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

“Hungry Jack has been a Sunday staple for 70 years and this brand refresh meets our customers where they are today,” said Dan Anglemyer, chief operations officer at Hungry Jack. “The more modern packaging provides a greater shelf presence and the ‘made without’ product benefits featured prominently will ensure our place at the table for many years to come.”

The King Arthur Baking Co. also is looking to expand its consumer base with the introduction of a collection of keto-friendly baking mixes as well as a gluten-free pizza dough flour. The keto mixes, which are gluten-free, grain-free and made using non-GMO certified ingredients, are available in a yellow cake mix, chocolate cake mix, all-purpose muffin mix and pizza crust mix. Each mix has 2 grams or less of net carbs per serving and no added sugar.

Other out-of-the-box innovations include new partnerships. Conagra Brands, Inc.’s Duncan Hines brand partnered with country music legend Dolly Parton. The partnership initially debuted a line of two Southern-inspired baking mixes in January 2022, but has since expanded with four more introductions in January 2023.

Duncan Hines’ Dolly Parton line now features baking mixes for Southern-style coconut cake, banana cake, sweet cornbread, buttermilk biscuits, caramel turtle brownies and fudgy brownies.

“With Dolly’s partnership and incredible star power behind us, Duncan Hines and IMG launched one of the most successful new innovations in baking in 2022,” said Audrey Ingersoll, vice president of Sweet Treats at Conagra Brands. “We could not be more excited to continue to evolve this important partnership with the launch of four more baking mixes.”