If you're wondering how to make boxed cake better, this post is for you! Below you'll find 10 boxed cake mix hacks to make your box cake taste like a bakery cake, recommendations on ingredient amounts and explanations on how each upgrade will affect your cake.
While I LOVE making a good cake from scratch, let's be honest: Sometimes you just need something easy.
And whether that's easy in the sense of only requiring a few ingredients, a few pieces of equipment or just coming together in a little less time than a from-scratch cake would, boxed cake mixes can be a great way to streamline your process.
While there's certainly no shame in using a cake mix, I think we can all agree they leave something to be desired when it comes to flavor, texture and richness.
But what if I told you there's a way to make a box cake taste like a homemade or bakery cake?
That's right, you can have your easy cake and eat it, too, with these 10 ways to upgrade a boxed cake mix.
How to make an upgraded cake
To make your cake, follow the instructions on the box it came in. If you're upgrading your cake mix by adding more of an ingredient it already calls, you can simply add it at the same time as the original amount.
If you're substituting one thing for another, you can add the new ingredient at the time that the original ingredient is called for.
Any of the other upgrades can be added after the original ingredients or will have an order specified in the section below.
Pour the batter into a prepared cake pan and bake to the specifications on the box. None of the below upgrades should affect baking time.
10 boxed cake mix hacks to make cake mix taste better
Below you'll find ten ways to improve your boxed cake mix as well as an explanation of how each of these upgrades will affect the cake and recommendations on how much of these new/additional ingredient to add.
Please note, the measurement recommendations reflect the amount needed for a full box of cake mix. If you're making a half box, you'll need to adjust accordingly.
1. Add an extra egg
Many cake mixes call for three eggs, but if you want a richer flavored cake with a little extra moisture, I recommend adding a fourth egg. In fact, this is one of my go-to hacks that I use almost every time.
If you plan on making a half batch with your cake mix, two eggs will be sufficient.
2. Replace the water with milk or buttermilk
Most cake mixes call for a cup or more of water, but we can do better. Instead, swap the water for whole milk, 2% or even buttermilk for some extra tang.
Using milk (and the delicious fats that come with it) will give your cake a denser texture, better flavor and more moisture.
If you don't have buttermilk on hand or don't want to get a separate carton for just a cup (I hear ya!), you can make a buttermilk substitute using a scant cup of 2% and one tablespoon white vinegar. Mix and let sit for about 5 minutes before using.
3. Replace the water with a flavored beverage
Another alternative to replacing the water with milk is to replace it with a flavored beverage. A few of my favorite suggestions include coffee (this is particularly good in a chocolate cake mix), juice, cider, beer (a stout is also really good in a chocolate cake) and champagne.
All of these can be replaced at a 1:1 ratio.
Using a beverage in place of water will give you cake an extra flavorful kick.
4. Add sour cream or yogurt
Sour cream is one of my favorite moist cake hacks, and one I use in almost all my cakes, boxed mix or from scratch.
I typically add ¼-1/3 cup sour cream (you can also use plain yogurt), depending on how many other moisture-adding ingredients I'm using, and will include it during any step where other wet ingredients are being added.
Not only does sour cream add moisture, it also adds a subtle tangy flavor and creates a tender, fine crumb.
5. Add extracts or emulsions
Want to punch up the flavor of that box mix? Add an extract!
You can add a teaspoon of the flavor it already has or add a few teaspoons of another flavor to create something new.
6. Replace the oil with melted butter
Personally, I like a cake made with oil. In general, they tend to be loftier, have a more even crumb and tend to last longer. And if adequately flavored with enough moisture-adding ingredients, I honestly don't miss the butter.
BUT melted butter makes a great addition to a boxed cake mix to give it a richer flavor. You can replace the butter at a 1:1 ratio or do half oil, half butter.
7. Add melted chocolate to chocolate cake mixes
My biggest gripe with chocolate cake mixes is there simply isn't enough chocolate flavor. The solution: Add a little melted chocolate!
I'll add up to a ½ cup and will whisk it in as the last ingredient.
Important note: It's easiest to add melted chocolate to a cake batter made with room temperature ingredients. If the batter is cold, it can cause bit of chocolate to harden before they're fully whisked in.
8. Add mix-ins like coconut, candies or baking chips
In much the same way extracts can amplify or create new flavors, so can mix-ins.
What are mix-ins? They're generally dry ingredients that you can fold into your cake batter and include things like coconut, dried or fresh fruits, candies, baking chips, sprinkles, nuts, cookies, crackers, etc.
As a general rule of thumb, a cup or less of mix-ins is a good place to start.
Important note: Large or heavy mix-ins have a tendency to sink to the bottom of the batter. To prevent this, try dicing your mix-ins into small pieces or coating them in flour before adding them to the batter.
9. Give the batter a filling or topping
While you can add a filling or topping to your baked goods post-baking, you can also give your boxed cake mix a fun twist by adding it right to the batter.
For a jam or spread filling, I like to add no more than a half cup to the top my pan of batter, swirling it in. Adding too much can cause it to sink to the bottom of your pan.
You can also add a streusel topping to your cake to give it a toasted, crumbly finish.
10. Add pudding mix
Pudding mix in a boxed cake mix? You read that right!
Adding a box of instant pudding mix to your cake mix adds moisture and leads to a richer flavored cake. Try adding a pudding mix of the same flavor to enhance the flavors already present in the cake mix or another flavor to create a whole new flavor profile.
I like to stir together the two dry mixes and then add the remaining cake mix ingredients according to the package.
My go-to combination of upgrades
While I love to experiment with different ways to improve cake mixes, my go-to combination of upgrades includes adding an extra egg, replacing the water with milk, adding sour cream and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- Try adding a few upgrades at a time: While it may be tempting to add a bunch of upgrades all at once, I recommend adding one to two of the above suggestions at a time.
- Be careful about adding too many moisture adding ingredients: We all like a moist cake, but adding too many of the above suggestions that increase moisture could result in an overly dense cake.
- Getting even cake layers: If you plan on using your cake mix to make a layered cake, the best way to make sure your layers turn out even is the weigh the batter. I like to weigh my bowl prior to mixing, then again with the batter and split that between the number of pans I'm using.
- Knowing when a cake or cupcakes are done: There are two ways to test for doneness. 1. Insert a tooth pick in the center of the cake/cupcake and if it comes out mostly clean (a few cooked crumbs are good but there shouldn’t be raw batter), it’s done. 2. Gently press the top of the cupcake and if it almost immediately springs back, it’s done.
Boxed Cake Mix Recipe
10 hacks to make a box cake taste like a bakery cake.
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
For the cake batter:
- 1 box cake mix of choice
- Ingredients called for on the back of the box
- 1 extra egg
- Milk (to replace water)
- Flavored beverage (to replace water)
- 1-2 teaspoon extracts
- 1 cup mix-ins
- ½ cup filling
- ¼ cup sour cream
- Butter, melted (to replace oil)
- ½ cup chocolate
- 1 box pudding mix
- Follow the instructions on the box it came in.
- If you're upgrading your cake mix by adding more of an ingredient it already calls, you can simply add it at the same time as the original amount.
- If you're substituting one thing for another, you can add the new ingredient at the time that the original ingredient is called for.
- Pour the batter into a prepared cake pan and bake to the specifications on the box. None of the below upgrades should affect baking time.
Keywords: boxed cake mix hacks, boxed cake mix recipes, how to make cake mix taste better
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Great ideas!! Can't wait to try them 🙂
This is perfect! I just found a cake mix in the back of my cupboard that needs using, so I definitely need to give these hacks a try 🙂
What great additions to making a regular box of cake mix into something really wonderful! I can't wait to try all of these.
This is such a great and informative post. It's my birthday on Saturday so I need to find a way to slip this post to my husband... or I'll have to make my own cake!
This is exactly what I've been looking for! I am not a baker and being able to elevate a boxed cake mix is just perfect for me!
Loreto and Nicoletta Sugarlovespices says
Love this post with all the suggestions on how to upgrade a boxed cake mix! Saved it!
Enriqueta E Lemoine says
This post is a lifesaver. I always make my cakes from scratch but girl; sometimes we need help! I just pinned this, by the way.
So many great tips! Love that you can keep the simplicity of a boxed cake mix but add a boost of flavor or improve the texture.
I've always added yogurt because I like my cake slightly more moist, but wow, I didn't know about so many of these! Bookmarking to try them the next time.
This was such a great post to read! I love the texture and simplicity of making a boxed cake, but have always wanted to make them bit more fancy.
Love these tips to make a box of cake mix better! I'll be saving this list for the next time that I make a cake from a boxed mix!