How to Make A Box Cake Mix Taste Better

better boxed cake mix My roommate, Leighann, has been super supportive of all the Pinter-Testing going on in our kitchen…even when the ultimate product is a complete mess! So, when her birthday rolled around a few weeks ago, I wanted to do something special for her.

Of course, I headed to Pinterest to see what I could come up with!

I knew we were going out to dinner with some friends, so I decided to make a cake for dessert when we got home. Now, those of you know know me know that baking and I have a tendency to…well…disagree from time to time. Jessica is a much better baker – she must have inherited that gene from our mom, Sharon! I’m more of the cook – the girl who likes throwing things into the pot to see what happens, not the girl who likes precise measurements.

Anyway, I saw this pin about how to make a boxed cake mix taste like they come from a bakery, so I decided to try it out. Thanks to Lynn Reves, who originally pinned this recipe and to Fabulously Frugal for posting it!

Even I can handle this simple recipe! Essentially, it’s still just a boxed cake mix! Here’s how you do it:

  1. Replace the oil in the recipe with real butter.
  2. Replace the water in the recipe with milk.
  3. Add one (or two) more eggs than the box calls for.

That’s it! Then, just mix and prepare the cake according to the directions on the box.

Does anyone out there have a favorite cake mix brand they use? I like Pillsbury Moist Supreme cakes, but will sometimes get Betty Crocker instead. For me, it usually depends what’s on sale, but I never go store brand even though they’re cheaper. They just aren’t as good.

Here’s the result, decorated and waiting for us to get home to eat it:

Happy Birthday Cake

Yes, I like funfetti sprinkles. Who doesn’t??? You know you’re jealous of my mad cake decorating skills.

Even though I’m a few weeks late on this blog…happy birthday, Leighann!

Happy Birthday Leighann

The verdict? The cake was super good – definitely moist and rich. I know, however, that the substitutions added a TON of calories to the cake. So, I probably won’t do this every time I make a cake mix, but on special occasions, it’s a good way to make the cake taste even better.

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Allison is one of the co-founders here at The PinterTest Kitchen. She also works with New Media Expo, a conferences that covers blogging, podcasting, web TV, and social business.

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46 Responses to How to Make A Box Cake Mix Taste Better

  1. Phoebe says:

    To save on calories use unsweetened applesauce for the oil and use the juice from a can of unsweetened fruit (peaches, fruit cocktail) for the water for flavor.

  2. celia says:

    can you use veg. spread instead of butter?

    • Allison says:

      Sure. Most box cake mixes call for either oil or margarine. But the point of this specific post was looking at how to make a box cake mix taste like a cake from a bakery – and that means using real milk, real butter, and more eggs. If you’re going to sub out the butter, it will very likely change how rich it ultimately tastes.

      • wendy says:

        I tried this when I was making strawberry cupcakes (but had to use a mini loaf pan, we had just moved) and they came out bread-y. I will try again with a chocolate cake and round pans (which I’ve given in and bought since I still can’t find anything). I’m glad you posted your results. I will try again.

  3. Cheri
    Twitter:
    says:

    I actually did this using all “real” ingredients, it came out like those big-box store bakery cakes – spongy and almost bread-like for consistency. I even tried baking it a little less time to see if it was over baked, still the same thing. I’ve tried Betty Crocker’s SuperMoist & Pillbury’s Moist Supreme cake mixes with this and they’ve always come out the same way. Usually I’m a very good baker, but the cakes made using the actual directions on the box were much, much better in my family’s opinion.
    Cheri recently posted..I Don’t Think They UnderstandMy Profile

  4. Rhonda says:

    I bake on a pretty special basis and after trying many different ways. ( I love to experiment in the kitchen baking) I have found that using real butter has the best results. I don’t use milk… I use sour cream in EVERY flavor. I also throw in a whole pack of pudding. (choosing the flavor of the cake) Tonight I decided to make coconut cupcakes.. So I used coconut flavored pudding, Unrefined coconut oil a little coconut extract and 1/4 cup of flour and a little water… oh and five eggs. My cupcakes are always VERY moist and don’t need a filling. BUT i make either a pudding filling or a cream based pudding.. sometimes for a pie based pudding flavor I will use like cherry pie filing or other kind of filing. I love to put the little surprise in the middle.

  5. Maddie says:

    Just how much butter??

  6. Tk says:

    Trying this box recipe right at this moment…will post results after baking and tasting.<3 thanks

  7. Melinda says:

    I tried this twice and both times my cake and cupcakes sank in the middle. Any thoughts? I only added one extra egg, maybe I should have added two?

    • Allison says:

      Hi Melinda,

      I think cakes tend to sink when either they aren’t done enough or when the oven temp is too low. So I would try leaving it in a few minutes longer. You can also buy those thermometers that let you check oven temp to see if yours is running a little on the cool side. Maybe someone else here can make some more suggestions!

    • Rebecca says:

      When your cake is done (I usually turn oven off about 2-5 mins before actual time) leave the oven door cracked to the heat can escape slowly. This will help with your cakes not sinking and cheese cakes not to crack. Cooling too fast is what makes them do this.

    • Barb says:

      Melinda,
      Nine times out of ten I have had a cake fall because of children or pets running through the house. Unless your house is builr on a concrete slab your floors will give, and any kind of shake can cause cake to fll.

  8. Victoria says:

    Hi! This recipe looks awesome but I’m wondering if it will works with yellow cake mix.

  9. Mary says:

    how does this compare in finished height? is it a lower/shorter cake? is it consistent texture throughout? does this give it the structural integrity to stand up to layering?

    • Allison says:

      It was pretty much exactly the same as a regular cake, just a little richer-tasting and a little more moist. You could definitely do two layers with this, but not sure about more. I think cake mixes in general are a little fluffy and hard to do layering with, though. I think if you had a denser version to start, it would probably remain about the same. If you do any experimenting, let me know how it turns out!

  10. holly says:

    this turned out excellent! I used it in a Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme cake mix and it was great. Just for comparison, i made another box of the lemon supreme at the same time–the “bakery” cake was SO much more moist and rich!

  11. La La
    Twitter:
    says:

    Is the baking time longer? I’m baking this cake now and after 30 mins it isn’t done, so I’m baking it longer and keeping an eye on it.

  12. Paige says:

    All this sounds really good – however, no one mentions adding a Tbsp. or so of real cocoa powder (Dutch process) to the chocolate box cake. I seem to remember hearing about that a long time ago but I’ve never tried it. Any comments?

  13. Tami says:

    Tried it tonight & turned out amazing!!!!!

  14. Robin Kane says:

    What about white cake that calls for egg whites? Do you just use an extra egg white?

    • Allison says:

      I’m not sure. To be honest, I’ve never seen a cake mix that called for just egg whites (other than angel food). Test it out sometime when you have time to experiment (i.e. not the night before your kid’s birthday haha) and see how it turns out! The worst that happens is your cake is a flop and you ditch it for another recipe. In fact, make some cookies at the same time, and if the cake is gross, you’ll have a back-up…and if the cake is great, stick the cookies in the freezer for another day when you don’t feel like baking.

    • Devin says:

      You can add 1 whole egg and then use the rest egg whites; it wont change the color of your white cake.

    • Volena says:

      Yes, you can add additional egg whites though that doesn’t really add moisture to the cake. It will improve the texture.

  15. Katie says:

    Made this cake today and it was wonderful. Fluffy and moist. Was a hit.

  16. Danielle says:

    Thank you! Is the butter softened or melted?

  17. Devin says:

    This is all great stuff! Thank you all. I am taking a cake decorating class, where we also have to actually make the cake too (who knew?) My tip: The eggs and butter should be at room temperature.

  18. Michaelann says:

    I have been doing this for years, ever since I tried to make a cake one day, forgetting that the plumber was coming to fix a broke pipe in our building & the water was shut off. The extra calories are not that much when you remember that 1/2 C. of 2% milk is only 61 calories, for the whole cake, plus 77 calories per egg. And it adds a small amount of calcium, protein, B vitamins & iron, as well!

  19. Sally says:

    Is there a way to make the cake less sweet? Or which brand is not so sweet?

  20. Joanna says:

    So I plan on doing this. My box says use 3 eggs. So should I make it 4? Or do you think 4 would be to many? Not much of baker. Please and thanks!

  21. Lulu says:

    OMG my cake has NEVER been softer…mmmmmmm my mother LOOOOVED her birthday cake!

  22. Charli Gordon says:

    Thanks for this post. I will give these hints a try. I always alter my cakes a bit when I make them, only use jumbo eggs and adding pudding mix to the batter as my mother used to do. Trying to get a great tasting cake for just two. A regular size cake is too much for my 2-person family now. Any ideas?

    • Allison says:

      Mmm…pudding in the batter sounds yummy!

      One option is to just make the full cake and cut it in half or thirds. Wrap in foil and freeze – that way you have a few “mini cakes” you can pull out whenever you’re in the mood. Same with cupcakes – make the full batch and put some in the freezer for later. When I do this, I freeze the cake and icing separately.

      Of course, making a cake is also an occasion to invite some friends over for dinner!

    • Regina L says:

      Use just half of the cake mix and cut all the ingredients in half. Bake time should still be about the same…

  23. Pam W says:

    When I make a chocolate cake, I add a small box of pudding to the mix and use chocolate syrup in place of the oil. Works great with sugar free ingredients too :)

  24. Shana Norris
    Twitter:
    says:

    Trying this for my son’s birthday cake tomorrow!
    Shana Norris recently posted..Weekly Menu PlanMy Profile

  25. Marilyn. C says:

    Duncan Hines was generally regarded as the best . Not sure if still true.

  26. […] 1 box of cake mix, with ingredients ( I used carrot cake to go along with the eater theme). I ALWAYS use this trick when using box mix to make them taste a little more homemade. Check it out from the Pintertest kitchen. […]

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