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Improving Boxed Cake Mixes

Category Cakes
Bake an almost from scratch dessert by starting with a boxed cake mix and adding your own flavors and extra ingredients. This is a guide about improving boxed cake mixes.


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34 found this helpful
April 16, 2010

The convenience of using boxed cake mixes is wonderful, providing you know a few ways to make them even better; either by additions or the way in which you make your cakes.

You will find that if you sift your boxed cake mix first thing, you will get a much fluffier and finer crumb to the cake.

To make a boxed cake taste more "homemade", add 2 Tbsp. of plain all-purpose flour along with an extra egg and 1 Tbsp. of sugar. The cake is a little heavier and more dense than it would have been. You can barely tell it was a boxed cake mix to begin with.

It never hurts to add a Tbsp. of sour cream to any chocolate cake mix. It ends up being so different, although I can't tell you why. Utterly delicious.


When you use a store-bought container of frosting, you can scoop it all into a bowl, add a Tbsp. of butter, and 6 Tbsp. of powdered sugar, then beat it all really well, to get a much better flavored and more stable frosting. Feel free to add 1/2 tsp. of flavoring such as orange, lemon or almond.

If you're using a chocolate frosting, you might want to add a Tbsp. of Hershey's Cocoa along with a tsp of butter to deepen the flavor of chocolate.

Add a Tbsp. of instant coffee to a Tbsp. of hot water, mix coffee and water, then pour it into chocolate frosting in a bowl, and add 6 Tbsp. of powdered sugar and 1 Tbsp. of Hershey's Cocoa to the chocolate frosting to get a rich mocha flavor. You might need an extra Tbsp. of butter to keep it soft enough to spread. Stir it all in first. All canned frosting are not created equal.

I taught Creative Cooking for a Cultural Art Center at one time, and these are the types of things busy women wanted to learn, so we tried some of everything.

Have fun in your kitchen. Teach your children how to cook with pleasure and creativity. It's becoming a dying art.

By pookarina from Boca Raton, FL

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March 6, 20161 found this helpful

These are such great ideas! One day I got crazy & added a whole cup of sour cream AND the best part of a can of coconut frosting to a chocolate cake mix. Baked as usual with the cake ingredients called for, it was awesome. Like german chocolate cake all the way through. Use buttercream icing, store bought or your own if it needs it. (Mine did!)

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9 found this helpful
October 1, 2010

When using boxed cake mixes, add a half to a level teaspoon of baking powder. Being taught this by my grandmother has been a blessing. We don't always check the date on the box and as the box sits on the shelves, it loses it's strength. I am not a baker and have had cakes come out flat, but after using this method I haven't had any problems.


Please post your findings after using this idea.

By broadway7 from Rumford, RI

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October 4, 20100 found this helpful

What if the cake is in date do you still use baking powder? Sometime my box cake come out flat! I have really stopped using box cake mix. I just make my cake from scratch now. But, when they have a good sale on box cake mix I will stock up on them.

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January 22, 2016

To add flavor to a chocolate cake mix add a tablespoon of powdered cocoa to your cake mix before blending. Personally I use anywhere from one to two tablespoons of cocoa depending on the flavor of the cake mix. I suggest you start with one then add or subtract from there.


In german chocolate I use 1 tablespoon. I use 1 1/2 when making swiss chocolate cakes. Devil's food, triple chocolate, and chocolate fudge are the cake mixes that transform into a chocolate cake encounter you won't soon forget when 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder are added.

To add even more pizzazz to your cake, stir mini chocolate baking chips into your frosting before spreading onto the cake. You will probably need to microwave it a few seconds. Start with five seconds, stir. If still not creamy enough to blend in the chips add 2 seconds at a time. Be careful. It will turn from frosting to sauce MUCH quicker than you realize.

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2 found this helpful
August 7, 2009

To make a basic cake mix (white) taste delicious, add a teaspoon of flavoring. My favorite addition is coconut in the batter. Be sure to mix well before baking.

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1 found this helpful
May 29, 2013

My grandson only likes yellow cake, so I buy a 9 oz. box of yellow Jiffy cake mix. I follow the instructions, plus I add 1 Tbsp. of butter and 1 tsp. of pure vanilla extract.

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0 found this helpful
March 27, 2007

For cake, prepare cake mix according to package directions. Divide batter evenly between two 8 or 9 inch greased and floured cake pans. Bake according to package directions.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

0 found this helpful
October 26, 2016

Instead of all purpose, can you add cake flour to boxed cake mix?

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December 7, 20160 found this helpful

Add a small box of instant pudding mix. You can also add 2 teaspoons of baking powder.

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5 found this helpful
April 16, 2011

I am making a wedding cake in June and would like to doctor a Duncan Hines butter golden cake mix to make this cake. It will be a four-layer cake with butter-cream icing. I have made a doctored wedding cake with Betty Crocker cake mix, but Duncan Hines butter is my favorite.

By Fran from St. Mary's County, MD

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April 18, 20110 found this helpful

All you have to do is to add an extra egg and use whole milk in the recipe. Sometimes I also add just a tiny bit of almond flavoring. However, I usually add it to the frosting but I have added it to the batter as well. I have had rave reviews with my cakes. I hope this is helpful to you.

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April 19, 20110 found this helpful

I guess we all have funny tastes but(my 2 cents worth)I like the idea of white cake (lighter than yellow) and the pudding will do exactly like Ambailey says and use the water too. You can add whatever flavoring you wish to add though, I like a hint of lemon.

Don't be too hard on yourself and if you have doubts for 98 cents in Walmart buy one and bake it just like the one you plan and serve it cut up at church or your family etc. see how you like it. Happy baking! This is how people find something really great, playing with cakes etc.

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0 found this helpful
June 29, 2010

What would you add to the assorted flavours of cake mix to make them taste like homemade? I don't feel confident enough in my ability to follow a cake batter recipe, so tend to rely on cake mixes. I would really prefer to be able to say that I did something to make my cakes my own! Any clever ideas for delicious fillings between the cake layers would be much appreciated too. Thanks very much for the advice.

By AnnahFM from Canada

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July 7, 20100 found this helpful

Another thing you can do is use a spice cake mix and add a can of pumpkin, the small one, and not the pie filling one, just a plain can of pumpkin. Add nothing else. The batter will be thick though. Bake as usual, it's very good and healthier. You can also use chocolate cake mix with the pumpkin. That's good also.

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August 12, 20100 found this helpful

I buy box of cheap yellow cake mix follow directions on box, then i add butter pats ans chocolate chips, or whatever chocolate on hand, baking chocolate squares, chocolate candy bar or any other baking chips (a real favorite of all)

or you could add nuts and dried cranberries. Good luck and have fun trying these!

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December 11, 2008

Can baking powder be added to freshen a cake mix past it's expiration date? During my late husband's bout with cancer, a lot of food items didn't get used since he didn't have an appetite.

Renee from Shreveport, LA

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December 28, 20080 found this helpful

A lot of products have a 'best before' date, which is basically a suggestion, not an order to discard it the day after. I've used lots of things that have been past the recommended 'use by' date, and never been ill. If it smells fine, it should be okay. Happy baking!

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February 2, 20111 found this helpful

I just baked a box of fudge brownies with an expiration date of November 2007 (over 3 years past). I added 1/4 tspoon baking soda for a bit of leavening. They taste and seem fine.

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0 found this helpful
May 18, 2009

I need a recipe to make a moist yellow and chocolate cake, or cupcake. My last cake was so dry, and it was made from scratch. I was told to use sour cream to substitute for oil, I don't know how much? Also, Duncan Hines would be the best bet, but I would like to add extra cake flour to the batter to spread it out. Has anybody heard this before, if so how much can be added along with the sour cream? Please help.

Thank you.

By a219170 from New Jersey

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May 20, 20090 found this helpful

Hello. I use a lot of the tips given in the books by "The Cake Mix Dr." to make a mix taste more homemade. I always use melted butter instead of oil, I use whole milk or heavy cream instead of water, I add extra vanilla for vanilla cakes.

To help extend the cake, go to the cake mix section in the grocery store. Jiffy makes a package of "cake mix" that is about 1/2 of a regular box of cake mix. I have used it to make larger sheet cakes, as I have many Wilton cake pans that call for more than just 1 boxed mix will make.

Good luck! Tina

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May 20, 20090 found this helpful

I, too, use applesauce in my cakes. I also use either milk or buttermilk in place of water. Both of these make for moist cakes. I learned the milk part from my mother. She was the best cook ever! And made the BEST Banana Bread ever. No one cam mke is like she did, even though we all have her recipe.


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December 14, 20140 found this helpful

What can I put in my box cake mix to make it more moist?

By Marie

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January 4, 20150 found this helpful

I've got scratch recipes that use cooking oil and mine are always moist. Don't know how much oil is needed for a box cake though.

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April 9, 20161 found this helpful

1/2 cup mayo or 1cup apple sauce!

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1 found this helpful
July 27, 2009

I am going to be making a diet cake (or maybe you call it soda cake) soon. I want to know if instead of the can of soda, if I can use 12oz. of sparkling water? It is flavored, carbonated water, so pretty much like diet coke. Would this turn out the same? For those of you who don't know, you just mix a can of soda with a box of cake mix and bake. It's delicious.

By becca25 from NY

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July 29, 20090 found this helpful

Yes, you can use sparkling water, use as you normally would use your soda.

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August 7, 20090 found this helpful

I learned to bake from making

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0 found this helpful
August 14, 2011

Is there a leeway on expired cake mixes?

By AnnP from HI

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August 16, 20111 found this helpful

The reason for the expiration dates are for the levening agents in the cake. I would feel comfortable going six months out.

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August 16, 20112 found this helpful

The expiration date is actually the 'sell by' date and almost all packaged foods stand up well for a long time after that date. Even canned foods are good for quite a few years after and simply lose some flavor and quality. I've used cake mixes and brownie mixes for up to two years after the date with no problem. I personally think it depends on how the foods are stored. Cool, dark storage definitely helps preserve them longer. OliveOyl's suggestion of adding a bit of baking powder when in doubt is excellent advice.

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0 found this helpful
May 20, 2008

How can I make a white cake mix into a chocolate cake?

Trish from CT

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May 21, 20080 found this helpful

sorry...that post below (or would it be above?) was me. didn't know I wasn't logged in.

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May 21, 20080 found this helpful

Thank you so much for your feedback. Unfortunately, I had to have this ready for last night, so I just had to wing it. I had some sweetened bakers chocolate in the cabinet so I knew I could use that I just wasn't sure how much. I was afraid to make the whole cake chocolate because I didn't really know how it would turn out. I ended up making the white batter per the box directions, then I melted 3 squares of chocolate and combined it with 1 cup of the white batter. I dropped it in clumps, 1/2 cup into each pan, and then swirled it with a butter knife to make a marble cake. It came out beautifully, thank goodness. This was a birthday cake for my nephew, and it was delicious.

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November 22, 20120 found this helpful

I want to have a moist Pillsbury supreme strawberry cake. What should I do to make the cake moist?

By Renarda

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September 24, 20130 found this helpful

Substitute the water/milk (whichever your recipe calls for with a strawberry puree comes out amazing everytime. Another one i absolutely enjoyed was made with a strawberry instant jello. half a pack of the instant jello was mixed with the amount of liquid required (water) and mixed into the cake and after coming out the oven the other half of the jello mix was added with some more water. Holes were poked all over the cake and the jello mixture was poured over the top slowly making sure it was getting completely absorbed. This was followed by adding a layer of sliced strawberries and a cream cheese whippred cream heaven of a frosting. Its an 8oz thing of cream cheese brought to room temperature and whipped the bejeezus out of (make sure you clean down your sides to get it all whipped).

Slowly and I really do mean slowly, otherwise you'll end up with clumps. Add 1/4 cup at a time of a normal size (ya know the regular size not the huge one but the normal size thats like $1.50) coolwhip (or preprepared whip cream (this I think adds too much richness to a light cake) after all of thats incorporated add 2-4 cups of confectioners sugar. (I prefer 2 cups, my mother however has the sweetest tooth and prefers 4 cups which tends to yeild less of a cream cheese flavor.)

After all this is incorporated add the frosting to the cake and let your mouth do the talking! The cake turns out so very moist its almost rediculous and the frosting adds such a fluffyness to the cake that words cannot describe. Hope this helps you!

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August 17, 20120 found this helpful

If you bake an old cake mix (April '08) will it taste okay and not make anyone sick? Please advise.

By Beth from Dayton, OH

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August 17, 20121 found this helpful

I have never had any problems with outdated cake mixes. You could call your county home extension agent or whatever they are called where you live. This person will have a home economics degree and should know more about that than I do. I have never had a cake mix that old, but I have had outdated ones.

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February 17, 20130 found this helpful

I am using a white cake mix, can I substitute lemon juice for the water to make it a lemon cake?

By Kathy

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April 16, 20111 found this helpful

When making a cake from a mix, place mix in bowl, add the water, mix it up, oil, mix it up and mix after each egg, then scrap the sides and beat for 2 minutes, your cake will be bigger and lighter!

I also scoop out the bought icing, beat it for about 1 minutes, there is more icing and it tastes like homemade.

By Jackie from Aurora, CO

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September 27, 20100 found this helpful

I hope someone can help me. I read somewhere online that you can make a box cake really good by adding extra things to it.

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