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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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
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
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.
You can also add 1/3 cup of sour cream to make it more moist.
Adding pecans, dried fruit, etc. will also make it special.
By DesignedByJulie from Mt Pleasant, NC
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. It comes out extremely moist and is so delicious.
By carol 
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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Here are questions related to Improving Boxed Cake Mixes.
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
By Lilac 04/19/2011
My advice would be to stick with what you know in this case. Or else leave yourself time to make the other in case this does not work.
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
By Toni Clouston08/07/2009
I learned to bake from making mistakes....lol
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
By Annie Rios Hill 08/12/2010
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!
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
By Sally 04/07/2011
(submitted via email)
I received an email that has been sent to a long list of people saying that an expired cake mix or pancake mix will almost kill you. I am glad to read on your website that this is not true. If this would happen, the manufacturer would have to state such on the labels.
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.
By a219170 from New Jersey
By lisa Hegewald 05/30/2009
I don't know about substitutions but this is a great moist cake. Very easy too. All my cake mixes went out of date when I learned this one :)
3 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1 teas. salt
3/4 cup oil
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 teas. baking soda
2 tbls. vinegar
1 teas. vanilla
Mix all and bake at 350 degrees
35 min. in greased 9x13 pan
18 min in cupcake papers
Very moist, chocolately cake.
Is there a leeway on expired cake mixes?
By AnnP from HI
By Vi Johnson 08/16/2011
2 teaspoons of baking powder is what I add to expired cake mixes. I have had good luck with the three major brands 2-3 years (I sometime freeze them for a year) after their expiration date.
I also put cornmeal and flour and baking mixes in the freezer for storage.
I have 25-30 year old letters from at least three national companies saying canned goods are safe to eat as much as 5 years after purchase. Even after their expiration date.Nutritional value and color may have changed, but still safe to eat. GG Vi
How can I make a white cake mix into a chocolate cake?
Trish from CT
By Fay (Guest Post)05/21/2008
Try using a 3 oz. box of dry chocolate (not devils food) instant pudding mix to your batter. That works for me.
What can I put in my box cake mix to make it more moist?
By Myrna 01/04/2015
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.
I want to have a moist Pillsbury supreme strawberry cake. What should I do to make the cake moist?
By Angela D.09/24/2013
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!
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
By Joan 08/17/2012
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.
I am using a white cake mix, can I substitute lemon juice for the water to make it a lemon cake?
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To make cake mixes taste like cakes made "from scratch":
Source: I have had this tip for years, and as far as I can recall, it was given to me by a friend of my mother's.
By Annabelle from Phoenix, AZ
When making a cake mix cake, I use milk instead of water. I measure the required milk in a 2 cup mixing cup. Then I add the correct amount of oil and eggs. I beat the cake mix to get the lumps out and then gradually add what is in the 2 cup measuring cup.
Once it is blended well, I scrape the bowl and then beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. I then pour the batter in a prepared 9x13 inch pan and bake it a 300 degrees F for about 45 minutes. Baking it with a lower heat makes the cake rise more evenly and keeps the cake from having narrow edges and a high center of the cake.
People that eat my cakes can't believe I used a cake mix. They say it tastes like a "scratch" cake.
By Sue from Chester, SC
Also, straight from my a chef's mouth, use a tsp of vanilla, it helps cut down on the cloying sweetness from boxed cakes, any flavor.
And I realize that from scratch cakes are good, but you can find box mixes on sale for less than a dollar a LOT of the time, the ingredients to make from scratch, cost way more than that! (04/16/2009)
By Kings Kid
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.
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