Improving Boxed Cake Mixes

Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 146 Posts
April 16, 2010

Cake Mix in Bowl With WiskThe 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 Julia from Boca Raton, FL

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Diamond Post Medal for All Time! 1,246 Posts
March 7, 2018

Sometimes I bump into a boxed cake mix on sale for SO cheap, I can't say no. Having it handy helps save precious time, but it just doesn't taste nearly as good as a cake made from scratch.


Here are some tips on getting your boxed cake tasting homemade.

A boxed cake mix and extra ingredients to make it taste homemade.


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.


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.


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.


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 555 Posts
November 15, 2012

My girlfriend's dad was a baker and taught me these tips:


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.


Diamond Post Medal for All Time! 5,887 Posts
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.



Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

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


April 18, 20110 found this helpful

If it was me I wouldn't bother to doctor it. It tastes ok as is, most people don't even eat the cake at a wedding, and no one expects it to be that tasty, so I wouldn't bother, especially if you're making homemade frosting.

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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 Hanna Miller from Canada


Silver Feedback Medal for All Time! 290 Feedbacks
June 29, 20100 found this helpful

There are suggestions on this website:

I received an email not so long ago about cake mixes, pancake mixes, brownie mixes, & Bisquick. It was a true story about a teenage boy who ate some pancakes from a mix that his mother made him for breakfast. After her son left for high school, she met up with a friend and went to a gym together. She normally doesn't take her cell phone with her to the gym, but decided to take it with her that day.


She received an emergency call from her son and he told his mother that he couldn't breathe. He had to be rushed to a hospital for medical treatment. He's very lucky to be alive.

So much for packaged mixes.

Homemade cakes are very simple to make. I don't buy any mixes, make everything from scratch. Just read the ingredient label on a cake mix. I don't want to ingest all of those chemicals, or take a chance and get food poisoning.

June 29, 20100 found this helpful

There are recipes out there that tell you how to dress up a box cake. I would try
Meanwhile, the key to any recipe is to read the whole recipe all the way through first. This way you can check to be sure you have all you need and understand all the directions given.


Second turn on the oven to preheat.
Third is gather your ingredients.
Baking can be fun and rewarding, but only if you put the fun into it yourself!

June 29, 20100 found this helpful


I know you said you don't feel very confident in your baking skills, but please check out this recipe. It's probably my favorite "from scratch" cake recipe:
The batter will be very thin, but it's fine, the cake turns out great! It doesn't even need any sort of frosting or anything. Mmmm. Yum!

And this is a really good doctored up cake that uses a boxed mix. I haven't made the rum cake in quite a few years, because I have a little girl and didn't want to give it to her, but I've been thinking more about it lately. People always love it!

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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 sandra wilson-maza from New Jersey


May 19, 20090 found this helpful

Here are some common substitutions:

I have used sour cream, plain yogurt, applesauce and mayonnaise as substitutions for oil. Start with the same amount of the substitute and mix all your ingredients together. Add more a tablespoon at a time until the batter is the same consistency you get when you make it with all the correct ingredients. You may eventually find that you like the recipe better with the substitute than with the correct ingredient.

May 19, 20090 found this helpful

I have made mayo cakes before and they were pretty moist. Mayo is basically oil + eggs.
Here is one from scratch:

And one using a cake mix - with variations at the bottom:

For cupcakes using cake mix & mayo...same recipe but different baking times:


Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 239 Feedbacks
May 19, 20090 found this helpful

I always use applesauce instead of oil and my cakes are very good. I just use an equal amount and bake as usual. Sour cream is very fattening, but then so is cake, I guess.

May 19, 20090 found this helpful

As stated by another poster, applesauce is a proven substitute. I never use oil - applesauce is healthier.

May 20, 20090 found this helpful

You can use mayonnaise in place of the oil. Adding extra flour is probably what's making it dry. Add a half a cake mix and half the water, eggs, and oil. A typical cake mix (I also like Duncan Hines the best) fills a 9 x 13 x 2" pan.

May 20, 20090 found this helpful

Google "Cake Mix Extender". I know there is one on I think this is probably what you are looking for. It is supposed to stretch cake mixes and make them taste homemade.

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

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.


May 30, 20092 found this helpful

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 :)

Wacky Cake

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.

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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


July 29, 20090 found this helpful

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

August 7, 20090 found this helpful

I learned to bake from making

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August 14, 2011

Is there a leeway on expired cake mixes?

By AnnP from HI

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May 20, 2008

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

Trish from CT


By (Guest Post)
May 20, 20080 found this helpful

Check out the answers on this post:

and for an estimate on how much cocoa to add check this:
it says: Chocolate Cake

Add to the batter after initial blending:
2 Tbsp. milk
3 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder

On the Duncan Hines site it says to add 3 sifted Tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa to the mix..but they were referring to Angel Food White Cake to choc.

I have added strong brewed coffee in place of the water called for on cake mixes and it seems to boost the chocolate flavor. I haven't used a white cake mix for years...I usually get a yellow mix so I don't remember if they use egg whites only...but I would use the whole eggs if you do a choc version...most full cake mixes call for 3 eggs.

I think those recipes that you also add a box of instant pudding to the cake mix...usually for bundt cakes...would up the chocolate factor too. Let us know what you do and how it turns out. I might try it with a Yellow mix sometime. Good luck!

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.

By Trish (Guest Post)
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.

By Fay (Guest Post)
May 21, 20080 found this helpful

Try using a 3 oz. box of dry chocolate (not devils food) instant pudding mix to your batter. That works for me.

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December 14, 2014

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

By Marie

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October 26, 2016

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

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February 17, 2013

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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November 22, 2012

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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August 17, 2012

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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April 1, 2020

If a box of cake mix has been forgotten in the back of your pantry, it may still be usable if it's not too old. Sometimes, it's necessary to add new baking soda or powder to help it rise.

Cake batter being whisked in a bowl.


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April 16, 2011

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!


September 27, 2010

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.


August 3, 2009

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.


April 16, 2009

To make cake mixes taste like cakes made "from scratch". I have found that these tips work especially well with Duncan Hines cake mixes.

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