Boxed Cake Mix Hack: Tastes like you paid $6 a slice!

Just a couple of ingredient swaps you can make a regular cake mix taste like you've paid 6$ a slice for bakery cake. This hack is easy, replaces oil with butter and turns a cake mix into a delicious buttery, rich, dense crumb cake, perfect for any special occasion.

Just a couple of ingredient swaps you can make a regular cake mix taste like you’ve paid $6 a slice for bakery cake. This hack is easy, replaces oil with butter and turns a cake mix into a delicious buttery, rich, dense crumb cake, perfect for any special occasion.

I totally dragged my feet through the creation of this for my oldest child. We were in the grocery store because we ran out of bananas (our household goes through a half dozen every day) and what did we happen to walk past? An end cap of boxed cake mix. Cue the negotiation from my toddler:

Mommy, I want that!
Me: No, I’m not getting that but if you want cake I would be happy to make one for you!
Mommy I want that one! And I want to make it with you!
Me: Hmm (I’m disbelieving of this, most “help” is usually just chocolate chip stealing)
Mommy please, we can bake together! We bake this, you and me forever! (cue the arms in the air and the twirling).
Me: *Groan* Ok.

And I lost. To be honest, I sort of planned on ditching the box on our way back to the checkstand, but then I completely spaced on it until we got to the checkout area and who was watching me like a hawk? Yup. Sold.  So we get home and I stuffed it into the back of the cupboard. Later that same day, my toddler who for some reason was in love with the idea of baking this cake comes up to me and says: “Mommy you a chef, we make cake together” and I completely melted. We pulled out our favorite tiny chef hat and apron and our amazing Learning Tower (yes, a chair would work too and yes, I am a paranoid mom who loves the railing all around) and we got to work.

I am the first to admit, I am not a fan of cake mix. It is this weird overly crumbly, way too soft weird tasting cake and since I know how easy they are to make from scratch I actually think they are kind of overpriced. So I set off to the land of happiness and time wasting (Pinterest) and found a link to a hack for cake mixes.

Why did it make it onto the blog? Because this hack makes an altogether dull cake mix box taste fantastic! And since it happened to be the same weekend as my cake obsessed toddler’s birthday, we did an easy side by side comparison.

A total of 25 people, both adults and children taste tested my from-scratch birthday cake with purple frosting and this cake mix hack with the same frosting. The result? Not a single person said “cake mix” to me. In fact many of them complimented the cake (and some thought this was better than my recipe)! I have to agree, it was so good, if the box came with these directions I think it would really up the game for cake mixes.

The crumb was tender, denser, buttery and rich. The distinct “cake mix flavor” was unrecognizable. Trust me, try it and you won’t regret it!

So lets get down to the hack!

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Boxed Cake Mix Hack: Tastes like you paid $6 a slice

Just a couple of ingredient swaps you can make a regular cake mix taste like you've paid $6 a slice for bakery cake.
Yield 12
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder

Ingredients
 

  • 1 box Betty Crocker Yellow Cake Mix (this is what was picked out, I couldn't tell you which mix is best)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 cups Buttercream Frosting

Instructions

  • The only directions to note are that whatever the back of the box directs you to use, you have to:
  • Add an additional egg.
  • Replace the water with milk, same amounts.
  • Replace the oil with melted butter. DOUBLE the amount.
  • Cook with the same directions that are printed on the box.

Nutrition

Calories: 566kcal | Carbohydrates: 75g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 97mg | Sodium: 584mg | Potassium: 97mg | Sugar: 55g | Vitamin A: 595IU | Calcium: 134mg | Iron: 1.2mg
Keyword: Boxed Cake Mix Hack

Just a couple of ingredient swaps you can make a regular cake mix taste like you've paid 6$ a slice for bakery cake. This hack is easy, replaces oil with butter and turns a cake mix into a delicious buttery, rich, dense crumb cake, perfect for any special occasion.

Just a couple of ingredient swaps you can make a regular cake mix taste like you've paid 6$ a slice for bakery cake. This hack is easy, replaces oil with butter and turns a cake mix into a delicious buttery, rich, dense crumb cake, perfect for any special occasion.
Just a couple of ingredient swaps you can make a regular cake mix taste like you've paid 6$ a slice for bakery cake. This hack is easy, replaces oil with butter and turns a cake mix into a delicious buttery, rich, dense crumb cake, perfect for any special occasion.

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the upcoming cookbook: Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients which is being published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.

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Comments

  1. hello,
    I have made cake from scratch and stoped using cake box for years until I tried this recipe. I have now made it a number of times and the cake never comes out dry or flavorless. You must add some kind of frosting for added flavor that’s a given. I have gotten compliments when I make this cake and made me revisit store bought cake boxes again. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

  2. 4 stars for potential………first effort produced self-deflating cake-patties. I’m hopeful that once cooled may be iced with something spectacular luscious buttercream, perhaps a chocolate ganache drizzle atop. I will, however work this cake-mix hack again, pull back on amt of butter, medium size eggs and different brands/flavor of mix. 4 stars for offering plenty of reason to make another cake!

  3. I’m making this right now in three 6” steel circular cake pans and on regular bake (not convection) at 350* for a Duncan Hines box mix checking at 17 min, 22 minutes, and 26 minutes (with a cake tester) the cake took longer to set up than the times listed on the box. Since I opened the oven so many times and fumbled with removing the cakes from the pans while still relatively hot, it’s hard to say why the edges collapsed, but I didn’t want to overbake the cakes and going exclusively by the box times I’d say if you don’t want your cake to fall, make sure you keep an eye on the cake because the alterations may change required baking times. Good luck! The batter tasted delicious 🙂

  4. Tried it twice but used the mix for cupcakes. Both times the cupcakes fell and ended up dense, like hockey pucks.

    1. Hello Katie, I’m so sorry this recipe didn’t work out well for you. Hopefully, I have another recipe that will work better for you.

    2. I just tried it last night. Mine didn’t fall but they came out dry and crumbly and sort of flavorless. I’m so confused because you’d think the ingredients would make it better. I’m wondering if the extra egg is the problem.

    1. I’m so sorry this recipe was not to your liking. Hopefully, there is another recipe that will be more to your liking.

  5. I used 3/4 cups up butter instead of one cup, I also used vanilla oat milk in place of dairy milk, the cake came out heavenly! ?

  6. I shall be making your recipe, but I would greatly appreciate your advice on the idea of adding one box of instant pudding mix (same flavor as the cake) ;i.e., chocolate pudding with chocolate or German Chocolate cake mix. Again, your response will be appreciated.
    Thank you.

  7. I have used this multiple times and never had any issues with the cake falling. So I compared how I had followed it before and it is a little different. I substitute milk for water (box calls for 1 cup so I use 1 cup milk). I substitute melted butter for oil. BUT-boxes typically say 1/3 cup oil, so I use 2/3 cup melted butter. Use 4 eggs instead of 3. My favorite is Duncan Hines Pineapple supreme. Very good!

    Easy to remember..add 1 extra egg, substitute milk for water, and substitute melted butter for oil but double it. 1/3 cup oil = 2/3 cup butter

  8. Just found you and about to try using BC Lemon mix. Wondering if there is a way to incorporate Ricotta????? Can anyone advise if you have done this? Big thanks.

      1. First, I tried it exactly as stated with Betty crocker’s yellow cake mix. I couldn’t even tell it was cake mix!! It was moist, buttery and even slightly thicker/heavier than usual (which I like). It was/is perfect! This is my go to recipe.

        I decided to be bold recently and try it with Betty’s chocolate fudge cake. It was good but not amazing like the yellow cake. Got rid of most of the cake mix taste though. Def still a great recipe!

        Thank you for experimenting and sharing!

  9. This is wonderful. Thank you! I’ve used your method/recipe on regular cakes mixes. Id now like to try with a different cake mix that I love but find the end product dry. Cake mix is namaste brand. Gluten free spice cake mix. Calls for 2/3 cup oil, 4 eggs, 3/4 water. This is a large mix at 26 Oz! Would u do 5 eggs, milk for water and
    1-1/3 cup butter melted?

  10. I’ve tried this twice, exactly they way it says. could be that it’s salted butter? too warm of the melted butter? the altitude? It comes out all perfect and then as it it cools they all sink! What am I doing wrong?

    1. Hi! The sinking after cooling is usually caused by the oven not being hot enough or the cake being under baked, so I’m not sure! I am sorry that keeps happening!

  11. These hacks were so good and just make my cake THAT much better. I don’t normally like boxed cake mixes because I find that they come out a little dense and have a weird slight chemical taste, but this completely eliminated that taste. For reference, I bought a super moist Betty Crocker dark chocolate cake mix. I added an extra egg, around 1/2 tablespoon of espresso because it brought out the chocolate flavour a bit more, I only had a bit of butter so I added mostly oil but the rest was butter so for example the recipe called for 80 mL of oil, I put 75 mL of oil and 10g of butter. Lastly, I swapped the water for milk. Honestly, it’s a 10/10 hack that didn’t harm the cake in any way and made it so much better.

  12. I got a dark chocolate cake mix, do you recommend melting some chocolate and mixing it with the butter to enhance the flavour or should I just leave it as is. I’m also planning on putting some espresso powder to enhance the flavour.

    1. I would leave as is, add in 1tsp instant espresso powder. Hope it turns out great for you!

  13. It really does eliminate that cake-mix taste, plus anything with butter is better! Also, just increasing the volume by adding the extra egg and more fat gets rid of some of the over-sweetness of the mix. That’s my main complaint about cake mixes – too sweet!

  14. Had high hope for this hack but it failed twice! They cakes both fell instantly after taking them out of the oven. It also tastes eggy. Such a bummer to end up having to run out and buy a cake last minute. I did the tooth pick test and everything so they weren’t under cooked.

    1. you should first incorporate the melted butter in the mix well. then after a while when the butter is cooled you can add the milk and the eggs. You probably cooked the eggs cuz the butter was too hot.

  15. I’ve used this recipe to the point I feel comfortable tweeking it. I used softened butter, but I use the measurement before melting if I do melt the butter. There is a difference between 1 cup melted butter and one cup butter, melted. I also add some almond or vanilla flavoring. Also, it does take a bit longer to cook. I always check using a tooth pick in the middle. This cake gets rave reviews no matter where I take it. You can use any variety of cake (or as my grandson says, any flavor) and any Name Brand. It works! I’ve also added a few chocolate chips to the chocolate cakes I make.

  16. Mixed up the batter based on the Ingredient list. Cakes looked beautiful but fell upon cooling. The cakes still taste good.
    Went back and read the Instructions only to find the measurements don’t match with my cake mix directions, too much liquid.
    Will have to try again with simpler directions of add 1 egg, use milk instead of water, and double melted butter instead of oil.

    1. They may be falling due to the high fat content. You make try adding equal parts. So if it calls for 1 cup oil, use 1 cup of melted butter. The cake is becoming far too dense. You could cook it longer or just reduce the fat content.

  17. I hate the cheap tissue papery texture of normal box mix and will never make it that way again after learning this hack! That being said, if you don’t want dense, maybe not for you. Just do it the normal way 😉
    I use salted butter and half n half (same measurements and eggs as the author). The end result is superb, moist and has a more complex flavor (there’s plenty of sweet to offset the salted butter, trust me). It’s worked well as both cupcakes and sheet cake, with a variety of white/yellow box mixes. I used a box of funfetti recently. ***Important! To avoid sinking, resist the urge to open the oven door partway through and bake it a little bit longer.*** Yum yum!! Thank you.

  18. Sabrina,
    I followed everything in the recipe. I made mini cakes which baked up beautifully, then fell even more magnificently while cooling on the baking rack.

    What could have happened???

    1. Oh no! Sounds like they needed to be baked longer possibly? Even if the crust looks golden, the inside might not have been fully set.

    1. I made this with a chocolate fudge cake mix. I made cupcakes. The only thing I changed is they definitely needed to bake for almost 10 more minutes than the box said. The cakes were moist and delicious. I rarely make box cakes but following this rule, I will make more. Thanks for this recipe.

  19. This is a HUGE game-changer! Although, a whole cup of butter seemed like a lot so I added about a 3/4 cup and it turned out great nonetheless. You can barely recognize the artificial cake mix flavor and it has such a better, more natural texture! I recommend using good quality eggs, helps the taste a lot. Will do again

  20. hey, i tried this hack with the betty crocker yellow cake mix and the result was really good. But can you please tell me about the chocolate cake mix of the same company? should I swap coffee for water or milk will work?

    1. I haven’t tried it with a coffee swap but that sound intriguing. If you decide to try, I’d love to know how it turns out. Thanks!

  21. There are a lot blogs etc that talk about ingredient additions / subtractions to box mixes but I rarely see anyone specifically speak to the balance or chemistry of the recipe. I am not a chef or a chemist so I don’t want to experiment or waste ingredients- but I do want to improve my ‘ convenient’ baked good. For example, can I add an extra egg, switch the oil to melted butter, add sour cream etc….. how much? Am I replacing water with milk 1:1? Could the water be replaced with sour cream or yogurt or do I still need both in the recipe. How do additions or subtractions/ substitutions possibly effect things like leavening, browning, cooking time? That’s the kind of information I would appreciate to deviate from the box. I’d love if you would address this topic seeing as you have the background.. Thanks.

    1. I am so sorry the comment is so old and I am just seeing this tonight. I am sure the recipe has long been cooked/or not but I still want to try to help.

      I’m sorry, I haven’t experimented with those variations, so I couldn’t speak to how they affect the recipe. I do appreciate your compliments as to my expertise, but baking is a precise science and I don’t feel comfortable speculating as to how those changes would affect the recipe. Sorry!

  22. Hey I want to try your cake hack recipe to make my cake taste like the bakery, I just have one question is it salted butter or unsalted.

  23. This recipe is awful! I followed the directions exactly but my instincts were telling me that there was way too much butter & I was right! As other reviewers stated, my cakes looked really nice when I took them out of the oven & then within a few minutes they totally collapsed! I was going to make a Boston Cream Pie using one layer. I ended up using both & putting the filling between the 2 layers. The cake was not good. It was just dense & gross. I used Betty Crocker super moist yellow cake mix, 15.25 ozs. The directions called for 1 cup water so I used 1 cup milk, 1/3 cup softened butter so I used 1 cup melted butter, & 3 eggs so I used 4 eggs.

    1. Hi! I’m thinking of trying this recipe today, but I only have stick margarine on hand. Any thoughts on using this? I’ve never made a cake using anything but boxed directions so I’m clueless?

      1. I agree BUT under the word Ingredients, it says to use 1 cup melted butter. In my review I said that I should have known that was too much. So, my thought is that the directions should match the ingredients list. It is very confusing.

    2. Hi! I’ve done this recipe and loved it, but she says to double the butter. If they ask for 1/3 cup melted, butter, do 2/3 cups melted butter OR just do 1/3 cup. I didn’t have as much butter, so when my cake mix called for 1/2 cup oil, I just did 1/2 cup melted butter. I also recommend using SOFTENED butter, not melted, creaming it, and then using it in the mix. Anyway, your Boston creme cake idea sounds awesome!!

    3. I did only use 2/3 cups of butter and mine fell too Katherine.
      And I understand why you put 1 cup of butter… that’s what it says in the ingredients!! The directions give different directives for how much of each item to add. It’s kind of confusing.

    4. You added too much butter! Doubling the butter means you should have added 2/3 cup of softened butter. But also softened butter takes more space than melted butter, so you should have used a little more than 1/2 cup of melted butter.

    5. Sounds like you tripled the butter instead of doubling! That would make a big difference. Maybe next time try 1/2 cup butter instead of a third if you don’t want a super dense and moist cake.

    6. I have used this recipe several times. It’s actually amazing but you need to use the spring back test in addition to the clean toothpick test. I start by adding 5 minutes of baking time, then I check. I also took the first one out of the oven too early. Learn from your mistakes. Try it again! It’s incredible.

  24. Fab.U.lous!
    Thank you! I trust you, and you’re my go-to lady for good recipes and great advice. I love your honesty in admitting just how good it was…and the adorable toddler story 😀
    It really is as good as she says!

  25. When you used the evaporated milk, was it ounce for ounce the same amount of the liquid called for on the box?

  26. So I’m recreating the Max and Ruby cake from the kids show, I got 2 boxes of angel food confetti cake mix, but it only says to add water??should I just substitute for milk only?

      1. My experience was an epic fail. We have dairy issues, so butter and milk are not options. I used almond milk, which works super-well in everything else I make. I didn’t have any margarine except the 40 percent spread, which is mostly water, so I just added a little more oil than the package called for, plus the extra egg. Oh, and I added 1/4 cup cocoa powder because we wanted a chocolate cake and I only had a yellow cake mix. Since my 2-year-old oven tends to run hot, I put the timer on for 3 minutes less than the minimum that the box said to bake it. Even so, the cake was already done and I worried it might even be overdone. Turns out I should have taken it out 4 or 5 minutes sooner than I did. It was very dense with no crumb texture. It wasn’t springy like cake. Also, it had a very weird flavor. The box cake on its own would have been way better. Even peanut butter frosting could not redeem it.

        1. I’m so sorry this recipe didn’t work out well for you. Maybe I have another recipe that will suit your needs better!

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