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

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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!

Recipe

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

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

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

Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

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

Nutrition Information

Yield: 12 , Amount per serving: calories

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert, Inc.

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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.

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Baked Goods Cakes & Cupcakes Dessert Recipe

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Comments

  1. I am wicked lazy when it comes to baking, so I use boxed mixes all the time. I will try your hacks next time.

  2. I do these hacks all the time and LOVE it! It tastes SO much better than what comes out of the box. They are way more light and fluffy. You cake looks awesome!

  3. I am all about these type of life hacks and this is one that is sure to come in handy. I like to consider myself a bake from scratch gal, but more often than not a time shortage has me using a boxed mix.

    1. Yes! I love knowing little cheats here and there when I am in a bind. I can’t tell you how often my 1 minute microwave ganache recipe has saved my behind at a dinner party when a different dessert sauce failed.

        1. Sorry for the delay, this message got snared in the spam filter. What kind of mix did you use? How much did you mix it? If you want to trouble shoot send me an email directly at contact @ dinnerthendessert.com

        2. Sweetheart it all depends on what size cake pa sweetheart it all depends on what size cake pain n you used.  Maybe you should check the Internet for a measuring chart. It will help you a lot

      1. My cakes did the same thing! My layered cake did not look layered. Flat but moist and tasty! I used a generic brand box mix. I’ll keep playing with it. 

          1. I’m so sorry. It sounds like either it was over mixed or maybe needed to bake a little longer. Adjusting those two things should help solve this issue.

  4. What a great idea. That looks super good, not to mention my kids would love the fact its a little circle! Looks great I’m going to try this!

  5. I love to bake on Sundays and make all the goodies we want for the week. I will have to try this hack when i make my cake. I have a Spice cake mix i want to make.

  6. I always use a box mix when i make a cake. I will have to try adding the extra ingredients when i make a cake tomorrow for dessert.

  7. Ooh I’m going to have to try this with cake mixes from now on. It’s crazy how much of a difference that change made.

      1. Why do you have to double the butter? Just curious. I have to make cupcakes for a wedding and I want to try to doctor up a cake mix.

        1. Cake mix is lighter in texture and doubling the butter gives weight to the crumb which makes it denser and richer. 🙂

    1. One year I did it just like that and did the frosting in rainbow colors. Thinner layers, six colors of frosting in between and I didn’t ice the outside. You would’ve thought I was a superhero my oldest loved it so much.

  8. And so it begins…..there is a reason those cake mixes and sweetened cereals are at kid level. I always have to reach to the top shelf to get the puffed wheat. This is making me want cake of any kind!

    1. Thanks! I have to say when I tried it I was super skeptical (I actually thought “this better be good I spent more on the butter that went into this than the cake itself!”) so I was totally pleasantly surprised!

  9. Pillbury makes these cool all natural cake mixes now- no artificial flavors or colors! Great for people who think they don’t approve of cake mix. 🙂

  10. I live near Santa Fe, New Mexico. The elevation here is nearly 6000 feet – are there any adjustment to this recipe (other than those on the box) that you would recommend? Thank you!

  11. I am going to try this ….my daughter-in- law to be asked me if I could make her and my son their wedding cake. I bake all the time so “why not”. She wants a “crazy Daisy” cake with rich butter cake and buttercream frosting. This will probably what I will fix….wish me luck and thank you for this cake mix idea.

    1. I hope you love it! The cake is rich and delicious and I didn’t get a single “hmm box mix?” reaction to it at all! And congratulations on your son’s wedding!

    1. Your box mix calls for a full cup of oil? The one I used asked for a half cup, so it was 1 cup melted butter as a replacement.

  12. Would this Recipe make good cupcakes can I make this two days before and leave it on counter in airtight container Thanks

    1. Sorry this totally got snagged in my spam filter and I just saw it. Yes, they would definitely be fine, just ice them right before you need them…although I’m guessing your event happened already and I missed the window to help. Sorry. 🙁

  13. I just used this hack for chocolate cupcakes. They turned out perfect. I added this hack to the side of my fridge! On a sticky note, a place reserved for only the tried and true recipes.

    1. Sorry this comment took so long to get to, it ended up in my spam filter somehow! Sorry I realize how late I am getting back to you, but I’ve never even seen that sort of cake mix before.

  14. Olive oil is supposed to yield a tender crumb; would you recommend subbing OO for any of the butter? Also, what’s you opinion of using clarified butter as an alternative to melted butter?

    1. Sorry this comment took so long to get to, it ended up in my spam filter somehow! I wouldn’t substitute olive oil as the flavor is quite pronounced. I find butter is a good ingredient to use here. I haven’t tried baking with clarified butter so I can’t attest to how it would work/taste. If you do try it I would love to hear how it turned out though?

    1. Sorry this comment took so long to get to, it ended up in my spam filter somehow! I know you’ve probably made this recipe long ago at this point but if you still want to troubleshoot I am always available via email too contact @ dinnerthendessert.com

  15. I have made this “boxed cake miracle” many times. It is a true winner! It is now my go to for any event from showers to atta girl celebrations. No longer do I invest the time it takes to make my cakes from scratch. This is just as good if not even better!

  16. I know this is an older post… so hopefully you see this… have you tried this hack with gluten free box cake mix? I always find they are SUPER dense and/or light, but VERY dry 🙁
    Just curious! If not, I’ll give it a shot next time anyway 😉

  17. I too cook from scratch. I did a taste test with a large group, and it was interesting. I made a scratch wedding cake and a box cake and everyone but one young man loved the scratch cake. He said that he grew up on box cakes so that was what he Was used too.
    Cakes and breads are sooooo easy to make…. I loved your story the most. I too let my children in the kitchen to cook and bake and today my son is considering Culinary school in New York.
    But it was your mom story that captured my heart,

    1. Aww thanks Bonnie! I try to keep to whole foods as much as possible but sometimes it just is all about the moments instead. There was so much fun in that experience I wouldn’t have traded it 🙂

    1. Hi Jessy,

      The thing with the butter is intentional to make the cake have a denser, more luscious bakery flavor. Any alteration to it would sort of take a step backwards from trying to recreate a bakery flavor with a box mix, so it really isn’t recommended. Maybe looking for a light cake recipe would be a better option because I’m not sure how well this would turn out with 1/2 the butter.

  18. OMG, Sabrina! I use the Cake Mix Doctor to “fix” cake mix cakes but your hack even better! I’m always frustrated that my cakes don’t have that rich flavor that restaurant cakes have. This does it! Yum. Thank you, Sabrina.

  19. I tried your recipe using a French vanilla mix. Mine came out really dense and heavy. Do you measure the butter after it is melted or cut off the measure from the stick and then melt it?

    1. How much oil was the box mix asking for? The one I used asked for a half cup, so it was 1 cup melted butter as a replacement. Just double it and yes, it’s the melted measurement you’re looking for.

      1. I’m confused – can you please clarify. Here you said to use “the melted butter measurement”, but you said previouosly “before it’s melted”, as below:
        LACI CLARK — MAY 9, 2018 @ 11:54 AM REPLY
        Do you measure your butter before melted or is that 1 full cup of when melted?

        SABRINA — MAY 9, 2018 @ 11:07 PM REPLY
        before it’s melted ?

        1. Lillian leidner Really did you actually get upset over this smh. I did a small catering event with this recipe absolutely amazing reviews. Thank you very much!

        1. You’ll want to measure the butter before it’s melted. Sorry for the confusion, clearly I need more coffee at times before responding, haha!

  20. I tried this recipe tonight and am disappointed and will go back to using the sour cream method. My cupcakes sunk in the middle and they are not as moist. I followed everything exactly. The batter was also to much like mousse which made it very difficult to make even cupcakes.

    1. Oh no! I’m so sorry. The recipe has been tested extensively to work but if you would like to troubleshoot I would be happy to discuss it further. Email me at contact @ dinnerthendessert.com

    1. Sorry for the delay in responding to this, it got caught in the spam filter somehow. How did your cake turn out? I can’t say the batter has ever been runny or thin for me, can I ask which box mix you used?

  21. I tried this recipe with a betty crocker chocolate fudge cake mix and made 24 regular size cupcakes. The batter was thick and creamy, but it didn’t rise well. Baked them according to package directions. All my cupcakes sank in the middle. They tasted good, but we’re very moist and messy.

    1. Bummer, I wonder if the fudge factor made the difference. If you’d like, you can email me at contact @ dinnerthendessert.com and we can troubleshoot more to try and figure out what exactly happened. Happy to hear they still tasted good though.

  22. I know that this is an older post, but I tried this today, and followed everything… My cakes exploded and while the box said to cook for 40 minutes, at an hour they were still undone all the way through. I was so sad, as I was hoping this would turn out. 🙁

    1. Oh no, that’s definitely not good. I’m so sorry. I’d be happy to troubleshoot with you to try and figure out what happened. This is a tried and true hack that I’ve used many times. Feel free to email me at [email protected]

  23. I made this today, best cake I have ever made, (I am not known for my baking abilities but this was fantastic).. It was a duncan hines yellow cake and it tasted like I bought it at a bakery… it was dense, but moist, no issues with it rising or sinking in the middle, it was perfect…. (be careful not to beat the batter with an electric mixer or over mix it, that has created many failures)

    1. Renee, you’re absolutely right about not over-beating the batter. I find that beating the eggs in a separate bowl with a fork before adding to the mix allows you to do less mixing.

  24. I am one of those people who hate box cake mixes. But my reason is because of what the box cake people (Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker, etc.) did to the mixes when they decided to cheat us out of a few ounces of mix and changed the ingredients making the cakes not as good as they used to be. This past weekend I was stuck and had to come up with something in a hurry, so I followed advice I’d been given which was to buy 2 boxes (in this case it was Duncan Hines Chocolate Fudge Cake), place ingredients from box #1 in mixing bowl then weigh in an extra 3 oz of ingredients from box #2. This makes up for the 18.25 oz mixes we used to get instead of the 15.25 oz we get now. I just couldn’t stop there, so I searched the Internet (good thing). Changed the 1-1/2 cups water to 1-1/2 cups milk, 1/3 cup vegetable oil to 2/3 cup butter and added an extra egg making it 4. I figured that if this fails, I’ll just cover it all up with my homemade Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting. Everyone loves that so much, it doesn’t matter what’s underneath. But, to my great surprise, the cake turned out terrific with a very fine crumb, dense and moist and it was almost 2″ high in a 9×13 pan. When I read some of the comments where there were failures, I started to wonder if that extra 3 oz made the difference. So, posted my comment to get your thoughts — or anyone else..

    1. This was EXACTLY what I needed to read!!!!ive been making cakes for years using this box hack and never understood why my cakes & cupcakes always fell flat as soon as I took them out of the oven. They tasted ok and everyone swore they were the best tasting cupcakes… but I was always disappointed and just assumed I was a bad cake baker. I just tried this and added 3 extra oz of cake mix… I FINALLY have perfect cupcakes!!!! I’m thrilled!!! Thank you thank you thank you thank you!!!!!  I can’t believe I never came across this tip before!! 

  25. I tried this cake hack a few times now and most of the time my cakes turn out wonderful. Made two different kinds–cake and cupcakes–for my sons birthday and they were a huge hit. However, sometimes my cake turns out very dense. What am I doing wrong?

    Rating: 4
    1. Hmm, it’s kind of hard to say. If you’re using the same ingredients and mix, I’m not sure why it would work out some times and not others. Could it possibly be that the more dense ones are mixed a bit more?? Sorry, I really wish I had a concrete answer to help.

  26. I would strongly suggest cutting the mixing time to 60-70% on funfetti cakes if you’re going to do this. Will save you a redo and trip to the grocery store!

  27. I’m a guy that loves to bake. As a teen (many moons ago) I worked in a bakery and they had the best tasting cakes, and frosting I’ve ever had. That was 43 yrs ago. I have searched and tried everything to make, or buy anything similar to the flavors of those cakes since with no avail. I was wondering if you had a white cake hack, not using yolks? White frosting? Thank You, Rick

  28. Thank you! I will also join Rick in being one of the few boys in your blog comments, that appreciates the tip! And if works out well, You’ll be my next go to person for recipes and ideas! Sincerely, Robert

    Rating: 5
  29. Made this recipe yesterday, and OMG, it was SO DIVINE!! Even though I only had a limited amount of butter left (I used half butter and half margarine) it still tasted so buttery, and decadent! The only change I made was that I added about 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. I also didnt mix it with an electric mixer, like some other user said not to, for fear of overmixing. My cake layers didn’t rise much, but I think that’s because I didn’t fill them a lot. I’d imagine a simple fix would be to use a little baking powder. They also turned out slightly dry, but for the taste, it was worth the sacrifice! And nothing a little sour cream can’t fix ? Other than that, this cake was so rich and perfect, and the best I’ve ever made! (I will email you pictures of it if you want)

    Rating: 5
  30. I just made this and it’s THE FLUFFIEST, THE LIGHTEST cake I have ever tasted! I’m DEFINITELY gonna make this my new cake! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING THE RECIPE! !!

  31. I have attempted at least 8 different recipes for my daughter’s upcoming First Birthday Party and none have been the amazing cupcake that I want. So I’m going to try these hacks with a box mix and am super excited to finally get a good result (hopefully!) Thanks for posting these ideas. 

  32. Hi Sabrina, I wonder if you can help? I bought the Betty Crocker Super moist cake mix with butter. Which means it calls for 1/3cup softened butter (no oil). Should I still double the amount of butter?
    thanks so much!

  33. Great info! The original blog AND the comments. I actually love boxed cake mix, so this should be interesting.
    I will add, never ever buy Pillsbury Cake Mix. It is the worst (a little bit texture, a lot taste).
    The best cake mix is Duncan Hines.
    I know that only some flavors come in certain brands (like the funfetti only with Pillsbury… I think ??), but if you don’t believe me, buy the same common flavor in Pillsbury and Duncan Hines. Make both, by the box (I don’t know if the hack makes it different, so…). You will see. Most likely I tried it with devil’s food cake because that is my favorite.

  34. I really want to try this hack but there are so many different cake mix add ins to get to! I just noticed my duncan hines cake mix only calls for 1/4 cup of oil rather than the 1/2 cup that most box mixes call for. I have another that calls for a stick of softened butter instead of oil. I am curious whether anyone has noticed a difference with different brands of mix. I a pretty sure I remember liking Duncan Hines the best when I have done comparisons, but I don’t remember whether it was comparing mixes made with butter or not (my comparison was using only the box instructions).
    I will come back to give my review for a double butter cake.

    1. I haven’t tested it but I don’t see why not. If you decide to try, I’d love to hear how it turned out.

    1. When you’re baking, you want to be relatively precise about the ingredients you’re adding or it could throw the flavors out of balance, so you want to use unsalted butter and add the precise amount of salt a recipe calls for instead of using salted butter which could have different amounts of salt in it.

    1. I’ve never tested it so I’m not comfortable recommending it. I’d love to know how it turns out if you decide to try!

  35. I have a box of Duncan Hines classic white cake and it calls for 3 large egg WHITES (which I know is so the yolk doesn’t turn it yellow). Instead of adding an extra egg, and because I don’t care about it turning yellow, would just using three whole eggs work (not adding an extra since there’s the extra yolks)?

  36. I loved this hack when I tried it on a yellow cake mix, but I am wondering how I should go about the butter for a Butter Golden cake mix that calls for 7 tbsp of softened (not melted) butter. Should I still melt all the butter? Should I still double the butter? Would really love to know, thanks!

    Rating: 5
  37. I wouldn’t use too much butter, 1/2 a cup is fine. I made it and instantly felt the need to chug a glass full of milk and maybe check my cholesterol level. Other than that it was really moist and soft

  38. I am going to make this recipe but have a question. The box mix calls for 1 cu water but you substituted 1 1/4 cups of milk, why?

  39. I tried this “Cake Mix Hack” and it was wonderful! No one could tell that it wasn’t really home-made. I will use this every time I use a cake mix. Thank you so much for the hint!

  40. I would think adding double the amount of fat without increasing dry ingredients would lead to an “underbaked” cake. This sounds wonderful to me taste wise, do you know if this would work for a wedding cake tier? Does the cake rise as much as usual?
    Thank you!

  41. Made this today. Wanted to try out a new bundt pan and this is what I used. Delicious and my son told me after that he’d been craving icing, so it was a win win.

    Rating: 5
  42. Hi! I tried your suggestions and it has a great flavor and texture. The only thing is that for some reason the middle of the cake stuck to pan. Any sugggestions ?

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it but sorry about it sticking. Just make sure to prepare your pan either with shortening/flour or a baking spray before putting in the cake mix. If you use the shortening/flour method, you can usually catch it better if a spot is missed. Hope this helps!

  43. Sabrina, Thank you and I just love your site because I’ve had so many of the same questions the other have had. I stopped buying Duncan Hines or any others because they cut the ounces in their package and every since my lovely applesauce walnut cake recipe they use to have doesn’t work anymore. It collapses. Thought it was me but ????
    Today, I’m making one of those GIANT CUPCAKE cakes! I have the DH Classic Devil’s Food mix and am wondering if all your suggestions would work with this particular silicone bakeware? I guess my urgent question for today mostly concerns this silicone bake mold.

    1. I haven’t tested it but I wouldn’t see why it wouldn’t work. If you decide to try, I’d love to know how it turned out. Good luck!

  44. Yes, it works for chocolate. Result: a big beautiful birthday cake almost as good as my chocolate torte! To a (Pilsbury) devil’s food box recipe: I added an extra egg white, whipped the whites to fluffy peaks in one bowl. In separate bowl I added one stick of butter to the oil (1cup total), added half cup of cocoa powder, exchanged the water for milk, mixed the rest of the ingredients including the extra egg yolk and then folded the mixture slowly into the egg whites. Baked in a spring form pan. Filled between the layers with chocolate buttercream and covered outside with whip cream icing: Stir two cups of heavy cream, a cup of cocoa and a cup of powdered sugar together, let sit 20 minutes in fridge, whip into whipped cream and ice. Thanks for the hack. Where do I post the photos?

  45. This is great. I’m actually a pretty big fan of boxed cake mixes even in there default form, happened across this idea one day many years ago and have been doing it that way ever since. There’s truly no reason to bake a cake from scratch when you can do this, unless you’re trying to make a cake that a mix just won’t suffice for.

    Rating: 5
  46. If adding say, fresh grated carrots, drained pineapple tidbits, walnuts and raisins to a box mix of carrot cake, shouldn’t the wet ingredient such as milk, eggs or butter be reduced to compensate for the additional moisture from carrots and pineapple?

    1. I’ve never tested it using all of those additional add ins so I’m not sure of what advice to give. If you decide to try, I’d love to know what worked for you. Thanks!

  47. I am happy to have found this recipe tweak … two of my closest friends are getting married, and I am helping with the cake. I was comparing recipes and ran across this. today we are doing the test cakes to compare cream cheese icings. Looking forward to seeing how this will work.

    On a related note, any favorite recipe for a pipe-able Cream cheese icing?