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!



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

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


  • 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


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: 566 calories, Calories: 566g, Carbohydrates: 75g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 27g, Saturated Fat: 13g, Cholesterol: 97mg, Sodium: 584mg, Potassium: 97mg, Sugar: 55g, Vitamin A: 595g, Calcium: 134g, Iron: 1.2g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

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.

See more posts by Sabrina

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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  1. I love this recipe! We have tried it with store brand and Pillsbury cake mixes. Both turn out great! Rave reviews from kids and adults plus it is so easy. Thank you! ?

  2. Thank you for this great recipe. It works perfectly except that I added 5 minutes for dark or coated pans and then added 10 minutes to the cooking time. Thank you.

      1. Dairy allergy also means no butter, so make note of that. Also; most box cake mixes have the “may contain milk” warning on them. I’d bake from scratch for someone with a dairy allergy.

  3. I tried this: Added an egg, used milk instead of water, and butter instead of oil (one stick, which is about .50 more than the oil in the instructions). I also added a tiny bit of vanilla extract.
    It was really good. Held together well, tasted moist. I think next time I’m going to use lemon or orange juice.

  4. This was great information! I used a yellow cake mix adding instant white choc pudding an extra egg yolk, whole milk and used oil, followed directions on box for baking. It was light, fluffy and delicious! Topped with homemade fudge frosting… yummy!! Thanks

      1. I followed the exact directions but my cake came out flat, dense and undercooked. I had added 10 minutes to the cooking time. Dunkin’ Hines classic yellow mix. Don’t know what happened

        1. Oh no! Cakes will tend to come out that way if the batter is over beaten. Try just folding the batter next time and popping it right in the oven next time. Good luck!

        2. Quick question, can I place the cake layers in the fridge once cooked and cooled then frost in the morning.

          Awesome moist cake recipe.

          1. Yes, but I would recommend wrapping them in plastic wrap so that they don’t soak in anything from the refrigerator while in there. You can actually keep them in the fridge for up to a week. Enjoy!

  5. Came across this recipe and thought I would give it a go. I am a Baker, but always looking for new ways of doing things. So heres what happened, I mis-measured my butter, (I know, bad Baker, lol). Anyways, so I did swap the water for milk, which even amounts across is only 1 cup milk, not 1 1/4 cups. But since I was doubling, 2 cups, however, the butter I only did 1 cup, not 2 cups like I should have, and to be honest, came out just fine. Also, this was for a 12 inch cake in a 3in high pan. So tip: start the baking at the 350° F for about half the time, then lower to 330° F for the rest. This works with all cake sizes. Gives you the initial rise, then the lower temp continues to bake without crusting the outside.

    1. Sorry, correction, the oil to butter transition was right, I was thinking of something else I did, myy apologies. On a side note though, this a great recipe, I would definately do again.

  6. Would margarine work instead of butter? or should I stick with just oil?…as those are the only 2 options I have in household.

    1. I haven’t tested it with either so I couldn’t tell you for sure, but I’d probably say margarine since it’s meant to be a closer butter substitute. That much oil would weigh down the cake.

  7. This is a fail proof formula. Everyone always loves my cakes, I just recently started using box hacks for convenience. I only have a problem with the calories… pushes them up. So, if your gonna splurge, go all the way.

  8. May I ask the weight on your cake mix for the above recipe? Some cakes maybe collapsing because cake mixes are smaller now. I read some where to buy an extra box and add 1/3 cup of the 2nd box to the first box

  9. I agree with the other commenter who thinks Duncan Hines box mixes are the best. I used a coconut one, and only had salted butter, so I used it. I had new, dark, non-stick pans, so I lightly oiled them, used parchment paper in the bottom, and lightly oiled it. I also baked at 325 as the box directed for 27 minutes.
    They came out lovely, but did fall some upon standing. However, I sliced them into two layers when cool, and they have a lovely crumb, and are moist. The flavor was very good. I think for my cake- lemon curd between the layers, 7 minute frosting in the middle, top and sides, with coconut over all, it will be fine, and fool even the most picky cake-a-holic at dinner.

  10. Ok so I didnt double the butter. I put them into a 9in round. I baked it according to direction and at the end of the 30 min it was not at all cooked. Now I do live in Las Vegas however were not that high in altitude. What did I do wrong? Side not they are rising pretty high.

  11. I’m making a Pillsbury Funfetti cake for my granddaughter in a Wilton Wonder Mold Doll cake. I’ve read that the cake needs to be dense to hold the large mold. Any suggestions on how to alter the box recipe which calls for 1 c water, 1/2 c oil, 3 whole eggs.

  12. Cake did not come out as described. Was way too moist and falling apart. Had to freeze what I could salvage to frost it. The taste was good but would not say the substitutions enhanced any flavors. Would recommend just sticking with the box recipe.

  13. So, do you double the amount of butter before melting, or after? In other words, do I melt 2 sticks of butter and that’s all I need?

  14. Do you recommend still adding a simple syrup after baking or omit simple syrup if I use the buttercream as an added ingredient?

  15. I don’t mean to disrespect your thread ms sabrina by correcting you b cuz you very obviously know sp much more than I do when it comes to cooking albeit I have only tried once to make a cake from scratch and had mixed up which order yo whip the ingredients in-instead of whipping the sugar eggs a d butter together I forgot and thought I’d make up for it AFTER adding the flour (bcuz thats when remembered too, little late) and I remember I was so excited to surprise my bf with his favorite cake homemade with candles first thing when he woke up in bed, and I was just that it was cornbread cake practically. The whipping or over mixing of the flour created the perfect dense course cornbread consistency- everything else about it was on point bcuz I followed every other instruction to a tee so if I may offer my opinion ladies? Cake baking=a science in and of it’s own. You change the slightest detail and you change the outcome. Maybe Sabrina’s cake box mix had more baking powder or maybe she used a more expensive type of butter in turn had a fattier consistency which would mean when she was mixing her ingredients it would have been able to lightly churn as opposed to less fatty dense butters that would not produce desired effects (really I think it’s all the above) but remember when I said it’s a science? Well there are all these crazy wonderful tiny molecular changes happening in your oven when it’s kept at the desired temp (preheat for consistency) and that desired temp is no more for x amount of time every time you open the oven to check so you could’ve opened it during a very key period and when you did so you lowered the temp accidentally and than it was no able to continue the same changes once it heated back up b cuz it was stunted or the appropriate amount of time wasn’t tacked onto the original time to calculate the oven reheating for every time it was opened…just a thought. Right now I have my personal concoction of your recipe mixed with a pudding cake recipe and am very excited to see the end result. 😀

  16. Ugh, just made this cake & it completely fell once I took it out of the oven.
    I used Duncan Hines Butter recipe, which is my go-to box mix. I used 1 additional egg, substituted whole milk for water and doubled the butter from 7 tablespoons to 14. The box instructions say to beat with mixer for 4 min, but I only did 2 min since several comments below say overmixing will cause the cake to fall.
    Not sure what to change; hate to waste any more ingredients on another cake! Having company tomorrow!

    1. You need to use whole milk for this recipe to work with the butter. Just follow the recipe card and you should have better results. Good luck!

  17. Sounds like a great idea. I will give it a try. I wanted to let you know that the nutritional info is incorrect. It says 12 servings, 36 calories per serving and 1 gram of sugar. I wish it were like that. Ha!

  18. It’s in the oven, smells delicious! Just worried that it will flatten out like it did for others who made it! Did u figure out why their cakes were collapsing?

    1. If you live at higher altitude, add some extra flour-about 1/4-1/3 cup. And use a bundt pan. At 8,500ft, a falling cake is nature’s reminder of where you live. I’ve never been successful with layer pans and rarely a 9X13 pan. Buttercream it to the nines–yummmmy.

  19. 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?

  20. 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!

    2. No. The added ingredients are fine without adding or subtracting any liquids. I add ingredients like that all the time for my family’s cakes.

  21. 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.

  22. 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?

  23. 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!

  24. 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!

  25. 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.

  26. 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!

  27. 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!

  28. 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?

        1. I’ve not tested it so I’m not sure. If you decide to try, I’d love to know how it turns out. Thanks!

  29. 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

  30. 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!

  31. 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)?

    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!

    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. The recipe did not specify salted or unsalted butter. I bought salted assuming that was the default. Please amend your recipe. (I wondered about this at the store but it’s too late since I already bought the butter and I’m just now reading comments). I think I will make my cakes without trying your hack simply because I can’t afford to have them not turn out well. But thank you for posting this information.

  32. 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.

  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. 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!

  35. 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. 

  36. 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! !!