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

4.86 from 47 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.

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: 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
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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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Comments

  1. My daughter and I made my brother a cake using DH super moist and made a homemade chocolate frosting using GV baking cocoa powder. I was afraid that it wouldn’t come out right using cheaper ingredients but let me tell you that I was so wrong. I have always used hacks and people swear the cake is homemade. I always use half milk and half water, and all of my ingredients are always room temperature. I live where the humidity is ridiculous even in the cooler months so I find that when baking the ingredients must be acclimated to the temperature of the room. We bought him a cake from a bakery that he hated (it was awful), and he said that he would take the bakery some of my chocolate frosting because that’s what chocolate should taste like. Great post!

  2. Hello! Just have a quick question…why did my cake overflow??? Did all the adjustments as you posted and while the cake tastes delicious I just want to know what I did wrong. Also it seemed like the cake would never be done…i think I had it in oven for like an hour!
    Thanks in advance for any tips you may have!

  3. Funny thing I was at my friends place and looking there his cupboards for ingredients to bake somthing yummy and came across boxed cake so thought fine instead of following the exact measurements I improvised milk and cream for water and added bananas for moisture and extra egg…omg turned out amazing everyone though was home made but never thought to substitute butter for oil next time I will

  4. I have been wanting to try this cake mix hack. I am 99% a from scratch baker, but there really is no problem with a box.
    When I read your directions, you state to put 1 1/4 cups milk, but then state to put the same amount of milk as the box states, that would be 1 cup.
    Also, you state to double the amount of butter. That would be 2/3 cups, not 1 cup as stated in your recipe.
    So, do I follow your directions or the back of the box doubling the butter to 2/3 cups and keeping the liquid (the milk) 1 cup or use your directions for 1 1/4 C milk and 1 cup butter.

    Thanks!
    Laura

  5. I saw a lot of complaints of the cake falling after coming out of the oven. Mine has only been out for about 10 minutes and aside from falling slightly in the oven (the center rose high out of the pan and then sunk back down) and the outside baking much quicker than the center I didn’t have much difficulty with the recipe. I am yet to taste it but it smells fantastic

  6. This looks great! Can your subs be picked as needed? For example, add an egg and use whole milk but keep the oil in the same amounts. Or another switch as needed.

    Also, would this work with DH Perfectly Moist Strawberry Supreme or is that just marketing LOL?

    1. You need to double the amount of oil with melted butter for this to work. I haven’t tried it with that particular box mix but if you decide to try, I’d love to know what you think. Thanks!

  7. I made this tonight with a white cake. I turned out fabulous! I hate boxed cakes but my husband just has to buy them when they are sale. I ate 2 pieces! I can deal with boxed cake this way. Make sure you follow the instructions right. It says use butter for oil but double the amount. So 1/3 cup oil would be 2/3 cup butter. Oddly I was out of unsalted butter and salted butter turned out fine.

  8. I can’t help but think maybe the people who failed at this are in higher altitudes or something? I made this with my daughter and it was easily the best cake we’ve ever made. Usually, we just follow the instructions as printed because I’m not much of a baker but she loves to make things in the oven, and I can safely say we’ll never make it to spec again!

  9. I’ve always just added 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract into the water amount called for on the package directions & then baked the cake or cupcakes. This is simple & does the trick. Makes it taste homemade.

    1. Wait, you left out what the little chef’s feedback. The story was the best part, though I will try the hack. With a little less butter, but will try it sometime, alot of butter tends to kill my baked but that is prolly due to where I live. Will play safe and de/in-crease on the next.

  10. My GF box mix already says to use 1 stick butter (not oil). Should I still double it to 2 sticks? The other ingredients match up with what you say.

    1. I’ve not tested this using a GF box mix so I’m not sure of the right answer. If you decide to test, then yes. I’d double it.

  11. Honestly, I I’m ready to make this cake, I have melted butter cooling, eggs sitting to get to room temperature, and now I’m seeing all of the comments that the correct amount of ingredients is totally confusing! I have a Betty Crocker cake mix. States 3 eggs, so I’m using 4 eggs. Asks for 1-1/4 C of water so I am replacing with 1- /4 cups of milk, not one cup? I’m also seeing one C of butter, which is TWO sticks of butter – even though the recipe on the box calls for 1/2 C of oil. I really don’t want to end up with something that ends up in the garbage can so clarification woukd be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  12. This hack is the best ever for last minute events. Most of my friends cannot believe it is not “from scratch”. Thanks to your toddler for prompting it.

  13. I am using a 10″ springform pan. I hope it is all the hype and more! I will update, but I have to say that the batter looked really thin, is that normal?

  14. This hack can be found all over the internet, and it does work. But you made one mistake, and notice many mention that their cakes/cupcakes collapsed. Your INSTRUCTIONS say “Replace the oil with melted butter. DOUBLE the amount”, but your INGREDIENTS say ” 1 cup melted butter”. Most box mixes call for 1/3 cup oil, so by your “instructions”, that would be 2/3 cup oil, yet your “ingredients” call for a full cup. That’s probably why many cakes/cupcakes fell flat after baking.

    1. Actually Niki the box I’m using calls for 1/2 cup oil so therefore I would use a cup of butter. Her ingredients were for the mix she was using but her directions go for any mix someone is using – so no mistake made!!

  15. I had been wanting to “fancy up” a box of cake mix I had in the pantry for awhile now…I heard it was possible a long time ago so I searched and this recipe came up. It was perfect!! I melted 2 stick of unsalted butter and let them cool to room temperature, then mixed as directed. I do want to say I had to let it cook about 10 minutes longer than what the package says with this recipe — when I went to check it after 35 minutes it had risen a LOT but still looked slightly gooey in the middle so I put it back in for 10 minutes, tested it with a toothpick in the middle to be sure and it was perfect. Perhaps that is why the other commenters are having issues…mine did fall after being out of the oven but it fell to normal expected cake height, nothing like a pancake. I wasn’t patient enough to put it in the fridge…I had to have a piece right away and it was worth every calorie! My only regret was not making homemade frosting but there’s always next time. Thank you for sharing this great boxed cake mix hack!

  16. Mine fell as well. Here’s what I used: Betty Crocker Super Moist Vanilla Cake. The package required 3 eggs, I used 1 additional egg, totaling 4 eggs; required 1 cup water which I replaced it with 1 cup of whole milk; and required 1/2 cup of oil which I replaced with 1 cup of unsalted softened butter (4 sticks). The batter was very thick. I then baked in (2) 9 inch cake pans at 325 degrees farhrenheit for a total of 35 minutes versus 24-29 minutes as indicated on box. I tested each cake with toothpicks, and they both came out clean. I then removed the cakes from the oven and in short time, they fell. I think that next time I would not purchase the “super moist” cake mix. This may have been the problem. We shall see. Thank you for sharing your experiences 🙂

    1. One of the issues might have been the butter. If you used 4 sticks of butter, that would be 2 cups. Each stick is a half of a cup. I’m getting ready to try it. Hoping for good results.

      1. Another thought comes to the fact that butter is made of a mix of fat and water and oil is completely made of fat. When using butter, the water in it evaporates in the heat. Causing it to expand in the oven, then fall at room temperature after the steam is gone. Just a thought. Hope this helps.

    2. I’m confused with substitutions you made with the butter.
      1.) Replace water amount with whole milk. 1 cup of water = 1 cup of whole milk.Complete
      2.) Add an extra egg to the mix. 3 whole eggs = 4 whole eggs. Complete
      3.) Double the oil called for in the mix and replace with melted, unsalted butter.
      Mix calls for 1/2 cup of oil = change to 1 cup of oil
      1 cup of oil = 1 cup of melted, unsalted butter (2 sticks of butter) (1 stick of butter is 1/2
      cup) BUT IT SAYS YOU USED 4 STICKS? That would be 2 cups NOT 1 cup.
      4.) Could that be the issue?

  17. Salted or unsalted butter? I only buy salted usually, but it seems like this would need unsalted since oil is not salty. Thanks!

  18. Living in the south, we are born learning how to do things a little differently just because that’s how it’s done! I used this hack and gave it 5 stars… of course that was in doing it the southern ways. It was not mentioned but my eggs were at room temperature, I sifted the cake mix beforehand… you’d be surprised what is left in the sifter… looks like grits! And I used evaporated milk. Did everything else as prescribed and it came out perfectly and beautifully. I am pleased. Thank you. Will use this hack again. I am gluten free, dairy free, and sugar free but still make things for others. They proclaimed it delicious! Oh yeah… also used convection oven setting. But other than that… ha!

  19. The first thing I ever baked by myself was a box cake mix. I was 6.
    Told Momma I wanted cake.
    She was busy, so told me to make one myself. She said “you can read can’t you? Just read the directions on the box”.
    I was pretty proud of myself!

    1. Good for you! And be proud now still. I don’t remember at what age I started baking, but I do remember that the first thing was a boxed cake mix. I think I was older than 6, probably age 10, give or take a year. I loved baking and became the baker in my house until moving out several years later.

  20. Nope, Nope, Nope. Cake fell as it was cooling. A LOT. I read the comments before I started so I used two cake pans and made a few cupcakes. Looked good coming out of the oven then collapsed. I think there’s too much butter – replace 1/3 cup of oil with a whole cup of melted butter? Too much. People who followed the recipe exactly and it turned out perfectly – how did you do it?

    1. The notes say to only double the amount of oil that is required on the back of the box. Sounds like you tripled it. I would say try it again but only use 2/3 cup of melted butter for the same box mix you just tried.

      1. Per the given instructions, it says 1 cup of melted butter in the list. It should only be 2/3 cup of butter in the list. Maybe some are following given list before reading whole recipe??????

    2. I am lactose intolerant. Is lactose free milk a bad thing??

      I used lactose free milk. Tasted good. Just dry. Is it the milk?

  21. What do you think about subbing egg whites for eggs, to get a fluffier cake? I don’t want it to be too rich/dense!

  22. Not the success on try #1 I would have like to have seen. The cakes rose alarmingly while baking and while they tested done and pulled from the sides, they collapsed horribly making for a dense cake. (RATS!)

    This however, IMO was not the fault of the recipe — but rather — the size of the pans I used. I will try this again and divide into 3 pans OR will use larger cake tins so that the more delicate cake won’t have to hold up so much height.

    (recipe readers — give this a try — but learn from my mistake!)

    1. I wish I had read these comments first! My two 8” pans are over flowing in the oven.
      OMG. I just realized what I did wrong as I type this.

      I only used 2 cake pans but 2 boxes of mix. 1 with each daughter. Omg.

  23. OMG tried this and worked SO WELL!!! Will definitely be doing again. Came out moist and fluffy and doesn’t taste like usually how box mix comes out. Thanks so much!

  24. I love wedding cakes, so I thought I would try this recipe! I mean….it’s from an expert? I followed these directions exactly! The cake looked absolutely delicious when I took it out of the oven, It rose to the top of the pan!! I was excited to try it? I continued with making my dinner and when I came back to put icing on the cake! It had fell flatter than a pancake?and tasted AWFUL?What a waste of perfectly good ingredients!! Very disappointing!

    1. Oh no! It sounds like the cake might not have been fully baked before taking it out. Sometimes the outside appears to be done but the inside still isn’t set. Did you check it with a toothpick before removing it?

    2. Mine fell too. They puffed up nicely, I made sure the center poke was clean and even left it in the oven a couple of extra minutes to be sure. They were golden brown and fell to prebaking height within 10 mins of being out of the oven. It tastes good but is so flat I cut each in half so I could add height with fillings.

  25. I do not bake well at all. I wanted to make a special cake for my daughter’s 16th birthday. Just the thought of doing this made me very nervous. The cake turned out beautiful and tasted amazing. My 19 year old son said it was better than store bought. I might be baking more often. Thank you for the tips.

      1. I had a box of red velvet cake ans made it using this recipe on a whim… and WOW. I had a few neighbors who came by to chat so I shared it with them, and they were all very impressed! Some even ate up to 3 slices of the finished cake because they were that good! The cake turned out moist, fluffy and rose to a nice square shape (based on the pan). I had no issues with the cake falling as other commenters had and baked the cake for exactly 30min and then let it rest 5min in the hot oven + 30min cooldown. I followed the recipe loosely (milk mixed with water because I ran out of milk) but it still turned out great. I will only be using this recipe to bake my boxed cake mixes from now on! Thank you!!!

    1. So disappointed. I tried it twice and both times the cupcakes sank dramatically in the center. I used the Duncan Hines brand with yellow cake and strawberry. Both boxes turned out terrible. Such a waste of butter and eggs. The cake also didn’t look moist and yummy like the picture. I’d post pictures if I could.

  26. My cake tastes great but it is only 1 inch thick. When I took it out from the oven it was high and when I let it cool it sank! What did I do wrong? First time this has ever happen to me.

    1. Oh no! Sinking could have been from a few different reasons. It could have needed to bake longer, make sure to open/close oven door carefully, but the biggest one is to make sure you’re not over-mixing the batter. Hope this helps next time.

  27. I really struggle with making cakes as something or the other goes wrong …. loved this hack as I can at least a make delicious cake from a box mix and it tastes nothing like a box mix … thank you for making a baking disaster moms life better …

  28. Hi sabrina quick question you said we have to double the butter so if it says 1/2 oil and were subsisting it for butter do we put 1/4 butter since its double?

  29. Yummy cake – I typically don’t care for a boxed cake mix but with the additions made using this recipe and the buttercream icing recipe, it was delicious. My family enjoyed it as well. Will save and make again! Thanks for sharing!

  30. Sabrina,

    I know this is supposed to be a hack for cake mix, which should ultimately be almost as easy as simply following the directions. However, on my second attempt I used the time while my butter was melting and cooling to separate the eggs and whip the whites. It complicated the recipe slightly, but it didn’t add any time to the project. Results were quite nice.

    1. Hello! I’m trying to make a white box cake within the week and it calls for egg whites instead of whole eggs. Should I add an extra egg white or just leave that part alone and do the milk & butter? Thank you! Can’t wait to try this ?

      1. I haven’t tested it with just egg whites but my gut is telling me it would still work. If you decide to try, I’d love to know how it turned out. Good luck!

  31. Hi, I just made this tonight with your butter cream frosting recipe too.

    We’ll find out how it tastes tomorrow but I’m optimistic! If you say it’s great I take your word for it! ?

    My Betty Crocker box said 1 cup water ( not 1 1/4 cups) like your modified/improved recipe stayed ( you said same amounts) so I just wanted to mention that as a friendly FYI ?

    Thanks for the recipe!!
    Nancy

    1. Thanks for letting me know – sometimes the cake mixes vary or they change their formula. Standard when I wrote the recipe was 1 1/4 but that may have changed 🙂

      Let me know how the cake turned out!

  32. Don’t use this recipe for cupcakes. They turned out horrible. Flat greasy and they spread all over. Works absolutely great for layer cakes though.

      1. I read your comments while my cupcakes were in the oven baking! I was so worried they would be a flop. They weren’t. They turned out huge and perfect! Don’t be afraid to try them again, Joyce!