How To Make A Boxed Cake Mix Taste Homemade

How To Make A Boxed Cake Mix Taste Homemade

Even though I had to make 600 {yes, you read that right} cupcakes yesterday, I really wanted them to taste homemade. After a couple of you left comments on my Albertsons shopping trip post on how I could improve a boxed mix cake I thought I’d give a few of them a try. And guess what? I liked them all.

Here are a few of the tricks some of the readers suggested:

  • “I throw in a box of instant pudding mix {to match the cake mix flavor} when I make cakes from a box. I think it makes the cake more moist and less box-tasting.”  – Kathy
  • “Add an extra egg to each cake mix and use milk instead of water, if called for, to make the cake taste more like homemade.”  – Kelli
  •  “I often add a cup or less of sour cream to my cakes or cup cakes to make them moist and a tsp or more of real vanilla on top of the regular directions.” – Helen in Merdian

All AWESOME ideas.  Plus, here’s a few more to get that “just like Grandma makes it” goodness:

  • Use full-fat coconut milk in place of the liquid in any cake mix.
  • Use melted ice cream {about 2 cups} in place of oil and water.  Experiment with different flavors of ice cream–they all add something different to cake mix.
  • Add 2 Tbsp. Mayo to any mix. {My neighbor does this!}
  • For Chocolate or Devils Food Cake mixes, use brewed coffee in place of the water.  {Just make sure the coffee isn’t still hot first.}
  • For yellow cake mix, substitute fruit juice for the water and add a little zest or shredded fruit to the mix.  {i.e. orange juice and orange zest or apple juice and shredded apples.}

How about you, do you have any more tried and true shortcuts to getting a boxed cake mix to taste homemade?


cake doctor

The Cake Mix Doctor

Related posts:

  • Like on FaceBook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly and PDF

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Want to get more of this awesome goodness? Sign up here for the newsletter!


  1. Kristen says

    I picked up this tip from the book “Hello Cupcake” by Karen Tack. Substitute buttermilk for the amount of water called-for in the recipe. It cuts down on the sweetness, and the resulting cake makes a nice tangy contrast to super-sweet frosting.

  2. says

    I’m sorry to sound negative, but doesn’t it seem kind of silly when you have to add eggs, milk and oil, plus all the other “stuff” that makes it taste “homemade” – why not just make it from scratch? It’s not that hard to measure flour, sugar, and baking powder.

    • Mavis says

      Normally I would make a cake from scratch, but yesterday I had to bake 600 cupcakes so going the boxed route was easier for me. :) I think most people would agree that homemade tastes better, but it’s nice to have a few options if you are using a boxed mix instead. :)

  3. Tra says

    I use melted butter in place of the oil, add a packet of pudding mix, and use buttermilk or yogurt instead of the water. It makes an incredibly light and tasty cake. I made a chocolate cake cupcakes from a mix, added homemade icing, and they were the first cupcakes to sell out at the school bake sale.
    Yes, when you add all this stuff, it seems that you might as well make it from scratch. The benefit of the box is you can make a LOT of cake or cupcakes so much faster. I had to make 6 dozen and using a box was the only way for me to get them done in a reasonable amount of time.

  4. says

    I’m not sure if this has been shared already, but I add a box of instant pudding mix, use 4 eggs, 1/3 cup of oil and the amount of water that the box recommends. To get a very moist cake, I never cook my cake until the toothpick comes out clean like most instructions will tell you because the cake will continue to cook even after it comes out of the oven. I always cook it at least 5 minutes less than the length of time the box says and I usually start checking it about 10 minutes before the done time on the box. You actually want your toothpick to have some crumbs on it when you check it. I get a rich, delicious, very moist cake every time.

  5. says

    I’ve used sour cream and coffee in chocolate cake mix, I find that sour cream or regular cream makes a nicer texture. By the way I love your new format.

  6. Sarah says

    I had to make 60 cupcakes in a pinch last year and substituted melted butter for oil and milk for water. MAKE SURE to beat it (preferably with an electric beater) for at least 2 minutes. 3 if you can. It adds air to the batter and makes the cupcake batter stiff but they cook up fluffy and moist. Easiest way to make sure you beat it long enough is to use a timer. I had about 15 people ask me for the recipe! :)

  7. Rosemary Danesi says

    My cake mixes do NOT get as high as they use too, someone told me you put smaller amounts to keep the pieces down, if so how can I fix the the problem? Thanks, Rosemary

    • L. Linville says

      I make cakes for others often. Typically, a 9 x13 cake takes 1-1/2 boxes. Since I make so many, I save the remaining 1/2 box for the next time. You can also just make 2 boxes and use the extra batter for a small batch of cupcakes.

  8. Jot Burnsworth says

    I just made a box cake and used Tra’s recipe to make it like a cake from scratch. I used a yellow cake mix
    and pistachio instant pudding mix. It is so good. Thanks to all for a way to make a box cake mix into
    something special.

  9. Sarah in Ga. says

    I know this is an older post from last yr. but I just ran across it while hunting some recipes. We have 5 kiddos so needless to say alotttt of birthday parties. And uh yes I love to bake cake from scratch. I’m in the south and if I didn’t sift the flour 5x each for the pound cake I’d put my great grandma’s recipe to shame lol. However…. The semi homemade cake in a box? Luv it! And so does everybody else!…..they just don’t know it haha…. I add some pudding also and vanilla. The best thing I found to make especially taste homemade is the bottled butter flavor like you’ll typically use in icing but I just put that in the cake batter too.

    • says

      I just moved from SoCal to COLORADO & 5000 feet. Can you do the same thing to the mixes at hi altitude? I have had to try baking tried. & true recipes and making alterations. Some of them don’t bake the same or taste as good as 50 years of baking!
      Need help?

  10. Danette Benson says

    Every time I make a box cake someone ask if it’s from scratch. One lady argued me down, as if I would say it’s box when it’s really from scratch. LOL. Who does that! I explained that the only difference is that I use room temperature eggs instead of cold out the frig eggs. Oh and a whole lot of love.

  11. Elaine Brown says

    I use duncan heinz cake mix and add 1 cup self rising flour, 1/2 cup white sugar, substitute melted unsalted butter for f the oil plus add 4 more Tablespoons melted unsalted butter and proceed according to pkg directions. This will make a 3 layer cake instead of the two layers.

  12. says

    I can’t anything without adding something..I buy the chocolate Duncan Hinds icing and add a little butter and a teaspoon of real vanilla flavoring…good stuff.

  13. merl says

    I love the tips. For box cakes.. Gives it more flavor. My mom was a baker , I can cook ..but not a baker ! This is something I Will not mess up on. Thank you so much. Sounds good!

  14. Cheryl says

    Not sure if this has been posted, but anytime I use a chocolate or devils food cake mix I sub cool coffee instead of water. It doesn’t taste like coffee, but enhances the flavor of the chocolate.

  15. Connie says

    I tryed something different. Boxes yellow cake mix. Instant bannana cream pudding buttermilk instead of water and 2 tb. Of mayo. We will see How it turns out. Still added eggs and oil that it called for. Call me crazy but how do you know until you try it. I’ll keep you posted how it turns out

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *