How To Turn Ordinary Boxed Cake Mix Into Crave-Worthy Cakes

Boxed Cake Mix Hacks

When it comes to cake, and most other foods, I believe that homemade is best. But no one can deny the convenience of boxed cake mixes! Adding oil, water, and a few eggs to a packaged mix is a lot easier than hauling out all of the ingredients you’d need to make a cake from scratch. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to combine the convenience of boxed cake mixes with the flavor of homemade cake?

It turns out there are plenty of ways to “doctor up” boxed cake mixes. My research turned up plenty of tips and tricks, as well as recipes you can try out. I tested out a recipe for Crumb Cake for this post, and believe me, you do not want to miss it!

Related: 5 Easy Recipes That Will Make You Love Cookie Dough Even More

Boxed Cake Mix Hacks

13 Tips for Doctoring Boxed Cake Mixes

1. A popular method for improving cake mixes is substituting buttermilk for all the liquid the box calls for. (Because it’s so thick, you might have to add slightly more buttermilk than a direct one-to-one ratio.)

2. Even just substituting whole milk for the water will also make a big difference. It makes the cake more dense and more like a homemade cake.

3. Devil’s food or chocolate cake mix can be improved by substituting brewed coffee for the water, ounce per ounce. Just make sure it’s not too hot! Throw a handful of chocolate chips into the batter while you’re at it.

4. Lemon yogurt makes a great addition to lemon, butter, yellow, spice, and white cakes mixes. Use 6 oz lemon yogurt, 2 Tbsp oil, and 2/3 cup water or buttermilk, then add the number of eggs called for on the box.

5. Add grated fresh carrot to carrot cake mix.

6. Most store-bought cake mixes are very sweet, especially when using store-bought frosting. You can balance the sweetness by adding some acidity. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1 to 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice to any of the yellow or white cake mixes.

7. When making your cake batter, sift the powder mix first through a sifter or sieve. Then use applesauce instead of the oil, and add a splash of vanilla (no matter what flavor cake you’re making.)

8. Add 2 Tbsp of mayonnaise to the batter for a creamier, more homemade flavor.

9. Substitute melted butter for all or part of the oil.

10. Add shavings of high-quality baking chocolate to chocolate cake mixes.

11. Sift together 1/4 – 1/2 cup self-rising flour and 1/2 cup sugar, then add to any cake mix. When adding the liquid ingredients, add an extra tablespoon or two of water or milk to make the batter the right consistency. These small tweaks make the cake rise more, and give it a smoother texture.

12. Use yellow cake mix as a base for a fresh orange cake! Replace the water with orange juice, add a teaspoon or two of orange extract, and throw in a bit of fresh orange zest. Delicious!

13. Use use full-fat coconut milk to replace the liquids in both chocolate and vanilla cake mixes. This is a simple way to amp up the creaminess, and it’s vegan too!

Now, onto the delicious cake-y goodness. Give this tasty crumb cake recipe a spin. You won’t be sorry!

Boxed Cake Mix Hacks

Sue’s Crumb Cake

Crumb topping ingredients:

  • 1 lb butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
Boxed Cake Mix Hacks

Crumb topping instructions:

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Spread out the mixture on a cookie sheet using a large spoon or spatula, and let the mixture dry out a little.

Boxed Cake Mix Hacks

Cake instructions:

Make 1 box of yellow cake mix according to package directions. Pour the cake batter into an 11″ x 17″ pan. Bake the cake for half of the recommended baking time (about 15-20 minutes.) Sprinkle crumb mixture on top of the cake and continue baking for the remainder of the recommended time.

Boxed Cake Mix Hacks

Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a rack, then dust generously with powdered sugar.

Boxed Cake Mix Hacks

Here are a few more quick and easy doctored up cake recipes that caught my eye…

Boxed Cake Mix Hacks

More Doctored Cake Recipes

Pumpkin Bars

Prepare a spice cake mix using four eggs instead of three, and omit the water. Then add a can of pumpkin and a 1/4 cup of applesauce (or oil if you prefer). Bake according to package directions.

Apple Spice Cake

To a spice cake mix, add 3 eggs and 1 can of apple pie filling. Mix and pour the batter into a 9″ x 13″ pan. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Bake according to box directions, and serve with fresh whipped cream.

Melted Ice Cream Cake

To a white cake mix, add two cups of melted ice cream and 3 eggs. Mix for 3 minutes on medium speed. Pour into a greased 9″ x 13″ pan and bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Frost however you like.

Pineapple Angel Food Cake

Add 1 large undrained can crushed pineapple (here’s how to cut a pineapple if you want to go the fresh route) to an angel food cake mix. Stir together in a large bowl and pour into a greased 9″ x 13″ pan. Bake at 350 until the cake springs back (about 45 minutes or so). Serve with strawberries and whipped cream.

“Improved” Angel Food Cake

To an angel food cake mix, add one egg white, and substitute orange juice for the water.

Creme de Menthe Cake

Prepare a box of white cake mix batter according to directions. Add 3 Tbsp of green Creme de Menthe ice cream topping, and mix until the color is uniform. Bake in a 9″ x 13″ pan according to package directions. Let the cake cool completely, then pour a jar of hot fudge ice cream topping over the top. Finally, mix 3 tablespoons of the Creme de Menthe topping into a container of Cool Whip. Spread the mixture over the hot fudge topping on the cake, and serve.

Fruity Yellow Cake Mix Cake

Start with a box of yellow cake mix (DO NOT use cake mix with pudding in it.) Put the cake mix into your mixing bowl, and add the amount of eggs recommended on the box, omitting the water and oil. Add a 15-16oz can of fruit cocktail packed in fruit juice, undrained. Mix together, and pour the batter into a greased bundt pan. Bake according to package directions. No frosting needed here, as this cake is very moist!

Rootbeer Cake

Start with a box of butter yellow cake (the kind with pudding in the mix). Add 1 1/4 cups of rootbeer instead of the water, 1/2 cup of softened butter in place of the oil, and 3 eggs. Mix together and bake according to package directions. Frost with your favorite icing.

Kind of sheds a whole new light on all the possibilities that exist in those boxed cake mixes, huh? Let the experimenting begin!

Read This Next

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Bright Ideas

  • I’m going to have to try some of these. I’ve actually for several years been making Pumpkin bread using a Spice Cake mix and a can of Pumpkin.

  • I have a white box cake that I would like to use but dress it up a little. I want to add a few extra itemsto make it with a more home made taste.

  • ? what is the angel food cake mix and regular cake mix, ,mixed together in a container, using two tablespoons of water, to make a micro cup cake? I can’t remember what else goes into the cup.?

  • I have misplaced the way to make a micro cup cake with the angel food mixed with regular cake mix, I remember the two tablespoons of water, what else went into that??

  • I like adding about 1/2 c of Nutella to boxed chocolate cake mix. It’s delicious & makes the cake super moist. Then, instead of store-bought frosting I make a batch of chocolate ganache (very easy; it’s just melted chocolate mixed with heavy cream & left to cool) and mix that with the rest of the Nutella. It’s a lot less heavy than store-bought, but it’s incredibly decadent. Finally, I put fresh fruit (usually either raspberries, sliced bananas or sliced strawberries) in between the layers & on top. The chocolate hazelnut flavor is so tasty! It’s my husband’s favorite birthday cake, especially with the raspberries. I’ve also made this cake with a shot of Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) when available but only if I know that no kids will be eating it.

  • The following is great to have on hand as cake mixes have decreased in size from 18.25 ounces to 15.25 ounces but many of the recipes out there are for 18.25 ounces

    Three-Ounce Cake Mix “Upsizer” Adapted from the Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book white and yellow cake recipes:
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup sugar 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon baking soda Whisk all dry ingredients together and store in a clean mason jar. When you wish to increase a 15.25 ounce cake mix to 18.25 ounces, add three ounces of this mix (6 tablespoons) to your existing cake mix.

  • Im looking forward to trying some of these. I’ve made the pineapple angel food cake one but I added brown sugar and chopped pecans to the pan before pouring in the batter. Its not real pretty but it tastes amazing. Next time I’m going to try adding sliced pineapple.

  • Jillie: Recently stumbled upon your blog. Being 73 I am still not quite sure what a blog is. And I was raised believing that if it wasn’t made from scratch it wasn’t really homade. Of course that was back when boxed cake mixes tasted like the box they came out of. My go to recipes now include a Lemonade Cake, a Southern Pecan Praline Cake, a Blackberry Wine Cake & A Harvey Wallbanger Cake. All are based on cake mixes. The hardest thing I have found with some really fabulous recipes is getting that extra ingredient that makes it so special.

  • I live in Canada and don’t know where to get a Butter Yellow Cake (one with the pudding in it). What is this and is there such a thing available in Canada or do I need to get my daughter to bring me one from the states?

  • For a quick cake to top pineapple or bananas for upside down cake just add one can of evaporated milk to a dry cake mix. Don’t need water, eggs or oil. Thanks for your tips I really enjoy this site. God bless.

  • To amp the veggies in my kids diet I’ve added 1 can of pumpkin puree and omitted all oil, water, eggs and baked as muffins. They still have no clue!

    • I occasionally put canned pumpkin in my spaghetti — it really cuts the sodium and makes it moist and creamy — and the spaghetti doesn’t taste like pumpkin. Don’t forget to up the spice/herbs though, or it’ll taste pretty bland.

  • Regarding your recipe shown on this post, it appears that the crumb topping is not cooked. Is it soft and moist or is it your traditional crumb topping?

  • I add an extra egg and a box of pudding to all store bought cake mixes, chocolate with chocolate, Vanilla to yellow and white cake and strawberry pudding to strawberry cake, etc. Everyone think I bought a professionally made cake.

  • I make a strawberry cake by substituting puréed frozen strawberry for most of the water in a yellow box cake. I add water to the puree to get the right consistency so the batter isn’t too thick. Bake the cake in 2 round pans. For the frosting I make fresh whipped cream with a pint of whpping cream, 3 tablespoons of sugar (more or less to your taste; I don’t like mine too sweet) and a teaspoon of vanilla. The best part is the filling: add fresh diced strawberries to some of the whipped cream and add between the layers of the cake before frosting with the whipped cream. Top with a few fresh sliced strawberries. Great for summer!

  • For years my BFF and I have mixed two eggs into a butter or plain cake mix, bake for ten minutes, cover with sour cream or yoghurt then top with a can of sliced apples or other fruit and cook for a further ten minutes. Yum yum, always a hit served with ice cream.

  • Why bother with a cake mix as they are mainly made from flour, sugar and cocoa, if a chocolate cake. As you say they tend to be very sweet so why not make your own with less sugar If you are going to ‘doctor ‘ your cake you may as well just follow a recipe and make it from scratch.

    I don’t know if you get the Great British Bake Off on TV in America but it is worth watching on BBC iplayer.

  • These are terrific! My mother started adding cream cheese to store bought frosting years ago to cut down on the sweetness. I use a cream cheese substitute, made with yogurt, to reduce the fat.

    Thank you, Jillee.

  • Whenever I make a pineapple upside-down cake, I add 1 small can of drained crushed pineapple to the dry mix. I use the juice from the can as my liquid, adding only enough water to bring it to what the recipe calls for. Give it MUCH more flavor and this hidden pineapple bits inside are a little surprise for the unexpecting eater.

  • In your crumb cake recipe are you saying that you are using a sheet pan rather than the regular 9×13″ pan? The picture looks like a regular 9×13″ pan.

    I love adding something to cake mixes because they certainly do need a bit of help to give them a better flavor and texture. Thanks for putting these enhancers together!

    • The sheet pan was for the crumb topping to dry out on before putting on the cake halfway through baking. She said to use an 11×17 pan for the cake, but I’m confused too because the one in the pictures looks more like an 8×8 or 9×9 to me. Jillee?

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