13 easy ways to make box cake taste better

For any occasion that warrants a cake, boxed cake mix can be a handy time saver.

Boxed mixes contain all the dry ingredients needed to bake a cake. All that’s left to do is add the wet ingredients and pop the cake in the oven, which will save you time and effort.

The only problem ? Boxed cake mixes can sometimes be too dry or bland, or they don’t have the homemade flavor you’re looking for.

“Swap the ingredients called for on the back of the box and make homemade frosting,” advises Elizabeth Waterson, founder and blogger of Confessions of a Baking Queen. “I bet no one will ever know you started with a box cake!” »

A few simple swaps or additions can turn a cake mix into a box. These changes are sure to make it taste like it was baked from scratch or scavenged from a gourmet bakery.

1. Replace the water with another liquid

Freshly brewed pour-over coffee.

Replace the water with coffee for more flavor, or add richness with milk or coconut milk.


The average cake mix requires water, which is fine, but a little annoying. Instead of using water, consider replacing one of these options:

  • Coffee: Baking chocolate cake mix? The coffee will make the flavor bolder while adding moisture. Use a one-to-one exchange. If the cake mix calls for 1 cup of water, use 1 cup of freshly brewed coffee.
  • Whole milk : The fat in whole milk will result in a richer, tastier cake. Swap each requested cup of water with milk.
  • Buttermilk: Instead of water, use the same amount of buttermilk. The acid in the buttermilk interacts with the leavening agents in the mix for better lifting. “Replacing the water with buttermilk creates a moister, moister cake,” says Waterson.
  • Soy or coconut milk: To add moisture while skipping dairy, use plain unsweetened soy milk or full-fat coconut milk. Swap every cup of water called for with soy or coconut milk for a richer cake. Keep in mind that this will change the flavor slightly. Finish baking the cake as directed.

2. Substitute oil to add flavor and body

Cake mixes usually require vegetable oil. Make one of these simple swaps for a rich, moist, and flavorful cake:

  • Butter: Don’t settle for a bland cake. Enhance the richness and flavor of a cake mix with simple crafts. “You can substitute vegetable oil for melted butter for a richer tasting cake,” Waterson says. Use a one-to-one exchange. If the cake mix calls for 1/3 cup oil, use 1/3 cup melted butter instead.
  • Mayo: Substitute oil in a cake mix for mayonnaise to add lots of moisture and body. Use a peer-to-one exchange.
  • Olive oil: Use extra virgin olive oil instead of vegetable oil to make olive oil cake. Use a plain vanilla box cake and an equal oil swap. Finish baking the cake as directed.

3. Add extracts for more flavor

Enhance a chocolate or vanilla cake mix with the addition of flavored extracts such as pure vanilla extract, coconut extract or maple extract. “If you’re baking a chocolate cake, adding peppermint extract would be a perfect complement to a chocolate mint cake,” says Waterson. “Or, try almond extract with white cake mix.” Start with 1 teaspoon of any extract and increase the amount as desired.

4. Use spices for a nice touch

Close up overhead shot of ground cinnamon on a spoon.

Adding spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or even cardamom can add heat and enhance the flavor of your cake.

Leszek Glasner/Shutterstock

Baking spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice can enhance a cake. Mix 1 teaspoon of cinnamon into vanilla cake mix for a pop of flavor. Mix 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp nutmeg, and ½ tsp allspice into white or yellow cake mix to make a spice cake.

5. Incorporate citrus fruits

Transform a vanilla, chocolate or yellow cake mix with citrus. Mix in 1 tablespoon of freshly grated orange, lime, grapefruit or lemon zest. “For a citrus cake, try using lemon juice or orange juice as well,” says Waterson. Substitute 1/8 cup of water indicated on the box with lemon or orange juice to enhance the flavor.

6. Change the eggs to make them fluffy and fluffy

Eggs provide structure and moisture in a cake mix. Make your cake richer or moister with these quick options:

  • Extra egg: To make your cake lighter, mixing in another egg will do. “Adding an extra egg creates a richer, moister cake,” says Waterson. Add an extra egg to what is called for on the box during mixing and mix normally.
  • Egg whites: Egg yolks contain more fat than egg whites. For a light and airy cake, replace whole eggs with egg whites. Use two egg whites for each egg called for on the box. Mix the cake mix with the ingredients apart from the eggs. Whisk the egg whites separately until they form medium peaks, then gently fold them into the batter. Finish preparing the cake as directed.

7. Incorporate fresh fruit

You can mix fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, sliced ​​strawberries or chopped pineapple into a cake mix to make it more interesting. Prepare the dough according to the instructions on the box. Toss the fruit into the flour to prevent it from sinking, then fold the fruit into the batter. Bake the cake according to the time indicated on the box.

8. Add some crunch

Roasted nuts are poured into a chocolate batter.

Add crunch, texture and flavor with coconut, chopped chocolate or nuts.


Adding texture to a cake mix can make it taste gourmet. Consider including one of these delicious blends:

  • Grated coconut: Switch up the texture and add a hint of coconut flavor to a white cake mix. Stir in 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut before baking.
  • Chocolate: Chocolate chips, mini chocolate chips or chocolate chunks can add flavor to a white, yellow or chocolate cake mix. Mix 1 cup of chips or chunks in a teaspoon of flour before mixing them into the batter to prevent them from dripping.
  • Chopped nuts: Add some crunch with chopped pecans, walnuts, pistachios or peanuts. Stir ¾ cup chopped walnuts into batter before baking cake as directed.

9. Stir the pudding for more moisture

Boost moisture and flavor with pudding. “Adding a can of pudding mix can create an incredibly moist yet denser cake,” says Waterson. Mix in a small box of dry pudding mix with your dry ingredients, then finish making the cake mix according to the instructions on the box.

10. Boost humidity with sour cream

Sour cream will enhance the crumb of a cake mix. Make a moist cake by mixing 3 tablespoons of sour cream into the batter. Finish baking the cake as directed.

11. Replace eggs and oil with soda

You can skip the eggs, oil, and water called for on the box and use sodas such as Sprite, Strawberry Fanta, or Pepsi instead to make a vegan cake. Keep in mind that this will make the cake a bit sweeter. Mix the dry mix and a 12 ounce can of soda. Bake cake according to box instructions.

12. Use an egg substitute

Partially mashed banana in a bowl with a fork.

Replace the eggs with a special substitute or use applesauce or mashed bananas.

successive images/Shutterstock

Skip the eggs to make a vegan cake. Use an egg substitute, ¼ cup applesauce or ¼ cup mashed banana for each egg required by the mixture. Keep in mind that applesauce and banana will also add extra sweetness.

13. Use homemade icing

Pairing boxed cake mix with delicious frosting is one of the easiest ways to spruce it up. Avoid store-bought frosting and make homemade frosting instead. Cream together ½ cup softened butter, 2 tablespoons milk, 5 cups powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract until light and fluffy for easy vanilla frosting.

Insider’s Takeaways

Using boxed cake mix can make baking a cake much easier and faster. To make a moister, richer, or even vegan cake, you can use simple swaps or add-ons. Extracts, spices, and a variety of blends can also transform a boxed cake mix, giving it a gourmet taste.

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