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How to Make a Box Cake Mix Taste Homemade

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Last Updated on January 20, 2024 by Allison Lancaster

If you need to whip up a cake in a hurry or simply want to make baking easier on yourself, you can take advantage of boxed cake mixes to make amazing baked creations that will impress your guests! Box cake mixes are a great ingredient to make decadent homemade desserts. Learn how to make a box cake mix taste homemade!

person cracking egg into a mixing bowl preparing to make a cake mix.

If you are like me, you are all about working smarter, not harder, especially when it comes to baking cakes. As a home baker, one of my favorite ways to elevate a cake mix is by using the below tricks. Your guests will never know that the delicious dessert they are eating is simply an elevated box cake mix.

How to Make a Box Cake Mix Taste Homemade

Try one of these simple ways to upgrade a box of cake mix or combine a few to make a fun new flavorful creation worthy of even the fanciest of get-togethers.

From simple swaps to creative twists and a little extra flavor, you’ll have an outstanding homemade cake in no time!

How to Make the Best Cake Mix Recipe

Whether you prefer Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines box cake mixes, you can easily take a good boxed cake mix to scratch cake level by adding a few easy-to-find items to your wet ingredients.

No more boxed cake taste for your birthday cakes! While following the directions on the back of the box seems like it would be easier, you’ll love how these suggestions elevate your cake mix recipe and impress the whole family with just a little effort.

Swap out the Oil

One easy cake substitution for a delicious cake is to swap out plain vegetable oil for another alternative. While you could use olive oil for a rich chocolate cake, there is a whole world of oil alternatives for your favorite boxed cake mix. For a very moist and fluffy cake, try swapping the oil out for unsweetened applesauce. For deep chocolate cakes, try adding mashed avocado in place of the oil. For sweet fruity cakes, you can not go wrong with replacing the oil with a mashed banana.

Add Pudding

One secret trick many people use to add flavor and make a cake particularly decadent is to mix pudding into the cake while making it. Adding pudding will make your cake thick and fluffy while helping to maintain moisture. Using different flavors of puddings can help to change up the flavor of a basic cake mix for something fun and exciting. Try grabbing a tub of frosting that will match the pudding to decorate the outside of the cake.

Add Frosting

Adding frosting to the inside of your cake works similarly to adding pudding and is a great way to sweeten a boxed cake mix and make the overall result richer. Many people add powdered sugar into their cake mixes to do this, but the fat found in a buttercream frosting can make a world of a difference to the texture of your cake. Like with the pudding, try using the same frosting flavor in the cake as you plan to use on the outside, or mix and match to take the flavor up a notch.

Mix in Spices

Herbs and spices are one of the best tools at your disposal for making the most of anything you are cooking. Cakes are no exception. A bit of fresh vanilla right out of the pod or a dash of cinnamon can go a long way to making a boxed cake mix something truly extraordinary. Try adding a dash of cayenne pepper to a chocolate cake to give it a little bite or take a basic yellow cake up a notch with some cinnamon.

Add in Fresh Fruit

Fruit is a great way to take your cakes up a notch. Try dicing up some real strawberries to bake into a springtime strawberry cake or add blueberries to a lemon cake for the perfect blueberry lemonade cake. No one will ever be able to tell that you started with a boxed mix. Chopped cherries can make a chocolate cake into an amazing treat that is sure to get people talking.

Mix in Crushed Candy

Do you have leftover candy from Halloween or simply want to take things up a notch? You can use candy to really change up your boxed cake mix. Try adding the candy directly into the cake like melty chocolate bits or crunchy toffee. Then take your candy crushed or whole to decorate the top of your cake. This super easy trick will turn any boxed cake mix into a unique treat.

scooping cake mix into a mixing bowl from a wooden cutting board.

Add a Dash of Vinegar

If you want your cake to really fluff up, add a dash of vinegar. It doesn’t take much, but the added acid will react to the leveling in the cake and help to give more of a rise to create a softer fluffier cake. Add this in after the other ingredients are incorporated right before you pour your batter.

Use a Can of Soda

Mixing a box of cake mix with a can of soda results in a soft, fluffy, and flavorful cake. This is a great way to substitute the other added ingredients when you are in a pinch and want to make a cake. Coke is a popular soda option for a rich chocolate cake, but a white or light-color cake mix such as lemon makes a great base for any soda-flavored cupcake such as Sundrop cake.

Use an Extra Egg

If you want to make any boxed cake mix or even brownie mix richer, all you have to do is add in an extra egg. This simple trick is a great way to make a boxed cake mix taste better even if you are not interested in adding any flair to it.

Replace the Water in the Directions

While most people know that replacing the oil in a cake mix can help make the cake better overall, many people do not realize just how much you can change things by swapping out the water. Try switching the water for a fattier option like milk, heavy cream, or coconut milk to help make the cake more rich and flavorful.

Make Homemade Frosting

A great way to camouflage a boxed cake is to make a simple homemade frosting. The homemade flavor and look will take attention off of the packaged interior. Adding in a filling between the layers will take this up a notch and make it impossible to guess that any part of the cake came from the supermarket shelf.

Add Some Fruit 

One way to add some excitement to your boxed cake is to stir in some fresh fruit pieces. If you’re using a white or yellow mix, try adding diced strawberries or blueberries for a fruity twist. Or, combine banana slices with chocolate chips and stir them into your mix for a delicious combination of flavors. Citrus fruits also work well; grated lemon or lime zest can be added directly to the batter, while orange slices can be used as decoration on the finished cake. 

Stir in Some Extracts 

Extracts are an easy way to take your boxed cake from boring to brilliant. Vanilla extract works especially well with white cakes, while almond extract pairs nicely with yellow and chocolate cakes. For something truly unique, try combining different extracts together, just make sure that you don’t go overboard or else the flavor will become overwhelming! And keep in mind that extracts are powerful, so start by adding just a teaspoon at first and then adjust according to your taste preferences. I personally love adding coconut extract when I am making a coconut cake from a cake mix.

Upgrade Your Topping 

A simple buttercream frosting is always a classic choice for topping off a cake, but why not get creative? Consider stirring chopped nuts or coconut flakes into your frosting for texture and crunch. You could also use different kinds of jams or preserves as fillings between layers or added on top of the finished product.

Chocolate ganache is another tasty topping option, simply melt together equal parts chocolate chips and heavy cream until desired consistency is reached! 

Fruit or Veggies

Adding fresh fruit or vegetables to your batter can add depth of flavor as well as nutrients. For example, adding mashed banana or grated carrot will make your cake extra moist while giving it an added touch of sweetness. For a delicious springtime treat, try adding some frozen berries into the batter before baking. You can even fold in some shredded zucchini for an extra dose of moisture and nutrition. 

Nut Butter

Nut butter is one of my favorite additions for cakes because it adds a rich nutty flavor that pairs perfectly with chocolate or vanilla batters alike. Simply swap out 1/2 cup of oil in the recipe for 1/2 cup of nut butter and you’re good to go! Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, or whatever kind you have on hand will do the trick! 


Yogurt is another great way to add moisture and flavor to your box mix cakes without any fuss. Try swapping out half the amount of oil listed in the recipe for plain yogurt (dairy-free yogurts work too). This is especially nice if you’re looking for a lighter cake with fewer calories but still want that tender texture that comes with handmade cakes. 

How to make a box cake taste homemade?

Making a box cake taste homemade is easy once you learn some tricks to help mask the artificial flavor and texture of store-bought cakes. One great tip is to add ingredients that conceal the boxed cake’s artificial flavor, like cocoa powder, vanilla extract, citrus zest, or fresh fruit juice.

You can also add natural flavors to the cake mix itself by adding toasted nuts, cocoa nibs, or caramelized sugar.

How do you make a box cake taste like a bakery cake?

There are a few key strategies you can use to make a box cake taste like a bakery cake. One strategy is to add extra ingredients that enhance the flavor, such as vanilla extract or citrus zest. You can also experiment with different baking techniques, such as mixing the batter slowly or using less flour than the recipe calls for.

Some bakers recommend using a darker or lighter baking pan to get more depth of flavor. It takes some trial and error to find the right combination of ingredients and techniques that will help your box cake taste like a bakery cake.

Decorated Italian Cream Cake from Cake Mix on Granite Counter

How can I make a box of cake mix better?

There are a few key strategies you can use to make a box cake mix taste better. One strategy is to add extra ingredients that enhance the flavor, such as vanilla extract to a vanilla cake or orange zest for the perfect citrus flavor.

You can also experiment with different cooking techniques, such as mixing the batter slowly or using less flour than the recipe calls for.

Another option is to add extra ingredients to the cake mix, such as cocoa powder or chopped nuts. You can try adapting the recipe so that it is denser and richer, like a traditional butter cake.

With some experimentation, you should be able to find the right combination of techniques and ingredients that will help make your box cake taste better.

Is it better to use water or milk in a box of cake mix?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as different cake mixes may react differently depending on the type of liquid you use. Some bakers recommend trying both options and comparing the results to see which one yields a more flavorful and moist cake.

You can experiment with using different types of milk, such as whole milk, plant-based milk alternatives, or your favorite non-dairy milk to see if this has an impact on the cake batter, texture, or flavor of your cake.

How to make a box cake light and fluffy?

In order to make the box cake light and fluffy, add one spoonful of baking powder for every two cups of flour used. Next, beat the eggs thoroughly before adding them to the other ingredients. You should also make sure that you don’t over-mix your batter so that it doesn’t end up tough. Bake your cake at a moderate temperature so that it doesn’t become dry.

Following these tips should help you make a light and fluffy box cake every time!

The next time you’re curious about how to make a box cake mix taste homemade, check out these tips to take your dessert to the next level. Adding toppings or 1-2 additional ingredients seems to be the trick in making a cake mix taste even better.

You can always experiment if you’d like to add something to your cake mix. Let us know what you decide to add and how it turned out. 

Cake Mix Dessert Recipes

Have a box of cake mix on hand? Looking for a delicious dessert? Here you will find decadent and delightful cake mix dessert recipes. From

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