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

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

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!

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

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.

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.

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

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

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!


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    Hi, I’m Jillee!

    I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

    Every day I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

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