How to Make Box Cake Mix Taste Homemade

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Boxed Cake Mixes are the perfect dessert when you are short on time (or groceries).

With a few quick tips, you can make your boxed cakes taste better than ever before – like they came from a fancy bakery!

A slice of cake with white frosting and sprinkles

A Cake to Celebrate

We love a good celebration and it’s the perfect opportunity to bake a delicious cake recipe. A yellow cake for a birthday surprise, a moist carrot cake for Easter, the perfect flag cake to celebrate 4th of July and a pretty sheet cake to celebrate a new baby!

Honestly, I love celebrations and my friend Julianne from Beyond Frosting is expecting a baby boy so what better time for me to bake a cake and celebrate. Julianne makes the yummiest desserts (including this Nutella Snickers pie recipe from her cookbook).

With a new baby around, time (and energy) will be thing of the past, (at least for a little while) so I decided to share some of my favorite tips for whipping up a treat that tastes like you’ve spent hours (instead of minutes) preparing it!

cake mix ingredients on a counter

Why I Love Boxed Cake Mixes

They’re great for when you’re short on time and uses ingredients you probably have on hand already.

Just like when you make cake mix cookies, you can use ANY kind of cake mix for this recipe. Change up the flavors however you like.

You can really make a cake mix into a masterpiece with little effort.

Cake mixes can be made into cookies, to parfaits to even cake bars like the recipe below.

How to Make a Cake Mix Better

There are lots of methods to make a cake mix better! These are just extra additions to make it rich and delicious without a lot of effort!

Choose one or two of the methods below to make your cake mix bakery quality!


Butter makes everything taste awesome, so try going a little overboard with the butter (or oil) and add extra. It will make your cake rich and give it that made-from-scratch flavor. While you’re at it, make sure you swap out the oil for butter.


Wait, what?! You read that right. I add mayonnaise to my easy banana bread and homemade chocolate cake to make them crazy moist.

Adding a few tablespoons of mayonnaise to any standard boxed mix will ensure your cake will stay moist and delicious longer.


Use milk, buttermilk or even coconut milk instead of water to make your cake mix a little richer. It makes for a denser, more homemade taste and texture!


Up the liquids, you add to the cake and throw in a box of Jello pudding in any flavor. The pudding helps to thicken the mixture and make it rich, dense, and delicious!


If you’re in a rush and don’t have time for all the extra details, try just adding another egg to your mix. You won’t believe the difference it makes!


Have you ever thrown some yummy add-ins to your recipe? It can take your boxed cake from drab to fab in no time! Try throwing in some crushed Oreos, chocolate candies, sprinkles, or even preserves. The only limit is your imagination!

ingredients for homemade frosting on a counter

Make Your Icing From Scratch

Even if you don’t have the time to make the cake from scratch, the icing should be. It is the main difference between the plain flavors of boxed cake and the luscious style of handmade treat. A few favorites:

Did you love this Buttery Vanilla Cake? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!

A slice of cake with white frosting and sprinkles with a blue and white napkin
5 from 6 votes
Review Recipe

Buttery Vanilla Cake

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 15 servings
Author Holly Nilsson
A doctored up cake mix that tastes every bit as good as your favorite bakery


  • 1 box white cake mix (or any flavor) (regular 9x13 size)
  • 1 box instant vanilla pudding mix (any flavor) (4 servings size)
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup milk or coconut milk
  • cup butter melted
  • ½ cup sour cream

Follow Spend with Pennies on Pinterest


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13 baking pan.
  • Place all cake mix ingredients in a bowl. Mix with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined and fluffy.
  • Pour into a greased baking pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes.
  • Cool completely before frosting.

Recipe Notes

To Make Vanilla Cake Mix Bars
Combine 1 white cake mix, 1 large egg, ½ cup milk, cup melted butter with a hand mixer until smooth.
Spread into a greased 10"x15" pan. Bake at 350°F 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Frost and serve

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1slice, Calories: 248, Carbohydrates: 35g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 60mg, Sodium: 352mg, Potassium: 73mg, Sugar: 25g

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Keyword doctored cake mix, how to make cake mix better
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Close up of a vanilla cake square with icing, sprinkles, and writing
Slice of vanilla cake made from box mix with writing
Top image - slice of vanilla cake. Bottom image - vanilla cake ingredients with writing
Slice of vanilla cake with icing and sprinkles and text overtop.
About the author


pinterest facebook twitter instagram

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

More Posts by Holly

Leave a Reply

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

Recipe Rating


  1. I just made this-using milk, box of pudding(small) and an extra egg-the batter was SO thick and my mixer had a HARD time . My question is: is the batter usually this thick when using boxed pudding?
    It’s in the oven now-we’ll see how it comes out.
    Thanks for any answers for me.

    1. I have found the batter with pudding to be very slightly thicker but still close to a usual batter. I hope it was delicious for you!

  2. Hi Holly! Love your website but was wondering under the sheet pan bar recipe you mention a 1/2 cup but no ingredient listed after that. What ingredient are we supposed to be using a 1/2 a cup of? Thanks!

  3. Will the additions as you have suggesting in the recipe work for baking cupcakes? … or does this need to be a regular sized cake? Thanks!5 stars

      1. The hacks worked beautifully! Made cupcakes last night for last minute baked good emergency. Tasted a little bit this morning. Delicious. I’m a made-from-scratch kind of baker, but rely on a mix when time is crunched. The little, but big, changes really do take the “box taste” out and add richness. THANK YOU! You saved my day….again. :)

  4. You inspired me to throw caution to the wind (this post along with your post on the chocolate banana cake)! I wanted to find some inspiration before I baked a cake for my daughter’s birthday party tomorrow. I ended up making chocolate cake mix exactly like the box suggests, with the addition of 1/4 of a slightly overripe banana, mashed. I know it sounds pointless, but it adds aromatic complexity, subtle flavor, fluffiness and keeps the cake super moist. It’s SO GOOD!!

      1. Hello! My main concern is the baking time and temperature. Do I still follow the box? Or do I increase/decrease them?

  5. I want to make a Duncan Hines Butter Golden cake. If I add the extra 6T. of flour, should I omit adding the box of instant vanilla pudding? I wasn’t sure if adding both would be too many dry ingredients or not??

    1. I haven’t tried it, but I would think that as long as you keep the total dry ingredients under ¾ cup, it should work. Let us know if you try it!

      1. In the article, it gives many ideas, including replacing water with milk and replacing oil with butter. Those two things together will make a white cake mix taste amazing!