Do you want your boxed cake mix to produce cupcakes that taste like they’re homemade without the hassle? There are some simple, easy steps you can take to make your boxed mix taste like it was made from scratch.
When making cupcakes for my son’s first birthday party last week, I was short on time. I had found a homemade recipe for cupcakes, but it called for cake flour, which I couldn’t find anywhere.
I was feeling overwhelmed and thought I could get away with just using the boxed version. After all, it would taste better than buying them from the store at least.
I started doing some research on how to make the boxed mix taste better. I knew you could add in an extra egg or two, throw some extra vanilla and cocoa powder in, and things like that. However, I didn’t know there were so many good tips out there for boxed cake mixes.
I tried many of these additions and substitutions when making my vanilla cupcakes and chocolate cupcakes taste like they were homemade…. even though they came from a box. Everyone was raving about them and baking them was almost effortless.
Let’s jump into the secrets to making store bought cake mixes turn into amazing cupcakes. You might learn a little trick or two to use in the future.
Hacks for Making Boxed Cake Mix Taste Homemade
1. Start With a Quality Cake Mix
Since you’re going to be depending on the cake mix for the base of your cupcakes or cake, you need to start with a quality mix. Most people agree that Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker make the best boxed mixes. Make sure you use a reliable brand that you can depend on for a good starting point.
2. Swap the Oil for Butter
One of the most common, simple swaps to take your mix to the next level is to substitute the vegetable oil the back of the box recipe calls for with softened or melted butter. This gives the end result a richer, more homemade taste and is so easy to do.
3. Add Extra Butter
You should not only swap the oil for butter. You should also add in extra butter to make the cake mix recipe even better. Most people like to use twice as much butter as the recipe calls for oil. However, I’ve found even adding 1.5 times the amount yields a really moist and flavorful cupcake.
4. Swap the Water for Milk
Another easy way to make your mix taste amazing is to substitute the water the box mix calls for with milk. By doing so, you’re adding a little more fat and richness to the mix. It’s even better if you add in whole milk instead of 1% or 2% milk.
5. Add Extra Eggs
Eggs give cake mix structure, moisture, and texture. Many people love to add two eggs in addition to what the boxed mix calls for. However, I’ve found that just adding one extra egg changes the consistency and makes the recipe taste like it’s made from scratch.
Adding extra egg yolks alone is also a great way to add some more fat and moisture to your cake mix. While adding egg whites can give your cakes a lift. I’ve found that adding an extra whole egg works perfectly for me.
6. Use Sour Cream
No one wants a dry cake or cupcake. Most of these hacks involve making the cake mix more moist. Adding sour cream is no exception and is a great way to get extra moisture in your cakes. People love to add ¼-1 full cup of sour cream to the store bought mix to make their cupcakes rich and moist.
7. Add Pudding to the Mix
Adding a small package of pudding mix to the dry ingredients of the cake mix will result in a rich, moist cake. This has become such a widespread practice that some mixes even come with pudding already in the mix.
If the package you’re buying doesn’t already contain pudding mix, you can add your own. Just make sure you match the pudding flavor with your cake flavor or use something complementary.
8. Add Additional Sugar to the Mix
For those of us who love a little extra sweetness, sometimes the boxed recipes don’t quite cut it. You can add additional sugar to fit your taste. Most start with ⅛-¼ cup of additional sugar. This works exceptionally well if you aren’t going to use a super sweet frosting.
9. Add Extra Vanilla
Most bakers know that adding extra vanilla to their baked goods is almost always a good idea. Doing this to your cupcakes or cake will result in a more flavorful dessert and works well with just about any flavor of mix. I like to use additional vanilla in white cake mix and yellow cake mix especially to bring out the vanilla flavor.
10. Add Cocoa Powder
If you’re using a chocolate cake mix, you can add a little bit of additional cocoa powder for a richer cake. I did this when I upgraded this chocolate cake mix into delicious chocolate cupcakes. You can even add chocolate chips to intensify the chocolate flavor!
I found that the boxed recipe wasn’t very chocolatey and added 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder to the mix. You can experiment with how much extra chocolate you like in your mix.
11. Use Room Temperature Ingredients
When baking, using room temperature ingredients ensures that all of your ingredients blend together easily and smoothly. It eliminates lumps and makes your batter blend together really nicely. So, when making your cupcakes, bring your ingredients to room temperature before starting.
12. Use a Mixer
If your ingredients are not properly and thoroughly mixed together, you can end up with lumps and bumps in your cake batter. By using a stand or hand mixer, you can blend your ingredients together much easier.
13. Add Mix-Ins
Want to take your boxed mix even further by making it your own? Try adding in some mix-ins to change up the recipe. You can add chocolate or other baking chips, dried fruits, chopped nuts, coconut, or sprinkles to turn your boxed mix into a gourmet creation.
14. Use Homemade Icing
If you have the time, using homemade frosting instead of a store bought container can make a world of difference for your cupcakes or cake. I did this when making these boxed vanilla cupcakes taste like they were made from scratch. The homemade buttercream frosting perfected the tweaked recipe and the cupcakes were a total hit!
15. Make Separate Batches if Doubling or Tripling
To keep the quality and taste consistent, you might think it’s best to mix in several batches of cupcakes or cakes together. However, as with most other recipes, it’s best to make several small batches instead of one big one. For some reason, the ingredients just work better this way and it’s usually the safer option.
16. Sift the Mix
Some people have found that sifting the dry ingredients of the box mix and any add-ins can make the cake taste better. By sifting the cake mix, you eliminate any lumps and bumps in the mixture and are left with a fine consistency. The act of sifting also aerates the dry ingredients resulting in a fluffy cake or cupcake.
17. Fill Your Cupcake Liners Correctly
When making cupcakes, how you fill your cupcake liners with batter can make or break your cupcakes. So, take care when preparing your cupcake pan. Make sure you use liners and only fill them ¾ of the way full. If you overfill them, your cupcakes will rise too much, spread, and the batter can burn.
Making Boxed Cake Mix Better FAQ
How can you make boxed cake mix taste homemade?
You can make boxed cake mix into cupcakes and cakes that taste homemade by adding a few ingredients and substituting some things that the back of the box calls for. By swapping the oil for butter, swapping the water for whole milk, and adding an extra egg or two, you can make a boxed cake mix taste like you made the recipe from scratch.
What does adding an extra egg to a box cake mix do?
Adding eggs to a boxed mix can give the cake mix structure, moisture, and texture. You don’t want too many eggs or it will alter the taste in a bad way. However, adding just one or two extra eggs to the mix can give you a fluffier, more homemade cake or cupcake.
How do you make a box cake moist?
You can make a store bought cake mix more moist by adding sour cream, using butter instead of oil and adding extra, and using whole milk instead of water.
Can I make cupcakes taste homemade with boxed mix?
Yes, you can make cakes or cupcakes that taste like they were completely homemade with a boxed mix. Many professionals even start with a boxed mix and make it their own by substituting and adding ingredients.
Using Boxed Mix For Cupcakes and Cakes
As you can see, there are many ways to make a box of cake mix into cakes or cupcakes that taste like they were made from scratch with little effort. You can turn your average cake mix into something amazing with a few substitutions and additions to the mix.
So, if you’re considering saving a little time by using a boxed mix, it will be our little secret. If you use one or more of these simple tips, your outcome will taste homemade and no one will know the difference between your easy recipe made with boxed cake mix and a homemade recipe that you worked so hard on!
Using a boxed cake mix from the store can save you time and yield consistent, delicious results. By using this shortcut, you can ensure that your cakes or cupcakes are going to turn out great every single time!
If you want a fun, easy way to display your cupcakes, check out this easy DIY box cupcake display.