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10 Box Cake Mix Hacks (How to Improve a Boxed Cake Mix)

10 Box Cake Mix Hacks (How to Improve a Boxed Cake Mix)

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What’s there not to love about box cake mix? They’re cheap, easy to prepare, and always come out of the oven delicious. So why mess with perfection? 

Well, there are plenty of good reasons to do so!

Maybe you want a cake a little more creative than Betty Crocker’s. Perhaps you want to jazz up that box mix and add something of yourself to the recipe. Or you just think that box mix cake can be a little better.

Box Cake Mix Hacks Pin

Whichever’s the case, you’re sure to hit the nail on the head in reading this post. Let me show you ten fantastic and effortless hacks to elevate your cake mix to mouthwatering deliciousness!

1 – Bye Bye Water

Dairy Milk In Various Bottles

Most box cake mix recipes always use water. But water won’t cut it if you want a savory treat. So, ditch the water and replace it with whole milk (be sure to check out the differences in milk and buttermilk in a cake).

Adding whole milk will give the cake more fat, a better mouth feel, and a flavorful taste. If you don’t have whole milk, two percent or skim will do just fine—anything is better than plain old water!

Avoid using heavy cream or half-and-half, though. Despite what you might have read somewhere, creams have too much fat and can make your cake too greasy!

2 – Coffee in Cake?

Cup Of Coffee Next To Coffee Beans

Who adds coffee to their cake? I do, and you should, too! It’s a superb combination.

Adding coffee to a cake will enhance the chocolate flavor and make the cake taste even more luxurious. Surprisingly, you will not taste coffee at all, just more chocolate! 

For this hack, simply replace the water in your recipe with coffee. Use the same amount of coffee as the recipe intended for water.

Do you have some leftover coffee sitting untouched on your shelf? Then it’s time to put it to good use and make that slice of pattie chocolatier!

3 – More Eggs!

Beating Eggs

A typical box cake mix will need one or two eggs. But what if you put in just one more? What would happen? Magic, that’s what.

Adding more eggs will make your cake more moist and dense in a fantastic way. The extra egg will thicken the cake and make it taste like it’s made from home, with no box in sight!

So, next time, don’t hesitate to crack just one extra egg and make your recipe seconds-worthy.

Of course, if you prefer not to use eggs, there are many egg substitutes in a cake you can check out, too.

4 – Zesty Lemon

Lemon Zest In Bowl Next To Lemons

Often, just one tiny extra ingredient can make a tremendous difference when baking. In this case, I’m talking about adding lemon zest to your box mix cake. 

A teaspoon of lemon zest will take your regular vanilla box cake from just okay to extraordinary. Bright fruit flavors will shine in every bite of the cake and add your personal touch to the cake.

Here’s a pro tip:

Lemon zest works best with white or vanilla cakes. Mix a couple of teaspoons first before adding more based on your preferences.

Use orange zest instead of lemon if you’re baking chocolate-flavored cakes. 

5 – Waffles?

Loaded Waffle Tower With Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread, Strawberries, And Whipped Cream

Craving the cakey taste but don’t have time to wait for the cake to bake? Here’s a little waffle trick to enjoy your cake faster: pour the batter into a waffle maker.

Waffle makers are relatively inexpensive, and you can easily order them on Amazon if you don’t already have one. They’re a fun tool to have in your kitchen, and there are a lot of baking hacks you can use them for.

Waffle makers will cook the cake batter in about 3-5 minutes and produce golden brown waffle cakes.

No more waiting for the cake! Thanks to this hack, the whole project takes 10 minutes (tops), from opening the box to taking the first bite.

6 – Slow Cook It

Slow Cooker

Did you know slow cookers make a terrific companion for baking the best cake box?

Scoop the cake mix straight into a slow cooker and add any can of fruit filling. But I’d recommend using a can of cherry filling for a chocolate cake mix, a can of strawberry filling for a strawberry cake mix, or a can of pumpkin for a vanilla cake mix.

Turn the slow cooker on and walk away. Four hours later, you’ll eat one of the most moist cakes you have ever tried!

Unlike regular ovens, slow cookers seal in moisture as the cake cooks. The fruit filling also adds a ton of moisture to the cake. Soft and gooey, this is a fresh and new way to ‘bake’ a cake!

Try it with brownies, too. Or better yet, try turning that cake mix into brownies itself!

7 – We Want Butter!

Fresh Sliced Butter On A Wooden Table

Most box cake recipes need oil to make a moist and tender texture. But do you know what’s better than oil? Butter. Plain ol’ butter.

While not on all cakes, you’ll find that the creamy ingredient is better for a cake box mix. See, butter adds a more complex flavor, density, and richness you won’t get with any oil.

Here’s how you use butter for your patty:

When using butter, you will want to melt it before adding it to the batter. You also should use twice as much butter as oil. For instance, if your box says half a cup of oil, you’ll need 1 cup of butter.

Easy enough to swap for a creamier cake!

8 – Spicy Spice

Chili Powder In A Bowl Surrounded By Chilis

While understandable, box cake mixes can be plain and boring. A white cake here, a vanilla cake there—it just lacks variety!

A quick fix for this monotony is to be extra adventurous and throw some spices into the mix.

Choose your spices depending on the flavor profile you are looking to achieve. Is it fall, and you want a cake full of warm aromas? Grab some cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, or allspice (maybe all of the above!), and add a dash of each to your mix.

A little chili powder in your chocolate cake will create a Mexican chocolate cake with a nice spicy kick!

There are tons of spices you can play with. So, don’t hold back and get creative!

9 – Extract of Goodness

Vanilla Extract

While cake mixes often already have vanilla powder, a splash of extract goes a long way to add another layer of vanilla goodness.

Boxed cake mixes can lose flavor after sitting on store shelves for so long. By adding vanilla extract, you can bring those flavors back to life and enhance all the tastes around it.

But why stop at vanilla? Try adding almond extract or maple extract to your vanilla cakes, too! 

A drop or two of mint extract in a chocolate cake will delight your taste buds, and a touch of lavender extract in a strawberry cake will be deliciously unexpected.

10 – Anything Else…

Mix Of Several Types Of Frozen Berries

Box cake mixes are so wonderfully versatile you can throw practically anything into them. Peanut butter cups, chocolate chips, cookie crumbs, frozen berries, pumpkin puree—you name it, and you can add it to a box cake mix.

They make adding new flavors to the cake batter to make your fresh cake recipe incredibly easy! You can open up your cabinet, see what you have, and voila, a tasty cake box mix (how easy is that).

So, I’ll take a handful of chocolate chips paired with chopped strawberries in my box cake mix, please!


Is box cake better with oil or butter?

I’d say butter is better as it offers more flavor and texture to the cake than oil. Compared to vegetable oil, butter also makes the patty more moist.

Despite those benefits, I’d also recommend using butter for cakes you’ll consume immediately after baking. Unlike oil, cakes made with butter can get chewy and dense when refrigerated.

How do you perk up a box of cake mix?

There are plenty of ways to bump up a box of cake mix. If you want to make it moister and more tender, cracking one or two eggs more is the way to go.

Do you want to add a mix of fun flavors to your recipe? Sprinkle some cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, or allspice to your batter and enjoy!

Can you use milk instead of water in a cake mix?

Absolutely! Switching water with milk is a great way to level up your cake mix. It adds more fat to the batter, which results in a creamier and tastier slice.

Use the same amount of milk as you’ll use with water. If the recipe calls for 1 cup of water, add 1 cup of milky goodness instead!

Final Thoughts

After reading all these awesome box cake mix hacks, I’m sure you’ll never look at a plain box of cake mix in the same melancholy face.

Break out that box mix and follow the ‘recipe’ as a loose guideline. Just imagine all the delectable cake flavors you can conjure with these great hacks!

Which hack is your favorite? Have any of your own? Let us know in the comments below!

For more cake-baking hacks, check out our article about making a cake with missing ingredients.

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Saturday 3rd of February 2024

is the cake mix prepared according to box instructions and than put into slow cooker? Is Does the slow cooker need to be greased and floured? Also no measurement of fruits added to cake mix was mentioned.


Thursday 7th of September 2023

Can I use the extra egg, butter instead of oil, milk instead of water all in one cake? Also can I put dry pudding mix in the cake with all of these ingredients?


Saturday 5th of August 2023

Hello Sarah All of your hacks sound great. Any suggestions for high altitude backing? I live above 5700 ft., very dry climate and have electric oven. Everything cooking and baking is different at this elevation. Thanks for any suggestions

Sarah Bridenstine

Friday 11th of August 2023

Hi Noreen!

I don't have a ton of experience with high altitude baking, but both King Arthur and Wilton have great articles on this! Check them out, and I hope they help!


Saturday 4th of February 2023

My boxed keto brownies were too moist. Should I add some coconut or almond flour? I cooked them much longer than instructed and still are too goey

Sarah Bridenstine

Tuesday 14th of February 2023

Hi Mary!

Without knowing the brand of the brownies, there a couple things I could suggest. You'll want to check the type of brownie you purchased. The fudgy brownies do tend to be much more gooey than a cakey brownie. Second, make sure that you are preheating the oven ahead of time. Lastly, you could definitely do a little experimenting by adding some more flour or reducing the liquids slightly. More liquid will for sure add to the mushiness in the middle. If you try all of that and they are still gooey to you, I would try a different brand. There are a ton of great box mixes out there! I hope that helps!


Wednesday 4th of January 2023

I can hardly wait to try these ideas. I must have enough people to eat a whole cake so their are no leftovers (Dr's orders). More After Holiday Parties!