How to make a cake mix taste better

In the last few months, I have gotten a few requests for a recipe to make CAKE MIXES taste better.

And after 28 attempts (yup… seriously!), involving various brands, flavors, addition and replacement of ingredients … I am delighted to share a MIND-BLOWING revamped cake mix recipe!

You guys must be thinking: “What the hell is wrong with Abeer? She has a blog called “Cakewhiz” and instead of sharing a cake recipe that’s made from scratch, she’s showing us how to make cake from a box?!”

I know! I know… I UNDERSTAND your concerns.

The reality is I have an AH-MAZING recipe forย chocolate cake and vanilla cakeย (just omit the Hershey kisses), made from scratch.

But let’s face it…making cakes from scratch is NOT possible all the time!

Maybe you are out of flour or sugar or you are just too tired to make a cake from scratch…

So, for those days… this revamped cake from a cake mix is PERFECT!

And I even made it PRETTY so that you can serve it on Valentine’s Day :)

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I have been working on this recipe for about a MONTH and I was starting to think this would never work but thankfully, ย all that work eventually paid off :)

28th time is truly the charm! hahaha ๐Ÿ˜›

I made this cake for my Grandma a few weeks ago and she LOVEDDDD it.

She is one of my TOUGHEST critics and is brutally honest and NEVER sugarcoats anything. I love that! ๐Ÿ˜€

She liked this cake BETTER than my homemade chocolate cake.

That just threw me off and I was about to pass out coz that’s her FAVORITE cake to date…hahah ๐Ÿ˜›

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Anyways, let’s talk about my REVAMPED cake mix recipe…

I have made a lot of changes and you can apply these changes to Pillsbury’s chocolate cake mix or Pillsbury’s vanilla came mix!ย 

YUP… Pillsbury! Stick to the Pillsbury brand…I tried many brands and Pillsbury works the best.

And don’t use cake mixes which already have pudding…Get the simplest Pillsbury cake mix you can find.

Now, most cake mixes ask for 2 or 3 eggs.

Ignore that and add 4 large eggs and make sure they are fresh.

The older eggs sometimes make your cakes smell funky or maybe I tend to notice that coz I have a the nose of a hound! lol.

Also, don’t add oil but instead, use unsalted butter.

It adds more flavor and fat content into your cake and that’s always a good thing ๐Ÿ˜‰

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In addition to this, ignore water coz it brings NOTHING to your cake.ย 

Add whole milk instead… not fat-free, soy milk or almond milk… WHOLE MILK!ย 

Another thing I really LIKE to add to my cake mix is ready-made pudding…those little snack packs.ย 

I think it adds flavor, fat content and moisture to your cake.

DON’T even think about using homemade pudding…it doesn’t work :S

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Use chocolate pudding if you are making a chocolate cake and use butterscotch pudding if you are making a vanilla cake.

And finally, add a tablespoon of the BEST quality extract or emulsion oil you can find.

Emulsion oils are pricey BUT work better because they don’t evaporate while baking.ย 

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For the cake that you are seeing today, I made a chocolate cake and covered it in a FANTASTIC chocolate buttercream icing.

Then, I covered it in crushed candy canes and topped it all off with a CUTE candy cane heart.

These candy cane hearts are sooooooo EASY to make and they are such a NICE way to use up leftover Christmas candy cakes.ย 

Perfect romantic cake for Valentine’s day…Don’t ya think?! ๐Ÿ˜€

It’s pink, minty and choco-licious!

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To make a cake mix taste better, you will need the following ingredients:

1 box Pillsbury chocolate cake mix or vanilla cake mix (get the box without pudding)
1 cup whole milk
4 large eggs
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp cup melted unsalted butter
1 tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla emulsion oil
1 snack pack pudding (3.25 oz)

Use chocolate pudding if you are making a chocolate cake and use butterscotch pudding if you are making a vanilla cake.
– Play around with different extracts and spices to come up with different flavors of cakes. Here are a few that I have made..
Spiced vanilla cake: Use a vanilla cake mix and all the same ingredients as above. But also add 1 tsp cinnamon powder, 1/2 tsp nutmeg powder, 1/2 tsp allspice powder.
Lemon cake: Use a vanilla cake mix and all the same ingredients as above. But, add lemon pudding, 1 tbsp lemon zest and 1 tbsp lemon flavored emulsion oil.
Orange cake: Use a vanilla cake mix and the same ingredients as above. But, add 1 tbsp orange zest, 2 tbsp orange marmalade and 1 tbsp orange flavored emulsion oil.
Chocolate orange cake: Use a chocolate cake mix and all the same ingredients as above. But also add 1 tbsp orange zest, 2 tbsp orange marmlade, 1 tbsp Orange flavored emulsion oil.
Spicy chocolate cake: Use a chocolate cake mix and all the same ingredients as above. But, also add 1 tbsp chilli powder, 1/2 tbsp paprika. Use more or less according to your preference.
– You can always throw in some nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds) or dried fruits (cranberries, raisins, dried apricots, dried pineapples, dried mangoes) or even chocolate chips into your cake. Add about ย 1/2 cup of add-ins and always remember to coat them in some flour so that they don’t sink to the bottom of your cake. ย 

And here are the steps:ย 

Step 1:
In a deep bowl, add butter and eggs.
Mix until they are combined.

Step 2:
Add the cake mix powder, pudding, milk, vanilla extract or emulsion oil and mix until everything is combined properly.

Step 3:ย 
Pour this batter into a greased/floured 8×2 round cake pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Step 4:
This step is optional but it makes the cake SUPER MOIST! I highly recommend it.
Let this cake cool down and come to room temperature.
Remove the cake from your pan.
Then, wrap it up in saran wrap multiple times and place it in the freezer overnight.
The next day, let your cake come to room temperature and then cover it in chocolate frosting!

And you are done!

This cake is going to be phenomenal… I guarantee! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Well, that’s all for today!

If you liked this post, you may also like some of these other recipes…

Chocolate cake mix cookies

chocolate cake mix cookies

Loaded 20 minute cake mix bars

20 minute cake mix bars

Candy cane shards cake

candy cane shards cake
Until next time, tata my lovelies :)

35 thoughts on “How to make a cake mix taste better

  1. Becky

    Thank you for the tips. Sometimes, you just don’t have time to bake from scratch, and your revamped recipe sounds great. Thanks for sharing. Does this work for cupcakes. too?

  2. cakewhiz

    @ Becky… i hope you try out this recipe…it’s very very good! I have used it for cupcakes before and they turned out very soft. But, I haven’t tried freezing them yet…not sure how that would work out :S

  3. Allison

    hey! thanks for this! i have a question. i don’t have pudding. i am all ready to go and don’t have pudding? ugh. can i do without it this time? and if yes does it change the cooking time?

  4. Cakewhiz

    Hey Allison… You can give it a shot without pudding. I haven’t triedi t. But, i highly recommend it since it adds moisture and flavor to the cake. If you omit that, the baking time should not be affected drastically. But, check on your cake after 35-40 minutes just to see if it’s done or not. If you take it out too soon, the cake will sink and if you over-bake it, your cake will end up a little dry.

    And don’t worry….practice makes perfect. I am sure you will become a great baker with a little patience and lots of practice :)

  5. Allison

    It is delicious! It may be a little dryer than with the pudding but it is so good! Since I am not a baker, I need to use mix. maybe down the line I will try from scratch and will def check out your recipes for that. but thank you so much for posting this recipe. I think it saved my daughters birthday cake! I always get from a baker but I learned how to do the rose swirls and have so much fun doing it. So I am giving it a shot. But the mixes are always dry and crumbly. My hubby doesn’t like that :-) so i promised to find a way to make it better. SO YOU SAVED THE DAY! Much thanks! Ps. I split the cake batter into two 8 inch and they were done in 28 mins. (I made two sets) I watched them like a hawk so I didn’t over cook. 28 was perfect.

  6. Allison

    So my sweet babies 2nd birthday party was today! Cake Whiz, you rock! The cake was RAVED about! I mean they all were shocked how great it was. (I did tell my mommy friends where to get this recipe!) I really appreciate your post and your help. I know you may do this website for fun or maybe a job, but it really helped me. So know you are appreciated. It was the first time in I made a cake for my children instead of getting it at a bakery so I was really nervous. But it was a HIT and scrumptious! Thank you!

  7. cakewhiz

    @ Allison… I am soooo happy to hear that! Yayyyy ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s always so much fun to make cakes for our little kiddos. I am sure your little one is going to enjoy looking at her birthday pictures a few years from now. And I bet she is going to appreciate the beautiful cake you made for her, out of love :)

    My website is just for fun and sharing my passion for baking and cake decorating with others. It makes me very happy to hear that people like you like the recipes I share and it motivates me to continue sharing :) Thank you so much for your sweet comment!

  8. Renee

    Hi and thank you for sharing your knowledge! I am looking to try your recipe but have to make a 12" cake. How to I adapt the recipe?

  9. Renee

    Oh my, just saw your recipe for the meringue frosting. If I use as filling should I use something else to frost cake with? Wanted to pipe one layer and cover other layer in fondant. Is it temp sensitiv? Does it dry like a crusting buttercream frosting?

  10. M Barrett

    I love the recipe for making boxed cake taste better, I am always trying new things and this sounds great. I do have one question. You said not to use soy or almond milk. I typically make my twins’ birthday cakes and they are lactose intolerant. Would the soy or almond milk effect the texture of the cake, or is it just not as tasty? Straight milk seems to upset their stomachs, and I don’t know how it would do for them in a cake…Thanks!

  11. Kate O'Conner

    Fantastic! Say, can I substitute buttermilk for whole milk? Also, can I substitute plain Crisco for the butter?

    1. Abeer Rizvi Post author

      Hey Kate,
      I haven’t tried buttermilk myself but someone emailed me saying they tried it and it worked great.
      As for Crisco, I would avoid using that and stick with butter coz I think crisco might make the cake too dense. Also, I am a butter-loving gal and I think butter adds a wonderful flavor to all baked goods ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Leslie Ramey

    could you use a peppermint extract to make a chocolate peppermint cake? I love all these ideas for different flavors!! Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Abeer Rizvi Post author

      Yes, you can but I would suggest using a peppermint emulsion oil rather than extract. It doesn’t evaporate in baking. So, the flavor and taste of the cake would be minty and refreshing :)

    1. Abeer Rizvi Post author

      I have tried my modifications with cake mixes that have pudding and those that don’t have pudding. The cake mixes without pudding always worked better… The cakes held their shape better and they tasted better too.

  13. Billie

    I bought a Pillsbury cake mix without pudding. The recipe calls for 1 1/4 cup water; should I still only use 1 cup whole milk?

    1. Abeer Rizvi Post author

      I would suggest using 1 1/4 cups of milk instead of water. if you reduce the quantity, i think the texture might change and become more “brownie-like.” Let me know how it goes :)

  14. Leigh

    I need to make a 9×13 cake. How much boxed mix do I buy/prepare for that sized pan? Also does it matter what kind of cake pan I use (shiny, black, glass?) assuming that I will oil and flour it before adding batter (so no need for non-stick).

    1. Abeer Rizvi Post author

      I have never made a cake that size. So, I really don’t know how much cake mix you will need. I am guessing 3 or 4 boxes??? I wish I could have helped more :S

      As for the pan, any pan works as long as the pan is greased floured and I line a sheet of wax paper at the bottom of the pan.


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