14 hacks to make your boxed cake taste better (2024)

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Allie Lembo

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14 hacks to make your boxed cake taste better (1)

  • Boxed cakes are quick and easy for birthdays and gatherings, but there are ways to make the nostalgic bakes even tastier.
  • Adding mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt, or melted ice cream to boxed cake mix can make the finished product moist and rich.
  • Swapping out ingredients, like oil for butter or milk for water, will take a boxed cake to the next level.
  • Things like coffee, soda, and spices will help to amplify the flavors in a boxed cake.
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14 hacks to make your boxed cake taste better (2)

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14 hacks to make your boxed cake taste better (4)

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There is no shame in making a cake from a box, especially since it's easy, quick, and tasty.

But if you're stuck in a boxed-mix rut, there are ways to make your cake taste like it came from a bakery.

Here are some boxed-mix hacks to make your cakes rich and flavorful.

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Start with the holy grail of cake hacks: Add an extra egg, swap oil for butter, and replace water with milk.

14 hacks to make your boxed cake taste better (5)

This is a tried-and-true hack for taking any boxed cake mix to the next level. The additional egg adds decadence, the butter gives a better flavor, and the milk adds density.

Jennifer Nigro from Spoon University uses these sworn-by directions to amp up her cupcakes.

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Add hot water to chocolate boxed mix.

14 hacks to make your boxed cake taste better (6)

Once you've chosen your chocolate mix, chef Sunny Anderson from the Food Network suggests using hot water instead of room-temperature water.

Anderson wrote, "Hot water allows the cocoa in the mix to 'bloom' or, develop its flavor … That cocoa powder has been sitting in the box for a while — you need to wake the flavor up!"

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Change the egg structure for a new texture.

14 hacks to make your boxed cake taste better (7)

On the "Rachael Ray Show," Anderson shared her two opposing egg techniques that can help amplify a boxed cake mix.

She said you should try adding the number of eggs listed plus an additional two yolks because this will add "more fat which gives the cake ultra moistness."

You can alternatively only add the egg whites to the cake to make it "fluffy and whiter." If you only add egg whites, you will need to compensate with an extra 2 tablespoons of butter.

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Use coffee instead of water.

14 hacks to make your boxed cake taste better (8)

Claire Lower, senior food editor at Lifehacker, suggests using coffee instead of water to enhance and deepen the flavors in a chocolate cake.

And if you combine this with Anderson's hot liquid trick, there's no way your cake won't be the hit of the party.

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Add mayonnaise to your cake.

14 hacks to make your boxed cake taste better (9)

"For those of you turning up your noses, think about it: mayonnaise is really just oil, eggs, and a bit of acid, like vinegar," bakery owner Liz Gutman told Kitchn. "Oil makes the cake tender, and the vinegar punches up the chocolate flavor a little."

Two tablespoons of mayo could be your new secret ingredient.

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For a somewhat healthy hack, use mashed banana and Greek yogurt.

14 hacks to make your boxed cake taste better (10)

If you're looking to make your cake a little lighter, use 1/2 a mashed banana instead of an egg and 3/4 cup of Greek yogurt per cup of oil as directed on the box.

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Use Greek yogurt for a creamy addition.

14 hacks to make your boxed cake taste better (11)

Flavored Greek yogurt can be a delicious element for flavoring boxed cake or pancake mixes.

Jill Nystul, the blogger behind cooking and lifestyle blog One Good Thing, makes a case for adding lemon yogurt to lemon, butter, yellow, spice, and white cake mixes, but you can experiment with any flavor of yogurt.

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Use your favorite ice cream to add flavor.

14 hacks to make your boxed cake taste better (12)

Anne Byrn's 1999 melted ice cream cake recipe from The Cake Mix Doctor is still in rotation today. She combines one package of plain white cake mix with eggs and 2 cups of melted ice cream (your choice of flavor).

"Your liquid, your fat, and your flavorings are all in the melted ice cream," she wrote.

If you've always dreamed of an easy cake with an unusual flavor, like mint chocolate chip or cappuccino, this could be your answer.

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Don't be afraid to spice it up.

14 hacks to make your boxed cake taste better (13)

Stephanie of the lifestyle blog Casa Watkins Living has a handy spice chart to make your boxed cakes more flavorful.

For example, you can add a teaspoon of cinnamon to chocolate cake mixes, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg to yellow cake mixes, or 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika to chocolate cake mixes.

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Add a dollop of sour cream for a bakery-style cake.

14 hacks to make your boxed cake taste better (14)

According to food-science blog Food Crumbles, sour cream can help thicken a cake and make it moister. And, since sour cream contains fat, your cake will also be richer.

Per baking blog Liv for Cake, you may want to start by adding about 1 cup of sour cream.

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Add flavored pudding to complement the cake.

14 hacks to make your boxed cake taste better (15)

As some recipes suggest, adding dry pudding mix to your boxed cake can add moisture and flavor to your dessert.

You can even experiment by adding flavored puddings (like strawberry) to vanilla or chocolate cake mixes.

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Pour in a can of soda for a fun new flavor.

14 hacks to make your boxed cake taste better (16)

Adding soda can amplify the flavors of your cake.Dark sodas, like root beer, can intensify chocolate cakes, and lemon-lime sodas can bring out a different flavor in white mixes.

HuffPost has a few suggestions on this list of two-ingredient recipes that only call for cake mix and soda.

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Make it pretty with gel food coloring.

14 hacks to make your boxed cake taste better (17)

Do you love the flavor of boxed mixes, but still want more of a wow factor?

Julie Deily from The Little Kitchen cooking blog suggests using gel food coloring to turn a plain, white cake into an Instagrammable rainbow birthday cake.

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Raid your cabinet for any additional fun ingredients.

14 hacks to make your boxed cake taste better (18)

Grab about half a cup of chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, sprinkles, or whatever you have in the pantry, and add it to the batter or sprinkle it on top.

If you're adding wet items like fruit, food writer Nigella Lawson suggests you toss them in the dry ingredients first so they don't sink to the bottom of the batter.

Read more:

  • 8 of the biggest mistakes you're making with boxed cake mix
  • 14 baking hacks from professionals that will up your cake game
  • 10 simple hacks that will make your boxed brownie mix taste gourmet
  • 11 easy baking tips pastry chefs swear by to make the perfect cake

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