8 Ways To Make Boxed Cake Mix Taste Homemade

Guests will never know dessert was from a box!

While baking a cake from scratch will produce delicious results, it’s not the only option for making dessert. We love to use cake mixes; the only problem is: How do you make box cake mix taste homemade? Cake mixes are ideal if you’re short on time, missing certain ingredients for a recipe, or simply want an easier method for baking a cake, but they often have a very specific flavor to them.

Over the years, we have found several ways to improve the boxed formula, from swapping ingredients, to adding mix-ins, or switching up a cake's structure to make your dessert that much better. Try just one swap or incorporate multiple tricks for the best tasting cake.

<p>Molly Bolton/Southern Living</p>

Molly Bolton/Southern Living

1. Swap Oil for Melted Butter

Most boxed cake mixes call for an ingredients list of eggs, oil, and water. Many homemade cakes, however, are made with butter. Melted butter will enhance the flavor of your cake, while providing a moist, tender crumb. Swap the amount called for on the cake mix box with the same amount of melted unsalted butter. If you prefer a little extra salt in your desserts to balance the sweetness, opt for salted butter instead.

2. Exchange Water for Dairy

Cake mixes are developed for quick and easy baking. Calling for water on the ingredients list makes them convenient and approachable. Adding a liquid with a higher fat content though will make your mix taste just like it was made from scratch. Use the same amount of milk in place for water, or try buttermilk to add a touch of tang and create a fluffy crumb.

<p>Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox</p>

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

3. Enhance With Extracts

Cake mixes typically incorporate artificial flavorings, which play a role in that distinct cake mix taste. Add one to two teaspoons of a pure extract to make it taste like a from-scratch cake. Pure vanilla extract and pure almond extract are great options, but you could also try lemon extract or orange extract paired with fresh citrus zest. Although more expensive, vanilla bean paste or fresh vanilla beans will provide even richer flavor to a boxed mix.

4. Incorporate Sour Cream or Mayo

Want a wonderfully moist, tender cake? Cake mixes don’t always provide that texture on their own. When you’re adding the wet ingredients to the dry, mix in two tablespoons of sour cream or mayonnaise.

5. Add Nuts

Hoping for something more than a plain cake? Your favorite carrot or hummingbird cake often has nuts mixed into the batter. Add in 1 cup of chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts before transferring the batter to your prepared cake pan. This is an excellent pairing for a white, yellow, or spice cake mix.

6. Make Homemade Frosting

While it sometimes requires a long list of ingredients to bake a cake from scratch, making homemade frosting requires far less. Instead of reaching for canned frosting, mix up your own buttercream or cream cheese frosting to elevate the flavor of your cake.

Related: How To Make Store-Bought Frosting Taste Better With Easy Upgrades

<p>Morgan Hunt Glaze, Food Stylist: Julian Hensarling, Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle</p>

Morgan Hunt Glaze, Food Stylist: Julian Hensarling, Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle

7. Layer With Fillings

Hoping to serve an elaborate dessert for your company visiting? Utilize a box mix as the base. Bake two or three 8-inch cake rounds, and prep a homemade filling and frosting to put it all together! Homemade lemon curd, strawberry cake filling (like above), or a whipped ganache is sure to impress.

8. Turn It Into a Poke Cake

Did you grow up with poke cakes served after dinner? Dish up this classic, but use your cake mix as the base. Bake the cake and let it cool. Then, use a wooden pick to poke holes all over the top. Mix your favorite pudding, pour it over the cake, and then add homemade frosting. It will enhance the flavor tenfold and bring back nostalgic memories.

Related: We Blind Taste-Tested Boxed White Cake Mixes, And We Have a Winner

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