Take your box cake mix to the next level with this easy recipe! A few simple additions make it extra moist and delicious.
Alright, *almost* scratch cake is a bit of a stretch. It’s mostly a box cake with stuff added in to make it even better.
Some bakers scoff at box mixes, think it’s sacrilege and only bake from scratch. I’m a whatever-works-for-you kinda baker and sometimes it’s just easier to whip out a box.
How to Make Box Cake Better
Adding a few simple ingredients makes a world of difference. Trust me you will never go back to a plain old box cake mix ever again!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- box cake mix
- all-purpose flour
- large eggs
- water (or milk)
- vegetable oil
- sour cream
The sour cream is the secret ingredient I think that makes this doctored box mix extra moist and flavourful.
I recommend using full-fat sour cream because really, we’re not about saving calories at this point, right?
Boxed Cake Mix Recipe
Making this cake is just as simple as any box mix, just with a couple of other ingredients. To make it all you need to do is:
- whisk the dry ingredients together
- add the wet ingredients
- mix on low until combined
This recipe works great for two 8″ cake pans or three 6″ pans. It can be scaled up for larger pans though too. I use this site as a guideline when I’m scaling recipes up or down.
I like to use Homemade Cake Release on my pans and line them with parchment to make sure the cakes come out perfect every time.
I also use Baking Strips around the sides of my cake pans to make sure the cakes bake perfectly flat and don’t require any trimming (no wasted cake scraps!).
If you’d like to make your cake extra moist (or if you’re worried you’ve over baked it) you can add some Simple Syrup to the cooled cake layers. I recommend trimming a bit of the top crust first so the syrup really soaks into the cakes.
These days I mostly bake from scratch, but I used to use this recipe all the time when I was focussing on cake decorating. It bakes up a very sturdy and delicious cake!
I’ve yet to recreate the delicious flavour and texture of a classic vanilla box mix cake though. My Vanilla Cake recipe comes close, but it’s not quite the same. It is delicious though too, so you should try it if you haven’t!
I really like this recipe because it makes the box mixes a little more dense and super moist. This recipe is GREAT for a cake that will be decorated, stacked, etc. as the cakes have really good structural integrity.
I hope you love it as much as I do. Happy Baking!
Easy Buttercream Frosting Recipes:
- Simple Vanilla Buttercream
- Whipped Chocolate Buttercream
- Baileys Chocolate Buttercream
- Cream Cheese Frosting
- Whipped Chocolate Ganache
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can I Convert This Recipe?
- This recipe makes two 8″ or three 6″ cake pans. You can use two 9″ as well but the layers will be thinner (reduce baking time accordingly).
- To make cupcakes, all you need to do is reduce the baking time. Start checking at 15mins or so. The recipe should make about 24 cupcakes depending on size.
- You can bake it in a 9×13 pan. Baking time will be slightly shorter.
- You can bake it in a Bundt pan as well but you’ll need to increase the baking time.
- For all other conversions, I use this site as a guideline.
- Baking time will vary if you change the pan size. Every oven varies so I can’t say for certain what you’ll need to adjust it to. Be sure to check on the cake as it’s baking.
Will This Work With Any Box Cake Mix?
- I’ve only used this method with yellow/white cake mixes, but it should work just fine with any kind of box mix.
- For chocolate cake mixes, instead of adding 1 cup flour, you can add 3/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup cocoa powder if you like.
- For a pure white cake, use a white cake mix and 5 egg whites in place of 3 whole eggs.
- For box mixes, my go-to’s are Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines. The French Vanilla flavour is my favourite.
- You can easily add some sprinkles to make this a funfetti cake instead, but be sure to use either jimmies or confetti as the small round nonpareils will bleed into the batter.
Other Tips for making this Doctored Cake Mix:
- Do not also use the ingredients listed on the back of the box mix. Only the components in the recipe.
- Be sure to use room temperature ingredients as this will yield the best results.
- Use full-fat sour cream for best results. Yogurt is a good substitute as well.
- Learn how to keep your cakes moist using Simple Syrup.
- To help ensure your cake layers bake up nice and flat, check out my Flat Top Cakes post!
How to Make Box Cake Better
- 1 box yellow/white cake mix* 432g, 15.25oz
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 1 1/3 cup water or milk room temperature
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cup sour cream one 250g carton, room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Grease and flour two 8" cake rounds (I use Homemade Cake Release), line with parchment.
- Wrap cake rounds with damp Evenbake strips (optional).
- Combine all dry ingredients and whisk together.
- Add wet ingredients and mix until combined. I use my KitchenAid on low for 2 minutes but you can also do this by hand.
- Divide the batter between the pans and bake for approximately 50 minutes.
- Cool in pans on wire rack for 10mins, then turn cakes out onto wire racks to cool completely.
I recently used this recipe to doctor the Dolly Parton Duncan Hines Coconut Cake Mix. The changes I made to fit the coconut cake were to use coconut milk instead of regular milk, 1 tsp of coconut flavoring and 1 tsp of vanilla flavoring instead of 2 tsp of vanilla flavoring, and of course the coconut cake mix instead of yellow/white cake mix. It was wonderful! I plan to use this recipe to make future doctored cake mixes. Thank you so much for this recipe!
Hi Rachel! Thanks for all your tips. Those are the same changes I would have made! Except for maybe the coconut flavouring as I find it can taste a bit artificial. I am so happy you loved it! And lucky you to have access to coconut cake mix. I don’t think we have that here!
Hi Olivia, the cake in the end tasted amazing! I used a whipped cream cheese frosting with 1/4 cup lemon juice. Boxed cake was Pillsbury Funfettti, as per my daughter’s request. I had an issue with the cake taking forever to cook and it came out very wet and sticky out of the pans. It stuck to wax paper even! What did i do wrong? Maybe shouldnt have beat on medium for 2 min with mixer??
Hi Clea! How long did it take to bake and what size pans did you use? I recommend using parchment paper rather than wax paper as wax will stick. Was the Pillsbury box mix the the same oz as my recipe? I’m glad the cake tasted amazing, that’s the most important part!
how many cupcakes does this recipe make?
Hi Sel! It should make at least 18-24 depending on size.
Can I ask why you would add extra sugar and flour to a cake already full of sugar and flour? Seems unhealthy and overkill. Just genuinely curious. Thanks!:)
Hi Brittany! I also add more liquid and sour cream in this recipe so you need to balance it out with the flour and sugar to keep it to the same sweetness/texture. You can reduce the amount of sugar though if you like.
Made this recipe using yellow, white, strawberry, and funfetti mixes over the years. It ALWAYS makes the best home-baked cake I’ve ever had. It beats store bought by miles. Thank you, Olivia, for providing this recipe FOR FREE. The confidence I have serving this…. Thank you thank you thank you!
Hi Katlyn! Thanks so much for the wonderful feedback. I’m so happy you love it!
John C says
A lovely recipe that I use often. Sorry I can’t attach pics of the Pina Coloda Pistachio Rum and Mandarin Orange Curaçao bundt cakes I made for the local bake sale. Folks raved about them. Thanks so much. Experimenting w a cheesecake topped chocolate cake. I get back to you on that one.
Hi John! Wow that sounds delish!! Definitely let me know how the cheesecake one goes 🙂
Can you use buttermilk instead of milk?
Hi Dan! I think the buttermilk might add too much tang and possible make the cake more dense since there is already sour cream in the recipe.