How To Make Box Cake Better [19 Different Ways]



Last Updated: Jun 30, 2023

Box cake mixes are awesome — they’re affordable, easy to make and ready in no time. However, they can get a bit boring and repetitive after a while. But you don’t have to ditch the convenience of cake mix or be a pro chef to make a dazzling dessert. 

Unsure how to make box cake better? You could mix in nuts or use instant pudding to take your dessert to the next level.

Try one of the 19 different ways below to get great results with minimal effort. No one will believe you didn’t make the cake from scratch.

1. Use an extra egg

half a dozen brown eggs to make box cake better

Using an extra egg or two adds richness and moisture to your box cake. If you usually find your cake is dry, this could do the trick. You can also use only the yolks and save the whites for another dessert.

2. Use milk instead of water

Most box cake recipes will tell you to add water to the mix. Instead, try adding milk using the same proportions. This will make the cake richer and creamier because it ups the fat content. You can even use buttermilk here for a pleasant tang.

3. Swap water for juice

You can infuse your mix with extra flavors when you use other liquids. For example, you could use orange or pineapple juice instead of water (in a 1:1 ratio) for a tropical twist. 

4. Use butter instead of oil

butter instead of oil for box cake

More often than not, box cake recipes will ask that you add canola or vegetable oil. That’s because they’re affordable pantry staples, but they’re mostly flavorless. Why not use butter instead? It makes the cake moist, fluffy and oh-so rich. If you’re wondering how to make box cake taste better in an easy way, this is it.

5. Add a few spoonfuls of mayo

Yes, you read that right — you can add mayo to a box of cake mix. A tablespoon or two is all you’ll need to make the batter moist and luscious. Alternatively, you could add sour cream to the mix.

6. Use instant pudding mix

instant pudding mix to make box cake better

Pudding mix can revamp any plain box cake recipe. Buy a package of instant pudding in the flavor you like best and fold the dry stuff into the batter. (In other words, don’t make the pudding.)

7. Make it nutty

Enhance the texture and make the batter more interesting by mixing nuts into the cake mix. Pecans or walnuts can take the texture to the next level. Get inspired and do what feels right.

8. Use coffee instead of water

coffee for making a cake

You can add your favorite type of coffee to a chocolate cake mix to make the flavors even more intense. You can also mix in espresso to white or yellow cake batter to elevate the flavors.

9. Add citrus

Sprinkle in lemon or orange zest to give your box cake batter a hint of zing. You can also replace the water with lemon, orange or lime juice or soda. Use this method with any type of cake mix, but it works best with lemon, yellow and white cake.

10. Use extracts

Make any box cake better by adding extracts. An additional teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract can boost the flavors of the batter. Make sure to use pure extract to make the cake taste like it’s made from scratch.

11. Split into layers

splitting a cake into layers

Once the cake cools, cut it in half horizontally so you end up with two layers. Then spread jam or custard between the layers and assemble your cake. This is a simple and quick way of making your cake look fancy and elegant.

12. Stir in mix-ins

Adding mix-ins can transform any batter without taking too much effort. All you have to do is add your ingredients to the batter and mix until well combined. Use sprinkles in a vanilla cake to make it more magical or chocolate chips in chocolate cake batter for extra richness. 

13. Cover with frosting

cake covered in chocolate frosting

Frosting tastes good and makes cakes look good — so why not use it on box cake? Make your frosting at home or buy it from the store and start spreading.

14. Add themed decorations

You can make any box cake better by adding themed decorations. You can pipe “Mom-to-be” with icing for a baby shower dessert, or decorate it with pineapple chunks and edible flowers for a tropical-themed shindig.

15. Let ingredients reach room temperature

You can achieve a more even, creamier batter when you use room-temperature ingredients. Take the eggs and dairy out of the fridge 15 to 30 minutes before starting your recipe to get the best results.

16. Don’t overmix the batter

thoroughly mixed cake batter

Do your cakes usually end up being too dense? If so, you might be overmixing the batter. When you whisk the mixture on high for too long, the gluten in the flour will start to develop, giving the cake a chewy texture. Mix ingredients until just combined.

17. Remove lumps

Mixing the batter thoroughly isn’t the only way of avoiding lumps. You can sift the dry mix into a large mixing bowl to aerate it. If you’re adding dry ingredients to the mix (for example, extra flour or cocoa powder), sift them as well.

18. Use the right baking pan

You might be changing up the recipe, but you should still follow the box cake instructions. Look to see what size baking pan you should use and stick to it. Chances are your cake will rise beautifully and not dry out.

19. Check on doneness

toothpick checking the doneness of a cake

If you haven’t changed the recipe at all, you should always follow the baking time recommendations on the cake box. However, if you’ve strayed quite far from the recipe, you’ll need to check on your cake as it bakes.

Insert a toothpick in the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready. If it has large crumbs stuck to it, leave it to bake some more. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t open and close the oven too often, as that will let heat escape.

Don’t rush to the store — get your cake delivered

Now that you know how to make box cake better, why complicate things with last-minute runs to the grocery store? Whether you’re missing flour, sugar or a fancy decorative piece for your cake, Instacart can help you get it without leaving your home. Order what you need with just a few clicks and get it delivered in under two hours that same day.

Unsure what to make someone who doesn’t like cake? Check out these birthday cake alternatives to sweeten up their day.

How to Improve Box Cake Batter

Recipe by InstacartCourse: RecipesCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time





Quick, easy and simple tips for making a box cake taste homemade (or even better)!


  • Box cake mix

  • Eggs (amount suggested on box)

  • Water (amount suggested on box)

  • Vegetable oil or butter (amount suggested on box)


  • Make the cake according to box instructions, but consider trying one or more of the following tips:
  • Use an extra egg to add moisture.
  • Use dairy, juice or soda instead of water.
  • Give other liquids a shot such as pineapple juice or espresso.
  • Use butter instead of oil.
  • Add a few spoonfuls of mayo for a moister cake.
  • Add instant pudding mix to make it richer.
  • Throw in special ingredients like nuts or chocolate.


Instacart is the leading grocery technology company in North America, partnering with more than 1,400 national, regional, and local retail banners to deliver from more than 80,000 stores across more than 14,000 cities in North America. To read more Instacart posts, you can browse the company blog or search by keyword using the search bar at the top of the page.

Most Recent in Recipes

23 Greek Yogurt Recipes: Dips, Desserts & More


23 Greek Yogurt Recipes: Dips, Desserts & More

Greek yogurt is a thick, creamy ingredient that should be a staple in your kitchen. You can serve it for breakfast or create the ultimate dinner and, of course, a creamy dessert. From Cobb salad…...

Apr 10, 2024
How To Thicken Mashed Potatoes [7 Easy Methods]


How To Thicken Mashed Potatoes [7 Easy Methods]

It’s no secret that mashed potatoes are a staple side dish for traditional dinners, holiday celebrations and even comfort food. But what happens when you add too much liquid and you're racing the clock to…...

Dec 13, 2023
64 Best Salad Toppings for a Delicious Meal

Planning & Prep

64 Best Salad Toppings for a Delicious Meal

Tired of eating the same old salad? It's time to mix up your salad toppings for some textural and flavor variety! Toppings like tortilla strips, croutons and nuts offer a pleasant crunch, while creamy, salty…...

Dec 2, 2023

Free delivery or pickup on your first order of $35 or more. Sign up now! Terms apply.