How to Make a Box Cake Taste Homemade

Box cake mixes make it easy to throw together a baked goodie at the last second. It’s also the go-to if you’re not savvy in the kitchen but want to impress your significant other or make your kid’s birthday party a success. The best part is you can fool loved ones into thinking it’s homemade with the right tricks.

You can make box cake taste homemade by replacing water with milk and oil with butter. You can also add some extras to the mix, such as egg yolks, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, fillings, and mix-ins. Always top with homemade frosting.

Hey! My name’s Michelle. Although I’ve been a baker for the past ten-plus years, I’m not opposed to the convenience of box mixes from time to time. I’ve discovered some incredibly easy ways to make box cake taste homemade, and I’m here to share my tips!

Who wants to make a box cake taste homemade?

7 Ways to Make Box Cake Taste Better

You don’t have to be a magician (or a good baker) to make your box cake taste homemade. Here are my top seven tips for success.

1. Replace Water with Milk

Most cake mixes call for a few ingredients. One of those ingredients is water. In my opinion, using water in a cake mix is a travesty. Honestly, using water in most baked goods makes me want to jump out of my skin!

But enough about me.

Let’s talk about my first recommendation: always replace the water with milk.

Milk provides many benefits, from a more desirable texture to an enhanced flavor. Who doesn’t want that? Swap in a 1:1 ratio, and you’ll notice a clear difference.

2. Replace the Oil with Butter or Sour Cream

Sure, oil is fine. But it’s not the best ingredient you could use. Yet, for some reason, boxed cake mixes almost always call for oil as an ingredient. 

That doesn’t mean you have to use it, though.

This brings us to suggestion number two: always replace the oil with softened butter. 

Baking with butter will produce an immensely richer and more decadent cake. Seriously, it is so good and one of the quickest ways to transform your box cake into a homemade delicacy.

Oh, and you can also use sour cream or mayonnaise instead. I know it’s a little out of the box, but the enhanced tenderness is out of this world

If you want the best of both worlds, consider using half butter and half sour cream or mayo.

3. Add More Egg Yolks

Eggs are an egg-cellent ingredient in 99% of baked goodies, including box cake mix. And, like a regular cake, I don’t highly recommend trying to bake a cake without any eggs

However, don’t settle for the “recommended” number of eggs.

If you want to take your box cake mix to the next level, add two more egg yolks. The yolks will provide some extra protein and fat to ensure a desirable flavor and texture. 

Add about ¼ cup of flour to ensure you get the right consistency!

4. Enhance Chocolate or Vanilla Flavors

Vanilla and chocolate cake are among the most popular cake flavors. It’s no wonder why there is a seemingly endless sea of vanilla and chocolate cake box mixes at the grocery store!

While these boxed mixes have a decent amount of flavor, there’s not enough to really seal the deal. But you can change that. Here’s how:

  • Add ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract (the real stuff)
  • Reduce the box mix by ¼ cup, replacing it with ¼ cup of cocoa powder

These are easy solutions that will make a serious impact on your cake!

5. Consider Fillings

On its own, a cake is outstanding – especially if you use my tips mentioned above to make your boxed cake mix go from OK to WOW.

Yet, a cake that has fillings is one you’ll want to write home about. Don’t believe me? Then add some fillings to your cake!

There are tons of excellent fillings to use in your cake, whether you opt for something lowkey and yummy like mascarpone cream or want to add some pizazz with zesty flavors like raspberry, strawberry, orange, or lemon.

Oh, the possibilities!

6. Use Mix-Ins

Do you prefer your fillings mixed into the cake rather than being a separate layer of tastiness?

Whether using a filling or not, you can also incorporate mix-ins.

Mix-ins can be anything you’d like to bake inside of your cake. For instance, you might add chocolate chips or pretzels to a chocolate or red velvet cake. For a lighter flavor, you may toss some fresh berries into a vanilla cake. 

You’re in complete control of the mix-ins, so don’t hesitate to try something new!

7. Cover With Good Frosting

My final tip is to cover your cake with some top-notch frosting.

This means that no, you shouldn’t use the frosting you bought from the store. (Unless you follow these steps to make your store-bought frosting taste better!)

Honestly, making frosting from scratch is a cinch. So, if you bought the boxed cake mix because you don’t consider yourself a “good baker,” don’t panic. You can make the frosting, and it’ll turn out delicious. I believe in you.

Remember that certain frostings go better with some cakes than others. For instance, buttercreams are the ideal choice for most chocolate and vanilla cakes, but you can also use whipped cream frosting. Cream cheese is the better choice for red velvet cakes, though. 


Becoming a cake-baking wizard is easy, right? And there are so many ways to doctor up a box cake mix! But wait – before you go to bake a cake that tastes homemade, I have a few frequently asked questions I want you to check out.

What happens if you make a box cake with milk instead of water?

Should you swap the water for milk in the box cake? Don’t worry – it’s a fabulous idea. Using milk instead of water will take your cake to the next level. The flavor will be more decadent and scrumptious, and the texture will be spectacular. It’s a top-notch choice!

Do bakers use box cake mix?

That depends on who you ask! I know many bakers (including myself) that bake cakes from scratch. Yet, plenty of bakers use box cake mix – they just use these tips and tricks to make it taste homemade. So, don’t look down on yourself for using a box cake mix – many people do!

What does adding pudding to the cake mix do?

Many people add pudding to a box cake mix to enhance flavor and moisture. It’s an excellent choice. However, it is not something I do regularly, simply because I enjoy other methods more than this one. You can 100% throw in a pudding packet to your box cake mix, though!

“Homemade” Box Cake Mix is Just a Few Steps Away!

Transforming a box cake mix into a delicious cake that tastes homemade is relatively easy. With a couple of simple swaps and additions (and a top-notch homemade frosting), nobody can tell that your cake came from a box.

How do you make box cake taste homemade? Do you have any tips to share?

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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