Boxed cake mixes are a quick and easy way to make cakes for birthdays or other gatherings.
But if we’re being honest here, Betty Crocker can slap that “Super Moist” label on all the boxes she wants — we all know that boxed cake mix tastes like, well, boxed cake mix. It’s good, but it’s not homemade-from-scratch good.
Want to make that box cake mix taste like it was homemade from scratch? Just a couple of little ingredient swaps can make all the difference.
Try some of these easy hacks to transform that box into something wonderful!
If you look up a basic recipe for homemade cake, you’ll notice that there’s no water on the ingredients list. Water tastes like, well, water. It’s not going to add any flavor.
Instead, swap the water for another liquid that has fat and flavor. Whole milk works great, and so does non-dairy milks like almond and coconut milk. It’ll make your cake taste better, plus it’ll add density.
If you really want to “think outside the box,” try swapping the water for soda, juice, or even coffee or a stout beer (for chocolate cake).
Adding extra egg to a box of cake mix is a tried-and-true hack that everyone should do. An extra egg adds decadence — your box cake will come out of the oven more rich and moist.
Take it to the next level by also adding two tablespoons of mayonnaise. Sounds crazy, but remember: mayo is really just eggs and oil, which are already in your cake batter, plus a bit of acid like vinegar to bump up the flavor.
A lot of box cake recipes call for vegetable oil. Your cake will come out just fine if you use vegetable or canola oil, but if you regularly use them in cooking, you know that they’re not exactly known for flavor. In fact, their lack of flavor is usually a selling point.
Instead, replace that oil with an equal amount of melted butter to boost the richness of your cake. Or, add a tangy twist by adding a few tablespoons of sour cream or full fat greek yogurt.
If you’re making a chocolate cake, try using hot water instead of room-temperature water. According to chef Sunny Anderson from the Food Network, “hot water allows the cocoa in the mix to ‘bloom’ or develop its flavor.” It makes sense — that cocoa has been sitting in a box for who knows how long!
On a similar note, the vanilla powder that was added to your boxed cake mix is probably past its prime, too. Punch up the flavors with an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract. Or, add lemon zest in white and yellow cakes, and try a little rum or almond extract in a spice cake.