How to make box mix taste homemade


How to make box mix taste homemade in 5 easy steps

This is how to make box mix taste homemade. You guys know, no one loves a cake made from scratch more than I do! But sometimes, I just gotta bust out the box mix. Usually for red velvet cake or chocolate cake when I want a nice flavor but don’t have time bake from scratch. Or maybe I don’t have all the ingredients on hand that I need. That happens a LOT.

how to make box mix taste homemade

But I still want that delicious flavor! I don’t really love that “chemical” taste that can come from a straight up box so here are my tips on how to make box mix taste homemade.

Don’t be afraid of the box mix

There’s an endless debate over what’s better, box mix or baking from scratch. SO many people will get into a down-right battle to the death over this one. Honestly, who cares?

Using box mix is up to you. It’s definitely a short-cut and sometimes the best option. A lot of professional cake decorators out there use doctored box mix in all their cakes. You get consistent results and it’s an easy mixing method.

The only thing I would suggest is you be upfront with your customers. In some areas, no one would probably mind if you used a box or if you made a cake from scratch. But in my area (Portland) people are extremely concerned about what they put into their body (Portlandia is real ya’ll). 

Clients will actually email me to confirm that I bake from scratch. So I am sure to put that information on my website so there’s no question. If you are using a doctored box mix you don’t have to say so in so many words. You can simply state “baked fresh daily” and if you have specific inquiry about baking from scratch, just be honest. 

If you want more recipes on how to bake from scratch, check out my tried and true cake recipes on Sugar Geek Show. 

Tip #1 on how to make box mix taste homemade

Start with the best box mix possible. I’m a Duncan Hines girl myself. The price is a little bit more expensive than the super cheap box mix but I believe you get what you pay for. Not to mention Duncan Hines are often on sale so stock up on your top flavors and enjoy all the funny looks you’ll get at check out. 

the best brand for doctored box mix recipes

My favorite Duncan Hines box mix flavors are Red Velvet, Triple Chocolate, White Cake (for making WASC) and strawberry. Sometime I can’t find duncan hines strawberry so I’ll go with Betty Crocker. These are all recipes that take a ton of time to make from scratch and are the most requested flavors from my clients. For the chocolate version of this recipe check out my Chocolate WASC Recipe

Tip #2 on how to make box mix taste homemade

Usually a box mix has the following ingredients listed on the back that they want you to add. Eggs, water and oil. This is smart on their end because pretty much everyone has these ingredients on hand already.

The thing about these ingredients though, they don’t add much to the cake as far as flavor goes. 

  • Replace water with milk for more flavor and moisture. If you’re making red velvet you can use buttermilk. 
  • Replace the oil with melted butter for more flavor and homemade texture
  • For chocolate cakes, try replacing the water with cooled coffee. The coffee intensifies the chocolate flavor! Get the recipe Chocolate WASC

Tip #3 on how to make box mix taste homemade

You might have heard of WASC (white almond sour cream cake) and wondered what it is. It’s basically the best doctored box mix recipe of all time. The taste, texture and flavor of this cake is TO DIE FOR. It’s no wonder its the recipe of choice when you need a perfect white cake for so many bakers. 

close up of WASC white almond sour cream cake, the best doctored box mix recipe for white cake

How to make WASC

  1. Start with one box of white Duncan Hines mix
  2. Add in one cup of AP flour
  3. 1 cup of granulated sugar
  4. 1/4 tsp salt
  5. 1 cup sour cream   
  6. 1/2 cup melted butter  
  7. 1 cup of water or milk  
  8. 4 egg whites 
  9. 1 tsp almond extract  

Place all of your ingredients into the bowl of your stand mixer (or you can mix by hand) and stir on low to combine until just moistened. Then bump up to medium speed and mix for 2 minutes to develop the texture and structure of the cake. 

Pour your batter into your prepared pans. I like to use a homemade pan release (cake goop). The best homemade pan release there is! Bake at 350ºF for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out from the center cleanly. 

Let cool completely before decorating. For more info on decorating your first cake, check out my free training on how to make your first cake. 

Tip #4 on how to make box mix taste homemade

Make your buttercream from scratch. I know this sounds counter-intuitive because we’re trying to go for easy here. Maybe you’ve never made homemade buttercream before and you’re intimidated. Well let me put your mind at ease. 

My easy buttercream recipe is so simple, it may as well be cheating. Simply place all your ingredients in a bowl, whip it until it’s light and fluffy. Then let it mix on low with the paddle attachment for 10 minutes to get rid of bubbles.

easy buttercream frosting

Voila, perfect easy buttercream frosting. 

And way, way, WAY better than that frosting from a can. What even IS that?

Other great frosting options for you

Tip #5 on how to make box mix taste homemade

Go crazy with some yummy fillings! You might not want to make your cake from scratch but most fillings for a cake can be made from scratch and they are super simple. 

lemon curd recipe

Try out these tasty fillings for your cake

See, that wasn’t so hard was it? You’re on your way to making a delicious cake made from a box. Do you have some tips on how to make your box mix taste homemade? Leave them in the comments!

Did You Make This Recipe?Leave a rating and tell me how it went!
how to make box mix taste homemade

Doctored Box Cake Recipe (WASC)

A doctored cake mix that is well-used by bakers all over the world that produces a delicious white cake that tastes almost like scratch. This recipe makes three 6"x2" cake rounds or two 8"x2" cake rounds
4.90 from 169 votes
Print Rate Never Miss A Cake
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Serves: 24 servings
Calories: 747kcal


  • 1 box (1 box) white cake mix I like duncan hines
  • 5 oz (142 g) AP flour 1 cup (spooned into cup, not scooped)
  • 7 oz (198 g) granulated sugar 1 cup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 9 oz (255 g) sour cream 1 cup room temp
  • 4 oz (113 g) melted butter 1/2 cup
  • 8 oz (227 g) milk 1 cup room temperature
  • 4 large (4 ) egg whites room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp (1 tsp) almond extract




  • The instructions for this cake are super easy. Basically, put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix it on medium speed for 2 minutes! Voila! Cake batter is ready. Pour batter into two prepared 8" pans and bake at 350ºF for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean


Don't worry about any of the ingredients on the back of the box, just use the ingredients listed in the recipe. 
This recipe makes enough batter for three 6"x2" cakes or two 8"x2" cakes (round). 
This recipe makes 40 cupcakes with about 1.25 ounces of batter per cupcake tin. 
You can replace 4 egg whites with three whole eggs if desired


Serving: 1g | Calories: 747kcal (37%) | Carbohydrates: 120g (40%) | Protein: 8g (16%) | Fat: 26g (40%) | Saturated Fat: 15g (75%) | Cholesterol: 60mg (20%) | Sodium: 895mg (37%) | Potassium: 162mg (5%) | Fiber: 1g (4%) | Sugar: 70g (78%) | Vitamin A: 710IU (14%) | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 239mg (24%) | Iron: 2.7mg (15%)
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174 comments on “How to make box mix taste homemade

  1. 4 stars
    Great tasting cake, but it takes about twice as long to bake as the recipe states, as other people have mentioned.

  2. 5 stars
    Hello. 👋

    Would you recommend any differences in recipe instructions, ingredients, or measurements, for high altitude baking? I will be using vanilla extract, due to daughter’s allergy, & an electric convection oven. I am also wondering the same @ ingredients & measurements for buttercream?

    My apologies for all of the questions. I have never made buttercream, nor a doctored cake mix, before. Sadly, I am generally the straight-from-box cake girl, and usually head straight to my friendly baker for birthday cakes, lol. 🙋🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️

    Thank you so much for your recipe, help, & time! God bless! 😊

    1. I have a blog post for high altitude hacks that might help you. I think there are also instructions on the back of the box regarding high altitude. I dont have a convection oven, just regular electric.

  3. 5 stars
    Loved this recipe! I made it for my son’s wedding in May (yes, a very small wedding due to the restrictions around corona virus) because his wife loves strawberry and does not like chocolate. I made your strawberry reduction recipe and added it to some of the batter and used an insert to make a checkerboard cake. My brother-in-law made like a strawberry pie filling (I don’t know his recipe.) We put that between the layers and frosted it with buttercream icing (Wilton’s recipe, since that is what we were both familiar with) It ended up being a 5 layer cake, 9 inches round. We had to put some dowels in the cake when it wanted to fall over and put it in the freezer until it set up. It made a very tall cake but we were able to remove the dowels (bamboo skewers) and finish icing the cake. Everyone there kept saying it was the best wedding cake they had ever had. Told us we should go into the cake-baking business. 🙂 Thank you for the recipe and all your tips. So very helpful! I did wrap the pans with moistened magi-cake strips which made the cakes raise evenly and raise better. (I had one extra layer that I didn’t use the magi-cake strips on (it was extra batter) and it raise only half as high as the other five layers.

  4. I made your souped up white cake mix recipe again tonight for a friends birthday. I am putting strawberry reduction between the layers and I am in the process of making your buttercream icing recipe. It looks delicious! Thanks again for all your tips. I did take about 1/3 cup of the mixture and put it in the microwave for about 10 seconds and it was magic! This lady knows what she is talking about! Thank you!

  5. 5 stars
    Wow, wow, and wow. I followed the recipe and timing to the T and all I have to day is AMAZING! You’re recipe took me from a novice box cake maker to a Baker extraordinaire! This recipe made a three tier cake for me, and I chose custard filling for the middle. It was so moist, and just airy all of my guests were shocked I made it from a box. The sour cream gave it just the right touch. I honestly can’t say enough good things. Thank you so much for such a great recipe. If I could leave pictures I would.

  6. Do you think I would get the same results using a Betty Crocker white mix? That’s all I have on hand. 😊

  7. If I only have salted butter, can I leave out the salt and just use the salted butter instead?

    1. Yes you can! It’s just harder to control the amount of salt when using salted butter.

  8. 5 stars
    Do you have a way of doing this with the butter golden cake mix?

  9. Can you use the butter golden cake mix with this recipe?

  10. I haven’t tried the box cake method yet but very tempted . Would this be a good alternative to white wedding cake ? I need to make a white wedding cake this week and trying to find the easiest route . There are just so many egg whites in the from scratch recipe , I hate having all the yolks left .
    Thanks ,

  11. Is it possible to use buttermilk and take out the sour cream?

  12. Can I use this recipe for red velvet? I’m having a hard time making one from scratch *cries*

    1. Hi Nina I’ll have a doctored red velvet box mix cake coming out later this week! Keep an eye out for it 🙂

  13. Can I freeze this cake until ready to use or will it affect the taste?

    1. Yes, wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze. The sooner you use it, the better though. I’d say a few days at most

  14. 5 stars
    Hi! I made the classic white with the buttercream frosting!!! It was soooo good!!!

    I’m going to try the red velvet. Do I use the buttermilk along with the sour cream???

    1. Hi! Red velvet WASC is a bit different, I’m going to have a recipe for that coming out in February.

  15. Can I use rainbow sprinkles in this to make it funfetti?

  16. 5 stars
    Hi! I used this recipe using the French vanilla Duncan Hines, as I could not get access to the white cake… it was absolutely PERFECT!!! Everyone was impressed with the flavor and the texture was moist and soft! THANK YOU So much!!!!

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