7 recipes to help you think outside the (cake mix) box!

cake mix boxes

These yummy dessert recipes start with your favorite boxed mix, and believe me, there’s no shame in a doctored cake mix when the results are this delicious.

yellow cake layers cooling on a rack for Classic Victoria Sponge Cake

why use a boxed cake mix?

I love a great homemade cake, that’s for sure, and from-scratch recipes are my thing, but I’ll confess, I’ve always admired the flavor and fluffy, fine texture of a good boxed cake mix. It’s hard to replicate, and believe me, I’ve tried! And one of the most compelling reasons to start with a mix is that you’ll have time and energy to focus on other details ~ like a great frosting, or a beautiful presentation. Whether you live for the convenience, or like me, just love the texture, it’s great to have a few recipes in your back pocket for making the most of that box in the pantry.

cake mix boxes

my favorite brand

Duncan Hines has been my fave brand forever. (This post isn’t sponsored or anything, I just love the brand.) Great flavor, great fluffy texture, and the ingredient lists keep getting simpler and more natural every year, in response to customer demand, I’m sure. I’ll always save a spot in my pantry for a few boxes 🙂


brown sugar peach cake

This super popular recipe is absolutely perfect for summer gatherings and potlucks. The flavors of summer peaches and a crackly brown sugar frosting is pure perfection!

Tip: cake mixes can be great, but readymade frostings definitely are not. Whenever I use a boxed mix I always make the frosting homemade. The combination can’t be beat.

a piece of brown sugar peach cake with fork

victoria sponge cake

Great British Bake Off fans might be horrified by a cake mix version of the classic Victoria sponge, but I think it makes for a light, fluffy crumb that comes out perfect every time.

Tip: A recipe like the Victoria sponge is all about the texture, so a cake mix is a reliable choice when you don’t want to risk a stodgy cake.


blueberry lemon shortcake

This “shortcake” inspired dessert takes a fluffy yellow cake mix cake and tops it with cream and berries for a light end to any summer meal. This would be wonderful with strawberries or peaches, too.

Tip: Cake mixes are especially welcome in summer when fresh seasonal fruit is the real draw and the cake is almost an afterthought. And anyway, who wants to fuss with from-scratch baking when it’s hot out!


cherry almond crisp

Nope, this isn’t a mistake, this cherry crisp actually starts with a cake mix! I was pleased with the flavor and texture I got from making a crisp this way.

Tip: This is a winning idea, and one you can change up endlessly for different seasons. I’m definitely doing a pumpkin crisp this fall, and a cranberry crisp later in the winter.

cherry almond crisp made with a cake mix in a bowl

super easy cinnamon coffee cake

When you’re craving something warm and cozy on a weekend morning, starting with a cake mix makes a lot of sense. You can have this fluffy, soft, cinnamon-laced cake in the oven before the coffee’s finished brewing.

Tip: The smallest tweaks can have such an impact when you start with a cake mix. A little buttermilk and some cinnamon make all the difference in this recipe.


easy strawberry cake

One thing I like about using a cake mix is that it allows me to spend a little more energy on the cake fillings and decoration. Here I kept it simple but pretty with a classic vanilla buttercream, strawberry jam filling, and fresh berries on top.

Tip: One way to make a cake mix taste more homemade is to add a little extra flavoring. Almond extract, vanilla bean paste, or, if you’re feeling flush, the seeds of a vanilla bean will elevate your cake.

A slice of strawberry cake

pumpkin crunch cake

Crunchy nuts and sparkling sugar add lots of flavor and interest to an otherwise simple cake mix cake. The 9×13 pan works great if you have to bring a treat to work.

Tip: Canned pumpkin and evaporated milk make this cake extra rich and moist. Applesauce, apple butter, shredded zucchini, shredded carrots, and mashed bananas are similar add-ins that can be used to enrich a boxed mix.

pumpkin crunch cake with maple nutmeg whipped cream

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7 Comments

    Leave a Reply

  • Reply
    Sylvia viviano
    August 3, 2021 at 3:50 pm

    Love your recepies easy to follow and delicious

  • Reply
    Tina Morency
    August 1, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    Your recipes always look so yummy!

  • Reply
    Yvonne
    August 1, 2021 at 12:09 pm

    Great ideas! But just to let you know, the link to your cherry almond crisp recipe doesn’t work.
    Cheers

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      August 1, 2021 at 1:32 pm

      Thanks for noticing that Yvonne, I just fixed 🙂

  • Reply
    Kim
    August 1, 2021 at 8:11 am

    Thank you for these! I absolutely love cake mix based dessert recipes. I’ve had terrific success with so many, and I’ll be adding these to my collection!

  • Reply
    Ellen Easton
    August 1, 2021 at 7:48 am

    Great minds think alike! All excellent box mixes that are enhanced with Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla extract. Once again, beautiful photos, Sue.

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