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How to Make Cake Mix Taste Like Homemade

Are you wondering how you can make store bought cake mix taste like homemade? Well, here are my tips for what works. I prefer to use cake mixes when baking cakes and cupcakes because they are an easy and inexpensive way to achieve homemade taste. To make cake mix taste like homemade, I use the following:

  • Softened butter instead of vegetable oil
  • Buttermilk instead of water
  • A teaspoon of flavoring (ex. vanilla or almond flavoring if baking a yellow cake, lemon flavoring for a lemon cake, etc.)

The tips above are tried and true ways to doctor up a cake mix. I always frost my cakes with homemade frosting which definitely adds another layer of richness and great flavor to the cake. You can make frosting taste more like homemade by stirring in a teaspoon of vanilla or other flavorings. Sandra Lee gave this tip on an episode of the Food Network show Semi-homemade.

I’ve also come across other ways to dress up cake mix such as:

  • Adding pudding mix before adding any liquid ingredients.
  • Adding instant coffee mix to chocolate cake mix to enhance the chocolate flavor.

Do you have any tips for making cake mix taste homemade? If so, share them with others in the comments!


  1. I was just wondering do you use the same amount of butter as the oil and also thwe buttermilk.

  2. homelife101 says:

    Hi Lori, great question. Yes, I use the same amount of butter as the oil and the same amount of buttermilk as is recommended on the box for water.

  3. I do the exact same thing. I swear it really works. Also try using Juice or milk instead of water for different cakes. Example for pineapple coconut cake I use yellow cake mix with pineapple Juice instead of water. Chocolate milk for chocolate cake, and always make homemade Icing. I’m going to try the Red Velvet recipe for Christmas.

  4. homelife101 says:

    Thanks Nadaley for the tip about using Juice. I’ve never tried that before.

  5. What other frosting recipes do you use, besides the cream cheese frosting? Any recipes you can share? Thanks!

  6. homelife101 says:

    Hi Nina, I also use a Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe. I’m still on the look out for a yummy chocolate frosting recipe. I think I’ll give the one on the More than Enough Chocolate Cake recipe a try soon.