20 Creative Ways To Use Boxed Cake Mix

Cake mix has long been lauded as the secret to great bakes every single time. Although nay-sayers will note that using the powdered mixture is often a cop-out for anything labeled as "homemade," we think it's still one of the best food products ever invented. Each box contains the flour, sugar, and leavening agents needed for a perfect cake — it just needs the eggs, oil, and water. 

The idea for a boxed cake mix started as far back as 1837 when chemist Alfred Bird created a cornflour mix that could be mixed with water to create a pudding. It wasn't until nearly 100 years later that the actual idea for a cake in a box emerged (and was patented). Now, bakers can select cake mixes in various flavors, including white, yellow, red velvet, and the beloved funfetti (thanks to Pillsbury). This product may have been invented for individuals seeking quick cakes, but its uses in the kitchen extend far beyond that. Here are some of our favorite ways to use cake mix that go beyond just baking a standard cake. 

Transform it into cookies

Cake mix and cookie dough mix have very similar ingredients, including flour, sugar, leavening agents, and shelf-stable fat. This makes the two interchangeable with some modifications. 

You can turn cake mix into cookie dough by altering the ratio of other ingredients in the batter. Cake tends to be light and airy, while cookie dough is dense and buttery. To get this texture, you'll want to eliminate any of the water that the cake mix calls for and instead add two eggs and a half-cup of oil to the box of batter. Stir the ingredients together until just combined, chill, and bake as you would for any other type of cookie dough. You can use any flavor of cake mix you'd like, including chocolate or red velvet, for your newfound favorite cookie recipe. 

Add it to Rice Krispie Treats

You've probably never heard of adding cake mix to your homemade Rice Krispies treats, but it is one of the easiest ways to infuse a more cake-like texture into the dessert bar. For this recipe, you'll want to combine just the powdered mixture (no egg, oil, or water involved) with the melted butter and marshmallows. Once the ingredients are well incorporated, and there aren't any spots of flour remaining, you can stir in your choice of cereal. 

This simple hack has endless possibilities for flavoring your Rice Krispies treats. If you love the decadence of a red velvet cake, use that cake mix variety in your recipe. For a more kid-friendly and youthful treat, stick with the funfetti or yellow cake mix studded with extra sprinkles. 

Turn it into a warm batch of cinnamon rolls

There's no better feeling than waking up to a warm batch of cinnamon rolls. Really, the only thing better is knowing that your rolls will come out plush and decadent every time, which is the case if you use powdered cake mix in your recipe. 

You'll want to use white cake or spiced cake mix for this creation and a packet of active dry yeast. Although there are leavening agents in the cake mix, it's not enough to give the rolls the characteristic rise that you would get from a bakery cinnamon roll — that's why you also need to add the yeast. In addition, you'll need to supplement with extra flour to get the volume you need for a plush cinnamon roll. 

Substitute it for boxed brownie mix

We won't judge if you use a boxed brownie mix, either. But when you forget to pick up a box at the store for your next church bake sale or school event, fear not. You can substitute chocolate (or double chocolate) cake mix for brownie mix with some minor ingredient alterations. You'll need to use slightly more oil and eggs than the cake recipe requires since brownies tend to be denser and fudgy than the cake. 

We recommend adding extra chocolate to the batter to make your brownies even more fudgy. The way you mix brownie batter can also determine how fudgy they are, so we recommend only stirring briefly to avoid introducing any unwanted air into your batter. 

Swirl it into cake batter ice cream

Cake batter ice cream is a nostalgic flavor that can really only be replicated with actual cake mix. For this recipe, you'll need to have yellow cake mix on hand and keep some extra rainbow sprinkles on hand to add after you've finished churning the ice cream. This will prevent your sprinkles from dyeing your ice cream and breaking it down into non-discernable pieces throughout your sweet treat. 

It's important to note that eating raw cake batter comes with some risk, but there are some steps you can take to make it safer. Raw flour can be ladened with E. Coli and Salmonella during growing or processing, which would be otherwise killed off by baking the flour. Heat-treat your cake mix before baking it to 160 degrees Fahrenheit before sifting and cooling. 

Use it for a fruit crisp topping

Fruit crisps and cobblers are the easiest way to make use of leftover produce. If you don't have the time to make your own crumble, flock to your pantry for a box of yellow or white cake mix. Simply layer your fruit into the bottom of an oven-safe baking pan and cover with a layer of cake mix mixed with melted butter. Some recipes will also call for drizzling the melted butter on top of the cake mix instead of combining the two together beforehand. Then, slide the pan into the oven and bake until it reaches golden brown perfection. 

You have some room to play with your fillings and cake mix pairings for this recipe. If you're going with an autumnal apple cobbler, try adding spiced cake mix or standard yellow mix with some cinnamon and cloves.

Shape and bake it into a pie crust

Pie crusts can always be a finicky ingredient to work with. If you overmix it, the dough comes out stodgy and hard to roll. Not enough moisture, and it sticks to everything in your kitchen. We recommend taking the easy (and more flavorful) way out with boxed cake mix. Start with a cake mix you choose (chocolate, yellow, red velvet, and spice all work well), and mix it with a scant amount of egg yolks, whole egg, and butter. The key to this recipe is adding the egg yolks, increasing the fat, and keeping the dough pliable. It also results in a mixture that is less airy than a standard cake mix. Once the dough is brought together, chill it before rolling it out with a rolling pin. 

Substitute it for pancake mix

No Bisquick? No problem. Cake mix is the unexpected ingredient that will take your pancakes to the next level. The boxed mix will add a sweet flavor to your favorite breakfast food and contains many of the same ingredients found in a standard pancake mix. You'll want to start with a boxed mix that is 15.25 ounces — if you use a larger box, you won't need to add any additional flour to your recipe. From there, add oil and eggs, and control the texture of your batter by adding milk. Pancake batter is comparatively thinner than cake batter, so you'll need to add enough milk so it cooks properly. 

You can play with the flavors of your cake mix depending on how sweet you want your breakfast to be. For example, red velvet pancakes taste divine with a cream cheese glaze — but maybe not before 10 a.m. 

Make it the base for donuts

There is a reason why people don't make donuts at home. The breakfast food is a pain to mix, shape, and fry — but boxed cake mix is coming to the rescue and making our coffee-and-donut breakfasts much better. 

Mix together a large box of cake mix with eggs, a splash of oil, and enough milk to bring the dough together. Once you've brought the batter together, transfer it to a large Ziploc bag or a piping bag. This will make filling your greased donut molds much easier. Then, bake the donuts in the oven, drizzle them with your glaze, and enjoy. One of our favorite variations on this recipe is to make pumpkin donuts with a bit of pumpkin purée and autumnal spices. 

Add it to homemade fudge

Fudge can be a tough recipe to make for a novice candymaker. If you're making the dish on the stove, you'll have to worry about heating it to the perfect temperature, mixing it to prevent scalding, and cooling it perfectly for the perfect texture. That's a lot of work for a brick of fudge!

Instead of going through the trials and tribulations of making fudge on the stove by making it in the microwave. Combine dry cake mix and powdered sugar together, pour in the butter and milk, and microwave for a few minutes. Then, mix in your chocolate chips and optional rainbow sprinkles before chilling them in your refrigerator until solid. Slice up your fudge to enjoy a simple treat made easy with a cake mix.

Bake easy biscotti

Biscotti is a divisive baked treat. Although Italians may argue that it's one of the best treats, we think that it barely qualifies as a cookie. Regardless of your feelings, you can always count on it to be a solid option for dipping in afternoon tea or coffee. 

To make biscotti with ease, try using a boxed cake mix base. You can choose a chocolate or a vanilla base for your mix, as long as you add a bit of extra flour in as well. This will give the biscotti the bready texture and volume it's known for. Flavor your dough with extracts, like almond and vanilla, and mix in a good amount of fat to keep your dough moist. We also love that you can freeze these biscotti after baking to enjoy them for several weeks (or even months) after baking. 

Simplify your whoopie pie recipe

Whoopie pies are a New England delight. Local bakeries will often sell these plush sandwiches, which are made with a decadent chocolate cake batter sandwiching a vanilla whipped cream filling. If you're a novice to the world of whoopie pies, you may struggle to get the perfect texture on the cakes. This is where cake mix comes in as an easy swap that will let you focus on the even more difficult part: the filling. 

To get the soft, squishy texture of the cake, you'll want to use powdered cake mix and chocolate instant pudding powder. This ingredient will keep the whoopie pies soft and boost moisture. From there, drop the batter onto a lined cookie sheet until it appears dry. 

Pop it in your waffle iron

Your breakfast guests will be stunned when you promise them waffles but walk out with a tray of red velvet waffles instead. These special waffles are made with cake mix, which makes you feel a little less guilty about eating cake for breakfast. Combine the cake mix with eggs, oil, and milk before pouring it into your greased waffle maker. Like pancakes, waffle batter needs to be relatively thin, so pay special attention to the consistency of the batter before you pop it on the iron. 

If you're working with a yellow or a white cake batter, it will be much easier to tell when your waffles are done cooking than if you use a chocolate or red velvet mix. You can tell your waffles are done when the iron starts to steam. 

Use it in a cocktail recipe

Everyone deserves a drink on their birthday. If your choice is a boozy combination of spirits, try looking at an unlikely ingredient: cake mix. Combine a few tablespoons of yellow or white cake mix (nothing with sprinkles in it) with flavored vodka, chocolate liqueur, and a splash of half-and-half in a shaker with ice. These birthday cake shots are designed to be consumed immediately after pouring; too long on the counter will make it harder to get down. 

You can upgrade your birthday cake shots by frosting the rim of each glass with chocolate frosting and rolling it in sprinkles before pouring your shot. For the adventurous among us, you might also try making cookie shot glasses to fill with birthday cheer. 

Hybridize your cheesecake recipe

What's better than cheesecake? Birthday cake cheesecake! Start by making your recipe by making your standard cheesecake base with blocks of cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and eggs. Add your powdered cake mix incrementally to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. The exact cake mix you use will depend on your other ingredients. A chocolate mix could complement a chocolate ganache drizzle or a cocoa-powder-infused cheesecake batter, while a spice cake mix would be perfect for a pumpkin cheesecake or one adorned with fall flavors like apple, clove, and cinnamon. 

Bake your dessert in the classic graham cracker crust, or opt for a more creative base like sugar cookie dough, crumbled sandwich cookies, or crunchy gingerbread. The possibilities are endless with a box of cake mix in your pantry. 

Incorporate it into quickbread

Quick bread isn't always that quick if we're being honest. The careful measuring, mixing, and baking can take up to an entire hour — which is not ideal when you have intense cravings for a warm slice of pumpkin bread. To make your baking experience easier, substitute your dry ingredients with a box of cake mix. Spiced cake mix is our favorite for banana, pumpkin, and apple bread, but you could also substitute it with a plain Jane box of yellow mix.

Combine your wet ingredients (including eggs, milk, and oil) with the powdered cake mix and stir until combined before adding your fruit of choice. We also love including dried fruits, nuts, and chocolate chips in our recipe, but just be sure you have a reasonable balance of add-ins to batter to ensure a proper bake.

Add it to your trifle

Trifle is a dessert for people who classify themselves as extravagant. There are decadent layers of fruit, sponge, and whipped topping layered in a glass container for a stunning visual effect, plus you get a bit of everything in each bite. You can use a cake mix to help you transform your trifle without lifting a finger. 

Start by making the cake according to the directions on the box. You can also substitute it with a boxed brownie mix if you don't have cake mix on hand. Then, place the entire cake on a wire rack to cool. Once the cake is adequately set, slice it into small pieces and layer in the bowl with whipped topping, fruit, and pudding. 

Mix it with whipped cream for a dessert dip

Dessert dip is an easy way to feed a lot of people without having to go through the tedious process of making and baking desserts. Combine the boxed cake mix (heat-treated, since your party guests will be eating it raw) with a bit of vanilla yogurt and whipped topping (like Cool-Whip). Stir in a serving dish until well combined before garnishing with sprinkles or chopped candy pieces. We recommend serving your cake batter dip with fruit like apples, bananas, and strawberries or crunchy staples like animal crackers, pretzels, or graham crackers. 

You can play a lot with what kind of cake mix you use for this recipe. Children love funfetti dip with extra sprinkles, while adults will love a red velvet dip swirled with cream cheese frosting. 

Add it to your milkshake

Cake mix is a delicious ingredient to add to your milkshakes because it will thicken it and impart a youthful, cake-like flavor to the dessert. Combine your standard milkshake ingredients (ice cream and milk) with a few tablespoons of heat-treated cake mix, and watch your milkshake become all the more delicious. 

There is no wrong flavor to choose from. If you love the taste of a thick chocolate shake, combine a devil's food cake or a chocolate mix with chocolate ice cream and chocolate milk. And if you're looking for a fruity shake, combine strawberry ice cream with strawberry syrup and white cake mix. Our favorite is a spice-cake mix paired with maple ice cream sprinkling a bit of cinnamon. 

Whip up cake batter frosting

The most important part of the cake is the frosting, so why would you give up on making the perfect kid's birthday cake with just a plain ol' buttercream? The key to adding a whimsical flair to your cake is to whip up some cake batter frosting for a batch of cupcakes or a whole cake. 

Start by creaming your butter with the heat-treated cake mix. Mixing cake mix directly into the frosting may cause it to get grainy, so mixing it until it is well-incorporated will result in a silky smooth frosting with no lumps. You should also avoid adding a cake mix that has sprinkles in it since this can mess up the creaming process. Once the butter is creamed, add the powdered sugar and mix again until combined. You can also add milk to thin the frosting as needed.