Cake Mix Makeover: Wondrous Ways to Doctor Boxed Cake Mix

Whether you are a novice baker or a pro in the kitchen, doctoring a cake mix allows you to create superb sweets that will taste as though you’ve spent hours preparing them. When you doctor a cake mix, it means to add additional ingredients to create a more complex dessert. Depending on your skill level, available time, and on-hand ingredients, you can make toothsome treats that are as hard — or easy — as you’d like.

Ready to give boxed cake mixes a shot? Use these 18 recipes to doctor your way to dreamy desserts.

1. Red Velvet Cake

Red velvet cake

Red velvet cake | iStock.com

The Dainty Apron’s red velvet cake combines red velvet cake mix, chocolate pudding, and sour cream to create a gooey and ravishingly rich dessert dish. Depending on how much effort you want to put in (or the ingredients you have on hand), you can frost this cake with store-bought icing or mix up some homemade frosting. The Food Network’s Alton Brown has a recipe for cream cheese frosting that’s the perfect match for red velvet cake.

Serves: 12

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Duncan Hines red velvet cake mix
  • 1 small (3.9-ounce) box instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the cake mix and other ingredients to a large bowl and mix until fully combined.

Grease and flour 2 round 9-inch cake pans. Pour batter into prepared pans, then transfer to the oven. Bake according to the directions on the box, checking cake for doneness near the end of the baking time. Let cake cool, then transfer to a cake stand or serving platter and frost.

2. Pumpkin Angel Food Cake with Ginger-Cream Filling

Sliced cake with frosting on a plate

Pumpkin cake | iStock.com

Bored of pumpkin pie? For an alternative to the ubiquitous fall dessert, try this recipe from CDKitchen for a pumpkin angel food cake that is sure to please your palate. You’ll make this decadent dessert using white angel food cake mix, pumpkin pie spice, and canned pumpkin. Though you’ll use boxed mix as a shortcut when making the cake, the ginger-cream filling is prepared from scratch, giving this dessert some homemade flair.

Serves: 12

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1 box white angel food cake mix
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ¾ cup canned pumpkin (do not use not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 cup cold water

For the ginger-cream filling:

  • 1 pint whipping cream, well chilled
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place rack in the lowest position in the oven.

Combine the cake mix, flour, pumpkin pie spice, canned pumpkin, and water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds, until just combined. Increase speed to medium, and beat for 1 minute more.

Pour the cake patter into an ungreased tube cake pan. Bake for 37 to 47 minutes until the cake is golden brown. Remove from oven and turn pan upside down, letting it rest on a bottle or another object to keep it elevated. Let cake sit for 2 to 3 hours until it is completely cool.

Once the cake is almost completely cool, combine the whipping cream and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Mix on high speed until stiff peaks form. Use a spatula to fold in the ginger. Set aside

Insert a long knife between the cake and the edge of the pan to loosen. Turn cake out onto a serving plate.

Slice cake in half horizontally into two even layers. Spread half of the whipped cream topping onto the bottom layer. Top with the other layer of the cake, then spread with the remaining whipped topping. Serve.

3. Strawberry Cupcakes

strawberry in a bowl

Strawberries | iStock.com/ValentynVolkov

White cake mix lays the foundation for these strawberry cupcakes. From their vibrant red shade to their mouth-watering moistness, you’ll love everything about One Sweet Appetite’s recipe. A mix of strawberry jello and frozen strawberries gives the cake its fruity flavor. Once baked, the cupcakes are topped with a strawberry cream cheese frosting. For an extra-pretty dessert, use a piping bag and tip to make rosettes, stars, or more. All Recipes has tips on how to decorate your cupcakes, so they’re picture-perfect for your bake sale or party.

Serves: 24

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1 (3-ounce) package strawberry jello
  • 1 (15-ounce) package frozen strawberries, thawed and pureed in a blender
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup water

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup pureed strawberries
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. Set aside.

Set aside ¼ cup of the pureed strawberries. Combine the remaining strawberries, cake mix, and all other cake ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on medium until smooth. Pour batter into prepared cups until ¾ full. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

Remove cupcakes from oven and let cool. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. Add the cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar to a bowl and cream together. Mix in the reserved pureed strawberries. Gradually stir in the heavy cream, whipping until the frosting is the desired consistency.

Once the cupcakes are completely cool, top with the prepared frosting, then serve.

4. Southern Caramel Cake with Peach Conserve

Caramel icing

Caramel icing | iStock.com

This enticing dessert has a tantalizing texture and fabulous flavor. And thanks to a yellow boxed cake mix, this recipe for Southern caramel cake from the Cake Mix Doctor is also unbelievably easy to make. The secret to this cake lies in its filling of peach conserve — a combination of peach preserves, marmalade, and pecans. Using instant pudding in the cake is optional, but it help suspend the conserve in the batter. A homemade caramel frosting is the perfect finishing touch for this down-home dessert.

Serves: 16

Ingredients:

For the peach conserve:

  • ¼ cup peach preserves
  • 2 heaping tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans 

For the cake:

  • 1 (21.6-ounce) package yellow cake mix (if using a 15- or 16-ounce package, add 5 tablespoons of all-purpose flour)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix (optional)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1⅓ cups milk, warmed

For the quick caramel frosting:

  • 12 tablespoons butter
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour 2 round 9-inch cake pans. Set aside.

Combine the peach preserves, marmalade, and pecans in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Set aside.

Combine the cake mix (and flour, if using) and pudding mix in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add the butter, eggs, and milk and blend on low using an electric mixer until just combined. Increase speed to medium and continue mixing until smooth and thickened, about 1½ to 2 minutes.

Pour half of the batter into one of the prepared pans. Add the conserve to the remaining batter in the bowl and fold in. Pour into the second prepared cake pan.

Bake side-by-side in the oven for 32 to 38 minutes, until the cakes are golden brown and bounce back when lightly pressed. (The conserve layer will take slightly longer to cook.)

Transfer cake pans to a rack and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Use a knife to loosen the cakes, then invert the layers onto a plate, then turn again onto a rack to continue cooling (cakes should be right side up on the rack).

Just before the cake is completely cool, mix together the ingredients for the frosting. Melt the butter to a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugars until well-mixed and bubbly. Pour in the milk and reduce heat to low, then add the vanilla. Remove from heat and whisk in the confectioners sugar until smooth.

Once cake is fully cool, transfer the layer with the conserve to a cake stand. Spoon the frosting over the cake and spread to the edges. Top with the second layer of cake and spoon more frosting over, spreading to cover in an even layer. Then coat the sides of the cake. The frosting will set as you spread it, so you will need to work quickly. If the frosting in the pan gets too hard, return to low heat and thin slightly with a bit of milk.

5. German Chocolate Cake

German chocolate cake

German chocolate cake | iStock.com/bhofack2

Just a Taste transforms a basic chocolate cake into a marvelously moist dessert delight that it’s not afraid to call the “best German Chocolate Cake (ever).” To make this perfect (and perfectly easy) dessert, combine a boxed cake mix and a made-from-scratch coconut and toasted pecan filling. It’s a decadent dish that’s ideal for any occasion.

Serves: 12

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1 (18.25-ounce) package of devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 (3.9-ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ½ vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons espresso powder (mixed with 1 tablespoon water)
  • 1½ cups chocolate chips

For the frosting

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups chopped pecans, toasted
  • 2 cups lightly packed sweetened flaked coconut

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 2 round 9-inch cake pans. Set aside.

Combine the cake mix, instant pudding, eggs, sour cream, water, vegetable oil, and espresso powder mixed with water in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low, scraping down the sides, until everything is thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Divide the batter between the two prepared pans. Bake on the center rack in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove cakes from oven and let cool in the pans for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack and let them continue to cool as you make the frosting.

To make the frosting, combine the egg yolks, sugar, and salt in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until fully combined.

Beat in the softened butter. Gradually beat in the heavy cream and vanilla.

Pour the frosting mixture into a medium, nonstick saucepan. Turn heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the frosting begins to thicken and fluff. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Stir in the pecans and coconut.

To assemble the cake, slice each layer in half horizontally, so you have 4 layers in total. Place one layer on a serving plate and top with ¼ of the prepared frosting. Repeat with the remaining layers, then slice and serve.

6. 3-Ingredient Cobbler

cherry cobbler

Cobbler | iStock.com

Boxed cake mix can be used to create all kinds of dessert, such as this three-ingredient cobbler from My Recipe Journey. White cake mix, seltzer, and frozen fruit are all you need to create this incredibly simple treat, which is the perfect solution when you need to quickly throw together a last-minute dessert. You can use any frozen berries you have on hand for this adaptable dish (and fresh fruit works, too). Plain seltzer will work fine in this recipe, but try using berry-flavored seltzer if you have it for a little extra flavor.

Serves: 9 to 12

Ingredients:

  • 20 to 24 ounces frozen fruit, such as frozen blueberries or blackberries
  • 1 box of white cake mix
  • 12 ounces seltzer

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Layer the unthawed frozen fruit in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Add the cake mix and seltzer to a large bowl. Mix lightly to combine. Pour batter over the fruit.

Bake on the center rack of oven for 55 to 60 minutes, until cake layer is golden brown in color. Serve warm with ice cream.

7. Heath Bar Cupcakes

Caramel and toffee cupcake

Caramel and toffee cupcake | iStock.com/Douglas_Freer

You’ll love the gratifying toffee flavors found in these Heath Bar cupcakes, which are made with devil’s food cake mix and instant chocolate pudding. My Baking Addiction makes this superb sweet even better by topping it off with a rich, dark chocolate ganache. The cupcakes are the perfect thing for workplace gatherings, birthday parties, and other occasions calling sweet treats.

Serves: 24

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso granules dissolved in ½ cup warm water
  • 1 cup Heath English Toffee bits
  • 5 (1.4-ounce) Heath Bars, chopped into large pieces, for topping

For the buttercream frosting:

  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • Pinch of fine grain sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
  • 2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons heavy cream or milk

For the ganache:

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into very small pieces
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. Set aside.

Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla, and espresso powder and water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed until well combined. Fold in the toffee bits.

Fill each muffin cup with about 3 tablespoons of batter. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes. Cakes are done when they spring back when lightly touched. Remove from oven and let cool in the muffin tins for 10 minutes. Remove from tins and let continue to cool on wire rack. Once the cupcakes are fully cool, prepare the frosting and ganache.

To make the buttercream, add the butter to a large bowl and cream until fluffy. Slowly mix in the confectioners sugar until well blended. Add the salt, vanilla, and 3 tablespoons of milk or heavy cream. Mix on low until moistened. Add 1 to 3 more tablespoons of milk or cream until frosting has the desired consistency. Beat on high until smooth and fluffy.

To make the ganache, warm the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium until it is very hot but not boiling.

Add the chocolate pieces to a heat-proof bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth and completely combined. Then, whisk in the honey, corn syrup, and vanilla. Let cool for 15 minutes or so, but do not let it sit too long or it will harden.

Frost the cupcakes with the buttercream frosting. Drizzle the ganache over the frosting. Top each cupcake with a piece of chopped Heath bar. Store cupcakes in refrigerator until ready to serve. Remove from fridge about 1 hour before serving.

8. Gooey Turtle Bars

Turtle bars

Turtle bars | iStock.com

Novice bakers need not be intimidated by Eat At Home’s doctored cake mix recipe. These gooey turtle bars only require six ingredients and are a dessert lover’s dream come true. Even better, they don’t take a long time to make. Mixing and baking this sweet treat should take less than an hour.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • ¾ cup melted butter
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • ½ cup pecans
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 jar caramel sauce

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stir together the cake mix, butter, and milk in a large bowl. Pour half the batter into a 9-by-13-inch pan. Use a spatula to spread into an even layer. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove pan from oven. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the cake. Top with the pecans, then pour the caramel sauce over in an even layer. Pour the rest of the batter over, using a spatula to make the surface as even as possible.

Return pan to oven and bake for 20 more minutes. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.

9. Vanilla-Infused Cupcakes

Frosting cupcakes

Frosting cupcakes | iStock.com

You won’t believe how easy it is to prepare these fabulously fluffy, vanilla-infused cupcakes. Chef-In-Training.com’s three-step recipe, which was adapted from Kevin and Amanda, uses instant pudding, milk, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla to spice up a simple mix. Once baked, you can top these delightfully simple desserts with your favorite store-bought or homemade frosting.

Serves: 24

Ingredients:

  • 1 box golden vanilla cake mix
  • 1 (3.9-ounce) box vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 1 cup oil
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2, 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.

Add all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix to combine (batter will be thick).

Fill muffin cups ⅔ full with batter. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until cupcakes are golden brown in color. Remove from oven, let cool completely, then frost.

10. Chocolate Cake

Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake | iStock.com

Calling all chocoholics. This recipe is perfect for those days when you need a quick fix to cure your chocolate craving. The Noshery’s easy cake is an oh-so-tempting treat that combines cake mix, coffee, and — best of all — a homemade chocolate cream cheese icing and an extra sprinkling of chocolate chips. (Note: If you are frosting fanatic, double the recipe below, so you can have an extra-thick layer of chocolatey goodness on your cake).

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1 box of Betty Crocker Triple Chocolate Fudge cake mix
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1⅓ cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened and room temperature
  • ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 1 cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven according to the instructions on the box. Grease 2 round 9-inch cake pans.

Mix all the ingredients for the cake in a large bowl. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake according to package directions, or until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.

As the cake bakes, prepare the frosting. Cream together the cream cheese and powdered sugar. Add the chocolate to a small saucepan and melt over low heat. Mix in the instant coffee. Remove from heat, and let cool until just slightly warm. Pour chocolate into the cream cheese and sugar mixture and stir until combined. Taste and adjust sugar as needed. Store in refrigerator until ready to frost the cake.

Once cake is fully cool, level it, then frost. If you like, decorate the sides of the cake with mini chocolate chips.

11. Banana Cake

Bananas and eggs

Ingredients for banana cake | iStock.com/anujaree

Easy banana cake with caramel icing is an almost effortless dessert that’s bursting with enticing ingredients. You only need an hour to make this fruit-flavored dessert. One reason it’s so easy to prepare? No need to mess with layers. This single-layer dessert is baked in a 9-by-13-inch pan rather than multiple round cake pans. Deep South Dish adapted this recipe from The Cake Mix Doctor. The recipe for the quick caramel icing can be found here.

Serves: 12

Ingredients:

  • 1 package yellow cake mix
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup of water
  • ½ cup of canola oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • Quick Caramel Icing (see recipe here)
  • 1 cup of chopped pecans

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit. Coat a 9-by-13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine the cake mix, brown sugar, and cinnamon to a large bowl. Whisk together to break up any clumps.

In a separate bowl, beat the bananas, water, oil, and eggs. Add to the bowl with the dry ingredients. Beat on low for about 1 minute on low speed. Scrape down the sides, then continue beating for 2 minutes more on medium speed.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 25 to 30 minutes more, until cake is browned on top and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool. Pour the icing over the cake while it is still warm. Sprinkle with pecans. Let cake sit until fully cool, then slice and serve.

12. Root Beer Float Poke Cake

Whipped cream in a bowl

Whipped topping for root beer cake | iStock.com

Can’t decide between cake or ice cream? You can get the best of both worlds with this recipe from Dessert Now Dinner Later, which is moist, light, and stunningly sweet. This root beer float poke cake is soaked in condensed milk and topped with whipped topping, creating an unbelievably simple dessert that will tantalize your taste buds. It’s perfect for summer birthdays and barbecues. You should be able to find root beer concentrate in your supermarket’s baking aisle.

Serves: 12

Ingredients:

  • 1 box white or vanilla cake mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 teaspoons root beer concentrate
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (8-ounce) tub of whipped topping

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Set aside.

Combine the cake mix, eggs, water, oil, and root beer concentrate in a large bowl. Whisk for 2 minutes until all the ingredients are fully combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 23 to 28 minutes. (Use a toothpick inserted in the cake’s center to test for doneness.) Remove from oven and transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke holes in the cake. (Holes should be about 1 to 2 inches apart.) Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the cake and into the holes. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove cake from the refrigerator. Spread the whipped topping over the cake, then slice and serve.

13. Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

chocolate sandwich cookies in a box

Oreo cookies for cookies and cream cupcakes | iStock.com

Satisfy your sweet tooth by preparing Bakerita.com’s cookies and cream cupcakes. The Oreo cookie on the bottom of each cupcake is a nice surprise, but the true star of this dessert is the homemade buttercream frosting, which tastes just like your favorite ice cream. For extra creamy cookie goodness, use Double Stuf Oreos.

Serves: 30

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 30 Oreos
  • 1 (15.25-ounce) package devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 (3.4-ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 30 mini Oreo cookies to garnish (optional)

For the buttercream:

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream, or milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 18 Oreos, crushed into crumbs

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 30 muffin tins with paper liners. Place an Oreo cookie in the bottom of each muffin cup.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla, and water. Beat for 2 minutes on medium until will combined. (Or combine using a hand mixer.)

Fill each muffin cup ⅔ full with batter. Bake in oven for 16 to 20 minutes or until the cupcake tops bounce back when lightly pressed. Remove from oven, and let cupcakes cool inside the pan for 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan, and let continue to cool on a wire rack.

To make the buttercream, add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Whip until creamy. Add the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Continue to mix on low speed for 1 minute and then on medium speed for 5 minutes. Add the crushed Oreos, and mix for 1 minute more.

Immediately frost the cooled cupcakes with the Oreo buttercream. Top with a mini Oreo cookie to garnish, if desired.

14. Triple Chocolate Mini Bundt Cakes

Chocolate bundt cake

Chocolate bundt cake | iStock.com

Novice bakers don’t need to rely on professionals to make dessert. Merely Marie introduces a recipe that is perfect for beginners in the kitchen. These triple chocolate mini bundt cakes consist of cake mix, pudding, chocolate chips, water, eggs, and vanilla. Even better, there’s no oil in this recipe, which also features a rich, cream cheese icing. The result is a dessert that’s so cute no one will suspect you took a shortcut.

Serves: Makes 6 small cakes

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1 (16¼-ounce) package Duncan Hines Classic devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 (3.9-ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1¾ cups water
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the buttercream icing:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons hot water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a mini bundt pan. (Pan should make 6 small cakes.)

Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, and chocolate chips in a large bowl. In a second bowl, mix together the water, eggs, and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and stir until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Transfer to oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cook for 15 to 20 minutes before removing cakes from the pan to a wire rack.

As the cakes cool on the rack, combine all the ingredients for the icing in a bowl. Whip to combine, then spoon oven the cakes. (Place a sheet of wax paper under the rack to catch any drips.) Serve.

15. Chocolate Marble Gooey Butter Cake

Marbled butter cake

Marbled butter cake | iStock.com

The Country Cook’s delicious dessert uses yellow cake mix and a fantastic filling to create one stunningly sweet and indulgent dessert. (It has two sticks of butter in it, plus an entire block of cream cheese.) The Paula Deen-inspired chocolate marble gooey butter cake has a brownie-like base and mixes the best of two fabulous flavors: vanilla and chocolate. We wouldn’t count on having any leftovers.

Serves: 8 to 10

Ingredients:

For the base:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 stick unsalted butter melted
  • 1 large egg

For the filling:

  • 1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 stick unsalted butter melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3¾ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Set aside.

Combine the cake mix, melted butted, and egg in a medium bowl. Beat together using an electric or stand mixer for 2 minutes. Spread the batter into an even layer in the prepared baking dish. (You may need to use your hands.)

Add the cream cheese to the same mixing bowl. Beat on low until smooth. Add the eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract and beat on medium for 1 minute. Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth and well incorporated.

Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute on high, until the chips are soft and melted.

Scoop out 1 cup of the cream cheese mixture into a separate bowl. Combine with the chocolate.

Pour plain cream cheese filling on top of the batter in the pan. Top with dollops of the chocolate filling. Use a butter knife to swirl together in a marbled pattern.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Do not overbake. Remove and let cool for 30 minutes. Slice into squares and serve.

16. Red Velvet Cookies

Red Velvet Cookies

Frosted red velvet cookies | iStock.com

Red velvet makes another appearance on our list of doctored cake mix recipes. This time, it’s in the form of a cookie. This recipe from Food Fanatic is perfect whether you are looking for a last-minute dessert to bring to a party or want to whip up a quick weeknight treat. You only need five ingredients and 15 minutes to prepare these easy red velvet cookies.

Serves: Makes 18 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 (18.25-ounce) box red velvet cake mix
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs, beaten

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together the powdered sugar and cornstarch in a shallow bowl. Set aside.

Add the butter, cake mix, and eggs to a large bowl and mix by hand. Roll into 1-inch balls. Roll in the sugar and cornstarch mixture, then transfer to the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 10 to 11 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool for 1 to 2 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

17. Rolo Cake Mix Bars

One dark chocolate candy cut in half over wooden background

Chocolate candy | iStock.com/Sebalos

No one will suspect you made these Rolo cake mix bars only using cake mix and three other ingredients. Six Sisters’ Stuff has created a delightful dessert recipe (adapted from Cookies and Cups) that’s bursting with caramel and chocolate flavors. Plus, the bars take less than an hour to make, so you don’t have to spend an entire afternoon in the kitchen to get a delicious dessert. Slicing the candies in half might be the most difficult part of this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (18.25-ounce) package of yellow, vanilla, or white cake mix
  • 5 ounces evaporated milk
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 40 Rolo candies, unwrapped and cut in half

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Set aside.

Combine the cake mix, evaporated milk, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until combined. Press half of the batter into the prepared baking dish. Transfer to oven and bake for 8 to 9 minutes. Remove pan from oven and place the Rolo candies on the cake, caramel-side down. Drop the remaining batter on top using a teaspoon. Return to the oven, and bake for another 20 to 24 minutes. Let bars cool completely before slicing and serving.

18. Hot Chocolate Cake Bars

Chocolate cake bars

Hot chocolate cake bars | iStock.com/bhofack2

Why enjoy hot chocolate in bar form when you can drink it instead? Because you can! I Wash You Dry has turned the warm, frothy drink into gooey hot chocolate cake bars by combing chocolate cake mix with instant hot chocolate packets. Once baked, the bars are topped with a magnificent marshmallow topping. This dessert is perfect for summer picnics and barbecues. Just make sure you have lots of napkins because eating these could get a bit messy.

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • 2 packets of instant hot chocolate mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1 stick of butter, melted

For the topping:

  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup Jet-Puffed Mallow Bits

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with tinfoil.

Add the cake mix, hot chocolate mix, 1 stick of melted butter, and 1 egg to a large bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms (it will be like cookie dough). Press into the prepared baking pan.

In a second bowl, combine the cream cheese and butter. Beat with a mixer until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Add the powdered sugar, a ½ cup at a time, until incorporated. Fold in the Mallow Bits. Spread onto the chocolate base.

Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes. The center of the cake will still be somewhat giggly when you remove the pan from the oven. Let cool completely in the pan before slicing in the squares and serving.

Additional reporting by Kirsten Yovino.