Cake Recipes That Are Much Better Than the Boxed Mix

The idea of baking a cake can be intimidating, which is why many people go with boxed mix. It seems easier to combine the packaged powder with butter, milk, and eggs rather than making your dessert from scratch. Still, the latter option yields the best results. With just a bit of patience, anyone can follow a formula to bake a cake. We’re highlighting six fool-proof cake recipes that will have you putting your boxed mix back on the shelf.

1. Chocolate Bundt Cake

Chocolate cake

Chocolate bundt catke with chocolate glaze |

Bundt cakes are some of the easiest baked goods to make, and they’re also super delicious. This chocolate bundt cake from Martha Stewart is both easy and sophisticated, making it perfect for weeknights as well as dinner parties. Rather than resorting to frosting, it has a chocolate ganache glaze made from chocolate, heavy cream, and butter.


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup sour cream (4 ounces)
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 14-cup Bundt pan. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Mix milk and sour cream in a glass measuring cup.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; add vanilla. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the milk mixture and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until just combined.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth top with an offset spatula. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze, place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring cream to a simmer in a small saucepan; pour over chocolate. Let stand 2 minutes. Add butter, and mix until smooth. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. Pour glaze over cake.

2. Lemon Pound Cake

lemon pound cake

Lemon pound cake with blueberries |

Pound cake is really easy since there’s no fussy layering or frosting. This lemon version featured on Food Network has a refreshing citrus kick, and it takes just 20 minutes to prepare. After 65 to 75 minutes of baking time, this lovely lemon dessert will be ready.


  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar, plus 1/3 cup
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup lemon juice, plus 1/3 cup

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 6-cup loaf pan and line it with parchment or waxed paper. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream the butter. Add 1 cup of the sugar and mix. With the mixer running at low speed, add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla.

Working in alternating batches, and mixing after each addition, add the dry ingredients and ¼ cup of the lemon juice to the butter mixture. Mix until just smooth. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until raised in the center and a tester inserted into the center comes out dry and almost clean, 65 to 75 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and the remaining 1/3 cup lemon juice until the sugar is dissolved.

When the cake is done, let cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the pan. Set a wire rack on a sheet pan with sides (to catch the glaze) and turn the cake out onto the rack. Peel off the waxed paper.

Using a turkey baster or pastry brush, spread glaze all over the top and sides of the cake and let soak in. Repeat until the entire glaze is used up, including any glaze that has dripped through onto the sheet pan. Let cool at room temperature or, wrapped in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator.

3. Funfetti Sheet Cake

Layer Cake

Birthday cake with sprinkles | Source: iStock

Funfetti is one of the most popular cakes you can make with a boxed mix, but you can impress your pals even more with a scratch version from Sally’s Baking Addiction. The sprinkles are laced throughout the cake base and sprinkled over the frosting for a really vibrant effect. This colorful cake couldn’t be more fun or delicious, and it only requires the typical baking staples and 25 minutes in the oven.


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature preferred
  • 2½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup rainbow sprinkles, plus more for decor

Vanilla frosting

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


Head to Sally’s Baking Addiction for the full recipe.

4. Boston Cream Icebox Cake

Tiramisu Cake Bite

Boston cream pie on a fork |

This Boston cream icebox cake from Averie Cooks is a creative twist on the classic dessert. Who knew a dessert made from vanilla pudding, graham crackers, chocolate chips, and whipped topping could be so delicious? This creamy dessert might not be a true cake, but you won’t care after you get a bite.


  • 2 (3.5-ounce) packets instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 (8-ounce) container whipped topping, thawed
  • 3 cups cold milk
  • 1 (14.6-ounce) box graham crackers
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with aluminum foil; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine pudding mix, whipped topping, milk, and whisk to combine; set aside. Add an even layer of graham crackers to completely cover the bottom of the pan, breaking crackers to fit.

Add half the pudding mixture and spread evenly over graham crackers. Add another layer of graham crackers to cover completely. Add the remaining pudding mixture and spread evenly. Top with a final layer of graham crackers.

To a medium saucepan, combine ½ cup chocolate chips, butter, sugar, milk, and heat over low heat to melt, whisking continuously. Add the vanilla and whisk to combine. Evenly pour the chocolate mixture over the top graham cracker layer, lightly smoothing with a spatula as necessary.

Wait about 5 minutes for chocolate to cool slightly before evenly sprinkling with the remaining ½ cup chocolate chips.

Cover pan and freeze for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Slice and serve. Store cake in the fridge or freezer. The crackers will become softer the longer it sits.

5. Vanilla Cake

vanilla layer cake

Vanilla layer cake with frosting |

Care to master the classic vanilla cake? This recipe from Life Love and Sugar will help you. The cake has three layers and is both tasty and beautiful. Even if your end result doesn’t look as good as professional cakes, the taste will more than make up for it.


  • 1½ cups salted butter, room temperature
  • 2¼ cups sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2¾ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ cups milk


  • 1½ cups butter
  • 1½ cups shortening
  • 12 cups  powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 6 to 7 tablespoons water or milk


Head to Life Love and Sugar for the full recipe.

6. Coca-Cola Chocolate Cake

Chocolate brownies in a white tray

Chocolate sheet cake |

Traditional in southern states, cola cake is a fun way to end any meal. The soda shows up in both the cake and frosting, which brings out the chocolate flavor and adds just a hint of cola. Taste for yourself with this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker, adapted from Taste of Home. It’ll take you only 20 minutes to prep and another 35 to 40 minutes to bake. Once baked, add your frosting, then get ready for dessert.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 (12-ounce) can cola
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 1 (12-ounce) can cola
  • ½ cup salted butter, cut into small cubes
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Head to Brown Eyed Baker for the full recipe.