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Doctored Cake Mix

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Doctored Cake Mix is an easy way to make a cake mix extra special. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t get from-scratch flavor from a boxed mix!

Doctored Cake Mix is an easy way to make a cake mix extra special. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t get from-scratch flavor from a boxed mix!

I don’t know what the weather is like in your neck of the woods, but I’m officially over winter and wind.

My hands are chapped to the point that I purchased cotton gloves to wear while I sleep. This is merely an effort to keep the ridiculous amount of hand cream that I slather on each night to actually stay on my hands and not on the sheets.

And let me tell ya about the crazy wind gusts that propelled the pillows off my front porch yesterday morning and had them blowing around the neighborhood like tumbleweeds.

I totally panicked because I love those pillows. Eric happened to leave his Nike sandals by the door, so I threw ‘em on – mind you he wears a size 15 – and ran out the front door sans bra (thank goodness for thick sweatshirts) and attempted to run after them.

This is obviously no easy task when you’re wearing sandals the size of small boats.

I eventually chased one into my neighbor’s backyard, which I had to just let go because it blew into the creek. And I’m pretty sure they were having family over for an early breakfast, so I just tried not to look at their windows while spewing swear words and tripping over those dang sandals.

In case you’re wondering, I eventually caught up with the other three pillows.

After that start to Daylight Savings Time Sunday, I needed a cupcake, or three. Plus, I promised Elle we’d bake something she could add sprinkles to.

Doctored Cake Mix is an easy trick for making perfectly moist cupcakes every time


So here’s the thing: one of my favorite cake recipes starts with a boxed cake mix.


I’ll be the first to tell you that baking a cake from scratch can be an incredibly fun and cathartic experience. But I also think we should use the tools and ingredients that give you the results you want.

Add a few key ingredients to cake mix to make the perfect Doctored Cake Mix

I’ve yet to be able to recreate the perfection of this Doctored Cake Mix on my own (not that I don’t keep trying). If that means a fabulous cupcake in less time, then give yourself a break and go for it.

Another reason that Doctored Up Cake Mix is one of my go-to recipes is because it’s pretty much foolproof.

Toss everything into a large mixing bowl, mix until it’s combined and it comes out perfect every single time. This makes Doctored Cake Mix a great recipe for baking newbies and kids alike.

Use Doctored Cake Mix to make the best cupcakes in a snap


There are many reasons to adore this Doctored Cake Mix and number one on that list is that it’s super moist.

I love using this recipe when I have to make cupcakes a day or so in advance because I know that they’ll still taste perfectly fresh – even after being stored for 24 hours.

Two ingredients make Doctored Cake Mix super moist: pudding mix and sour cream.

Cupcakes have never been so easy as when you make them with this Doctored Cake Mix recipe

Adding pudding to cake mix is always a great way to make your cake – or any baked goods – stay soft. It’s the secret to my Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies, for example.

Sour cream also keeps the Doctored Cake Mix moist and lends a little bit of “tang” to the recipe. It’s similar to using buttermilk in a recipe!

Make the best cupcakes with the easiest Doctored Cake Mix recipe!


I think my favorite version of Doctored Cake Mix is for chocolate cake mix. Specifically for devil’s food cake mix.

I like to add instant espresso dissolved in water to help deepen the chocolate flavor. But if you aren’t into coffee, you can always use plain water instead.

The batter for Doctored Cake Mix is really thick, so it’s a great consistency for suspending little surprises inside cupcakes. You already know I’m kind of obsessed with nestling candy into my cupcakes, and this ultra thick batter is ideal for that technique.

Doctored Cake Mix starts with a mix but makes cupcakes that taste like they were made from scratch!

Just imagine adding little peanut butter cups to the center of your chocolate cupcakes and topping them with peanut butter buttercream.

If you want to use this Doctored Cake Mix recipe for a vanilla or other flavor of cake mix, you definitely can! Just use an appropriate pudding mix flavor and omit the espresso granules, just using plain water.

You can get perfect cupcakes from cake mix when you use this Doctored Cake Mix recipe


I love using Doctored Cake Mix to make lots of different types of recipes. You really can get creative with all kinds of flavors and mix-ins!

I most often use my Doctored Cake Mix trick with chocolate cake mix, but it works great for making Coconut Cupcakes from a vanilla cake mix.

Doctored Cake Mix is an easy way to get perfect cupcakes every time

This method is also great for incorporating your favorite candy bars or seasonal candy. Check out Take 5 Cupcakes, Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes, Heath Bar Cupcakes, or Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes.

And lest you think that you can only use Doctored Cake Mix to make cupcakes, I also love using it to make layer cakes! My Oreo Cake is a great example.

I can promise that Doctored Cake Mix will become your new favorite trick for baking up perfect cakes every time. The fact that they started with a mix will be our little secret.

Get perfectly moist cupcakes with Doctored Cake Mix

Doctored Cake Mix is an easy way to make a cake mix extra special. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t get from-scratch flavor from a boxed mix!

Doctored Cake Mix

Yield: 24 cupcakes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 32 minutes

Doctored Cake Mix is an easy way to make a cake mix extra special. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t get from-scratch flavor from a boxed mix!


  • 1 (15.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix (see note below)
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso granules dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water (see note below)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tin with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla and espresso water mixture. Beat for about two minutes on medium speed until well combined.
  3. Using a large cookie scoop, distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells; about 3 tablespoons of batter per well.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes or until the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly touched. Allow cupcakes to cool inside muffin tins for about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove cupcakes from muffin tins and allow to fully cool on a wire rack. Once cupcakes are cool, top with your favorite buttercream recipe.

For Bundt Cakes:

  1. Pour the batter into a well-greased, 12-cup bundt cake pan.
  2. Bake at 350°F for approximately 50 to 55 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  3. If desired, drizzle the cooled cake with your favorite recipe for chocolate ganache.

For Layer Cakes:

  1. Pour batter evenly between 2 greased 9-inch cake pans.
  2. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.
  3. Frost cooled cake with your favorite buttercream recipe.


  • My favorite Devil's Food Cake is Betty Crocker - Pudding in the mix.
  • If you don't have instant espresso granules, you can sub in 1/2 cup warm coffee.
  • The espresso in this recipe really just deepens the chocolate flavor, but if you aren't into the whole coffee thing, just use 1/2 cup warm water.
  • If you are using a different flavor of cake mix and pudding, simply omit the espresso granules and simply use 1/2 cup warm water.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 24 Serving Size 1 cupcake
Amount Per Serving Calories 172Total Fat 10gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 28mgSodium 187mgCarbohydrates 19gFiber 0gSugar 10gProtein 2g

Did you make this recipe?

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Wednesday 16th of August 2023

Can I freeze the batter to use for later?


Thursday 17th of August 2023

Hi Jennifer - You can't freeze the batter, but you could freeze the baked cake. I have a post on freezing cake here: Hope this helps! Jamie


Saturday 17th of June 2023

This is exactly what I have been looking for. Would this stack well for doing a tiered cake?


Monday 19th of June 2023

Hi Rachel - It should work as well as any fairly standard cake would. Of course, you may need to stabilize the tiers with dowels and such depending on how big it will be, so be sure to gauge that accordingly. Happy baking! Jamie

Tiffin Tebodo

Thursday 25th of May 2023

Hi- I love this recipe and use it all the time in both vanilla and chocolate versions. Question, could you add chopped strawberries to the vanilla version? Would that be strawberry enough?


Tuesday 30th of May 2023

Hi there! I actually have a strawberry version of this you can check out: Hope this helps! Happy baking – Jamie

Ina Lankenau

Sunday 21st of May 2023

Perfect chocolate cake especially for birthdays! I made for an 2-layer 9-inch round cake. I made exactly per recipe except I used all of the 3.9oz of the jello pudding mix. For the frosting, I used Ina Garten’s chocolate buttercream frosting from her Beatty’s Chocolate Cake recipe. My husband and young kiddos loved it.


Tuesday 30th of May 2023

So glad you and your family loved this cake! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your feedback. Happy baking! Jamie

Denise Van Aken

Monday 17th of April 2023

I love this recipe and use it frequently!I had a request for the vanilla version so I substituted vanilla cake mix and pudding. The layers were awful! I looked over my ingredients and then saw that the Jello instant vanilla pudding mix was 1 ounce instead of 3.4 ounces! What the heck?


Wednesday 19th of April 2023

Oh wow, I've never seen a 1-ounce box before! Glad you caught that; I hope you were able to remake the cake with the correct size package! Glad that you like the original recipe so much. Happy baking! Jamie

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