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My Favorite Doctored Up Cake Mix Recipe

UPDATE: Please visit this post for an update of this recipe using a 15.25 ounce cake mix.

Although I usually bake from scratch, I’m a firm believer that every baker needs a couple of tricks to tuck in their apron pockets.

One of my absolute favorite chocolate cake recipes comes from {gasp} a boxed cake mix. But it’s not just any boxed mix, it’s an incredibly moist and chocolatey recipe that’s perfect for layered cakes, bundt cakes and of course – cupcakes.

There are many reasons to adore this doctored up 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.

The batter is also 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.

Another reason that it’s one of my go-to recipes is because it’s pretty much fool-proof. Toss everything into a large mixing bowl, mix until it’s combined and it comes out perfect every single time. This makes it a great recipe for baking newbies and kids alike.

My favorite desserts using this recipe

Heath Bar Cupcakes
Oreo Cake
Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes
Take 5 Cupcakes
Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

I’ll be the first to tell you that baking a cake from scratch can be an incredibly fun and cathartic experience. But use the tools and ingredients that give you the results you want. I’ve yet to be able to recreate the perfection of this doctored up box mix on my own (not that I don’t keep trying), and if it means a fabulous cupcake in shorter time, then give yourself a break and go for it.
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Doctored Up Cake Mix Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix (see note below)
  • 1 (3.4 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 1/2 cup warm water (see note below)

Directions:

  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, prepare your frosting.

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 9-inch 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.

Notes:

  • 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.
  • UPDATE: Please visit this post for an update of this recipe using a 15.25 ounce cake mix.

My Baking Addiction adapted from All Recipes

All images and text ©

Follow Jamie on Instagram. We love to see what you're baking from MBA! Be sure to tag @jamiemba and use the hashtag #mbarecipes!

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Heather

Thursday 6th of August 2020

Can I use betty crocjer super moist chocolate fudge cake mix instead?

Jamie

Sunday 9th of August 2020

Hello! I haven't attempted this recipe with this substitution, so I am not sure of the result. If you happen to give it a try, I'd love to know how it turned out. Thanks so much for stopping by. -Jamie

Shauna Hennes

Monday 22nd of June 2020

I ran out of vege oil... what else can I sub for it??

Jamie

Saturday 27th of June 2020

Hello! Any neutral-flavored oil will work in place of vegetable or canola oil. Avocado oil or safflower oil are great. You could use olive oil, but it will impart some flavor. Hope this helps. Happy baking! Jamie

Terry

Wednesday 23rd of October 2019

Will the cake turn out ok if I use the same amount of vanilla bean paste instead of vanilla extract? 

Jamie

Thursday 31st of October 2019

Hello - Yes, you can substitute the same amount of vanilla bean paste. Hope this helps! Happy baking. Jamie

Amber

Saturday 14th of September 2019

What would be the best way to store this as a cake / cupcakes? I'd like to prepare the cakes the night before and then decorate the next day. I'm planning to attempt with a red velvet mix and omit the espresso. Thanks!

Jamie

Sunday 15th of September 2019

Hello! You should be able to store them in an airtight container at room temperature overnight with no issues. Hope this helps! Happy baking. Jamie

Melissa

Saturday 15th of June 2019

Question: I have a "just add water" devil's food cake mix. Do I omit the eggs and oil if I am using your recipe? Thanks!

Jamie

Wednesday 19th of June 2019

Hello! I haven't attempted this recipe with this particular cake mix, so I am not sure of the result. If you happen to give it a try, I'd love to know how they turned out. Thanks so much for stopping by. -Jamie

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