TIP: Get Better Cakes from a Mix + Boston Cream Pie Recipe

5 / 5 (1 review)

Cake Mix Trick:

This will improve your cake mix. I found this trick in the comments of a post on Tidy Mom, from a pastry chef named Shelly. (Thanks!)  Look at the directions on the cake mix box…

  • add one more egg (or add two additional if you want it to be really rich)
  • double the oil amount, but use melted butter instead of oil
  • use milk instead of water

Now on to this amazing recipe!

This is a simple and easy recipe, plus it looks and tastes good. One of my little guys requested a birthday cake with chocolate & vanilla and ThomasJames. So, I thought this would fit the bill perfectly and keep things easy & cheap for me. And it did!

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TIP: Get Better Cakes from a Mix + Boston Cream Pie Recipe

5 / 5 (1 review)
Prep Time: 10mins | Cook Time: 30mins
Yield: 9-inch round cake, double layer | Serves: 10


  • 1 package yellow cake mix (18 1/4 oz)
  • 1 1/2 cups cold milk
  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding mix (3.4 oz)
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 -3 tablespoons hot water


  1. Prepare cake batter according to package directions (see how I altered the directions for better results in the blog post). Divide between two greased and floured 9-inch round baking pans.
  2. Bake at 350 for 28-33 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool for 10 minutes before removing cake from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  3. In a bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Cover and refrigerate. In a microwave or heavy saucepan, melt chocolate and butter; stir until smooth. Stir in confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and enough water to achieve a thick glaze; set aside.
  4. To assemble, place one cake layer on a serving plate; spread with pudding. Top with the second cake layer. Spoon chocolate glaze over the top, allowing it to drip down the sides of cake. Refrigerate until serving.

Recipe Credit: Taste of Home: Busy Family Cookbook

Ingredients: Butter, Cake Mix, Chocolate, Instant Pudding Mix, Milk, Sugar, Vanilla Extract, Water
Meal Type: Desserts, Meatless
Categories: Cakes and Cupcakes, Oven

Comments & Reviews

  • Marie

    Your cake looks great, Mel. Bet your little boys just loved it. I have fond memories of all the good desserts you’ve shared with my fam. I feel lucky to be able to catch glimpses of your culinary masterpieces!

  • donita

    do you prefer the added egg, the extrra oil or the milk?
    Or all 3?

    • Melanie

      I do all three, for sure. But I know that some prefer to only do the change to the oil and the eggs. Then keep the water as it is.

  • sarah C

    so wait did I understand this correctly..you double the amount of oil but don’t add oil at all but instead add butter in it’s place?

  • Christy

    I saw a very similar trick with cake mix on Paula Deen. She said she adds an extra egg, uses milk instead of water, but she uses both oil and butter and adds a little vanilla.

  • Sheila Hurd

    Thank you for the tip on using a cake mix. The cake turned out so much richer. I have a tip for you and that is to mix up a German Chocolate cake mix and add 1 can of pecan cocanut frosting to the mix before you cook it and after it is cooked add the second can of pecan cocanut frosting on top. This makes a very moist cake.

  • Joanna

    Thanks for sharing! I am a horrible baker and this turned out great 🙂 My 9 year old son loved it for his birthday cake- very moist and not too sweet. Fab!!!!

  • Michaelann

    I discovered a similar “secret” when I was making a cake many years ago & forgot the landlord had warned me the water would be off all day. I only like chocolate cake, so I have no idea how it works for other flavours, but milk makes it delciously rich & sneaks in a little added nutrition, which is always cool. I started adding an extra egg about 10 years ago, when I started noticing that some boxed mixes say 2, others 3. I’ve never tried altering the amount of oil.

  • kate

    I wonder if I wanted a LESS rich cake, I’d add fewer eggs? Just like on Brownies, if you want a fudgier brownie, you add 3 eggs, vs. 2. I like them higher and lighter, so I add the 2. My husband likes the opposite, so I make some with using 3 for him. I am looking for a LIGHTER and HIGHER cake.

  • Kathy

    If you are making a chocolate cake add a box of chocolate pudding mix and if you are making a vanilla cake add a box of vanilla pudding mix. The cake will be richer.

    • Amanda

      Do you make the pudding first or just add the dry mix only ?

      • Katie

        Just the dry pudding mix. I add white chocolate cheesecake pudding mix to my white cakes and a chocolate fudge pudding mix to chocolate cakes. I also add a small thing (the individual little cups) of yogurt to every cake. Sometimes when I feel creative I add flavored yogurt to the flavor of cake (strawberry for strawberry cakes, lemon yogurt to my lemon blueberry cakes, even boston cream pie for chocolate cakes ect.). Makes them very moist

    • Bobby M.

      Always use instant pudding when adding it to a cake mix. NEVER use a cooked pudding mix.

  • Bk

    Or just add a 1/4 cup applesauce to the mix, nutrition plus no added fat

  • Melanie

    a cap full of almond extract makes it taste homemade, too 😉

  • Claudia Murtaugh

    I always add vanilla to a cake mix. I love knowing about the other ingredients. I add a cup of rinsed, chopped sauerkraut to my chocolate cake mixes. It is undetectable, but makes it more dense. After having hotdogs with sauerkraut it’s a great excuse to “have” to use the rest of the sauerkraut in the can!

  • Carolyn

    I tried this and it was a total flop. When I took it out of the oven it went flat and was very dense. Maybe I needed to leave it in longer?

    • Melanie

      Hmm. I don’t know what to tell you. My cakes turned out just fine and basically cooked the same way as it would normally. The additions do make the cake more dense though.

    • Mary

      If you try to do this again, beat the egg whites separate from the yolks. So when adding the eggs, separate the yolk into one bowl, and the whites into another. Beat the whites until *soft* peaks form. Then pour the yolks into the dry mixture and mix well. Then gently fold in the egg whites and gently mix to combine. That may help.

    • Kellie

      Same here. I’m pretty bummed that it fell. Any suggestions?!

    • Nan

      I just made this, and agree…..what a loss of otherwise great ingredients.

  • Lisa

    If I add the extra eggs and such, does that change the required bake time or oven temp? Thanks!

  • delen lecompte

    do you add real butter or would margarine work as well? I have asked several people and haven’t really gotten a straight answer. Will it taste different with real butter? Or the same with margarine? Thanks I love boston cream pie just haven’t found a good recipe will definetly try this one. D

    • Ginny

      Margarine will alter the taste a bit, and it won’t melt in the same way butter will (margarine will separate out into an oil/water combo). I never use margarine (in baking or for anything else) because I prefer to use whole ingredients and, as a regular from-scratch baker, I don’t like the way margarine performs in things like cakes, muffins and quick breads. That being said, it shouldn’t change things too much – and if it’s all you have it will probably work.

      • Ginny

        Edited to add that you will get a cleaner, richer taste from butter. Margarine won’t give you that real butter flavor.

        • tina

          HELLO, IF You Google Margarine VS Butter & READ the Info It willShow the differences. We switched to butter about 10 yrs ago for everything. No marg here. Hubby Liked Butter Sooo Much & asked Why we hadnt been eating it All The Time b4. 🙂 We all used marg growing up in cakes, and other baked goods. It cant be ALL Bad ,,and its Much cheaper too! We didnt call it margarine then it was Oleo or butter LOL

  • Mary

    Another trick when I bake my cakes is to bake them at 325 degrees instead of 350.

  • Jessica

    Do you think this would work for brownie mixes in a box?

    • Melanie

      Haven’t tried it. Most brownie mixes already have an adjustment on the box for a more cake-like brownie, which changes the egg amount. Let me know if you try it out.

  • laura

    does this work with cupcakes?

  • Lindsay

    What if it doesn’t say to add any water to the mix? How much do you add then?

  • meg

    do you know what this takes the calorie count to with the extra ingredients?

  • Savannah

    On the box it says to add butter… it doesnt say anything about oil… Should I still double the amount of butter? or should I not add anymore butter than the box says?

    • Melanie

      I think I would give doubling the butter a shot, if you are willing to take the risk. It does sound like a different cake mix from the ones that I have adjusted though, so I’m not sure how it will turn out.

  • Peggy

    If the recipe calls for butter and not oil, do you double the amount of butter? Thank you.

    • Melanie

      I think I would give doubling the butter a shot. But it sounds like a different mix from what I’ve worked with, so I’m not sure how it will turn out.

      • Peggy

        Thanks for replying! I have a French Vanilla cake in the oven right now…using your “adjustments”. Hope it turns out!

        • Shawna

          Mine called for butter as well, instead of oil. I used the milk and extra egg, but forgot to double the butter. My cake came out pretty sponge-cake like. (used a Duncan Hines Butter Golden mix)
          Little bit nervous about how it will taste.

  • Cathy

    I have been using extra eggs and replacing water with milk for over 20 years. My grandmother told me that our well water had too much iron and would dry my cakes out. She said milk makes a cake much moister. She also said she would never use margarine instead of butter because butter makes a cake richer and moister. I too, add vanilla to most of my cake mixes for that little extra added flavor.

  • April

    Does adding the extra eggs and doubling the oil/using butter instead work for only vanilla and chocolate or could it also work for a lemon cake?

  • Amanda E.

    Thanks so much for the tips – just made cupcakes from a box of Betty Crocker’s Butter Pecan cake mix and WOW – it is excellent with the additions/substitutions!

  • Rosemarie

    Has anyone tried it w/ the Gluten free mixes? Would love to make them taste a little better for my wheat free 6 yr old.

    • Rosemarie

      Tried it & seems to have worked! Will taste later, but the batter was much more like “real” batter. I think it will be a big success!! Thanks for the tip.

      • Rosemarie

        Tasted almost exactly like real bakery cake. Not sure anyone would guess they were GF!!!! Thanks for the tips.
        If anyone else is wondering I added to Betty Crocker GF mix. Used 1 & 1/2 sticks butter, 4 eggs & fat free half & Half

        SO good.

  • Rena Hearn

    My daughter and I made this today. We added the extra egg, used butter instead of oil and used milk! I was great!!

  • Amanda

    I hear peolpe saying to add pudding in the mix ,but do you make the pudding first ? Or just add the pudding right out the package ? I’m curious…… Thank you

  • maria

    The mix i’m using already calls for 3 eggs, so i should use 4?

    • Melanie

      Not sure about that. But I think I would give adding an extra egg a shot, as long as it is not a big deal if the results are not ideal. Let us know if it works out well!

  • Luna

    My mom made Boston Creme Pie when I was growing up by using a Jiffy cake mix! Those mixes only make one layer. She would slice the layer in half (horizontally), add the pudding, and same way, she would use cocoa, sugar and milk for the topping. Her topping was more “dark chocolate” and less sweet than yours looks, but I bet they both taste fantastic!

  • Jess

    I just tried doing this using betty crocker french vanilla to make cupcakes and they did all fall. The box called for 3 eggs and I added 4 so i don’t know if i shouldn’t have added an extra egg or if i should’ve baked it longer. I also wanted to know if you should use unsalted or salted butter.

  • Isabel Martinez

    Hello, can the liquid can be substitute with orange juice, pineapple juice and also add some fresh/frozen berries. Please, help?

    • Melanie

      I have not tried to use juice instead of water or milk before. Let us know how it turns out if you give it a shot.
      Something to keep in mind though, a juice would add more sugar and some juices would add an acidic component. This could definitely change the way the cake turns out.

  • Andrea (Quest for Delish)

    I made these as cup cakes the other day. They tasted wonderful but I am curious if anyone else has a problem that they sink in just a bit at the top. Whenever I add butter to boxed cake mix that happens to my cup cakes. I was thinking of adding oil next time.

  • Izzie

    What kind of milk do we use? Does it have to be dried milk? All I have is full milk. Any help?

  • Andrea

    I made these twice and they tasted great however I don’t think they tasted much different if I just follow the regular instructions.

  • deepika

    Do these tips work with brownies?

    • Melanie

      Most brownie mixes already have an adjustment on the box for a more cake-like brownie, which changes the egg amount. Let me know if you try it out though!

  • MelindaB

    When I make chocolate cake mixes, I use coffee instead of water, and add almond extract. There–I just revealed my “secret ingredient”! 🙂

  • Candice

    FYI: The modification to the yellow cake mix works very well in high altitude. I find it’s not as sweet, so it is good to pair it with a sweet frosting.

  • Stephanie

    I’m using white cake mix and it calls for 3 egg whites. What do you think I should do? Use four egg whites? Use four whole eggs? Or just do as it calls for?

    • Melanie

      I’m no expert at cooking with egg whites, so I would probably just follow the instructions as they are on that one if you want to be safe. Let us know if you try any adjustments though!

    • Patty

      I always use whole eggs when I am baking a white cake mix ever since I read The Cake Doctor cookbook by Anne Byrn.

  • Linda Brown

    Do you have to change the baking time at all if you use milk and butter vs. oil and water?

    • Melanie

      I did not have to adjust baking time. So, it should stay pretty close on the time. Be sure to check it toward the end anyway though. 🙂

  • Dionne Smith

    I plan to bake a Betty Crocker pound cake mix in the next hour. Will these additions be okay for that particular mix?

    • Melanie

      Pound cake is probably pretty different. I’m not sure if this tip would apply or not. If it is important that it turns out, I wouldn’t risk it. Let me know if you try it!

      • Dionne Smith

        I didn’t get your post until just now. I went ahead and baked it with the changes above. It didn’t come out too badly. It’s fine but is a bit dry. Luckily I have another box and I will use just the ingredients it calls for. Unfortunately, it’s a gift so I can’t sample it to taste the difference between the two. At least I now the box directions are tried and proven. Thanks for your response! Without it, I would have given a kinda dry cake….

  • Helen

    Hi im in the uk
    What is instant pudding mix?
    Wondering what i might be able to use as an alternative
    Many thanks
    Helz x

  • Susan

    Do NOT add an extra egg and double the oil! Doing that will give you a mess not a cake! Instead of eggs use unsweetened applesauce. In place of each egg use 1/4C unsweetened applesauce. And please don’t use all that unhealthy oil. Use coconut oil or milk or water instead of unhealthy oil!

    • Melanie

      Thank you for your tips, Susan! I like that you use applesauce! The extra egg and extra butter actually work quite well with a cake mix, but I would love to try out your way too. 🙂

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