What You Can Substitute In A Boxed Baking Mix

Missing one of those back-of-the-box ingredients? No problem.

Ingredients for Baking Cake
Photo: Getty Images

While we love a homemade dessert and pride ourselves on Mama's recipes, there are times that call for a boxed mix. From cornbread muffins and pancakes to brownies and cake mixes, Southerners aren't afraid of a little help from the likes of Betty Crocker. Often topped with homemade icing or embellished with flavorful add-ins, no one will even know the secret cake recipe they're begging for wasn't made from scratch.

Most boxed mixes only call for a few additional ingredients, which typically include water, oil, and eggs. Whether you don't have the ingredients the box calls for on hand or you're wanting to take your pre-packaged mix to the next level (and maybe pass it off as homemade), we have you covered. With a little help from baking experts, we have a few ideas for what you can substitute on the back of a baking box, as well as some additions to turn out the perfect treat.

What to Substitute for Oil in Cake Mix (And Other Treats)

No oil? No worries. If you're wondering what to substitute for oil in a cake or brownie mix—try melted butter in a one to one ratio. "Melted butter makes for a more flavorful dessert. Typically desserts made with oil will be slightly more moist, but sometimes the added flavor is worth the substitution," says Kate Wood, the baker and writer behind Wood and Spoon. Baking mixes typically call for oil to keep the goods moist and tender. If you're sticking to oil, you can use any vegetable oil like grapeseed, sunflower, or avocado for a slightly sweeter, richer flavor try using coconut oil. Or if your mix calls for butter and you don't have it, just replace it with oil.

How to Substitute Milk for Water in Cake Mix

Don't have the right liquid? To take any mix up a notch, anywhere water is called for, milk can generally be used in a 1:1 substitution. If your mix already calls for milk and you don't have it, another dairy product might do the trick, like half-and-half.

Have you ever been in the middle of whipping up your favorite pancake mix on Saturday morning only to realize you're out of buttermilk? While you can always use water, buttermilk provides a much fluffier and flavorful griddle cake. For every cup of buttermilk needed, use a cup of milk mixed with one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar.

Try Adding Coffee to Boxed Baking Mix

Or try a more flavorful liquid than water. For chocolate treats, coffee or espresso is the best addition. "A fun trick that I love to do in homemade or boxed chocolate cake recipes is trade out the water ingredient for coffee! It gives the chocolate an extra depth of flavor, making it a mocha chocolate cake. You can even add in espresso chocolate chips to really take it over the top," says author, stylist, and foodie Katie Jacobs of Styling My Everyday. For boxed brownies, Kate Wood also recommends replacing the water with coffee. "Even just adding in a teaspoon or two of espresso power [makes a difference]. The coffee brings out the flavor of the cocoa!"

What to Use as an Egg Substitute for Cake Mix

When it comes to egg alternatives, it can get a bit tricky. "For box brownies, eggs can typically be substituted for unsweetened applesauce, mashed ripe banana, and even yogurt or sour cream. I usually just replace the weight of one large egg for the equal weight of any of those items," instructs Kate Wood. One egg is about 60 grams or roughly ¼ cup, which is equal to 4 tablespoons of your replacement ingredient.

Upgrade Your Store-bought Baking Mix

If you're already switching up ingredients, you may as well make some additions to elevate your mix too. Vanilla, chocolate chips (or other morsels), nuts, salt, swirls of sauce, or even citrus zest are sure to help your boxed-mix baking goods pass as homemade.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles