follow TidyMom on Pinterest

The Perfect Cupcake Recipe (using a mix)


This is my all time favorite, go to “recipe” for cupcakes. You can use this “trick” to make a box cake mix taste like “from scratch”

How to make cupcake from mix taste like scratch

The Perfect Cupcake Recipe (using a mix)

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 24

The Perfect Cupcake Recipe (using a mix)


  • 1 box mix (any flavor*) – but get the good kind, Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted (use butter not margarine….trust me on this!)
  • 1 cup of water


  1. Melt the butter in the microwave.
  2. Add cake mix, eggs and water to the butter in large bowl.
  3. Mix on low for 1 min. Then mix on high for 1 min.
  4. You will be amazed that your batter is nice and thick and creamy - not thin and runny like it is when you follow the box instructions.
  5. Fill cupcake papers – tip: use an icecream scooper! – One scoop is just the right amount per cupcake!
  6. Pop them in the oven on 350 for 20 minutes.
  7. Let cool.


© TidyMom. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin

NEW FEATURE: Save recipes to your personal recipe box with the Once you have your favorite recipes in your Recipe Box create a Meal Plan with them and the ingredients will automatically be added to a Grocery List!

I use this 99% of the time when I make cakes and cupcakes and I always get lots of compliments!

*Because I get so many emails asking…….YES you can use this to make a cake too! Cupcakes are just mini cakes

MORE  Cupcake Recipes

TidyMom Cupcake Recipes





photographing FOOD® ebooks

If you’re new to TidyMom, I would love for you to subscribe for free updates! You can subscribe via RSS feed or Email. I would also love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter! Thanks for visiting!
About TidyMom

A self-proclaimed neat freak, Cheryl chronicles her journey through homemaking on her blog,, where she shares recipes, tutorials, crafting and her ever-growing love for photography. This St. Louis mom juggles her passion for life, her daughters and her tiger-loving husband, all while her obsession with tidiness cleans up the trail blazed behind her. Google+


  1. 110

    Can you do this with the pillsbury mixes that have pudding in them?

    • 111

      The main “trick” is just to use a little less water than the box calls for (so if it say 1-1/4 cup I use a cup, if it say 1 cup I use a scan cup – a little more than 3/4 but not quite a cup) and to use real butter instead of oil.

    • 112

      I made these, with a few tweaks of my own. I made candied bacon ( bacon rubbed with maple syrup, rolled in brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, then baked on a rack in a shallow pan in the oven for about 30 minutes) I reserved 1/4 cup bacon fat, and added 1/4 cup melted butter, and added 3/4ths cup of water, and 1/4 cup maple syrup. For a filling I made a date/craisin filling with chopped candied bacon. I did a vanilla cream cheese frosting with crumbled candied bacon on top!!

    • 113

      The devils food and butter recipe worked out wonderfully. In regards to those who had problems with the confetti mix, there is an easy answer. When I used this recipe for lemon, it was runny because the original recipe only calls for 1 cup of water, not 1.25 like the butter and devils food. I suggest everyone look at the back of the box at the original recipe and if it calls for 1.25 c water then the above recipe applies. If it calls for only 1 c of water than you should probably start with .5 c and add accordingly.

  2. 114

    Do you use salted or unsalted butter?

  3. 116

    Would this work for a gluten free mix as well?

  4. 118

    Does the cake box oz amount matter? example I have a 15.25 oz should I get the 18.25 oz box?

  5. 119

    Tried this with a Duncan Hines Confetti cake mix. Not really happy with results. Had to add a Tablespoon of Veggie Oil (per the box) to make a difference. After that, I just followed the box directions and had much better results. At least to my taste.

    • 120

      So you made 2 batches? One following my instructions and one following the box?

      I’ve been doing this for years and not too long ago followed the box instructions just to see if we could tell a difference, and I didn’t tell my family………they all commented that the cupcakes weren’t as good as they usually were and asked if I did something different.

      The box instructions yield a very runner batter – and replacing the oil with butter makes the cake a little more rich.

      • 121


        Just wanted to add that I’ve used this recipe several times and always had amazing results — until this Easter when I tried it with the Duncan Hines confetti cake mix. They were flat out of the oven and kinda dry and tasteless…

        I wonder if there’s just something about this mix that makes it not work well for this?

  6. 122

    I made these tonight and must have done something wrong. I made a double batch. They “puffed up” really big in the oven and seemed to crack apart. Then when I took them out, they all shriveled up. They taste great….but look a bit sad and pathetic. Any ideas what I might have done wrong? I double checked and I used the correct amount of each ingredient. I also doubled the mixing time….doing 2 minutes on low and 2 on high. Could that have been the culprit?

  7. 124

    I was wondering if I could use your recipe to make cake pops using a cake pop maker…..

  8. 125

    How long do you bake them for if you make mini cupcakes using this recipe?

  9. 126

    I made these cupcakes last night using the melted butter and milk teqnique as Shelly (pastry chef) suggested and they turned out great. I used Duncan Hines Red Velvet box mix and used 4 eggs, 1 cup milk and 2/3 cup melted butter. The batter was thicker and not runny. They came out great! Very moist and delicious!! I will use this trick from now on when using a box mix! Thanks for posting this!

    • 127

      Hi rsmgma
      Do u have the complete recipe with theses changes as well as the modifications u were talking about from pastry chef which you are willing to share would appreciate it. Thanks!

  10. 128

    Hi! The perfect cupcake mix calls for butter…salted or unsalted?


  11. 129

    OMG!!!! I tried this out today for my sweetheart for valentines and I just want to thank you. I have to admit I was nervous at first cause all I had was one box of cake mix but thank heavens I took the chance! They came out delicious!!!! Thanx so much!

  12. 130

    Tried this recipe on Valentine’s day 2013. Best cupcakes ever! Taste like the ones I’ve been paying $5 a piece for at the cupcake store.

  13. 131
    Siobhan says:

    I made this yesterday using the Duncan Hines White Cake Mix, they are delicious!! Thanks so much for sharing. Although next time I will bake them for 20mins at 325, I found they were too browned on top.

  14. 132

    Thank you! Thank you omg Thank you!!!!!!
    I just tried this recipe exactly like you said and it worked so perfect for me. I used Duff Yellow Cake mix and the cupcakes came out soooo good! Everyone at work love them. they were so moist and delicious!
    Im so glad I found your recipe!

  15. 133
    Kyley Wilcott says:

    Hey I tried the recipe exactly how you said and all mine sunk in??? What do I need to do to fix that???

    • 134

      Cakes usually sink when the cake batter is not completely cooked. Everyone’s ovens are different so you need to find the optimum baking time for your oven. Also be sure you are testing your cupcakes for doneness before you take them out, by inserting a tooth pick in the center of one, if it does not come out clean, then bake the cupcakes for a little longer.

      Sometimes other things can be the problem:
      • Over beating the batter – this causes too much air and can cause cake to collapse.
      • Temperature of the oven is too high causing the cake to rise too rapidly. get an oven thermometer (they are under $10) to check the accuracy of your oven temperature.
      • Opening the door to check on the cakes before the batter is set can cause the cake to sink.
      • Placing the baked cupcakes to cool in a drafty place. (make sure they’re not by an open window or door with a breeze)

      But generally most cakes sink or dip in the middle because their outer edges were fully cooked but the center was not

  16. 135
    Jennifer Sizemore says:

    Can’t wait to try these…Making cupcakes for a baby shower. This looks easy Thanks

  17. 136

    I’m going to make this tonight and be in heaven.

  18. 137

    Thank you so much!!! You’re a life saver!!! I made my first batch of cupcakes following the box instructions, and they had an aweful consistency!!! They ended up breaking apart since they were so flufly. I found your post and followed your instructions, replacing oil with butter, and cupcakes came out like a charm!!! They had a better consistency and looked great!!! You are such a life saver!!!

    I have a question, have you tried this on cakes, does it make it taste better and have a better consistency?(Sometimes following the instructions gives you a cake that has a lot of crumbles, I wonder if using butter will give it a better hold!)
    Thank you so much!!!

  19. 138

    I’ve read through all the comments and didn’t see anything, but forgive me if this has been asked before and I missed it –

    What happens if you use margarine instead of butter? (My daughter is allergic to dairy, and I REALLY don’t want to have to bake an entire batch of cupcakes just so she can have a single one to mash up for pictures.) Thanks!!

    • 139

      My boyfriend has a dairy allergy too! I replace milk/water and oil/butter that the box recommends with apple sauce. Makes AMAZINGLY moist cakes and mini cupcakes that don’t fall apart or stick to anything. I use naturally unsweetened apple sauce, besides being good on it’s own, it’s my new favorite secret weapon when it comes to baking. The last Duncan Hines box mix I used called for 1/2cup of oil (ew!) and 1 cup of water. 1cup of applesauce replaced both.

  20. 140
    Janet Tredoux says:

    Loved this recipe so so easy , I mashed with a fork half a tin of peaches and mixed it in after everything else was mixed they were DELICIOUS

  21. 141
    Janet Tredoux says:

    Erin I used margarine cause I don’t use butter and they were fine

  22. 142

    I’ve been using this technique for years only using milk instead of water. It adds a denseness that holds up well to cake decorating. I do also switch out…on special occasions, olive oil for the melted butter.

  23. 143

    So if an individual gets an insurance plan without correct knowledge, the likelihood
    of getting cheated at the disposal of these fake companies are high.
    You may also want to put in a contact page or an about-the-blogger
    section. One also can vary the auxiliary content related to such offers.

  24. 144

    Will this work with a triple chocolate fudge mix? It’s Duncan Hines . . . But there are chocolate chips in the mix . . .

  25. 145
    Ratherbebaking says:

    I followed the recipe to a T, even using the timer on my mixer. They looked fine when I took them out of the oven, after they cooled they are half the size and all sunk in. They look pathetic. Glad I have an extra mix to make another batch using original box directions.

  26. 146

    What about if you only have medium eggs then how many eggs would you use then?

  27. 147

    What about if you only have medium eggs how many eggs would you use then?

    • 148

      I’ve never bought or used medium eggs, most all recipes call for large eggs. I googled it to find out that it’s usually 1.5 medium = 1 large, but sometimes 2 medium = 1 large. So my recipe calls for 3 large eggs, I would probably try 5 medium eggs

  28. 149

    Hi, I want to try this for a cupcake order I have coming up but don’t want it to taste too box mixish, would it make a difference if I try this recipe with milk instead of water?

  29. 150

    Could this recipe be half? If so how many eggs,margarine, and other
    would you add.(Thanks)

  30. 151

    I love this recipe! My grandfather has a sweet tooth, and I bake cupcakes for him every other week. I’ve been using this recipe for months now, and it’s great! I haven’t branched out and tried different kinds of cake mixes, I always use the same one. I use the Betty Crocker yellow mix and it turns out perfect each time! Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe :)

  31. 152
    Annette says:

    Can you use 1/4 cup of oil instead of the 1/2 cup of melted butter. I don’t have butter on hand.

  32. 153
    Annette says:

    Can I use 1/4 cup of oil instead of the 1/2 cup of melted butter. Will that work to make it less liquid as the oil maybe a bit more liquid than the melted butter. Has anyone tried this?

    • 154

      well, oil is what the box calls for – sure you can use it!! – the butter is just part of what makes it taste richer and more like from scratch

  33. 155

    I made these last night desperately looking for a moist easy to make cupcake. They came out dry I have no choice but to take them to the baby shower but I wonder what went wrong.. Any suggestions I used Duncan Hines moist chocolate cake mix..

    • 156

      I’m sorry, I’ve made them this way for years and never had them come out dry. are you sure you followed the directions/ingredients exactly as posted and didn’t over bake? I always bake my cupcakes 20 mins.

  34. 157
    Jason Hester says:

    You should really write it up a little differently, especially for guys. I’m doing thing now and I’ve got a BIG mess to clean up. You said mix on low for a minute and then high for a minute. I did, or tried to. I turned the mixer up as high as it would go. Now I’ve got cake mix all over the kitchen. What didn’t fling everywhere is in the oven and looks pretty good so far.

    • 158

      It ended up making 23 and a small one. I made Giada’s Strawberry Cupcake Icing to put on ‘em. GOOD! Taste like I bought ‘em from somebody’s Mom.


  1. [...] mixed up a batch of  Perfect Cupcakes using a mix  ‘recipe’ using a box of  Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge  topped them with Vanilla [...]

  2. [...] chocolate cake I followed:  Perfect Cupcakes using a mix(I used Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate [...]

  3. [...] Any way…….I just grabbed a cake mix and fixed it up using  the Perfect Cupcake from a Box “recipe. [...]

  4. [...] know I talk about doctoring up cake mixes for cupcakes, and for most of the time, they really are very good……but still nothing beats the [...]

  5. [...] For the cake “recipe” I just used my favorite Duncan Hines French Vanilla “doctored up” to taste like homemade. [...]

  6. [...] These cupcakes are pretty involved, and I love love love Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix, so I used the cake mix, instead of making the cake from scratch……but I don’t use the directions on the box, I modify it to make it extra yummy. [...]

  7. [...] I often make them by tweaking a box mix for the perfect cupcakes from a mix. [...]

  8. [...] Perfect Cupcakes using a mix (I used Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe French Vanilla) [...]

  9. [...] Perfect Cupcakes using a mix (I used Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge) [...]

  10. [...] made the perfect cupcakes using Dark Chocolate Fudge cake mix and topped [...]

  11. [...] These were really easy when I used the secret trick of making a box mix taste like homemade! [...]

  12. [...] I used the Perfect Cupcake (using a mix) recipe posted here. [...]

  13. [...] The Perfect Cupcake (using a mix) [...]

  14. [...] I mixed up a batch of  Perfect Cupcakes using a mix  ‘recipe’ using a box of  Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe French Vanilla .  Now if you [...]


  16. [...] 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 [...]

  17. [...] prepare the cupcakes with the directions on the box. I did something much, MUCH better. I found a link a while back on good ol’ Pinterest that described a way to prepare cupcakes with a box mix [...]

  18. [...] is where I have to tell you, that he’s perfectly happy with a boxed mix (especially when I doctor it up to make perfect cupcakes) and some canned frosting.  But, as luck would have it, I did not have a vanilla, yellow or white [...]

  19. [...] and got 24 cupcakes and had icing left over, so I whipped up a batch of French Vanilla cupcakes, doctoring the cake mix like I always do, and topped them with the peanut butter frosting as [...]

  20. [...] wrote this post sharing her perfect cupcake recipe using a mix.  I was [...]

  21. [...] this! Put a Cork in It! I have seen this recipe several times and I want to try it sometime! The Perfect Cupcake Recipe (using a mix) This cake is SO pretty! Red Velvet Strawberry Shortcake This is fun! In Honor of Halloween [...]

  22. [...] used my favorite Duncan Hines French Vanilla Cake mix, doctored up like I usually do, with butter in-place of the oil and a little less [...]

  23. [...] brownies, I now do a lot of my baking for others by staring with box mixes.  I take a hint from Tidy Mom and substitute the oil called for on the box with butter.  I don’t melt the butter, though; [...]

  24. [...] whether they win or lose!   (They lost, bummer.)  The cupcake recipe comes from a blog called “Tidy Mom”.  I haven’t tasted one of these yet since I gave them all away but she claims that they are [...]

  25. [...] A while ago I saw a post on Tidy Mom about the perfect cupcake from a box mix. Our Tea Party was a perfect time to try out the recipe. [...]

  26. [...] know I often make cakes and cupcakes that start with a box mix, but this “from scratch” recipe is super simple to make, and I’m even thinking it [...]

  27. [...] 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 [...]

  28. […] they are so simple to prepare.  I just used a chocolate cake mix and doctored it up using Tidy Mom’s Perfect Cupcake recipes. You won’t believe how with such little effort you can change the taste of a cake mix from […]

  29. […] Directions: Melt the butter in the microwave. Add cake mix (do not add the ingredients as called for on the box!), eggs, and water to the butter in a large bowl. Mix on low for one minute, then on high for one minute. The batter will be thick and creamy (instead of runny). Scoop batter into cupcake papers (I used an ice cream scoop- you want them to be about 2/3 full). Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool and then frost. Recipe source: Tidy Mom […]

  30. […] test bake by 50 bakers and counting.  But I was in a hurry, and fell back on my very favorite perfect cupcake recipe using a box cake mix and make it taste like scratch – I’m sort of in love with Duncan Hines for making my […]

  31. […] led me to a plan of combining Tidy Mom’s advice to substitute a stick of butter for vegetable oil in Duncan Hines Yellow Cake Mix (on sale!) + […]

  32. […] hey, just because experts like the fabulous Tidy Mom can make perfect cupcakes using a mix that taste like Grandma’s made-from-scratch homemade variety, doesn’t mean everyone […]

  33. […] looks.  It’s really pretty simple cupcake recipe.  I started by mixing up a batch of  Perfect Cupcakes using a mix  ‘recipe’ with my favorite French Vanilla Cake Mix.  The custard filling and buttercream […]

  34. […] requested chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting. I used this recipe for the cupcakes and this recipe for the frosting. (I did half dark/half Dutch cocoa […]

  35. […] 7. Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes 8. Pumpkin Cupcakes With Chocolate-Hazelnut Topping 9. He Perfect Cupcake Recipe 10. Double Decker Carrot Cake […]

  36. […] many-a-boxed-cake in my party days and believe me, nobody turns them down! I recommend following Tidy Mom’s tip on doctoring up a boxed mix. You could get canned frosting or whip up your own quite cheaply with […]

I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment


Current ye@r *