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.


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






more by Cheryl »

Cheryl Sousan

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+

190 Responses to “The Perfect Cupcake Recipe (using a mix)”

  1. Carly posted on October 5, 2012 at 7:03 pm (#)

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

    • TidyMom replied on October 8th, 2012 at 10:18 am

      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.

    • Stacey replied on November 25th, 2012 at 12:54 am

      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!!

    • Cindy replied on February 13th, 2014 at 11:26 am

      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. jessie posted on October 11, 2012 at 8:42 pm (#)

    Do you use salted or unsalted butter?

    • TidyMom replied on October 12th, 2012 at 8:37 am

      I use which ever I have on hand

  3. Camilla posted on October 25, 2012 at 10:54 am (#)

    Would this work for a gluten free mix as well?

    • Toni replied on October 31st, 2012 at 3:12 pm

      This is the recipe on the Betty Crocker Gluten Free cake mix box.

  4. Jasmine posted on November 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm (#)

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

  5. Rachael posted on November 13, 2012 at 9:48 am (#)

    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.

    • TidyMom replied on November 13th, 2012 at 9:55 am

      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.

      • Amber replied on April 14th, 2013 at 7:33 pm


        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. Chari posted on December 5, 2012 at 9:19 pm (#)

    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?

    • TidyMom replied on December 6th, 2012 at 6:42 am

      Yes – you over mixed and added too much air to the batter

  7. Sandra posted on December 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm (#)

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

  8. Sarah posted on January 8, 2013 at 2:14 pm (#)

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

  9. rsmgma posted on January 11, 2013 at 2:25 pm (#)

    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!

    • Pearse replied on September 12th, 2014 at 12:04 pm

      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. Mercy posted on January 24, 2013 at 3:50 pm (#)

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


  11. Crystal posted on February 15, 2013 at 4:09 pm (#)

    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. shelby posted on February 17, 2013 at 6:42 pm (#)

    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. Siobhan posted on March 7, 2013 at 8:08 am (#)

    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. Vivi posted on March 19, 2013 at 8:45 pm (#)

    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. Kyley Wilcott posted on April 5, 2013 at 2:13 pm (#)

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

    • TidyMom replied on April 5th, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      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. Jennifer Sizemore posted on April 14, 2013 at 7:21 am (#)

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

  17. Kendra posted on April 22, 2013 at 6:09 pm (#)

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

  18. Rodrigo posted on July 26, 2013 at 10:59 am (#)

    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. Erin posted on August 5, 2013 at 7:59 pm (#)

    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!!

    • joliesa replied on September 3rd, 2013 at 6:57 pm

      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. Janet Tredoux posted on September 16, 2013 at 3:47 pm (#)

    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. Janet Tredoux posted on September 16, 2013 at 3:48 pm (#)

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

  22. Amber posted on September 27, 2013 at 1:16 pm (#)

    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.

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  24. angelle posted on November 27, 2013 at 6:16 pm (#)

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

  25. Ratherbebaking posted on December 27, 2013 at 1:53 pm (#)

    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. Lauren posted on January 11, 2014 at 6:18 pm (#)

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

  27. Lauren posted on January 11, 2014 at 6:19 pm (#)

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

    • TidyMom replied on January 12th, 2014 at 12:05 pm

      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. ilse posted on January 23, 2014 at 9:09 am (#)

    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. Pataricia posted on February 1, 2014 at 2:31 pm (#)

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

  30. Courtney posted on February 9, 2014 at 6:50 pm (#)

    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. Annette posted on March 7, 2014 at 2:37 pm (#)

    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. Annette posted on March 7, 2014 at 2:41 pm (#)

    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?

    • TidyMom replied on March 7th, 2014 at 4:56 pm

      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. BB posted on March 30, 2014 at 10:20 am (#)

    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..

    • TidyMom replied on March 30th, 2014 at 10:50 am

      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. Jason Hester posted on June 20, 2014 at 1:54 pm (#)

    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.

    • Jason replied on June 20th, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      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.

  35. cece posted on November 24, 2014 at 10:04 am (#)

    Could i use milk instead of water.

  36. Meg posted on January 31, 2015 at 8:50 am (#)

    what size boxed cake mix is recommended?

  37. Linda Hoopet posted on March 5, 2015 at 12:42 pm (#)

    Could you tell me how long to bake and what temperature to use when using this recipe  for a cake (2-9 inch cake pans).  Thank you, Cheryl!!

  38. Ann Merhall posted on June 17, 2015 at 10:31 pm (#)

    This looks divine!  What I do for chocolate cake recipes from box is replace the water with coffee!  Really amps it up several notches!

  39. Robin posted on June 27, 2015 at 7:10 pm (#)

    I am making a cake recipe and I used this recipe instead of what’s on the box and let me tell you the cake rose high and the cake mix was thick. Will tell you tomorrow how it taste.

  40. Ashley posted on October 27, 2015 at 4:40 pm (#)

    I made these! I guess they were just so amazing because I didn’t get ANY of the 24! Lol


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