Secrets To Elevate Boxed Mixes: Fool Your Guests Into Thinking You Baked From Scratch

I’m about to share my favorite time-saving baking hack: using store-bought boxed mixes. Get my secrets for making them taste homemade!

In this piece, I’m about to share my favorite time saving baking technique: using store-bought boxed mixes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a total advocate for making muffins, bread, and desserts from scratch. Heck, I’m even publishing an entire cookbook to help you become a flexible baking master (you can pre-order your copy here!).

But here’s the thing …

A lot of us are pressed for time.

We juggle demanding jobs, families, and overwhelming responsibility. And many of us are lucky if we just get a few moments to ourselves at the end of the day. So who has time to always create a delicious dish from scratch? Some days call for a cheat. In the video below, I share my secrets to elevating store-bought boxed mixes. A few simple upgrades can make them taste like homemade creations!

Some Of My Favorite Elevations

Spices and Flavorings

Give your muffin or pancake mix an extra kick by adding a teaspoon or two of your favorite powdered spice. Some of my go-to additions are cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, and allspice. But have some fun and figure out what works best with your mix. Here are some combinations to try:

  • Banana muffins with cinnamon, ground ginger, and nutmeg
  • Vanilla cake with cinnamon and vanilla
  • Pumpkin muffins with pumpkin pie spice

Sneaky Healthy Additions

In an attempt to make my baked goods slightly more nutritious, I sneak in some hemp seeds, flax meal, or chia seeds. Hemp seeds and flax meal will give you a slightly nutty flavor, and chia seeds are flavorless. A quick note: Chia seeds absorb a lot of liquid. So if you add them to your boxed mix then you may need to splash in a little more liquid.

Nuts

Chopped walnuts, pecans, and almonds and a fun addition that give your baked goods more taste, texture, and good-for-you fats.

Colorful Sweets

Add a handful of chocolate chips or a chopped up chocolate bar to your brownies to enhance their gooey-ness, chewiness, and chocolaty-ness.  Another fun trick is to add rainbow sprinkles to your white or yellow cake batter. Once you slice into the cake, you’ll love seeing all of the pretty colors come through. Or, sprinkle M&Ms right before baking your cupcake or cake batter (the die will run and turn the batter a brown color if you mix them in earlier).

Diced Fruit

Take your cake and muffin mixes to the next level by adding some sweet fruit. Try blueberries, peaches, strawberries, cooked apples or pears. But use whatever you have on hand or is in season.

Vanilla Extract

I add vanilla to almost every boxed mix. Sort of like salt, vanilla extract adds flavor and enhances your other ingredients.

Coconut Or Almond Milk

One of my favorite ways to jazz up boxed mixes? Never add water! Instead, swap out the recommended amount of water for coconut, almond, or soy milk. This will give your cake a much richer taste and texture.

Banana or Pumpkin Purée

If you’re looking to create a denser baked good (vs. a light and fluffy treat) then add either one mashed banana or a little pumpkin purée. You could also try carrot or sweet potato puree.

Swap Out The Oil

Boxed mixes will often call for vegetable or corn oil. Rather than using a hydrogenated and not-so-great-for-you oil, swap it out for something like coconut or grapeseed oil. Coconut oil will give your baked goods a slight coconut flavor, so if you aren’t a fan of coconut then try grapeseed.

Healthier Boxed Mix Brands

  • Simple Mills
  • KingArthur
  • Bob’s Red Mill
  • Miss Jones
  • FoodStirs
  • Arrowhead Mills