How to Upgrade Boxed Cake Mix and Make It Taste Homemade

We discovered this elevating ingredient substitution totally by accident.

Beaters in Cake Batter
Photo: Robert Rowe/EyeEm/Getty Images

Recently, my friend lost a bet (we were trying to see who could cut down on their dessert consumption). Somewhat ironically, we decided that the loser who caved on dessert had to bake the rest of us a cake. It didn’t take long for us to pick our preferred flavor: the super-sweet, sprinkle-studded deliciousness that is Funfetti.

Off he went to the store to purchase the cake mix, only to return to find that we didn’t have the vegetable oil the recipe required. Instead of going back out to the deli, we decided to improvise with whatever we had on hand. Here's how this off-the-cuff ingredient substitution created the best boxed cake we've ever tasted.

Ingredient Substitution

After going back and forth about what to use instead of vegetable oil, we decided to try coconut oil. As someone who dislikes the flavor of coconut, my friend was skeptical—but I reassured him he wouldn’t taste it.

To make the substitution, we warmed the solid coconut oil in the microwave until it was liquefied, measured out the specified amount, added it to the mix, and proceeded as usual.

The Results

The coconut oil cake was far from average. It was exceptional, especially considering it came from a box. It was moist and extra light and fluffy, and—dare I say it—tasted just as good as a homemade vanilla cake. Since we used refined coconut oil, there was no discernable coconut flavor.

We couldn’t stop eating it straight from the pan, dipping pieces into the tub of Funfetti frosting. It was, hands down, the most delicious cake from a box I’ve ever had. This random discovery made me wonder what other boxed desserts would taste better with coconut oil (the answer: most of them).

Tips

If you want to try this hack, it’s easy: Just replace the oil called for with melted coconut oil. I suggest using refined coconut oil, which doesn’t have a coconut-y flavor. Unrefined (or virgin) will also work, but you’ll be able to taste it in the cake.

Try this texture upgrade on any homemade or boxed cake recipe, not just Funfetti. And don't save your coconut oil for cakes alone. Use this ingredient substitution in place of oil or butter for cookies, pie crust, or brownies. Just remember that coconut oil is especially high in saturated fat, which could be unhealthy when consumed in excess.

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