Not Your Average Box Cake Mix Recipe

I have been making cupcakes like a mad woman the last few weeks, particularly this last week. My sister is having a celebration for her baby today and I had to make over 100 cupcakes for the event. Needless to say, I have been making cupcakes, freezing them and repeating. Being crammed for time, I like to take as many shortcuts as I can BUT still produce moist, delicious and perfect cupcakes. That’s where this amazing recipe comes into play. I made this chocolate cake recipe a couple years ago with my mom and the recipe has stuck with me. I like to adapt it to whatever flavor I am craving, which is what I did today.

You may remember a similar picture to today’s post from my Vanilla Bean Buttercream recipe. Well, today you get the cupcake recipe that goes along with the picture. Trust me, this is one cupcake recipe you are not going to want to lose!

Not Your Average Box Cake Mix Recipe! Click to find out how to take a box cake mix and make it extraordinary! These cupcakes are so moist and perfect! This is one cupcake recipe you are not going to want to lose!

Not Your Average Box Cake Mix Recipe

How to take a box cake mix and make it extraordinary! These cupcakes are so moist and perfect!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 24
Calories 213kcal


  • 1 box vanilla cake mix dry
  • 3.9 ounces Instant Vanilla pudding mix dry
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Cake Batter will be THICK.
  • Fill cupcake tins about 2/3 of the way full.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-18 minutes or until cupcakes are golden in color.


Calories: 213kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 194mg | Potassium: 44mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 108IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Tag @nikki_chefintraining in your picture on Instagram so we can see what you have been up to in your kitchen!

(recipe slightly adapted from Kevin and Amanda)

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #chefintraining and/or #chefintrainingblog. I would love to see how these recipes take shape in your kitchens.

Filed under: cake, dessert

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  1. Emily

    YUM! I love quick and easy cupcake recipes! 100 cupcakes?!? That wears me out just thinking about it!

  2. Tieghan

    Whoa! Pudding mix in a cake? That sounds like such a good idea! I cannot wait to try this out!

  3. Emily @ Life on Food

    Oh I like the cake mix and pudding together. I bet this is superb! With the vanilla frosting and cherry on top this are adorable.

  4. wendy condon

    Was just wondering how many ounces of cake mix you used since many of the large brands have decreased the amount in their mixes.

    1. Sandra Schulte


      Please let me know if you used the recipe as posted. Many of us had the cupcakes fall and shrink. They look awful.

  5. Shantel

    Looks so yummy! Thank you!

  6. jeanne

    Hi can you give the recipe for frosting? it looks delicious.... thanks

    1. Chef in Training

      Here is the recipe for the Vanilla Bean Frosting Pictured:

  7. Sarah H

    Just wondering how these would work with a sugar-free cake mix and sugar-free pudding...any ideas?

  8. Faith

    What a wonderful shortcut for cake recipe! I love box mix bases so much and they're definitely under appreciated.

  9. heather

    This looks delicious! Does this work for all cake mixes? I have to make a lemon cake for hubby's bday. Would you use lemon pudding instead of vanilla?

    1. Chef in Training

      yep :) Thats what I would do, or you could use a vanilla pudding box to have a more muted lemon flavor :)

  10. KariDly

    I use this recipe with chocolate chips in a 13x9 pan as a snack cake. Easy Peasy !! Never thought about doing cupcakes. They look delish.

  11. Gina

    Love this post, thank you. I was looking for a way to jazz up store bought cake mix.

  12. LT

    These look great. Would love the recipe for the frosting as well!

    1. Chef in Training

      Here is the recipe for the Vanilla Bean Frosting Pictured:

    1. kelly

      These look Amazing! I bet they taste even better then they look!! Thanks for the recipe Nikki! :) P.S. You look gorgeous!

  13. Celine

    I made this last weekend with Devil's food cake mix and chocolate pudding. It was fantastic! I got so many compliments on how moist and delicious it was! Thanks!

    1. Celine

      I also filled them with raspberry jam and made raspberry buttercream icing!

  14. Kristi

    I had high hopes for these...but for some reason, once out of the pan and cooling, they shrunk a tad, and sunk a little. Did this happen to anyone else? Ideas? I really wanted to love this idea!

    1. Pam

      I just took mine out of the oven. They were beautiful, but quickly shrunk and sank as well :-(

    2. Chef Rhonda

      same thing happened to me....
      they were great tasting.... but not really like a cupcake

    3. Martha

      Why did they sponge and cave in? Ive been baking fir 20 years and never had this happen. Can anyone tell me plz?

    4. Brittany

      This happened to me too! Not thrilled!

  15. Jen

    I was wanting to know if you can do this to any cake mix? and also what if it has pudding all ready inside do you add more? It says on the box that with pudding mix

  16. Michelle Breck

    I made these and mine turned out weird and spongey. They fell as soon as I took them out of the oven. I bake a lot and don't usually have any problems, I'm just trying to trouble shoot. Does it really require 1cup of oil, that seems like a lot with sour cream. I hope you might have some insight, mine are not edible:( love your blog though:)

  17. Leenieladybugg

    Same thing happened to mine. Please help. They are tasty but look totally weird. Good thing my kids don't care how they look.

  18. Victoria

    To the ladies that had weird eesults- mine fell too. In 38 yrs of baking, never had that happen. I'm going to try again, but use a little less liquid. Probably omit the oil totally. The flavor of the cake was great- took it as bites to church last nite and everyone LOVED the taste. Was more like a wet pound cake in texture.. I will post my results.

  19. Gdiva25

    I made these.They came. Out very moist my family loved them !! Thanks a bunch
    I will never make regular box mix again love love love this recipe! !! Thanks again

  20. Suzanne

    Mine fell a little...but they were delicious. So moist! I had chocolate cupcakes at the party too and even the chocolate lovers were switching to these vanilla cupcakes. A true foodie at work (where I took the leftovers) said: "I think this is the best cupcake I have ever had in my entire life" - and is planning on make them soon. Thanks for the recipe!

  21. Megan

    Mine fell and were very dense and spongy in the middle. Very disappointing, as my Son's birthday party is tomorrow. What a waste of lots of ingredients, and now I have to stay up all night and make normal from a box cupcakes. No thanks for this recipe.

  22. shannon

    Just made these...they were absolutely perfect. My son said, "Mom, those are the best cupcakes I have EVER tasted in my whole life!" I agree. I will add that after reading the comments where people had trouble with the cupcakes falling, I baked mine longer - about 20-22 min. And like I said, they were wonderful...light, fluffy, moist, and soooo flavorful.

  23. Emma

    So, has any of you actually made it??? All the reviews say how nice it looks in the picture... I'm trying to find out how did it turn out for you, was it moist enough, was it sweet enough, did you change anything in the recipe....

    1. Chef Rhonda

      they taste great...
      but shortly after they come out of the oven they fall and shrink... and look aweful

    2. Kristen

      Mine looked great in the oven, but they fell as well!

  24. Danielle Hampton

    Ho much cake mix you need to make 36 cupcakes.

  25. sarina

    Can I freez any cupcake recipe

  26. Ema

    This might be a silly questuon but how or where do I get vanilla bean seeds? Please , respond I'm making these for thanksgiving dinner.

  27. fmj

    What is you recipe for the icing in the picture?

  28. fmj

    What is you recipe for the icing in the picture? Also, I need to freeze mine. Do they freeze well and come out just as good?? How many days can I freeze without messing them up?

  29. Melody

    My cake mix calls for butter should I just use the butter or substitute with oil?

  30. Nora Murphy

    I would this recipe 2 stars out of 5. Mine were very spongy and fell as well. I think it was because of too much oil. They tasted OK. Would not make again.

  31. Deepa

    These cupcakes are amazing! I made it as a cake for a friends moms retirement party and everyone just savored every bite!!

  32. sara gonzalez

    Can you please post or email not your average vanilla boxed cake please? I have misplaced it or accidentally deleted and i love this recipe..i would so appreciate it...thank u

    1. Chef in Training

      so sorry about that. It should be displaying correctly now. Please let me know if its not. Thanks so much.

    2. Becky McGeorge

      Hi, I want you to know that I love your recipes and pin have made several that were great. However, I have the same problem with these cupcakes that many others have had - shrunken middles. Can you tell me if you have found a reason for this or solution? These are some of the best tasting cupcakes ever, but I can't take them anywhere because of the sinking middles.

      Keep bringing us your delicious recipes!



    3. Renee

      Try baking them at 325 for 20-22 minutes. That worked really well for me. :)

    4. Linda

      Please respond to the umpteen questions from others and one from me about 1 cup of oil being too much. A possible factor in the cupcakes falling, sinking and being like a wet pound cake.

  33. Maggie

    Do you have any tips on making them ahead of time ? ( storage, how long to thaw)

  34. Kristen


    So I followed this recipe exactly. After 15 minutes, I checked them. They weren't golden at all so I left them in 3 more minutes. They were golden. However, as soon as I pulled them out of the oven, the cupcakes collapsed in the middle. Taste great though.

    1. Daisy


      Me too! At firs I thought I did something wrong. Now I don't feel so bad. I think it's too much fat. The wrappers were a bit greasy

  35. Rhonda Wray

    I made these cupcakes and they fell in the middle after cooling slightly. What could have happened?

    1. Rose D


      I think what's wrong with the recipe is the oil. When I prepared to make them, I looked at the amount of oil in the recipe-1 cup of oil is way too much in my opinion. I only added what the box called for, which is 2/3 cups , I believe. They were awesome-so good! I also over-filled my liners a bit more than 2/3 even though the batter is very thick and they rose all the way to the top and did not sink in.

  36. Katie


    I'm not a cupcake fan but needed to make a couple dozen for a family event a couple years ago and I didn't want to pay for overpriced dry store bought ones either so I found this recipe and it makes the best cupcakes ever! I am the cupcake queen in our family now and it's my special treat for family events. I especially love how it can be altered to customize any flavor your heart desires. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  37. Daisy


    I've used a similar recipe in the past but I decided to try your's tonight. I have to say it was a disaster! I came back to the website to make sure I did everything the recipe said. And I did. I took the cupcakes out of the oven and they were beautiful and fluffy. I sat down to read some e-mails and when I turned back to the counter, the cupcakes were concave and horrible looking. I have no idea what happened.

    1. Shazia

      I think it's the amount of oil in this recipe. I tried a similar recipe that called for 2/3 cup oil instead of 1 cup and my cupcakes came out perfect - moist and delicious and didn't sink at all. Try again using less oil.

    2. Linda

      The 1 cup of oil concerns me, too.

  38. Renee

    These turned out perfect and did not sink when I baked them at 325 degrees for 22 minutes. Thanks chef in training for a great recipe!

  39. Jason Tellison


    Came out wonderful

  40. Laura


    I found your recipe on Pinterest about two years ago, and now I use it every time I make cupcakes/cake! It is so good and they always turn out! Thanks!

  41. Michelle Jiskra


    I had the same problem that many others had: I made as directed and ended up with shrunken cupcakes. Now, I don't have an issue with that as frosting could fix it, but the other problem was more serious: The cupcakes on the inside were dense, near flavorless, tasted underdone which they were not, and tasted much like a pancake. I will likely have to throw these away which I almost never do with baked goods. I am not mad, but would like to let you know, like so many others, that the recipe itself is not quite right. I agree that it is likely the amount of oil used that is throwing these off.

  42. Josie


    I made 2 batches of this recipe and followed the recipe exactly, and I was extra careful not to overfill the muffin tins (half full). Both batches looked round and beautiful while baking, but flattened as soon as I took them out of oven. Luckily, the icing hid the sunken tops and they tasted delicious. Any suggestions on how to avoid this?

  43. Lori

    After reading reviews I changed the oil to 3/4 cup, baked them at 325 for 22 minutes, (depends on your oven, 20 to 25) and they came out perfect- no sinking, nice and moist, and were delicious!

  44. Stacy


    Wish I read the other comments before baking. I questioned the one cup of oil but decided to follow the recipe. They sunk when I took them out after 25 min of baking. Definitely can not bring these to the picnic I was baking them for. Would have been better off makIng the box mix as is. ☹️

  45. Angela

    1 cup of oil is alot and did make mine sink in the middle. I only used 1/2 cup of oil and kept everything else the same and it worked out alot better

  46. Angela M Morris


    What I did was add 6 Tablespoons of a cake upriser, which is a mixture of 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, 1 cup of sugar, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. I do this because the box mixes are now 15.25 instead of 18.25. The cupcakes rose beautifully!

  47. Francine


    These are great. They come out perfect every time I make them.

  48. Tanya


    10 years later and I'm still coming to this recipe! People will ask me to make these cupcakes because they're way better than you get at any cupcake house