Not everyone loves to bake from scratch and with plenty of gluten-free cake mixes on the market, you really don't have to! But have you ever wondered how to make gluten-free cake mix taste better? If so, keep reading to find my top 10 tips for jazzing up a box of gluten-free cake mix.
- Tip 1: Use a High Quality Gluten-Free Cake Mix
- Tip 2: Add Extra Flavor
- Tip 3: Use Butter Instead of Oil
- Tip 4: Use Milk Instead of Water
- Tip 5: Add an Extra Egg
- Tip 6: Add Instant Pudding Mix
- Tip 7: Add Some Almond Flour
- Tip 8: Use the Correct Pan
- Tip 10: Use Good Icing
- Tip 9: Add Fillings or Toppings
- Bonus Tip: Make a Homemade Gluten-Free Cake
A note before we begin, don't use every single one of these tips on each cake! Use your best judgement, especially when adding extra ingredients to the batter. Pick one or two additions, but don't go overboard or you could change the entire chemistry of the cake.
Tip 1: Use a High Quality Gluten-Free Cake Mix
Gluten-free products are already expensive, so it's tempting to buy the cheapest option and hope for the best. But...
I would urge you to put quality over quantity in this case! Give yourself the best opportunity for success by using the best mix right from the start! A good cake mix will yield a fluffy cake with great texture, right out of the box.
Put it in perspective! I would rather pay a couple bucks more for a good quality boxed mix, than spend any money on a sub par mix! Besides, you're still baking a cake at home, which is going to be cheaper than going to a bakery.
What is the Best Gluten-Free Cake Mix?
- King Arthur Flour: King Arthur Flour is the gold standard in my opinion! I've used most of their mixes. They are always enjoyable and reliable. No one would know they're gluten free.
- SImple Mills: Simple Mills mixes are also grain free. The cake mix has an almond flour base, which is surprisingly delicate and flavorful.
- Bob's Red Mill: Another high standard for gluten-free baking mixes, Bob's is always a go-to.
Not bad but passable, these mixes are good but in my opinion not the best. I will still use them if needed and use the other tips to improve them a bit.
- Betty Crocker: The Betty Crocker gluten-free mixes are not bad for gluten-free. Not my favorite but they work!
- Krusteaz: While I love the blueberry muffin mix, the cake mixes just aren't as good as King Arthur, but they do produce good cakes!
- Pillsbury: I have used Pillsbury boxed mixes many times, but in my opinion they are a little bit grainy. It's good, but again, others are better.
Tip 2: Add Extra Flavor
An easy way to make a gluten-free cake mix taste better is to simply add more flavor. This can be done in several ways. With all of these, it's important to think about the flavor you're adding and whether or not it would be a good fit with the flavor of the cake you're making.
- Extracts: Add a splash of vanilla or another extract to your cake batter. Just be careful not to overdo it. With the exception of vanilla, extracts can be quite strong so start with ½ teaspoon. Vanilla extract goes well in just about any flavor of cake mix. Extracts like lemon, orange, or butter would be great choices for white or yellow cake mix.
- Zest: Adding lemon zest to a yellow or white cake mix can really add just the right punch of flavor. Use the zest of ½ to 1 whole lemon, orange, or lime.
- Instant Espresso Powder: Coffee and chocolate are the perfect pair. Instant espresso powder can actually make chocolate taste more chocolatey! It adds a depth of flavor that will enhance your gluten-free chocolate cake mix. Add ½ - 1 teaspoon, depending on your preference, to the dry ingredients.
- Applesauce: Not only can applesauce be an effective replacement for up to half of the oil, it can also add a hint of flavor.
- Fruit or Vegetable Puree: Similar to applesauce, adding pumpkin purée, sweet potato purée, or mashed banana can totally change the flavor of a boxed cake mix. These purees will also add moisture and richness to the cake. Start with ½ - 1 cup of purée added to the liquid ingredients.
Tip 3: Use Butter Instead of Oil
Using melted butter instead of vegetable oil will undoubtedly add more flavor and richness to your cake. Butter also changes the texture slightly, giving the cake a more homemade texture.
As far as unstilted butter vs salted butter, use what you have on hand. Unsalted butter will be the safest choice as far as flavor goes, especially if you're sensitive to the amount of salt.
Tip 4: Use Milk Instead of Water
Similar to butter, swapping milk in place of the water will add more flavor and make the cake feel more homemade. The added proteins found in milk also aid in browning, a problem sometimes encountered with gluten-free baked goods. Use what you have on hand, but whole milk would add more richness than 2% or skim.
Another option is to swap the water for buttermilk or cooled coffee. You can also use dairy free milk, such as unsweetened almond milk.
Tip 5: Add an Extra Egg
Add just one extra egg beyond what the mix calls for. It will add richness, extra moisture, and make the cakes more light and fluffy.
Extra Baking Tip! Make sure your milk, butter, and eggs are at room temperature for proper mixing!
Tip 6: Add Instant Pudding Mix
Instant pudding mix might just be the best kept secret here. Pudding mixes are primarily cornstarch and flavoring. The cornstarch will lighten the mix and thicken the batter slightly. The extra flavor in the mix will do just that, add the best flavor to your cake!
Vanilla pudding mix is a safe choice, but you can get creative! Add one small box of instant pudding mix to the dry cake mix.
Tip 7: Add Some Almond Flour
Almond flour is another great addition! Similarly to the pudding mix, almond flour can add a really great texture and slightly nutty flavor to your cakes.
Add ½ cup of finely ground almond flour to the dry ingredients.
Tip 8: Use the Correct Pan
Always bake cakes in light-colored metal cake pans. Cakes baked in glass or ceramic pans are more likely to overcook around the edges. This is because glass, ceramic, and dark colored pans retain more heat, the edges of your cake will bake faster and be overcooked by the time the center is finished.
Tip 10: Use Good Icing
I am a staunch advocate for homemade frosting. It tastes so much better than the canned stuff and is well worth the effort. A good icing can absolutely take your cake from blah to amazing!
If there's one piece of advice you follow, I hope it's this tip! Here are some of my favorite homemade icings:
Tip 9: Add Fillings or Toppings
If you want to make your layer cake extra special, add a filling in between the layers! Not only will it add more flavor, your cake will instantly be more fancy!
Pipe a rim of icing around the bottom layer, to act like a dam. Add the filling in the middle. Place the next layer on top and continue with stacking or icing your cake.
Here are some filling ideas:
Bonus Tip: Make a Homemade Gluten-Free Cake
If you're consistently let down by boxed cake mixes, it may be time for you to make your own gluten-free cake from scratch! These recipes are designed to be flavorful, moist, and fluffy without any further tweaks! Here are some delicious gluten-free cake recipes:
- The best Gluten-free Vanilla Cake!
- Vegan Gluten-free Chocolate Cake with peanut butter icing.
- Gluten-Free Texas Sheet Cake is easy and delicious.
- Gluten-Free Peach Upside Down Cake is a fun twist on a classic!
- This stunning Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bundt Cake is perfect for fall.
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