How to Make Your Own Cake Mix

Looking for a quick DIY holiday gift? Try one of these easy homemade cake mix jars.

As a child, there were a few things I believed only came from a box. Pancakes? From a box. Light-as-air Thanksgiving mashed potatoes? From a box. Yellow cake? A box. (And chocolate frosting from a can, if we’re being totally honest). 

Those were the days. Premade cake mixes held the promise that you could, more or less, make cake on a moment’s notice. Now, I find myself browsing endless recipes for making cakes from scratch. Learning how to make your own "box mix" is that happy medium — from-scratch taste and quality, but pre-mixed ease. 

A basic yellow cake recipe

Yellow cake with white frosting

This is not rocket science. Homemade cake mix — or brownie mix, or any kind of boxed mix for that matter — is just the dry ingredients sifted together beforehand and stored somewhere cool and dry. Then, like good ol’ boxed cake mix, all you need to do is add the wet ingredients — butter, oil, eggs, etc. — and you’re off.

For a basic yellow cake mix, start here:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

Sifted together and stored in a mason jar, or another type of airtight container, the mix should last for about a month at room temp and up to three months (or longer) in the freezer. 

Once you're ready to make a cake, you'll also need:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 3 large eggs

Then follow these simple directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

  • Mix the butter for 2-3 minutes on medium speed in an electric mixer until creamy; add the dry mix to the butter and mix for 1 more minute. Add the milk, eggs, vanilla, and oil and mix for 1-2 minutes on medium-high speed, until the batter is fluffy and mixed through. 

  • Pour the cake batter evenly between two round 9-inch pans for a layer cake, or one 9 x 13 pan for a sheet cake. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. 

  • Let cool completely, then frost with your favorite buttercream recipe.

Tips and tricks

Christmas cake mix

Don't forget the labels

You’re never going to remember the exact proportions of wet ingredients, or how long or how to hot to bake the cake, or that it's meant for a 9-inch cake pan, not an 8-inch one — so be sure to hang a note around the outside of the jar with the instructions. Be sure your instructions include:

  • Wet ingredients to be added

  • Baking time

  • Oven temperature

  • Cake pan size

Sift break!

When you're ready to use the cake mix, sift the ingredients one more time. It will likely result in a better cake.

Dress it up for gifting

Baking mixes make great last-minute gifts — the ingredients are everyday pantry staples that you likely have on hand, so grab a mason jar and start mixing! Dress them up for gifting by adding chocolate chips or walnuts to the jar. Tie the lid with ribbon. Go full Martha Stewart.

You can use this basic strategy for all kinds of brownie or cake recipes. Just find one you like on Yummly (see below for some of our faves), sift together the dry ingredients, and save it for a rainy day. Or a Tuesday. 

Homemade Vanilla Cake Mix

This vanilla cake mix, from Life, Love and Sugar, is one to keep in your back pocket. One reviewer reports: “Not overly sweet, with a nice moist-yet-still-airy texture.”

Homemade Vanilla Cake Mix

Homemade Vanilla Cake Mix by Life, Love and Sugar

Homemade Chocolate Cake Mix

Annie’s Noms’ recipe for chocolate cake mix results in cake and cupcakes with the perfect crumb.

Homemade Chocolate Cake Mix

Homemade Chocolate Cake Mix by Annie’s Noms

Homemade Funfetti Cake Mix

It doesn’t have to be a birthday for you to embrace rainbow sprinkles. This festive cake mix recipe, from Ari’s Menu, is proof.

DIY Funfetti Cake Mix

Homemade Funfetti Cake Mix by Ari’s Menu

Homemade Spice Cake Mix

I Am Baker has quite a few great cake mixes on offer, and this subtle spice cake mix is excellent with cream cheese frosting.

Homemade Spice Cake Mix

Homemade Spice Cake Mix by I Am Baker

Homemade Cake Mix for Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate Glaze

The presentation is everything for this peanut butter cake mix recipe, from My Name Is Yeh.

Homemade Cake Mix for Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Homemade Cake Mix for Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate Glaze by My Name Is Yeh

Homemade Devil's Food Cake Mix

Instant coffee and nonfat dry milk are secret weapons in this chocolatey Devil’s Food Cake mix from Stetted.

Homemade Devil's Food Cake Mix

Homemade Devil's Food Cake Mix by Stetted

Homemade Keto Mug Cake Mix

Swerve low-carb sweetener and almond flour help make this mug cake mix, from My Life Cookbook, low-carb. And it’s also perfect as an individual-sized gift; grab a cute mug and vintage spoon to complete your adorable package.

Homemade Keto Mug Cake Mix

Homemade Keto Mug Cake Mix by My Life Cookbook

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