15 Recipes Using Cake Mix for Easy Desserts that Go Beyond Ordinary Cakes

Honey-Roasted Peanut Butter Bars with Chocolate Ganache
Photo: Andy Lyons

Cake mix might be one of the most versatile, easy shortcut ingredients you can keep in the pantry. And while following back-of-the-box instructions certainly turns into an excellent cake, there are plenty of boxed cake mix recipes to take your dessert to the next level. Grab a few extra boxes of cake mix on your next grocery run—you're going to want to add all of these cake mix cookies, bars, cupcakes, and more to the recipe box (or Pinterest board).

01 of 15

Chewy Chocolate Caramel Bars

Chewy Chocolate Caramel Bars stacked on white plate
Blaine Moats

With chocolate chips, caramel candies, nuts, and butter, this is a 6-ingredient cake mix recipe you'll crave often. Keep the cake mix bars in an airtight container for a few days at room temp, or freeze them for up to three months.

02 of 15

Carrot Cake Bars

Carrot Cake Bars
Blaine Moats

Carrot cake is one of my favorite desserts, but I rarely make it due to the multiple hours it takes to prepare. Enter this yellow cake mix recipe to save the day. A bit of fresh ginger, raisins, and shredded carrots turn the cake mix into a dreamy bar. Topped with cream cheese frosting (use canned for easier prep), it's just as tasty as the real layered cake.

03 of 15

Dulce de Leche Cake

Dulce de Leche Cake
Andy Lyons

Upgrade your boxed cake mix with a can of dulce. The sweet caramel filling is sandwiched between layers of yellow cake we hacked with a few extra eggs, butter, and orange zest in the mix.

Test Kitchen Tip: This cake mix recipe tastes even better when chilled overnight. Just wait to frost until serving time.

04 of 15

Honey-Roasted Peanut Butter Bars with Chocolate Ganache

Honey-Roasted Peanut Butter Bars with Chocolate Ganache
Andy Lyons

Fans of peanut butter cups will gobble up every one of these cake mix bars. The thin chocolate base starts with a box of devil's food cake mix. Next, homemade fluffy whipped peanut butter filling gets crunch from honey-roasted peanuts. Finally, add the rich chocolate ganache for a showstopping shiny finish.

05 of 15

Berry-Lemon Cupcakes

Berry-Lemon Cupcakes
Blaine Moats

This lemon cake recipe, using cake mix, is perfect for last-minute summer gatherings. Seasonal berries are tossed in flour (preventing the colors from blending into cake batter) and added to the cake mix. Garnish the buttercream frosting with lemon peel for a pretty finish.

Buy It: Mainstays 12-Cup Nonstick Muffin Pan ($5, Walmart)

06 of 15

Champagne Cake with Fresh Strawberries

Champagne Cake with Fresh Strawberries
Jason Donnelly

One way to absolutely make box cake mix better? Add champagne. This white cake mix recipe swaps the water for sparkling wine for an easy upgrade. It's the perfect easy cake recipe for birthday parties.

Buy It: Wilton 9-Inch Nonstick Ultra Bake Professional Round Cake Pan ($8, Target)

07 of 15

Boston Cream Cheesecake

Boston Cream Cheesecake
Blaine Moats

Cheesecake and cake mix? Stick with us here. Omitting the oil in the cake mix turns it into the perfect base for this delicious cheesecake recipe that tastes like a decadent Boston Cream Pie. If your cheesecake cracks, you're in luck because you'll already be putting a layer of melted chocolate on top that hides it.

08 of 15

Candy-Bar Bars

Candy-Bar Bars
Greg Scheidemann

When you have leftover Halloween candy, use the chocolate bars to make this easy recipe using cake mix. It's a 5-ingredient dessert (plus some nonstick cooking spray) that the kids will love as an after-school treat.

09 of 15

Cranberry-Pear Bars with Orange Frosting

Cranberry-Pear Bars with Orange Frosting
Blaine Moats

This cake mix recipe looks like it belongs in a coffee shop pastry display. The recipe makes 48 bars, so expect everyone to be jumping at second helpings. You can also freeze these beauties to get a head start on holiday baking.

10 of 15

Margarita Cupcakes

Margarita Cupcakes
Matthew Clark

Margarita cupcakes are as delicious as their namesake cocktail with an irresistible recipe using cake mix. The cupcakes get a couple shots of tequila, Triple Sec, and lime juice in the mix for a delicious treat. The cream cheese frosting cuts through the zesty lime flavor for the perfect sweet and tangy bite.

11 of 15

Butterscotch Marble Cake

Butterscotch Marble Cake
Blaine Moats

Yes, bundt cake recipes from cake mix exist, and (spoiler alert) they're just as delicious as a from-scratch recipe. The stunning marble effect is made by adding a bit of chocolate syrup to a portion of the yellow cake batter.

Buy It: Nordic Ware 70th Anniversary Crown Bundt Pan ($38, Williams Sonoma)

12 of 15

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Lemon Crinkles cookies
Jason Donnelly

Move over, chocolate crinkles. These cake mix cookies are about to steal the holiday cookie show. Not only do we use lemon cake mix but also lemon zest, juice, and extract to ensure there's a punchy citrus kick.

13 of 15

Cake Pops

Holiday Cake Pops
Jason Donnelly

​​Holidays or not, cake pops are always a good idea. The bite-sized desserts can be made with any flavor of cake mix and canned frosting. Use coatings and sprinkles to match your special occasion. This cake mix recipe is also an easy way to transform a sunken cake.

Buy It: Sweet Creations 100 Count Reusable Plastic Cake Pop Sticks ($4, Walmart)

14 of 15

Pumpkin Spice Whoopies

Pumpkin-Spice Whoopies
Kim Cornelison

Say hello to your new favorite way to enjoy fall's signature spice blend. The fluffy spice cake mix cookies get super moist from adding canned pumpkin. And that spiced marshmallow-cream cheese filling? It's good enough to eat with a spoon.

15 of 15

Hummingbird Dump Cake

Hummingbird Dump Cake
Matthew Clark

Dump cakes are some of our favorite recipes using cake mix when time is short. A couple of cans of crushed pineapple, bananas, and pecans give this easy dessert the same flavors as the popular fruit-filled cake—only much this one's much easier to make.

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