slice of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate curls on white plate

Our family loves this recipe for easy chocolate cake! This box mix chocolate cake is super moist and chocolate-y because of the added buttermilk and cocoa powder, our recipe doesn’t call for pudding mix or coffee! Learn our cake mix hacks for how to make a box cake taste homemade.

I’m a fan of box cake mix recipes probably just as much as you are! They are super quick and convenient. 

I wanted to share this recipe because I know many of us don’t have lots of free time to be spending in the kitchen, but when you make something, you want it to taste good, right?

This easy chocolate cake recipe is perfect for all of us who like the ease of a box mix, but maybe want to doctor up the cake mix for more of a homemade taste. Plus, I feel that this doctored up version of a chocolate cake comes together just as quick as the box mix because you can still put everything into one bowl and beat it together.

slice of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate curls on white plate

What is an Easy Chocolate Cake?

I consider an easy cake to be one that starts with a box mix. Box cake mixes are great and very handy, plus they can be transformed into bakery style cakes with a few extra ingredients. You are essentially doctoring up a cake mix with a few cake mix hacks. 

How to Make a Box Cake Taste Homemade

It’s all about adding ingredients to the cake mix to give the cake better texture & taste.

Adding additional dry ingredients to the cake mix like flour, sugar and cocoa powder will improve the structure and texture of the cake.

Adding buttermilk will ensure your cake turns out incredibly moist. Plus the acid in the buttermilk punches up the chocolate flavor.

Adding additional eggs enhances the flavor and fluffiness of the cake.

Use butter in place of oil. Butter has more flavor than oil and improves the texture of the cake.

Easy Chocolate Cake Ingredients

  • buttermilk: adds moisture & fat 
  • melted butter: adds moisture & fat 
  • eggs: binds the cake together by providing structure 
  • vanilla extract: adds that classic vanilla flavor
  • 1 box of devil’s food cake mix
  • sugar: adds sweetness and flavor
  • all purpose flour: adds structure 
  • cocoa powder: intensifies the chocolate flavor 
slice of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate curls on white plate

How to make Box Chocolate Cake Recipe

For this recipe you’ll want to use a 15.25 oz box of Duncan Hines devil’s food or chocolate cake mix. I know some boxes out there are 18.25 oz, so be sure you’re getting the right size. 

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the buttermilk, melted butter, eggs, vanilla extract, cake mix, sugar, flour and cocoa powder, beat with an electric mixer until combined, 1-2 minutes.
  2. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30-32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely before adding frosting.

What Brand of Cake Mix to Use

I prefer Duncan Hines cake mixes, as do a lot of food bloggers, plus Wilton recommends Duncan Hines brand and Wilton is a cake powerhouse, so I trust their opinion. 

2 pieces of chocolate cake side by side on white background

Cake Mix vs. Doctored Up Cake Mix Comparison

The above image compares 2 pieces of cake – the one on the left is a chocolate cake mix, following the directions on the back of the box and the one on the right is our recipe for easy chocolate cake using a box mix.

You can see that the left one is pretty airy and spongy compared to the right one. The doctored up version (right) is incredibly moist and it’s more dense and rich, like a homemade cake would be. The doctored up one also has a deeper chocolate flavor.

How To Make Doctored Up Chocolate Cake Without Pudding or Coffee

The big thing for me when coming up with this recipe was I didn’t want to use pudding mix or coffee as elements to doctor up the cake mix.

Why?

There are already a lot of doctored up cake recipes out there that use those things. Plus, a common thing I saw people asking was “What can I use in place of the pudding/coffee?” So we’re bringing you a recipe that doesn’t use those items.

To make a doctored up chocolate cake you need to start with a high quality box of cake mix.

Then we added buttermilk and melted butter to increase the moisture and fat content and additional cocoa powder to amp up the chocolate flavor. 

slice of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate curls on white plate

How to Make Easy Chocolate Curls

My secret for making easy chocolate curls is to get a Hershey’s bar and use a vegetable peeler to make curls, it’s so simple! Be sure to hold the chocolate bar on the wrapper so the heat from your fingers doesn’t leave imprints on the chocolate bar. 

Frostings to Pair with Chocolate Cake

Looking for a doctored up white cake mix recipe?

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For a step-by-step of how to make this easy chocolate cake recipe, watch this short video:
Easy Chocolate Cake

Easy Chocolate Cake

Yield: 9x13 inch cake
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Our family loves this recipe for easy chocolate cake! This box mix chocolate cake is super moist and chocolate-y because of the added buttermilk and cocoa powder, our recipe doesn’t call for pudding mix or coffee! Learn our cake mix hacks for how to make a box cake taste homemade.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 & 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 box devil’s food cake mix, 15.25 oz
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder

Chocolate Frosting

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • dash of milk if frosting becomes too thick

Instructions

Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the buttermilk, melted butter, eggs, vanilla extract, devil’s food cake mix, sugar, flour, and cocoa powder, beat with an electric mixer until combined, 1-2 minutes.
  3. Spray a 9x13 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30-32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely before adding frosting.

Chocolate Frosting

  1. Place room temperature unsalted butter in a mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer on medium and beat the butter for 1 minute, until whipped and fluffy. 
  2. Add in the cocoa powder, powdered sugar and vanilla extract, beat again on low for 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until everything is incorporated. 
  3. If the frosting is too thick, add a tablespoon of milk or heavy cream, and beat until creamy. 
  4. Spread on top of the cooled cake, add chocolate curls if desired. My secret for making easy chocolate curls is to get a hershey’s bar and use a vegetable peeler to make curls, it’s so simple! Be sure to hold the chocolate bar on the wrapper so the heat from your fingers doesn’t leave imprints on the chocolate bar. 

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