Easy White Cake

white cake with funfetti sprinkles on white plate

Our family loves this recipe for easy white cake! The vanilla cake turns out so moist and flavorful, gets tons of compliments each time I make it, plus no one knows it’s a box cake mix recipe! Learn our tips 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 cake mix 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 white 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 white cake with funfetti sprinkles on white plate with bite removed

What is an Easy Vanilla 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. 

What’s the Difference Between White Cake and Vanilla Cake?

White cake is technically made with egg whites only, to keep the cake as white as possible. Bakers may also use clear vanilla extract to keep the cake white.

Vanilla cake is typically made with whole eggs (the white and the yolk) and contain regular vanilla extract. The flavor of white cake and vanilla cake are nearly identical. This recipe for easy white cake could also be called vanilla sheet cake. The are pretty interchangeable. 

ingredients to make white cake mix from box mix on marble background with text overlay

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. In our case, we’re adding ingredients with moisture.

Easy White Wedding Cake Ingredients

  • 1 box of white cake mix
  • sugar: adds sweetness and flavor
  • all purpose flour: flour is necessary to build structure
  • salt: just a pinch to balance the sweetness
  • egg whites: binds the cake together by providing structure – using only egg whites keeps the cake more white in color
  • vanilla extract: adds that classic vanilla flavor to the cake
  • skim milk: adds moisture
  • buttermilk: adds moisture & fat for richness
  • sour cream: adds moisture & fat for richness
box of duncan hines classic white cake mix

How to Make Box White Cake Recipe

For this recipe you’ll want to use a 15.25 oz box of Duncan Hines white or vanilla cake mix. I know some boxes out there are 18.25 oz, so be sure you’re getting the right size. You’ll use egg whites only to keep the cake looking extra white.

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the cake mix, sugar, flour, salt, egg whites, milk, buttermilk, and sour cream, beat with an electric mixer until combined, 2-3 minutes.
  2. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 37-43 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely before adding frosting.
slice of white cake on white plate with colorful straws in background

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. 

Frosting to Pair with Vanilla Cake

slice of white cake with rainbow sprinkles on white plate

Try our chocolate cake mix recipe from a box or our easy white cupcakes from a box!

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For a step-by-step of how to make this doctored up white cake mix recipe, watch this short video:

Our family LOVES this doctored up white cake mix recipe! The cake turns out so moist and flavorful, gets tons of compliments each time I make it, plus no one knows it starts with a box mix!

Easy White Cake from Box Mix

Yield: 9x13 inch cake
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Our family loves this recipe for easy white cake! The vanilla cake turns out so moist and flavorful, gets tons of compliments each time I make it, plus no one knows it’s a box cake mix recipe! Learn our tips for how to make a box cake taste homemade.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 box white cake mix, 15.25 oz (I prefer Duncan Hines)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (clear or regular)
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup sour cream

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • t tbsp milk, if frosting becomes too thick

Instructions

Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the cake mix, sugar, flour, salt, egg whites, vanilla extract, milk, buttermilk, and sour cream, 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 37-43 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely before adding frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the butter and vanilla extract, beat using an electric mixer until fluffy. Begin to add the powdered sugar, about 1 cup at a time, mixing by hand. Continue adding powdered sugar until the frosting no longer looks wet and tastes good to you. Then I use my electric mixer one last time to make sure the powdered sugar is really incorporated and ready to go. If the frosting becomes too thick, add a dash of milk.
  2. Spread the frosting on top of the cooled cake, add sprinkles if desired.

Notes

Pair it with chocolate frosting.

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99 comments

  1. Can this be baked in a 13 by 18 sheet cake pan?? or in a 10 by 15 jelly roll pan?? Any idea for how long?? Thanks for posting the recipe? ????????????

    • Hey there! I would consult Wilton’s baking guide for each of those pans to get a better idea of the baking time!

  2. I always add 1 tsp. Of vanilla to all my mix’s makes a lot of difference to the final product.

  3. Can this be baked in round 8-9 inch cake pans?

    • Hi Linda! I would think so! I haven’t tried it myself, but I would evenly divide the batter among the pans you plan to use and then look at Wilton’s baking guide to see what time they suggest for 8-9 inch pans!

    • Yes you can. A 9 inch pans is 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees

  4. Can I add butter to this recipe? 

  5. You say you “prefer to use Duncan Hines cake mix” but the notes at the end indicate you used Pillsbury’s cake mix. Can you clarify? Thanks.

    • Hi Claire! I do recommend Duncan Hines – I’ll fix the image on the bottom!

  6. how much are 2 sticks of butter?

  7. Is there not any oil or butter in this recipe? Not sure I have ever baked one without adding applesauce to the recipe.i watched the video and seen that it was out oil or butter as well. Just want to be sure before giving this a test go ;)  It looks great! Thanks

    • The cake doesn’t need oil or butter because it uses sour cream and buttermilk! It’s SO good!

  8. Can you use this recipe for cupcakes? 

  9. HELP Want to make it now But I don’t have buttermilk

    • Hi Debbie! You can try using a buttermilk substitute – like milk with vinegar.

  10. If I’m using 8-inch round pans, how many should I use with this recipe?

    • I would suggest three – but I haven’t tried it myself so that’s not 100%! But this makes a lot of batter so I think 3 would be good!

  11. This recipe looks great! I was wondering if it’s okay for a layered cake, or will the layers not hold up?

  12. This was the best cake I have EVER had. Thanks so much. Now, I am making the chocolate version for my friend.

  13. Didn’t need a lot of cake, so just subbed buttermilk for milk/water on box and added a tablespoon of labneh instead of sour cream for one of the eggs. Turned out well.

  14. I just made this and it is wonderful. It makes a slightly bigger cake with the additions. Especially love the frosting. Thank you Beth for this recipe.

  15. I live in a high altitude area. Would I need to make adjustments, If so, what do you suggest?

  16. Perfect! I made 36 cupcakes exactly as stated in the recipe (where it says milk, I used whole milk), including Duncan Hines cake mix and they came out with perfect little domes on top! They taste great too! I didn’t make the frosting, I wanted to use a strawberry buttercream instead. I’ve had some disasters with cupcake recipes I found online( throw them in the trash disasters) but this is a keeper. So fast and easy to make too!  Thank you!

  17. I make an apple cake using a boxed white cake mix. In a 9×13 pan you layer with batter, granny smith apples, and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. You repeat this process until batter is gone. Adding apples, cinnamon & sugar to the top then baking as directed on box.
    Your recipe sounds delicious and I want to try it. Do you think it would work for my apple cake?

    • Hi Tammy! That sounds delicious with the apples!! This doctored up white cake mix definitely makes more cake batter than if you were to just follow the back of the box instructions, so that’s my only caution – you might have leftover cake batter because you don’t want to fill the pan too high!

  18. Would this recipe be good for cupcakes, too? With the added ingredients, how many cupcakes would it make? Bake time?

    • Hi Judy! Box mixes usually make 24 cupcakes! I would suggest checking the cupcakes at 13 minutes and adding time as needed!

  19. Hi! I’m new to baking and I want to bake my daughter’s cake for her 4th birthday. I really like this recipe but I want to combine this with another recipe to make it a lemon cake instead! I plan on using a 12×3 hexagon pan. Will this recipe be be enough to fill the pan? Thank you

  20. This cake turned out awesome!!! Did just what the recipe called for on the cake. I cheated and use Duncan Hines strawberry icing though. I will always make my white cake like this from now on. 

  21. Can I substitute chocolate cake mix using this recipe?

  22. Thank you for your quick reply. I have pinned this recipe. I look forward to making it.

    • I need a recipe for a wedding cake, not too airy and not too dense. Would this white cake mix recipe be a good choice? The last few sample cakes I made were from scratch and much too heavy and dense.

  23. Im wanting to use this recipe to make yellow and chocolate cakes to make sturdier for decorating with buttercream. Would i have good results if i put in 4 whole eggs vs just the whites?

    • Hi Kelli! Yes, you can use 4 whole eggs. The only reason we use 4 egg whites in this white cake is so it stays white in color!

    • Just wanted to say thanks and let you know this is my go to recipe now! Tried other ‘doctored’ cake mix recipes and this is the best! Perfect for layered cakes and holds up lots of buttercream decoration with no problems!

    • So we’re glad it worked well for you!

  24. Hi, was trying to figure out how many cups of batter this might make. Has anyone measured it? I see someone made “36 cupcakes” from it, and I see someone asked how many 9″ pans, and the reply was “three 8″ pans” should be good. I’m looking at wedding cake sized cakes, and just wondered if someone had an idea. Yes, I will definitely try it out, but just wondered if anyone knew for sure. A regular box white cake is 4.5 cups of batter. Thanks!

    • I made this recipe, but used 4 whole eggs instead of just the whites, and i measured about 7.5 cups. Id say maybe a bit over 7 with just whites?

  25. Could I use this recipe in a sheet cake pan?

  26. Want to make a chocolate vanilla swirl cake can I add some cocoa power to this to make half chocolate?

  27. This cake recipe is amazing! I did tweak it a little. I used 3 eggs instead of 4 egg whites and I also poked 100 holes in after baking with pineapple juice. Then I used cream cheese frosting and topped with toasted coconut. BEST CAKE IVE EVER EATEN!!! THANKS SO MUCH!!!

  28. I would like to make this cake in a Tube Pan, is this possible? Would I have to adjust the temperature and time?

  29. This looks and sounds delicious – thank you for sharing!

  30. Doctored Up White Cake. The cure for winter blahs.

  31. I think it’s great. My husband loves it and I didn’t change anything except the icing.  I will try it next time.

  32. Made this cake, followed directions exactly as stated, and the center collapsed the last 5 minutes of cooking. Quite disappointing. I hope it tastes OK once I frost it.

    • I came here looking for this comment.  I am very skilled in kitchen, so I was surprised when after also following recipe exactly, mine also collapsed and was so dense it was inedible.  Wonder what happened?  I had to toss mine, after sampling the middle it was inedible – like a thick, baked wet bread pudding.  I’ve rewatched the video, reread the ingredients, went over everything I’ve done and can NOT figure it out!

    • Hi guys! Be really careful not to over beat the batter once you add in the cake mix. If you’re worried about over-beating, mix by hand!

    • I’ve been using this recipe more than once when I stumbled on it last year “ for my daughter’s  birthday cake and for last minute thing”  Always perfect! However this year with 3 time the trials it alway seems to come out dense, rubber ish. Did Duncan Hines change anything to the box mix?!?! I baked in an 8” pan at something point even add a heat core to help it. Nope, total fail. I’m in Canada so if any friendly bakers here are from Canada and recently tried this recipe I would like to know the outcome. I’m very precise with ingredients measurement and the steps and no I did not overbeat the batter. 

    • Hi Lenna! What size cake mix box did you use? It’s crucial to use the 15.25 oz box.

    • Hi Beth! It’s 432g Duncan Hines so it is 15.25 oz box. 

  33. This recipe is GREAT. I’ve used it at least 3 times in the last two months. I usually sub whole eggs for egg whites and use all buttermilk. Thanks for a keeper!

  34. Do you know if it would change anything if I added food coloring to the icing? I would like the icing to be colored.

  35. Great Recipe…I baked it in a 12X18 sheet pan for 20 minutes. Great for serving a crowd. Thanks!

  36. To make a 12×18 cake would I just triple the recipe or would some ingredients change? 

    • Hi Patricia! I haven’t tried baking this recipe in that size pan, so I cannot give an accurate answer!

  37. Sounds lovely. I wondered if you could substitute Greek yogurt for the sour cream?

  38. I made this cake in two eight inch cake pans reserved enough for 2 cupcakes. The cake filled the pan perfectly I made a cream cheese iceing filled the cake with fresh berries and put some strawberry jam on the bottom layer and added some to the icing. Beautiful cake nice texture an you could use this for so many other fun cakes. Will be making this again thx for sharing this

  39. I made the white and the chocolate cakes today. The white one fell in the center but, seems to be done otherwise. The chocolate cake rose up beautifully but took another 4 minutes instead of the 32 minutes. I used the tin foil cake pans that come in a two pack. The difference in the recipes is that the white cake calls for 1/2 cup more of the sugar and the flour. Perhaps if it were the same as the chocolate cake it would have come out the same as the chocolate cake. Will have to try that the next time I bake these up.

  40. This was fantastic. I made it today and added a box of Hershey’s white chocolate pudding, only because I had it. I also added an extra egg white because I thought my eggs were small. I filled 3 eight inch pans with 18 oz batter and had a little left to make a “taste tester.”

  41. Loved this cake. Very soft and moist, and so easy to throw together.  I highly recommend that if you make it into a layered cake, that you use 8 inch pans (a perfect fit)  and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Otherwise, you may find (as I did)  that it is a bit to sticky/soft to come out of the pan cleanly. I greased and floured my pans really well, but still ended up loosing some of the bottoms when I unmolded them from the pans. Overall, great taste, though. I layered mine with both your buttercream frosting, and a bit of lemon curd. Thank you for sharing

  42. Is this buttercream recipe in the recipe the one shown in picture?  It looks really white. Sometimes buttercream is too greasy and just wondered if you’d ever use a Crisco based frosting for a white cake like this or stick with your version?

    • Hi Mary Helen! I’ve made buttercream with and without vegetable shortening – it really just depends on your personal preference. The frosting shown in the photos is the frosting that’s provided in the directions!

  43. Hi! I came across your site because my daughter wanted cake and I wanted to do something a little more special  with the boxed mix I had on hand. I used a Funfetti mix, whole eggs because I wasn’t making a white cake, and I had to use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream because I was out. I made a half batch of frosting since we don’t like a ton of frosting. It was good the night I made it. The next day, it was phenomenal! So moist and delicious, with a very delicate crumb. Thanks, this will be my go-to recipe for white cake. 

  44. Can I use this for wedding cakes that are stacked

  45. Hello Beth thank you so much for this doctored-up cake recipes I used your cake mix recipes 5 times or more I will always use your recipes this is a great recipes.THANK YOU

  46. By far the best vanilla cake I have ever made!! I made it for cupcakes for a birthday party and everyone was raving about how great the cake tasted. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  47. Hi Beth I’d like to bake this cake for my granddaughter Ilyana’s 8th birthday. She’s having a slumber party and I’m decorating it to look like a bed. Each girl will be able to decorate a face for each pillow. A few comments were that the center fell. I’m concerned if they stuck a toothpick in the center and it came out clean is there any other way I can check it so this doesn’t happen to my cake?

    • Hi Cathy! Unfortunately the center of a cake can fall for a lot of reasons. Overmixing the batter is one, humidity and location is another, and opening the oven door during baking. It’s really not a big deal if the center falls a little because it will be covered up with frosting!

  48. Can you add pudding to make it more moist ?

    • Hi Feli! Our recipe doesn’t call for pudding. The cake is incredibly moist because of the sour cream and buttermilk!

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