A cake mix and a few extra ingredients make better than bakery cupcakes. Moist, dense, and full of flavor, nobody will know how easy these are to make!
I’ll let you in on a secret. This recipe is the ONLY cupcake recipe you’ll ever need. Why? Because it’s endlessly versatile, extremely simple, cheap, and above all, delicious. Literally nobody will be able to tell that you didn’t get your cupcakes from a fancy bakery.
These are perfect for baby showers, work parties, and birthdays. You’ll get 2 dozen from 1 recipe, which is good, because these go fast!
Now, I know that many people turn their nose up at cake mix cakes. They lack the depth of flavor and moist crumb of homemade or professional cake. I submit that a cake mix just needs a little help to reach its full potential. That’s what this recipe provides — that little boost.
What do I need for Better than Bakery Cupcakes?
Cake Mix: My favorite mixes are Duncan Hines. I think they yield the best results in terms of texture and taste. However, I have used everything — Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, store brand — and gotten solid results, so don’t let the brand stop you. That said, if you’re going to “splurge” on anything here, pay the extra $0.50 and get the good stuff! (Duncan Hines does not get anything from this at all; I just think they have a good product.) For the pictured cupcakes, I used Duncan Hines Perfectly Moist Triple Chocolate.
Instant Pudding: I’ve never noticed a difference based on brand with this one. The most important considerations are that you have 3.5 oz of instant (not cooked) pudding, and that the flavor will enhance whatever box mix you are using. In these cupcakes, I picked a store-brand chocolate fudge pudding. I wanted to really lean into the chocolate flavor.
Pudding is absolutely integral to this recipe working. It adds a depth of flavor that a cake mix alone misses, while also changing the texture to that gorgeous moist crumb.
Milk: I like to use whole milk for the best results. When I’m eating cupcakes, I’m not worrying about my calories! Be aware that less milk fat will yield a less rich cupcake.
Unsalted Butter: Did I mention that this recipe is rich? It is. Very. And unsalted butter brings the flavor and the moisture. You can also use margarine (I do all the time!), but your cupcakes will be slightly less dense and the flavor will be a little different.
Eggs: Eggs add structure to baked goods, and these are no different. Egg yolks also add fat, which is part of the rich depth of flavor we’re looking for.
Vanilla extract This is a flavor enhancer. A small amount of this will push a bland cake mix into the delicious realm.
Better than Bakery Cupcakes
- 1 pkg cake mix
- 3.5 oz instant pudding
- 1 ¼ cup milk
- ½ cup butter melted
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix until you have a smooth batter.
- Grease and flour or place cupcake liners in a muffin tin.
- Pour 1/4 cup of batter into each liner.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
- Allow to cool before frosting.