The Surprising Reason Why There’s Less Cake Mix in Your Box

Manufacturers have been downsizing their cake mixes for years. Here's why.

A few years ago, a big change happened to many boxed cake mixes. The average home cook might have missed it, but folks like you and me? We noticed! Manufacturers like Pillsbury, Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker made their boxed cake mixes a few ounces lighter. Cake mixes that were once around 18 oz. were reduced to around 16 oz. and then again to 15 oz.

Psst: Here’s how to make cake mix taste homemade.

Wait, What? Why the Cut-Down in Cake Mix?

As ingredients became more expensive, cake mix companies and many other food manufacturers sneakily dropped a couple of ounces from the box. Before you start asking for your money back, cake mix companies still contend that their product creates a standard 13×9 cake. But how does this change affect all the other cake mix recipes we know and love?

How Reduced Cake Mix Affects Your Desserts

As we know, baking is a science. Fewer ounces can drastically alter your finished dish. I did a little snooping, and here’s what I found out.

Cake

If you’re making a cake like this Come Home to Mama Chocolate Cake with reduced cake mix, you’ll likely notice the difference. Without the extra filling, the cake will likely not rise as high. In my book, this isn’t a problem. I find that it saves room for extra ice cream!

Cupcakes

If you’re making cupcakes, the reduced cake mix means you could end up with 23 treats instead of 24. I find that adding a filling helps. These Tres Leches Cupcakes are a perfect example of that. With a chocolatey cream cheese center, they don’t even need frosting!

Dessert Bars

If you’re making a bar recipe that uses a cake mix as the base or crust, you’re going to notice a difference. With less cake mix, the crust will be a bit thinner, but it will still work.

If you’re concerned with the thinner crust, drop a pan size. For instance, these Macadamia Sunshine Bars call for a 13×9-inch baking dish. Drop that to a 11×7-inch baking dish and no one will ever know the difference. I find that guests appreciate the thicker filling, and you’ll be happier with the sturdier crust.

Dump Cakes

If you’re making a classic dump cake like this Chocolate-Covered-Cherry Dump Cake, you likely won’t notice the missing ounces at all. These desserts bake up super-easy regardless of how much cake mix goes in.

How to Make up for the Difference

If you’re really concerned about the difference in your older recipes, here’s a trick I use. I keep an extra box of yellow cake mix in a mason jar. When the difference matters, I use a scale and add a couple of ounces to the mix I’m using. (Here’s how to use a kitchen scale like a pro.) The yellow works with any flavor. And my desserts? They turn out as delicious as they always were.

We blind taste-tested the most common cake mix brands. Here’s the one that came out on top.

All of These Gems Start with Cake Mix!
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Sue Stetzel
Sue has been part of the Taste of Home family for over 16 years. Her collection of magazines dates back to the premier issue in 1993. When she isn’t writing, she’s answering your burning cooking questions and working with our team of Volunteer Field Editors.