Using cake mix instead of regular flour in cookies is a popular baking shortcut that many home bakers rely on. Cake mix contains flour as well as leavening agents, sugar, salt, and sometimes fat. This makes it an easy one-for-one substitute for flour in some cookie recipes. However, there are a few important things to keep in mind when swapping cake mix for flour in cookies.
The Pros of Using Cake Mix in Cookies
There are several potential benefits to using cake mix in cookie recipes:
- Convenience – Cake mix eliminates measuring out several dry ingredients like flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Everything is pre-mixed and precisely measured.
- Tender texture – The extra sugar and fat in cake mix can help cookies bake up soft and tender.
- Built-in flavor – Cake mixes come in a variety of flavors like vanilla, chocolate, spice, and more. This imparts extra flavor to cookies.
- Moistness – The leavening agents react during baking to give cake mix cookies a moist, cakey texture.
- Color – Cake mixes made with Dutch processed cocoa powder can produce cookies with a darker, richer color.
For home bakers short on time, using cake mix can be a tasty shortcut to cookies with a nice even crumb and kid-friendly flavor.
The Cons of Cake Mix Cookies
However, there are a few downsides to be aware of when substituting cake mix for flour in cookies:
- Too sweet – Cake mix cookies may end up overly sweet since cake mix has extra sugar added. This can overwhelm other flavors.
- Less flexibility – You’re limited to the flavors and mixes being sold. It’s hard to adapt recipes for things like whole wheat or gluten-free options.
- Muted flavors – Spices, chocolate, and other flavors may taste less pronounced with the sweetness of cake mix.
- Dryness – Moisture varies between cake mix brands, which can sometimes lead to dry cookies.
For the best from-scratch flavor and chewy cookie texture, regular flour is a better choice. But cake mix can be used successfully with a few adjustments.
What Kind of Cake Mix Works Best?
The type of cake mix you choose will impact the finished cookie’s texture and flavor:
- White cake mix – Varies by brand, but generally produces cookies with a tender, cakey texture and mild sweet flavor. The simplest option.
- Yellow cake mix – Made with extra egg yolks so cookies bake up especially soft and moist.
- Chocolate cake mix – Results in a richer chocolate flavor and darker cookie color than cocoa powder alone.
- Spice, carrot, or Funfetti cake mix – For fun flavored cookies studded with mix-ins like cinnamon, carrots, or sprinkles.
Stick to plain mixes without pudding added for the most universally appealing cookies. And try combining cake mixes for unique flavor combos like mixing yellow and chocolate.
How to Adapt Cookie Recipes for Cake Mix
Here are some tips for successfully using cake mix in place of flour in cookie recipes:
- Use a neutral oil – Canola, vegetable, or light olive oil allows any mix-ins to shine versus a strongly flavored oil.
- Reduce additional sugars – Cut back on granulated or brown sugar by 1/4 to 1/3 cup since cake mix is sweet.
- Add an extra egg yolk or whole egg – Helps keep cookies moist and chewy to offset cake mix dryness.
- Scoop dough generously – Use a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop and leave some space between cookies to prevent excessive spread.
- Watch closely while baking – Cake mix cookies spread more than flour dough so bake for less time at slightly lower temperatures.
Making a few simple adjustments like these allows you to successfully use convenient cake mixes while still achieving delicious, homemade quality cookies.
Best Cookie Recipes to Make with Cake Mix
Almost any drop-style cookie recipe adapts well to using cake mix. Some especially good options include:
- Chocolate chip cookies – The chips provide rich flavor to balance the sweetness of the cake mix. Just reduce the extra sugar slightly.
- Oatmeal cookies – The hearty oats pair nicely with the soft, chewy texture from the cake mix. Add an extra egg for moisture.
- Peanut butter cookies – Use creamy peanut butter and reduce any other sugar. The peanut butter tames the cake mix sweetness.
- Snickerdoodles – Cinnamon and cinnamon-sugar complement the subtle vanilla flavor of white cake mix.
- Thumbprint cookies – Take advantage of the cake mix flavors by filling indentations with jam, chocolate, or other fillings.
Feel free to get creative and add mix-ins like nuts, coconut, dried fruit or candy to your favorite cake mix cookie dough!
Pro Tips for Perfect Cake Mix Cookies
Baking with cake mix does take some trial and error to master. Use these pro tips for cookie success:
- Always use the instructions on the cake mix box rather than the original recipe.
- Stick to name brand mixes which are more consistent than generics.
- Check the expiration date and give opened cake mix a sniff test first.
- Swap out 3/4 cup of cake mix for 1 cup of flour in recipes.
- Let dough chill for at least 30 minutes which prevents spreading.
- Grease baking sheets well or line with parchment paper.
- Rotate pans front to back halfway through baking.
- Take cookies out when edges look set but centers are still slightly soft.
- Cool cookies on pan briefly before moving to a rack to finish cooling.
Baking is always a science, but these guidelines will help you whip up perfect cake mix cookies every time. Don’t be afraid to experiment and tweak things to suit your own personal taste.
Storing and Freezing Cake Mix Cookie Dough or Baked Cookies
One of the bonuses of using ultra-convenient cake mix is that the dough holds up well to freezing. Here are some tips:
- For freezing unbaked dough, scoop dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Once frozen solid, transfer to freezer bags or containers. Thaw in the fridge before baking.
- Freeze baked cookies in a single layer on a pan before transferring to bags or containers. Take out as many cookies as needed still frozen and reheat until warm.
- Cookies made with cake mix stay fresh covered at room temperature for 2-3 days. Freeze for longer storage of baked cookies up to 3 months.
- Unbaked cake mix cookie dough keeps refrigerated for 3-4 days or frozen for 2-3 months.
- Add 15-30 seconds to the bake time for frozen cookie dough or refrigerated dough that is still chilled.
Freezing is a great way to make a big batch of cake mix cookies to enjoy freshly baked with just a quick thaw, bake, and reheat as you need them!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are my cake mix cookies flat and spreading too much?
Cake mix cookies tend to spread more than regular cookie dough. First, make sure to chill the dough thoroughly. Then scoop generously and allow ample space between cookies on the pans. Setting the oven 25°F lower than the recipe recommends can help too. Bake just until set at the edges.
How do I adjust for high altitude baking with cake mix cookies?
High altitude baking with cake mix can be trickier. Reduce oven temperature by 25°F, add 1-2 tablespoons extra flour, and bake cookies for a minute or two less than directed.
Can I use cake mix in slice-and-bake cookies?
Yes, you can include cake mix in refrigerated slice-and-bake style cookie doughs. The chilled dough will be easier to handle and slice cleanly. Just be sure to keep the dough chilled until baking.
What ingredients can I add or swap in cake mix cookies?
Some easy add-in options are nuts, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, oats, raisins, candy pieces, or crushed peppermint. For dairy-free cookies, use non-dairy milk and butter substitutes. Gluten-free cake mix works to make gluten-free cookies.
Do I need to sift cake mix when using it in cookies?
No sifting is required when using pre-mixed cake batter in cookies. The mix is already uniformly blended and aerated. Simply use it as is for fast and easy cookie dough.
Cake Mix Substitution Ratio for Cookies
As a general guideline, use the following substitution ratio when replacing regular flour with cake mix in cookie recipes:
|1 1/2 cups
|1 1/8 cups
|1 1/2 cups
This basic 3:4 ratio provides enough cake mix for structure while keeping cookies from becoming too dense and sweet. Adjust to your taste preferences as needed.
Recipe Example: Easy Cake Mix Chocolate Chip Cookies
Here is an easy recipe example that highlights how to successfully use cake mix in classic chocolate chip cookies:
- 1 1/2 cups yellow cake mix
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, beat together cake mix, eggs, butter and milk until a dough forms.
- Mix in chocolate chips and nuts (if using).
- Scoop dough by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart.
- Bake for 9-11 minutes until edges are set but centers are still soft.
- Allow cookies to cool 5 minutes on pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
The convenience of using cake mix coupled with the classic chocolate chip cookie flavor makes this recipe a new go-to in my kitchen!
Cake mix can be used as a handy substitution for flour in cookie recipes with some adjustments to balance both texture and flavor. Overall, recipes that originally rely on butter and include mix-ins like chocolate chips adapt best. Simple tweaks like chilling dough thoroughly, scooping generously, lowering the oven temp, and reducing any other sugars help cake mix cookies bake up with the perfect soft and chewy results. With the right tricks and a bit of practice, cake mix allows you to whip up delicious homemade cookies in a fraction of the time.