Take Your Boxed Cake Mix To The Next Level With Some Brown Butter

Boxed cake mix is super handy to have around. While homemade cakes get all the glory, there are many times when a simple mix is exactly what you need to get a cake on the table in record time. Kids cupcake party? Church bake sale? Boxed cake has you covered. If you're feeling a little conflicted about reaching for the Betty Crocker, take heart in the fact that you're not alone. More than 214 million cake mixes were sold in the U.S. in 2023, according to Nielsen IQ. It's also super easy to doctor up a boxed cake to make it taste more like it was baked from scratch, and you don't need any special ingredients to do it — just toss in some brown butter.

Brown butter is just regular butter that's melted until the solids start to turn brown in the pan, and while it may not seem like much, the switch can be added in place of oil in any cake mix to add a nutty, toasty flavor boost. All you have to do is use the same volume of brown butter as you would oil, according to the cake mix instructions.

Making brown butter for boxed cake mix

Browning butter for cake mix is easy, though it's not quite as fast as making a boxed cake to specs. Brown butter isn't hard to make; it just requires a little patience and care — you can't walk away from the stove while it's cooking.

To make a batch of brown butter, all you need is some unsalted butter and a heavy-bottomed pot or pan. It helps to choose a light-colored pan so that you can see when the butter solids turn brown (so avoid using nonstick pans that have black or dark gray interiors). Cut your butter into equal-sized chunks and put them in a pot over medium heat. Let the butter melt and start to bubble. Once the butter fat and solids separate, the butter will begin to turn brown, which should start happening around six to eight minutes into the process. Stir or whirl the pan around to let the butter cook evenly until it turns a deep brown and before it turns black (which means it's gone too far). Once you can tell that your brown butter is ready, take it off the heat and pour it into a heat-safe container to keep it from continuing to cook. Once your butter is cooled to room temperature, you can measure it and add it to your boxed cake.

Adding brown butter to your boxed cake mix

It's important to use unsalted butter for making brown butter if you can because it won't foam as much as salted butter, and the brown butter can get very salty because the cooking process evaporates a lot of the water and concentrates the flavor. Once your brown butter is ready for your cake mix, measure it to the same volume as the oil in the instructions.

If you're subbing brown butter into a recipe that calls for regular butter, however, it's a good idea to add an extra tablespoon of water for each ⅓ cup of butter you use since butter is 15% water (which evaporates when making brown butter). If you're subbing it for oil, you don't need to add extra water.

If you've got leftover browned butter after using it for your cake mix, you can store it in a sealed container in the fridge for a couple of weeks. However, it can be incorporated into any recipe calling for regular butter, so you can use the remainder on roasted vegetables, make a graham cracker crust, or mix up a lemon brown butter sauce for your favorite seafood. Once you see how easy it is to elevate anything made with butter by browning it, you'll likely want to try it in all your buttery recipes.