This Boxed Cake Mix Trick Is Your New Cookie Baking Secret Weapon
Is it me, or is cookie season upon us?
Some might say that it’s always cookie season (no argument there), but with cooler weather and the holidays on deck, it’s time to roll out the rolling pin and get the baking sheets in formation. With the added pressures of cooking far more meals at home every day, though, who couldn’t use a little help in the cookie recipe department?
Your savior, friends, is here.
The secret? Boxed cake mix!
Those inexpensive, shelf-stable, pantry-loving boxes are here to make your whole cookie making process much, much easier. Think of what a treasure cake mixes are: They take the guesswork out of your measuring, give consistent results, and save you time, energy, and cleanup.
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Cake mix cookies are an easy go-to when baking with kids, baking last minute, or my current fave, frustration baking in response to pandemic fatigue. There is something super satisfying about taking 5 ingredients and about 20 minutes and filling your home with the comforting scents of baking.
How to make no-fail cookies from a boxed cake mix
For starters, heat your oven to 350 and line your baking sheets with parchment paper. These cookies tend to spread, so I do not recommend silicone mats, unless you want super thin cookies.
For the cookies, you will need the following:
1 15.25-oz box of cake mix, any flavor
1 stick of butter, melted and cooled slightly (you can brown the butter for a nuttier flavor if you like), or ½ cup neutral oil (I love coconut oil for this)
2 large eggs, beaten
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup optional mix-ins (This could be a flavor and texture addition like a nut butter, or the usual suspects of chips or chunks of chocolate, chopped nuts, small candies, dried fruit, rolled oats, crushed potato chips or pretzels for a sweet and salty thing, mini marshmallows, or any a combo of the above!)
Easy, right? The steps are even easier:
Whisk the flour into the cake mix, then stir the eggs and butter or oil together and add to the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
This is your basic dough. Want some spice or deeper flavor? Consider adding the following variations:
Dash of cinnamon or instant espresso powder
Grind of white pepper
Sprinkle of cardamom, fresh citrus zest, or freeze-dried fruit powder
Smidge more vanilla extract or paste
Shot of food coloring (if you want to dress up a blonde cookie)
(Whatever you want in a cookie, go for it! Sprinkle the top with some crunchy sugar crystals or flaky sea salt before baking if you are so inclined.)
Next, chill the dough while the oven heats, which I think makes for a better bake (but is optional!).
Pro tip: Make sure your oven is really hot enough
Here’s an inside pro tip for making the best of your cookie efforts: Allow your oven to heat for 10-15 minutes past when the little light goes off indicating it’s at temp, which I do for nearly everything I bake. Here’s why. The minute you open your oven door, you are releasing heat. If your oven has just now reached the right temp, the interior air of the oven is the right temp, but the walls and floor and grates of the oven have not built up enough heat to help retain that temp when you open the door. So, I like to give the whole interior a shot to really get hot before I let that hot air escape, especially with a fast bake like a cookie, when rebounding the temp can add minutes to my baking. If you have ever baked something and found it took a much longer time than the recipe called for, and you know your oven is well-calibrated, it is likely that you did not heat long enough before baking. Here endeth the lesson.
Now, back to the cookies!
Scoop your cookie dough onto your lined baking sheets. I use a standard cookie scoop but shoot for about the size of a golf ball and be sure to space them at least two inches apart.
Bake for 9-12 minutes, rotating pans if you have oven hotspots halfway through. Cookies should be slightly golden or darker on the edges. Let cool on the baking sheets for at least 4-5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. I like to just slide the whole sheet of parchment off the baking pan onto the rack so as to not risk breaking or smooshing the still-warm cookies during transfer.
Wait! Another cookie baking pro tip!
While warm cookies are a joy, here is a pro tip that rewards patience. Let cookies cool completely before eating, and then re-warm in your toaster oven or microwave for that ooey gooey warm cookie. The cooling process is actually part of the cooking process: Steam is still evaporating from the interior of the cookie, and you will end up with a much better overall texture and flavor if you let them complete this process. (This is a pro tip for any cookie, not just this variety.)
Which cake mixes are best?
I use Duncan Hines brand almost exclusively. They have a huge range of fun flavors, and I love the results I get with their products, whether I am using them for actual cake or as an ingredient in another recipe. If you have another brand, this recipe will work as long as it is 15.25 ounces.
Note: If you have one of the newer larger 18.25-ounce boxes, just omit the extra flour called for in this recipe.
Great cake mixes and mix-in combos to try!
This recipe is so easy, it can be really fun to begin playing with options. Here are some of my favorite cake mix/mix-in combinations to get you going.
Chocolate cake mix with mini marshmallows and walnuts for a rocky road feel
Vanilla cake mix with a dash of almond extract and chopped Marcona almonds for a cookie with a marzipan flavor
Lemon cake mix with poppy seeds and a lemon glaze for a lovely tea cookie
Spice cake mix with chopped toffee
Coconut cake mix with shredded coconut and dark chocolate chips
Devil’s food cake mix with both chopped Andes mints and whole Junior Mints for a wallop of a chocolate mint cookie