How to Add Cocoa Powder to a Cake Mix

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If you find yourself craving chocolate cake only to find a classic yellow or white cake mix in your pantry, you can add 1/4 cup of cocoa powder to your cake batter for a complete chocolate transformation. Pairing this simple trick, with a couple added suggestions, will give you a rich cake full of chocolate flavor without having to make an extra trip to the grocery store.



  • Use an unsweetened cocoa powder to obtain the best chocolate flavor.
  • Adding cocoa powder can slightly alter the ratio of dry to wet ingredients, so add a couple tablespoons of freshly brewed coffee to balance the consistency of the batter and increase the chocolate flavor of the cake.

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Step 1: Grease the Pans, Preheat Oven

Use a pastry brush to apply softened butter to your cake pan(s). Add a tablespoon of flour to each pan before rotating the pan from side to side to apply the flour to the sides and along the bottom of each pan. Dump any excess flour. If you are using metal or glass pans, preheat your oven to 350 F. If using dark or coated pans, preheat your oven to 325 F.

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Step 2: Sift Dry Ingredients

Use a fine mesh sieve or a flour sifter to sift the cake mix and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Sift the ingredients at least three times.


Sift the cocoa and cake mix well to avoid yellow or white spots from unincorporated cake mix in your finished product.

Step 3: Combine Wet Ingredients

Add your eggs to a separate bowl and whisk to break up the yolks. Add in the water, vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons of freshly brewed coffee. Whisk well to combine.


Step 4: Mix Wet and Dry Ingredients

Add the wet to dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. If the batter seems to be thicker than usual, add in a tablespoon more of coffee, or as needed. The batter should be thick yet flow slowly.

Step 5: Divide Cake Batter, Bake

Divide your cake batter among your pan(s) and bake according to the cake mix package instructions. If you are using two 8-inch pans, bake for 26 to 31 minutes. If you are using a 9-by-13-inch cake pan, bake 23 to 28 minutes. Remove the cake(s) once they spring back when gently pressed on the top, or when a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake(s) comes out with few or no crumbs.