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How Many Boxes of Cake Mix Will I Need? 

This post will give you the formula you need to determine how many boxes of cake mix to purchase for your next project, large or small.

How Many Boxes of Cake Mix Will I Need (from Out of the Box Baking.com)

Here at Out of the Box Baking we focus a lot of boxed mixes. A simple box of cake mix is useful for birthday cakes, wedding cakes, and all sorts of other treats. 

One of the questions that most often comes up is, “How many boxes of mix will I need?” “How much cake batter will fill these various pans?”

Let’s Figure it Out. . .

The answer, of course, depends on your project and the size of pans you plan to use. 

If you read my post, The Most Delicious White Cake from a Box, you see that I posted a simple formula.

TWO BOXES OF CAKE MIX WILL MAKE:

  • Two 10-inch cake layers
  • Three 9-inch cake layers
  • Four 8-inch cake layers
  • Six 6-inch cake layers

This formula will work with most boxes of store-bought cake mix like Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Duncan Hines, etc. Most of those brands are similar in size and weight (about 15.25 ounces per box).

It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about white cake mix, yellow cake mix, chocolate cake mix, carrot cake mix, or any other variation. . .the formulas are the same no matter which type of cake mix you use. Follow this guide to make sure you have enough cake batter every time.

One caveat related to quantity: The amount of batter you end up with might vary a bit depending on additions. If you load up your batter with, say, pecans and coconut (as I do with my Italian Cream Cake) you will end up with more batter. 

Let’s Start with Some Definitions

Cakes are made up of layers and tiers. A single layer of cake is a couple of inches tall, usually.

How Many Boxes of Cake Mix Will I Need? (from Out of the Box Baking.com)

Years back, most cakes were only two layers. These days, the trend is to go with three. When you stack those three cakes together, it’s called a “tier.”

How Many Boxes of Cake Mix Will I Need? (from Out of the Box Baking.com)

A typical wedding cake will have four tiers, three layers each, so a total of twelve layers of cake. And this would probably be a good time to add that I try to shoot for a 2-inch cake layer, which makes each tier about 6″ (before filling and frosting).

How Many Boxes of Cake Mix Will I Need? (from Out of the Box Baking.com)

Sounds like a lot, right? But maybe you’re wondering how many people that cake will feed. Let’s take a look.

How Many People will Each Layer Feed?

This will depend on the sizes of your slices, of course, and the shape of the cake. All of the calculations in this post will be based on the use of round cakes.

I found a post called How to Calculate Your Cake’s Number of Servings on Spruce Eats to help me figure this out, but here’s what you’re looking at:

  • 6″ three-layer cake: 11 people
  • 8″ three-layer cake: 20 people
  • 9″ three-layer cake: 27 people
  • 10″ three-layer cake: 38 people
  • 12″ three-layer cake: 56 people
  • 14″ three-layer cake: 64 people

Let’s be honest: This calculating assumes small pieces. I usually make more cake than I think I will need. Choose according to your guests’ size preferences.

How Many Boxes of Mix You’ll Need Per Project

Start by determining how many guests you will have. This will help you know which size cake to make. Once you’ve determined the size of your pans, you can break down the number of boxes of cake mix you’ll need.

SINGLE-TIER, TRIPLE LAYERED CAKE: 

How Many Boxes of Cake Mix Will I Need? (from Out of the Box Baking.com)

For me, a typical cake for my family would be a three-layered 9” cake.

  • ONE TIER: Three 9” layers (two box mixes)
    • This cake will feed 27 people

If I wanted to feed more people I would do three 10″ layers.

How Many Boxes of Cake Mix Will I Need? (from Out of the Box Baking.com)
  • ONE TIER: Three 10” layers (three box mixes)
    • This cake will feed 38 people.

TWO-TIERED, TRIPLE LAYERED CAKE

How Many Boxes of Cake Mix Will I Need? (from Out of the Box Baking.com)

Maybe you’re baking a simple two-tiered cake. For more information on How to Tier a Cake refer to my former post on this subject. 

To make a basic two-tiered cake you would need:  

  • TOP TIER: Three 6” layers (one box mix)
  • BOTTOM TIER: Three 9” layers (two box mixes)
    • This cake will feed 38 people.

You would need a total of three boxes of cake for a simple two-tiered cake. I always buy an extra, just in case anything goes wrong or in case I change my mind on pan size. 

LARGER TWO-TIERED CAKE (for a bigger crowd)

How Many Boxes of Cake Mix Will I Need? (from Out of the Box Baking.com)

Now it’s talk about what that would look like if you made a slightly larger cake on bottom. 

  • TOP TIER: Three 6” layers (one box mix)
  • BOTTOM TIER: Three 10” layers (three box mixes)
    • This cake will feed 49 people.

You would need a total of four boxes of cake mix. 

THREE-TIERED, TRIPLE LAYERED CAKE

How Many Boxes of Cake Mix Will I Need? (from Out of the Box Baking.com)
  • TOP TIER: Three 6” layers (one box mix)
  • MIDDLE TIER: Three 8” layers (two box mixes – you will have a bit left over)
  • BOTTOM TIER: Three 10” layers (three box mixes)
    • This cake will feed 69 people

In this case you’ll have a bit of batter left over. I often spread the excess batter between all of the cakes. 

LARGE THREE-TIERED CAKE

How Many Boxes of Cake Mix Will I Need? (from Out of the Box Baking.com)
  • TOP TIER: Three 6” layers (one box mix)
  • MIDDLE TIER: Three 9” layers (two box mixes)
  • BOTTOM TIER: Three 12” layers (4 – 5 box mixes)
    • This cake will feed 94 people.

FOUR-TIERED WEDDING CAKES

How Many Boxes of Cake Mix Will I Need? (from Out of the Box Baking.com)

For a large four-tiered wedding cake you will need: 

  • TOP TIER: Three 6” layers (one box mix)
  • SECOND TIER: Three 8” layers (two box mixes – will have a bit left over)
  • THIRD TIER: Three 10” layers (three box mixes)
  • FOURTH/BOTTOM TIER: Three 12” layers (4 – 5 box mixes)
    • This cake will feed 125 people.

LARGE FOUR-TIERED WEDDING CAKES

How Many Boxes of Cake Mix Will I Need? (from Out of the Box Baking.com)
  • TOP TIER: Three 8″ layers (two box mixes – will have a bit left over)
  • SECOND TIER: Three 10″ layers (three box mixes)
  • THIRD TIER: Three 12″ layers (4 – 5 box mixes)
  • FOURTH/BOTTOM TIER: Three 14″ layers (6 box mixes)
    • This cake will feed 178 people.

FIVE-TIERED WEDDING CAKE

How Many Boxes of Cake Mix Will I Need (from Out of the Box Baking.com)

I don’t have a personal picture of a five-tiered cake because I’ve never made one, but I found a stock photo online to give you guys an idea.

Here’s how it would break down.

  • TOP TIER: Three 6″ layers (one box mix)
  • SECOND TIER: Three 8″ layers (two box mixes – will have a bit left over)
  • THIRD TIER: Three 10″ layers (three box mixes)
  • FOURTH TIER: Three 12″ layers (4 – 5 box mixes)
  • FIFTH/BOTTOM TIER: Three 14″ layers (6 box mixes)
    • This cake will feed 189 people.

A Couple of Things to Remember

When you’re trying to decide how many boxes of cake to buy and how many layers of cake to bake, remember that not all party guests eat cake. And some only want a small taste.

A general rule of thumb is that about 2/3 – 3/4 of your wedding guests will want cake. The others won’t. And also remember that a groom’s cake is a great option. You can feed an additional 50 – 60 people with a large two-tiered groom’s cake.

How Many Boxes of Cake Mix Will I Need? (from Out of the Box Baking.com)

What about Square Cakes?

How Many Boxes of Cake Mix Will I Need? (from Out of the Box Baking.com)

I don’t have specifics on square cakes but my experience has taught me that square pans require slightly more batter than round, so gauge accordingly.

What about Sheet Cakes?

Not all sheet cakes are layered. This is a matter of preference. If you’re going with one layer of cake instead of two you might want to fill your pan to the 2/3 point, which will affect the number of boxes of cake mix you’ll need.

Here’s a general rule for sheetcakes:

  • 1/4 sheet: 1 – 2 boxes of cake mix per layer of quarter-sheet cake
  • 1/2 sheet: 2 – 3 boxes of cake mix per layer of half-sheet cake
  • Full sheet cake: 4 – 5 boxes of cake mix per layer

What about Shaped Cakes?

The number of boxes of mix you will need for shaped cakes will vary, depending on height and width. I always err on the side of caution when making shaped cakes, buying more than I think I will need. (Let’s face it, box cake mixes are inexpensive so I don’t mind buying more.)

In the photos above, the bone cake is comprised of three 6″ circles and one rectangular cake. You might be wondering “Why just three? Looks like four to me!” True, it looks like four but each of the three had a corner cut out and shaped together to make the fourth. It took two boxes of mix to make this cake.

The painter’s pallet cake is a simple 8″ cake (two layers) so it only requires one box of mix.

You get the idea. There’s definitely some guesswork involved!

Questions People are Asking

How long will I have to bake my layers?

  • Most of my 6, 8, and 10-inch layers bake for 30 – 35 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • My larger cakes (12-inch, 14-inch and larger) bake at a lower temperature (around 335) for longer. Low and slow is best.
  • A half sheet cake or quarter sheet cake will bake low and slow, as well (335 F). A full sheet cake could be baked at an even lower temperature (around 325) but will take quite a bit longer to bake through.

The purpose of the lower temperature is to keep the larger cakes from getting too scorched on the edges while the center bakes. Baking time will vary depending on the depth of your batter, as well.

If I make simple additions (say, an extra egg) will it affect how many mixes I will need?

Not likely. Bake as usual, whether you add extra eggs, sour cream in place of oil and butter, or any other substitutions or additions.

Other Helpful Posts from Out of the Box Baking

If you’re interested in starting with a boxed mix, (and potentially making your own party or wedding cakes) you will find the following posts very helpful:

That’s it for this post, friends! I hope you enjoyed this breakdown of how many boxes of cake mix you will need to bake your cake.

About the Author

Janice Thompson is an author, baker, and all-around mischief maker! She has overcome a host of baking catastrophes, including a toppled wedding cake, to learn more about the baking process. Janice has published over 150 books for the Christian market but particularly enjoys writing recipes and baking devotions. To learn more about Janice or to drop her a note, visit her About the Author page.

Krystal

Wednesday 6th of December 2023

Ate these based off of 2” tall or 3” tall pans? My cakes don’t rise much and I’m wondering if it’s because my pans are 2”

booksbyjanice

Wednesday 6th of December 2023

I use 2" pans!

How to Doctor a Boxed Cake Mix: The Ultimate Guide - Out of the Box Baking

Thursday 23rd of November 2023

[…] feel so strongly about this being my #1 tip that I wrote an entire post titled How Many Boxes of Cake Mix will I Need, where I break things down even […]

Julee A

Thursday 16th of November 2023

Really dumb question. Using 2 cake boxes to make a 3 layer 9 in cake. Do I mix both boxes together and do I double the water, oil etc or mix 2 mixes each separate bowls and add together. Does it even matter ? Lol thanks

booksbyjanice

Thursday 16th of November 2023

I mix mine together, all at the same time. (I have a stand mixer and the bowl is plenty big enough to double the recipe all at once.) One reason I like to do it all at once is because when you're working with an odd number of pans (like three, in your case) you could only fill up 1 1/2 at a time if you mix the batter separately. And I don't like to let batter sit out once it's in the pan. Hope this makes sense. It's easier to do it all at once. :)

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