Small Batch

A Cherry Chip Cake Better than Boxed Mix

August 18, 2015

It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Marcella DiLonardo of modest marce makes a cherry chip cake that puts the boxed mix to shame. 

Shop the Story

If you baked a cake from a box mix in the 90s, chances are you know about Betty Crocker's Cherry Chip Cake. It was the box mix wedged between Funfetti and SuperMoist Chocolate, and it still holds a special place in my heart—and my stomach.

More: Learn how to make a Funfetti cake from scratch.

Growing up, I always looked forward to the (glowing) bright pink cake that emerged from the oven—so much so that I could never turn down licking the batter off of the spoon. But as I graduated from "just add eggs" mixes to cakes made from scratch, I left the Cherry Chip on the shelf and opted to make my own version. Step aside, Betty. My homemade version replaces the died "cherry-flavored" chips with maraschino cherries (you can also use chopped fresh cherries), and canned frosting gets a rich vanilla buttercream upgrade. In place of the sprinkles on top, I opted for fresh sweet cherries—it is summertime, afterall. I challenge you not to lick the spoon:

Homemade Cherry Chip Cake 

Makes one tall 9-inch cake

For the cake:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups raw sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup maraschino cherries, stems removed and finely chopped, or chopped fresh cherries

For the frosting:

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Fresh cherries, as garnish

Preheat oven to 325° F, then heavily grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. 


In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, and oil and beat until well combined.

In a separate medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl on low speed until the flour is just combined. Add the milk and mix until the batter is smooth.

Using a spoon or rubber spatula, stir in the in the maraschino cherries. Evenly distribute the batter into the two pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  

Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool completely, then flip each onto a cooling rack. At this point, either slice each cake in half horizontally to make a four-layer cake, or let it remain a two-layer cake.

While the cake cools, make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, add all the ingredients and whisk until light and fluffy, about 8 minutes. Frost the cake as desired and garnish with fresh cherries.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Marcella DiLonardo

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • steph meinberg
    steph meinberg
  • Cinnamon
  • Susan
  • Bella B
    Bella B
  • AntoniaJames
baker + blogger + city dweller | modesty is the best policy.


steph M. August 21, 2015
Marcella, what would you think about using frozen sour cherries??? I bought them to top a honey goat cheese dip, but never ended up using them (the cheese stood alone). And i love the raw sugar - will be making this cake this weekend for sure...
modest M. August 21, 2015
hmm! the sour cherries might make the cake a little tart, as it would be replacing the overly sweet maraschino cherrys. maybe try adding a bit more sugar to the mix!?
Cinnamon August 20, 2015
modest M. August 21, 2015
thank you:)!
Susan August 19, 2015
WOW! I completely forgot about this cake mix. It was a regular made by my sister and I. I look forward to making this from scratch version.
modest M. August 21, 2015
it is definitely one of the forgotten cake mixes!!
Bella B. August 19, 2015
This looks so tasty!

xoxoBella |
AntoniaJames August 18, 2015
My father put boxed mixes to shame in the most memorable way when he declared that the first and only cake from a mix that my mother ever made "taste[d] like yesterday's Wall Street Journal." I've actually never made one, and probably never will. This cherry chip cake sure looks like a winner, though. ;o)
Jennie August 18, 2015
Oh man...I am THRILLED you have posted this recipe. As a kid, I would always request a cherry chip cake for my birthday (and I still do now). My birthday just passed over the weekend, but this is a REALLY good reason to celebrate it one more time!! *claps hands excitedly*
Jennie August 21, 2015
I am making this cake right now and it smells AMAZING AHHHHHHHH