Duncan Hines Cake Mixes: The Dairy-Free & Vegan Options


Updated 2020! Duncan Hines Cake Mixes were a standard at many childhood celebrations when I was a kid, and continue to be a way for people to produce a spot on, birthday-worthy, cost-effective dessert with little fuss and no muss! Plus, the flavors have been specially formulated (in a lab no less!) to perfectly greet our taste buds, and the leavening is added in just the right ratios to create a nearly foolproof cake.

Eat Dairy Free - Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and SweetsThese highly accessible boxes have gained quite a following in the dairy-free community, especially when frugality and ease is in order. Yes, most Duncan Hines Cake Mixes are Kosher Parve (OU) and contain no dairy ingredients . But use caution, as some do contain milk. At last check, I found the following varieties to be milk-free by ingredients (always verify for yourself as ingredients and labeling can change!).

Dairy-Free Duncan Hines Cake Mixes - Most varieties are kosher parve, and we tell you how to make them vegan, too!

Duncan Hines Cake Mixes: The Dairy-Free & Vegan Options

Based on our review of each flavor, the following are made without any milk ingredients. But all of them are made with wheat. I’ve included a note if they contain eggs, soy, and/or nuts. If you see any product changes that we haven’t addressed yet, please kindly leave a comment!

*These are certified kosher dairy, most likely for dairy equipment, but do not appear to have any dairy in the ingredients. As always, verify the ingredients on the package before purchasing.

Discontinued Dairy-Free Duncan Hines Cake Mixes

  • Black and White Decadent Cupcake (with frosting)
  • Caramel Apple Decadent Cupcake (with frosting & seasonal)
  • Chocolate Lover’s Decadent Cupcake (with frosting)
  • Pumpkin Spice Decadent Cupcake (with frosting & seasonal)
  • Spring Velvets (seasonal; could return)
  • Autumn Velvets (seasonal; could return)
  • Summer Velvets (seasonal; could return)
  • Holiday Velvets (seasona; could returnl)

These Duncan Hines Cake Mixes Contain Dairy

  • Signature Triple Chocolate
  • Signature Tres Leches
  • Easy Kit Coffee Cake
  • Cake Cups (all varieties at last check)

Bake it Dairy Free

Most of these mixes call for oil, eggs, and water. So they are even dairy-free when baked per the instructions. On occasion, they release a variety that calls for butter. In those cases, you will need to substitute dairy-free buttery sticks (spread might also work). You can technically use almost any liquid in place of the water if you prefer (dairy-free milk beverage, juice, etc), but keep the flavor profile of the cake in mind.

Bake it Vegan

The dairy-free Duncan Hines Cake Mixes are typically vegan, too (the Angel Food Cake does contain eggs). However, they call for eggs in the instructions. To circumvent this, you can use an egg substitute. Or you can use 1 15-ounce can of pumpkin or 1 12-ounce carbonated beverage (soda water, cola, etc) in place of the eggs, oil, AND liquid called for. The latter option produces cake that is moist, but doesn’t rise as high. Please note that these substitutes might be more finicky at high altitude (above 3000 feet).

More Facts on Duncan Hines Cake Mixes

Certifications: Many of the Duncan Hines Cake Mixes are Certified Kosher Parve.

Dietary Notes: By ingredients, these Duncan Hines Cake Mixes are dairy-free / non-dairy, and most are also egg-free, nut-free, peanut-free, vegan, and vegetarian.*

For More Product Information: Visit the Duncan Hines website at www.duncanhines.com.

*Always read the ingredient and nutrition statement prior to consumption. Ingredients, processes, and labeling are subject to change at any time for any company or product. Contact the company to discuss their manufacturing processes if potential allergen cross-contamination is an issue for you. No food product can be guaranteed “safe” for every individual’s needs. You should never rely on ingredient and allergen statements alone if dealing with a severe food allergy. 

For More Dairy-Free Guidance, Get Go Dairy Free:

Go Dairy Free 2nd Edition - The Ultimate Guide and Cookbook for Dairy-Free Living with Over 250 Recipes!

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.


  1. Hi Alisa! SO glad to see this post! I have TRIED 2 weeks in a row to make a veganized French Vanilla Duncan Hines cake… (also, regarding other posts about French Vanilla having milk or not, I just ran to the kitchen and checked the box again– there is no milk listed in the ingredients- scared me for a second!!) I also attempted a Dark Chocolate Fudge mix about a month ago. Here are my trial and error accounts in case they might help other non-dairy/ vegan bakers.

    1. Dark Chocolate Fudge cake mix. I replaced the eggs with ground flax seed and water, but added the oil as called for. The taste was ok, but it was very heavy and resembled brownies more than cake. There seemed to be a slight slickness though. I can’t decide if I think that was due to the flax or the oil– or maybe both. I’ve used the “flax egg” method for non-rising things (e.g., cookies) and it has always worked out. I decided that maybe I needed to use a different replacement for this task and also wasn’t crazy about all the oil.

    2. French Vanilla, first attempt. Substituted unsweetened applesauce for both the oil and the eggs (this box calls for 3 large eggs). The batter still tasted like vanilla cake batter after adding the 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce in place of the oil. However, it took on a very mild apple flavor (or maybe just not as vanilla-like?) after the additional 12 tablespoons replacing the eggs (i.e., 4 tablespoons per egg). The cake didn’t rise as much as a cake normally does. The cake was more delicate than a traditionally prepared one and one cake layer broke when I was turning it out of the pan. Cooked, the cake tasted good and had come back to the more vanilla/ white cake taste without any apple taste. And smelled AMAZING! Icing it was difficult. The cake was maybe too moist and kept pulling up as I tried to spread the icing (I was using DH homestyle vanilla). After we (my 2 cats and I) got it covered and came back later to cut a piece, the icing seemed to have been too heavy and the cake had sorta squished into very thin layers, the bottom layer more so than the top. It was still yummy though.

    3. French Vanilla, 2nd attempt. TONIGHT. Substituted 3/4c unsweetened applesauce for the oil, and used 1 tbls white vinegar + 1 tbls water + 1 tsp baking soda per egg. DO NOT DO THIS!! I think this egg replacement is actually meant for instances where no baking soda already exists. 2 hours later and my mouth still has that baking soda feel to it. The cake is way too bitter/sodaish to eat, even with icing on it. On the plus side, it rose slightly better than the all-applesauce approach and the texture was more normal and not so fragile.

    SO, on my next go, I think I’m going to use the 12 oz cola (maybe cream soda) approach! 😀

    Happy baking!!

    • Hi Brandi, I’m wondering if you are in Canada? It looks like the Canadian French Vanilla doesn’t contain milk, but they do state the US one does. Very odd.

      Oh my, I just saw that – 1 teaspoon of baking soda per egg is WAY too much for any recipe. Usually, you don’t even need to add leavener, but if you did, just 1/8 teaspoon baking powder or 1/16 teaspoon baking soda if adding vinegar. I didn’t note exactly what was in that comment prior. Sorry if that misled you!

      Thanks so much for sharing your adventures! Hopefully the cream soda works out well 🙂

  2. I tried to buy a Duncun Hines cake mix last night. Every box listed “lactalyte” listed as an ingredient. People who are lactose intolerant cannot have that .

  3. My son is allergic to dairy, I used to make him depression cake, but the end product is extremely dense and not at all that appetizing. I was told to use applesauce in place of the eggs, have you ever heard of this? I tried it and my cupcakes didn’t rise like normal cupcakes….. they actually look like mini pancakes at the top. I don’t mind the oil/water but, do you know of any egg substitutes that would work for the eggs and still have it come out like a normal or as close to normal cupcake as possible? Thank you

  4. Hi Alisa,

    Do you know if the Duncan Hines Homestyle Vanilla Frosting contains eggs or egg derivatives? My daughter is HIGHLY allergic to eggs- I’ve made egg/gluten FREE cupcakes, but I’m not certain if I can use this frosting.

    Thanks so much!

    • I’m so sorry for my delay on this Merrill! I don’t off hand. If eggs or egg derivatives are used in the ingredients at all, then it should be clearly labeled on ingredient statement in some way. But if your daughter is highly allergic, then you must contact the company directly to ensure that you are comfortable with their manufacturing processes and cross contamination risk. Keep in mind that “may contain” statements are voluntary, and should never be relied upon.

  5. I am entertaining Kosher only folk and am trying to find “parve” desserts. Duncan Hines Angel Food cake mix does not list dairy but the package is not marked as “parve” Is it?
    Kay Marcus

  6. Don O Elkins II on

    Hi Alisa, our daughter is lactose I tolerant and has decided to follow the vegan diet. One of the egg substitutes we have used is a tbls of white vinegar and a tsp of baking soda per egg. Would adding a teaspoon of two of baking soda to the mix along with the cola help with the issue of cakes/cupcakes not rising as much?

    • You can try it, but in that case, I would just follow the directions on the package using your egg substitute. No need for the shortcut then since you are adding some of the original ingredients anyway.

  7. I tried to contact Duncan Hines but didn’t get a specific answer and wondering if you knew. The Red 40 that is in the frostings are typically tested on animals. Do you know if the Red 40 they use is not tested on animals?

  8. Pingback: today i learned: (most) cake mixes are vegan – wake me when you feed me

  9. I have made vegan cupcakes with the recipe adding just cola and they did not rise like regular cupcakes am I missing something ?

    • Hi Donna, so you used a recipe not a boxed cake mix? This works with boxed cake mixes like Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker (they do come out a little more moist), but I can’t vouch that it will work as a swap in a full recipe.

      • Sorry I used Duncan Hines box. Devils cake and added soda but the cupcakes did not rise like regular cupcakes. I checked them put toothpicks in and they still had moist cake on them so I left them in for another 5 mins.

        • They do come out a little moister and don’t rise quite as much, but should still fully rise to frosting level 🙂 I think the chocolate cakes tend to be a little heavier. I’ve only trialed with a white cake in the past. Did they cook through for you?

  10. I’m definitely going to bookmark this for future reference. I’ve searched high and low for how to make my cupcakes dairy free and since I love red velvet I’d much rather make them vegan than for expensive cupcakes I can make at home. Also, I’d like to have things I can bring to family functions that they wont know are vegan and will get consumed before I can mention they’ve “accidentally” went vegan lol. Thanks and blessings.

  11. I used the spice cake mix and they came out amazing!!
    Do you know if this soda hack can be used in baking recipes? I don’t like consuming hydrogenated oil so that’s why I’d rather make it from scratch and not a box mix.
    these were SO delicious though!

    • Glad it worked well Heidi! The mixes have a host of additives that help things happen with ease. This may be trickier with a from-scratch recipe. I haven’t tried it but let me know if you do!

    • In general, yes. Same baking temperature. Keep an eye on it as it cooks, as the baking time could vary slightly. It should appear set and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean when it is done.

  12. I’m transitioning my family into eating dairy free foods, for health reasons as well as improving our diet. I really appreciate the tips, they are very helpful.

    • Did you report this to the company? There shouldn’t be any dairy in the cake ingredients (as shown on the box and website), but as noted, if you are sensitive to traces, then always contact companies before consumption. There are no hard and fast rules on disclosure of cross-contamination potential or allergen protocols.

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