HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Cake recipe calls for instant vanilla pudding. I don't have any. Is there a substitute?

  • x

I was just about to make a cake using a recipe shared here by renov8r and discovered that I needed a box of instant vanilla pudding. I didn't have any so used another recipe entirely but I was wondering if I could have subbed anything without sacrificing texture, flavor, whatever it would have provided.

Thanks for any advice. I'll get your Aunt's cake made yet, renov8r!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I would use plain yogurt or sour cream and vanilla extract.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bigjimbray

      When they call for pudding in the recipe you don't make it and add it- they are asking you to add dry ingredients so I am not sure the yogurt or sour cream would be a good substitute for the pudding.

      1. re: bigjimbray

        That's what I would have done. The cake recipes I've made that call for pudding mix use it to make a moist, solid cake. Sour cream or plain yogurt helps with the moistness. If I was subbing something for the pudding mix, I'd reduce the liquid (milk or water or whatever was used in the recipe) since, yes, you don't make the pudding and add it, you just pour in the dry mix.

        However, since the OP says the recipe already calls for sour cream, I'm not sure doubling that would help. It must be some recipe to use both sour cream AND pudding mix!

      2. I don't know how instant pudding works, but the boxed cooking kind is just cornstarch and sugar and articficial flavors and colors. I wonder if the two are interchangeable for cake recipes? Hmmm...

        1. Thanks everyone. I really didn't know what to do. The recipe does have sour cream in it so that should taste good as an addition but I was afraid to add anything wet because, as you say amyzan, it called for the pudding to be added in dry. If I used yogurt or sour cream should I cut back on something liquid? I'm confused.

          2 Replies
          1. re: xena

            I'm gonna be frank. I don't think you're going to get away with substituting anything for the pudding mix. The cake recipe probably uses the pudding mix for the emulsifying agents, starch, and whatever flavorings that are in it to create the flavor and the texture of the cake. I wouldn't try substituting anything else unless you're a food chemist.

            1. re: raj1

              I have to agree with raj1 here. The different recipe was the way to go because boxed pudding is going to have particular qualities that you're simply not going to be able to substitute for on the fly.

          2. Thanks for your input, everyone. It looks as though I'd need to just use the pudding mix if I want to make this cake.

            Thanks again.

            1. I also have a cake I like to make that calls for instant pudding, and I've been thinking about ways to substitute. I know instant pudding probably has some emulsifiers and things like that in it that I couldn't duplicate, but I just don't think those things would be important in a cake setting. I think the important thing would be the milk and cornstarch.

              Next time I make it, I think I will try taking the liquid in the recipe and making regular homeade pudding with it (I'll use something like this for the general proportions: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip... ), then adding the rest of the ingredients. I'm betting I'll need some extra milk to make the batter the proper consistency, but it can't hurt to try, right? Plus, I'm convinced I can taste the storebought pudding through the rest of the ingredients. Yuck.

              5 Replies
              1. re: JGrey

                Jell-O instant pudding ingredients:
                Sugar, Food Starch Modified, Flavoring Natural, Flavor(s) Artificial, Salt, Disodium Phosphate, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate, Monoglyceride, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Color(s) Artificial, BHA

                Powdered sugar ingredients:
                Sugar, Cornstarch

                Disodium Phosphate is used to keep the powder loose while it's in the box
                Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate is an emulsifier and thickener, to help smooth the consistency while stirring the pudding mixture (also this is mildly toxic)
                Monoglyceride is an also emulsifier which helps with mixing oils and water based liquids
                BHA is the food preservative Butylated hydroxyanisole

                So, instant pudding is basically powdered sugar with some emulsifiers, flavors, colors and preservatives. I am making a cake today that calls for instant pudding, but I intend to use powdered sugar, some extra vanilla, and an egg yolk (natural emulsifier) instead.

                If it ends up as a total catastrophe, I'll post that. If it works out, I probably won't post anything.

                1. re: teamdresco

                  Cornstarch is the most common household starch, but to thicken it needs to be brought to boiling. Modified starch thickens with just the addition of water. I think most of the rest is flavoring, coloring, and those details like keeping things loose. Cornstarch in the powdered sugar is there to absorb moisture and keep the sugar loose. So the proportions of starch in powdered sugar are quite different from the pudding mix.

                  1. re: paulj

                    I used 3/4 c. powdered sugar, 2 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp nutmeg and 1 egg yolk as indicated by teamdresco 7/14/2009 and got good reviews on the 'friendship' cake I baked without the vanilla pudding mix called for in in the recipe. The cake disappeared at work in short order. I noted the substitution on the recipe and will distribute it with the instructions for the 'friendship' cake as the starter batter gets passed around. Thanks.

                    1. re: cfoods

                      I just used the 3/4 c powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla and mine turned out great! Thanks so much for the input!!

                  2. re: teamdresco

                    To add another data point, I used this formula to make "bacardi rum cake" without the instant pudding. I used about 2/3 cup of powdered sugar, an extra egg yolk, and some vanilla. The resulting cake was a hit, but I can't compare it to the original recipe because I've never made it that way. I actually think the recipe would work fine without the pudding mix or substitutes; cake mix-based recipes are pretty foolproof and the recipe is plenty sweet & moist especially with the rum glaze. I'm willing to use cake mix to get that certain result that people love but I just don't see the point of the pudding mix, so for me, this formula is a winner.