Marissa * Better Than Sex Cake

Marissa’s mother has never been Martha Stewart. She’s a stylish lady, no doubt, but you won’t find her crafting personalized party favors, or decorating place cards, or laboring endlessly over a meal. And yet, for a woman who isn’t keen on cooking, there is one thing Marissa’s mother has baked an awful lot: Better Than Sex Cake. It doesn’t require fancy equipment, fussy ingredients, or a penchant for piping. It’s simply good.


The cake was an instant hit in Marissa’s family, but when Marissa went off to college and took the recipe with her — well, that’s when it really got popular. “I’m not sure whether to give the credit to the name or to the cake itself,” Marissa laughs, “but everyone always loved it. I used to make it for parties, birthdays, exam time. It sort of became my thing.”

Then, after Marissa graduated, the cake began to frequent a more sophisticated scene. “My fiance’s work friends now specifically request this cake whenever the office throws a party,” Marissa says. “Although at work, my fiance has always referred to it at as ‘The Better Than Kissing Cake.’ He’s a bit bashful, I guess!”

And while Marissa’s fiance may be bashful, this cake is anything but. It’s not going to beat around the bush, people. It’s great, it knows it, and it isn’t afraid to tell you so. Perhaps you could call it bragging, but then again, perhaps it’s only being honest. Think of it as the more glamorous, dressed up cousin to plain old cake mix — still accessible, but with a bit more bling. Sour cream and pudding, the “secret ingredients,” make this cake impossibly moist and wonderfully addictive. It’s a simple equation, really: rich, velvety vanilla + melting mini chocolate chips = divine decadence. “It’s a great cake to make when you’re entertaining, “ Marissa adds, “because it tastes wonderful, it makes a statement, and it’s really easy to throw together.”

Martha Stewart, take note.

Three Quick Questions…and Marissa’s Answers

It’s your last meal. What do you have?

Can I have all desserts? I think I would have the raw lemon squares from Karyn’s, cake balls from Bleeding Heart Bakery, and this incredible chocolate mousse from The Chicago Diner that my fiancé once brought me on Valentine’s Day.

Your kitchen is burning down. What’s the one thing you grab?

Right now it would have to be my juicer. I’ve gotten really into having juice in the mornings, and I try to make it as green as I can. I usually use some combination of kale, parsley, celery, spinach, green apple, and cucumber. The kale is key.

Do you have a favorite cookbook?

I have a whole mini collection of vegan cookbooks now and it’s so hard to choose just one. I really love The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone, which isn’t really a cookbook per se, but it does include a lot of great recipes at the back of the book and it’s what first got me interested in becoming vegan. I also really like The Food Revolution by John Robbins. That one’s really amazing – it talks about your own health, the health of the animal, the health of the environment, and how all those things interact.

Marissa * Better Than Sex Cake
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-12
This cake is easy, decadent, and impossibly moist. Is it really better than sex? Well, you'll have to judge for yourself.
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 (4oz) box instant vanilla pudding
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • confectioners' sugar, for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a bundt pan.
  2. In large bowl, combine cake mix, vanilla pudding, eggs, sour cream, oil and water. Mix well, then stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick, when inserted into cake, comes out clean.
  3. Allow to cool 15 minutes in the pan, then loosen sides and invert onto a plate. Optional: After cake has cooled completely, dust lightly with confectioners' sugar.


  • Wow.. elegant looking cake from simple ingredients.. I like that!

    • Grace

      Me too!! It’s pretty easy to put together, but you would never guess!

  • Erica

    Better than sex cake was something I made many years ago — thanks for reminding me of how easy and delicious it is.

    • Grace

      Thanks for the sweet comment, Erica : ) I had never had the cake up until Marissa introduced it to me, but I can definitely see why people love it!

  • Well, with a name like that, who could possibly resist? Very sweet story, too.

    • Grace

      Agreed! Definitely an attention-grabber! ; )

  • […] I am always looking for new dessert to try. I recently gave a try to the recipe of “Marissa Better than Sex […]

  • Martha

    I bought the ingredients for this cake tonight, including the Pillsbury “Moist Supreme” cake mix as shown in the photo in this writeup. On closer look at the store, though, I discovered that the Pillsbury cake mix has “1 cup of pudding in the mix for extra moist cake.” If I use the Pillsbury cake mix, should I leave out the box of instant vanilla pudding that the recipe calls for? Should I use Pillsbury AND the box of instant pudding, and therefore be working with a double does of pudding for this cake? Or should I use a different brand of cake mix–one that doesn’t have a cup of pudding in its mix–and also use the box of instant pudding?

    Thanks for your help. I’m not doing anything until I hear from you.

    Thank you for this great site! I read about it in the Sunday Chicago Tribune and have already alerted my brother to it. Congratulations!

    • Grace

      Thanks so much, Martha! I’m glad you stopped by and great call on making this cake :) If you bought the Pillsbury Moist Supreme “Classic Yellow” (and looks like the picture in this post) you should be fine because that’s what Marissa used and it turned out great. If not, I’d still go ahead and add the pudding called for in the recipe. I can’t make any promises, but I think it should be fine! Hope this helps. I’d love to hear how it turns out!

  • Martha

    Thanks for your help, Kathryn. I made it last night, and used the Pillsbury-with-pudding-inside mix and added the box of instant pudding.

    I can see why people like this cake so much!

    • Grace

      Oh, good! Glad to hear it worked out! Enjoy :)

  • Stoneturner

    I absolutely LOVE chocolate chip cookies, but choc chips in a cake doesn’t even sound good. But after reading all of the amazing comments, I can’t wait to try this and share it with my husband!
    Thank you.

    • Grace

      You should definitely give it a try! It’s delicious.

  • Melissa

    I think this is my new favorite cake. Made it last night for hubby’s birthday. It was SOOO moist. And simple. My son told me to save some for hubby! By the way I am from Chicago too!

    • Grace

      Hooray for a fellow Chicagoan! :) I’m glad you enjoyed the cake. Hope your husband did, too!

  • Luisa

    I LOVED this cake!!! I had a yellow cake mix & wanted to give it something extra & I found out your recipe!!! So DELISH :)

    • Grace

      Thanks for the nice note, Luisa!

  • Cheryl

    I don’t own a bundt pan do I have to use a bundt pan? Can I substitute it for another type of pan and if so what? Thank you.

    • Tammy

      You can substitute with any size pan you want! Just adjust baking times

  • Sarah

    What size box of cake mix did you use? I noticed that there are varying sizes (15.25, 18.25, 16, etc oz) at the grocery store, and I wasn’t sure which size box I should use!

  • Jan C.

    I call this cake “Go to Confession Cake,” because, well, I have 5 kids. 😉

    It’s also excellent with chocolate glaze on top. In a pinch, I’ve even microwaved some dark choc. ready-made frosting and poured it over. Totally does NOT ruin the cake.

  • Tammy

    This is similar to the pound cake made by Hershey’s™. I have made it every Christmas for more than 25 years.

  • Alec

    A bit confused here. Are we supposed to mix in the pudding mix or make the pudding (with milk) and then mix that in?

    • Grace

      Hi Alec, sorry for the confusion. You just need to add the pudding mix (no milk). I updated the instructions so hopefully it’s clearer now. Thanks!

  • Leigh

    Love this cake and in the spirit of New Years resolutions I substituted unsweetened applesauce for the oil and non fat plain Greek yogurt for the sour cream and no one was the wiser :)

  • Katie

    I made this and unfortunately, I didn’t like it. It had me feeling a bit sorry for the baker’s sex life! (kidding)

    It was moist, but it tasted strongly of bad fake vanilla (probably because of the pudding? Perhaps it would be better with only the sour cream added in) and otherwise wasn’t special in any way. It’s like the cake equivalent of a casserole, maybe it’s something you have to grow up eating to enjoy. It was fun to try in a retro Midwestern/ Sandra Lee kind of way and was certainly easy to make, but you probably don’t want to bake it to impress guests at your dinner party.

    • Scarlett

      Well, la dee da!

  • Brenda

    I have my very first better than so cake in the oven right now! Fingers crossed

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