3-2-1 Magic Mug Cake

3-2-1 Magic Mug Cakes

This isn’t really a recipe. It’s directions for magic. There is a time and a place for cake mixes. And this is one of them. When the directions for this magic formula appeared in the food section of our newspaper, I had to give it a try.  It is just too perfect a care package treat for anyone with a sweet tooth and access to a microwave, in other words, most college students and many military.

3-2-1 Magic Mug Cakes

If you are like me, you will read this “recipe” and say, “No way. This can’t work. And if it works, it can’t taste any good.” So go ahead and make yourself a mug of 3-2-1 cake before you send the rest of the ingredients off in a care package. It does work and it tastes like a normal cake mix cupcake. Magic.

3-2-1 Magic Mug Cakes

The 3-2-1 in the name comes from the proportions of ingredients used.  All that is needed is one box of angel food cake mix combined with one box of any other flavor of cake mix and water.  Three tablespoons of cake mix and two tablespoons of water are mixed in a mug, then microwaved for one minute. That’s all!

3-2-1 Magic Mug Cakes

For my Monday Box, I poured the two cake mixes into a labeled gallon-size zip lock bag, added a measuring spoon and a can of non-stick spray, and wrote out directions on an index card. For a special touch, include a mug and spoon, and some add-ins  too. If your care package recipient has a need for extra sugar, feel free to add a can of frosting (disgusting stuff but most college students don’t seem to notice).

3-2-1 Magic Mug Cakes

If this idea gets you thinking about mug cakes and you are looking for some  recipes of the non-magic but delicious variety, take a look at the Apple Speculoos Mugcake or the Pink Velvet Mugcake my friend, Sarah, creates at Easy Bakery. The blog is in French but it works well with Google translate and Sarah is always happy to translate recipes into English, which is lucky because my French is less than basic.

3-2-1 Magic Mug Cakes

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3-2-1 Magic Mug Cake
Makes: about 24 mugs of cake
  • 1 box Angel Food Cake mix
  • 1 box Cake mix (flavor of your choice)
  • Water
  • Non-stick spray
  • 1 can Frosting (optional)
  • Add-ins (optional) such as chocolate chips, coconut, candy bars, nuts, sprinkles
  1. In a gallon sized ziplock bag, combine the two boxes of cake mix. Shake the bag to mix thoroughly.
  2. Lightly coat the inside of a microwaveable mug with non-stick spray. (The spray is not required but it sure makes clean-up easier. Without it, the mug will need to be soaked to loosen zapped on cake crust)
  3. (Here comes the 3-2-1 part) Into the mug, add 3 tablespoons of cake mix and 2 tablespoons of water. Throw in 1-2 tablespoons of add-ins, if using. Stir to combine.
  4. Microwave on high for 1 minute.
  5. If using frosting, now is the time to add a dollop. Eat right out of the mug with a spoon or pop the little cake out of the mug and take a bite.
Packing tips
Combine the two cake mixes in a labeled gallon-size zip lock bag. Include a measuring spoon and a can of non-stick spray. Write out directions on an index card. For a special touch, include a mug and spoon, and some add-ins too. If your care package recipient has a need for extra sugar, feel free to add a can of frosting.

If you enjoy this 3-2-1 cake, you might also enjoy:


3-2-1 Magic Mug                                       3-2-1Molten Lava                                       3-2-1 Caramel Apple


3-2-1 Boston Cream Pie

3-2-1 Boston Cream                            3-2-1 Piña Colada                                        3-2-1 Black Forest

3-2-1 Gingerbread Cake  3-2-1 Strawberry Lemonade Cake 3-2-1 Mandarin Orange Cake

3-2-1 Gingerbread                            3-2-1 Strawberry Lemonade                            3-2-1 Mandarin Orange


  1. says

    Ohhh I love it ! And I love to see that your recipe is three times easier because of the cake mix !! You’re right : it’s a good treat for military and student.
    Cake mix are not popular in France but that’s pretty cool ! Love this article my dear Wendy ! Hag sameah

    • says

      Thanks, Sarah! What I love about your mug cakes, is that they are real cakes for 1 person. This magic cake is just a fun quick snack. It is a perfect “recipe” for someone with only a microwave and without many ingredients. I am not surprised that cake mix is not popular in France. The whole world travels to France for food and pastries that does not come out of a box! Hag sameach!

    • says

      I have Hermione’s hair but not her talents, Jess! :) As you know from first hand experience, most college students don’t have the time, interest, or know-how to bake but do have a need to snack. I can never figure out how you fit so much into your days! For those without YOUR magic skills, we have magic cake!

    • says

      No ingredients to buy. Nothing to go bad in the fridge. Unlikely to explode. :) An excellent dorm snack for the budding chef or those allergic to cooking. Let me know what he thinks!

  2. cookiemonstercooking says

    haha this is so fun! I would have loved to have gotten something like this when I was in college : )

    • says

      It is the perfect snack for a college student or military person with the munchies! No perishable ingredients. No special directions. But it is the magic that makes it fun!

  3. says

    Magic indeed! I love this for those times when my sweet tooth hits out of the blue and I must have something sweet immediately or I will self combust!!

  4. TXgirl says

    Would it mess up the 3-2-1 ratio if I added extra cocoa powder to my mix? After mixing the German chocolate cake mix with the angel food cake mix, it is no longer chocolate-y.

    • says

      I haven’t tried it, but I think it might work. I would start with adding cocoa powder to 1 mug (maybe 1/2 -1 teaspoon at first) and see what happens before you potentially waste your cocoa and your mix. Too much cocoa will make the cake bitter. Another solution for more chocolate flavor is chocolate syrup after the 3-2-1 cake bakes or the molten lava style with added chocolate chips or candy bars to the mix before microwaving. Let me know what you discover! :)

      • says

        I have seen a recipe for “chocolate angel food cake” where they added 1/2c. cocoa powder to the mix and recommended dusting the cake with powdered sugar. I think that would work quite well. Might add a little bit of powdered sugar into the mix itself, just to keep it from being bitter.

        I made a mug and felt the same way… no chocolate flavor! Chocolate chips helped, but I think next time, I won’t stir them in… they sunk to the bottom.

        • says

          Thank you for adding your suggestions, Allison. I still favor adding something liquidy and chocolate like chocolate bars into the mix that will melt when heated , like in the Molten Lava version, or chocolate syrup added over the cake when it comes out of the microwave.

    • says

      Hi! My daughter, who must eat gluten free, asked me the same question recently! The key to 3-2-1 cakes is the eggs in the angel food cake mix. That is what causes them to rise. I haven’t tried 3-2-1 gluten free yet because though I have vanilla and chocolate gluten free cake mix, I don’t have an angel food cake mix. I will try to locate one. If you try making a gluten free 3-2-1 cake, let me know how it goes!

        • says

          Maureen, our stores don’t seem to carry any brand of gluten-free angel food cake. I looked online and couldn’t find it either. BUT I did make the 3-2-1 cake just with gluten-free chocolate cakemix (just skip the part about combining the two mixes) and it worked great! I used Betty Crocker Devils Food Gluten-Free. I think any brand would work. Enjoy!

    • says

      Hi, Kruti. I think that the answer to your question is, yes. I have not tried with regular cake mix (no angel food mix) plus water, but I have tried with just gluten free cake mix (no angel food mix) and it worked great! I have also read recipes online that say you can just use the one box. So, I would give it a go! Please let me know how it goes. :)

      • kruti says

        Thanks. :) I tried it and it worked really well! I filled half a cup with the mix and like a third cup of water and it turned out great. I’m glad I can make this with only 2 things. Such a time saver.

  5. Connie says

    I did not like the 321 cake idea very much and now wonder what can I do with this whole bag of mixed Angel food and Devils food cake mixes? I would like to use them up and make one big yummy something. Any ideas for this problem?.

    • says

      Sorry you didn’t like your 3-2-1 cake, Connie. I have 2 suggestions. First, did you only try the 3-2-1 cake plain? I think it tastes like a sponge that way. With add-ins like the molten lava version or the apple cinnamon version it tastes WAY better. Plus it must be eaten warm. If you still don’t like it, I am sure you could use it in any recipe calling for cake mix. I suggest googling or doing a search on Pinterest for “cake mix recipe”. There are pancakes, and waffles, and cookies that I have seen using cake mix. I hope you find something delicious!

    • says

      We did make 3-2-1 Gluten Free, Cassie! I couldn’t find a gluten free angel food mix so we just made it with gluten free chocolate cake mix (Betty Crocker) and it came out great!

    • says

      Thanks, Jana! 3-2-1 is the perfect college dorm snack! It keeps well, feeds a crowd, and satisfies the late night munchies! :) I recommend using microwave safe paper cups for college kids because then there are no dished to wash!

  6. Sara says


    great recipe but just wanted to know if the angel food cake mix is necessary? Like can I just use one preferred cake mix? Thanks.

    • says

      Hi, Sara! Thanks for stopping by! The angel food cake seems to give the cake rise. I haven’t tried regular cake mix without the angel food BUT I have tried gluten free chocolate cake mix without any angel food mix and it worked just fine! Maybe it was a little less fluffy but it was definitely cake. If you try it, let me know if it works for you. :)

  7. Laurie B. says

    I tried this 3 2 1 cake mix but I guess my microwave is not high enough wattage it did not cook all the way. I tried it again (mixed up a fresh 321) and added 30 seconds it was better. -Any ideas?

    • says

      Hi, Laurie! I am sorry that your 3-2-1 cake didn’t work the first time. Until I got a new microwave recently, I had no idea how much the power can vary. My old microwave was definitely 1 minute. My new microwave is 40 seconds at the most. I really believe you can make 3-2-1 cakes in your microwave, but may have to sacrifice a few as you figure out the correct timing. Once you figure out the timing the variations of 3-2-1 cakes are infinite. :)


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