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How to Make a Poke Cake

Here’s how to make a poke cake so you can create one at home with any flavor cake or filling you want. Start with our pineapple poke cake and then try this yummy ganache filling style we made today.

how to make a poke cake

Whether you make a ganache poke cake like we did here or a tropical flavored one we’re here to explain how to make a poke cake so you can create your own favorite dessert too. Think of your favorite flavors and a sweet sauce you love and get ready for the moistest cake ever. Just one of our easy dessert recipes. (affiliate links present, originally published 5/22)

How to Make a Poke Cake

Why we love poke cakes is a long list of whys but I will narrow it down to a few. To start with my girls have always been fans. To get them involved in the kitchen is a goal so once they fell in love we went on a roll to make many variations of them over the years.

  1. They are easy to make
  2. You can create a bunch of combinations of cake easily
  3. It is super moist
  4. It’s filled with cream, caramel or chocolate which is just amazing
  5. It’s pretty topped with Cool Whip and chocolate shavings, fresh fruit, or anything else you could possibly imagine like what we added here with this smores poke cake

Let us show you how to make one of these OH SO Moist desserts. Let your imagination run wild with flavors and decorations.

how to make a poke cake 3

What you need to make a poke cake

If you want to make a specific color for a birthday I would opt for strawberry for pink, boxed lemon for yellow or if you want homemade you can go for our purple cake recipe.

  • Box of cake mix – Or you can make one from scratch but that’s not happening in my house. Let’s just go with the basic yellow or white cake mix shall we.
  • Wide straws, Use the end of a spoon or if you have a cupcake injector you can use that.  You just need something to poke holes in the cake so the filling will seep in.
  • Filling – A can of sweetened condensed milk is typically used. You can use jar of caramel sauce, warmed jar of raspberry jam, vanilla pudding, ganache, the list goes on and on. These work great if you don’t want to make your own filling.
    • Basically you want something sweet and warm that will ooze into the holes.
  • Topping – Cool Whip is typically used for a light fluffy topping but you can whip up some frosting yourself or use a tub of whipped frosting
  • Pretties – Anything and everything you’d like to “decorate” your cake or give it a unique flavor
  • Ideally a fridge – You’ll want to refrigerate it after adding your filling, then again after you add your topping(s). No need to cover the cake while chilling.
  • Pan13×9 baking dish is needed

How do you poke a cake?

You can see where the holes were made and “injected” with ganache for this poke cake recipe. You could also poke holes with a large straw to pour the warm filling inside if yours is more liquidy.

When spots go all the way down to the bottom of the pan you can just pour your sauce on top so it seeps into the holes. Either way works.

how to make a poke cake 2

There is a recipe for homemade ganache style filling and frosting below. I’ve also provided alternatives if you are looking for a quicker dessert.

Like I said there are TONS of different varieties. Here’s our tropical cake being made below.

How to Make Poke Cake

Ok so there are steps to follow no matter what type of cake mix you choose, flavors or fillings. They are simple to follow and remember but should be followed in this same order. The temp of how it’s done is important so don’t rush things.

  1. Bake your cake as directed on the box in a 13×9 pan
  2. Take out when it springs back when gently touched in the very center
  3. Set on a cooling rack to almost cool completely
  4. Poke holes in the top of your cake as you see in the video
  5. Warm your filling so it is liquidy
  6. Pour sauce on top of your entire cake so it seeps into the holes you’ve created
  7. Put cake in your fridge for a good hour
  8. Take cake out and use a spatula to spread your whipped topping or whip frosting until it has stiff peaks and spread that on the top
  9. Add toppings on top of that
  10. Put cake back into the fridge to cool again (my preference, but you could immediately serve it)

And here it is……These are easy desserts that are great for any occasion, especially potlucks!

ganache poke cake

Other easy dessert recipes

  1. Smores cake is amazing using homemade chocolate cake mix
  2. Our coconut chocolate poke cake is oh so good.
  3. Strawberry poke cake is great for the summertime.
    1. This one uses strawberry jello!
    2. Or use any other flavor to make a jello poke cake.

Does jello poke cake have to be refrigerated?

Yes. They all should if there is any left. 

Can you freeze a poke cake?

I guess if you really wanted to you could. Cover with plastic wrap after poking the holes and adding the “filling”. Freeze this way and after it is defrosted then add your whipped topping and berries to the very top.

This banana pudding cake is always a winner. Less work than a poke cake but the same taste. This is how to make a surprise inside cake too. That is fun!

banana pudding cake

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How to Make a Poke Cake

Here’s how to make a poke cake so you can create one at home with any flavor cake or filling you want like this yummy ganache poke cake we made today.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword chocolate, dessert, ganache, poke cake
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 381kcal
Author The Typical Mom



  • 1 box cake mix and all ingredients to make as directed on box
  • 1.5 c chocolate chips
  • 1 c heavy whipping cream or use a can of sweetened condensed milk instead of chocolate chips and whipping cream to fill holes
  • 8 oz whipped topping


  • Make cake as directed on box, allow to completely cool on cooling rack.
  • Use a very wide straw or the end of a small spoon to poke holes all over the top of the cake going all the way down to the bottom of the  pan.
  • Pour can of condensed sweetened milk over top of cake and allow it to go into holes, if you want a chocolate ganache filling instead melt chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream above on stovetop and pour 1/2 of that on top instead.
  • Use a spatula to spread whipped topping on top of cake, if you want a chocolate topping use the rest of your ganache mixture that has been cooled and put it into your mixture. Whip until it is lighter in color and fluffier and spread that on top instead.
  • Top with candies, berries, or any other toppings.
  • Put into fridge for at least 1 hour to cool and solidify liquid that has been poured on top and then serve!
Nutrition Facts
How to Make a Poke Cake
Amount Per Serving (1 oz)
Calories 381 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Fat 16g25%
Saturated Fat 11g69%
Trans Fat 0.1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 26mg9%
Sodium 348mg15%
Potassium 58mg2%
Carbohydrates 56g19%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 38g42%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 356IU7%
Vitamin C 0.3mg0%
Calcium 144mg14%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
how to make a poke cake
smores poke cake
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