Strawberry Poke Cake

Gelatin adds vibrant color and fruity sweetness to every slice.

Strawberry Poke Cake
Photo: Photographer: Alison Miksch / Food Stylist: Melissa Gray / Prop Stylist: Julia Bayless
Active Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 40 mins
Servings:
12

Poke cakes are a fun and playful way to upgrade a basic sheet cake. With creative toppings like condensed milk or fresh berry syrup, you can add color and flavor to cake without the fuss of layers and frosting.

This strawberry poke cake gets its fruity zip from strawberry Jell-O, and instead of a complicated frosting, we recommend topping it off with whipped topping and fresh berries. If you don't like strawberry, you can use just about any other Jell-O flavor. The lemon zest and fresh lemon juice added to this poke cake really go well with a myriad of gelatin flavors.

How to Make Strawberry Poke Cake

You'll need just 15 minutes of active prep time to make this Jell-O poke cake— but a total of 2 hours 40 minutes for the whole thing. First, preheat the oven to 350°F, and coat a baking pan with baking spray.

If you want an even easier clean-up job, add a sheet of parchment paper to the pan after you've sprayed it. This will make lifting the cake out of the pan nearly effortless, and you won't run the risk of having cake stick to the pan.

Step 1. Make the cake batter

Combine the cake mix, water, oil, eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Whisk until there are no lumps. Pour into the prepared cake pan.

cake batter in a bowl with a whisk
Photographer: Alison Miksch / Food Stylist: Melissa Gray / Prop Stylist: Julia Bayless

Now, spread the batter evenly in the baking pan, and bake for about 25 minutes.

Strawberry Poke Cake
Photographer: Alison Miksch / Food Stylist: Melissa Gray / Prop Stylist: Julia Bayless

Step 2. Poke the cake

Take the cake out of the oven, and let it cool for 10 minutes. After that time, use a fork or wooden skewer to poke holes all over the cake top to create the signature feature of this poke cake.

Whisk the gelatin mix together with boiling water until it dissolves. Then, whisk cold water into the mixture and spoon it evenly over the cake.

Strawberry Poke Cake
Photographer: Alison Miksch / Food Stylist: Melissa Gray / Prop Stylist: Julia Bayless

Chill the cake uncovered until it absorbs all the liquid.

Strawberry Poke Cake
Photographer: Alison Miksch / Food Stylist: Melissa Gray / Prop Stylist: Julia Bayless

Step 3. Frost and finish

When you're ready to serve, spread whipped topping over the top of strawberry poke cake, and garnish it with mixed berries for a pretty presentation.

Strawberry Poke Cake Ingredients

To make Jell-O poke cake, you'll need yellow cake mix, vegetable or canola oil, eggs, lemon, strawberry gelatin mix, whipped topping, and mixed fresh berries. You'll also need water and baking spray with flour.

How Long is Jell-O Cake Good in the Fridge?

This strawberry poke cake cake must be refrigerated. Cover it and store it in the fridge for up to two days. After that, the cake my be too mushy to be enjoyable.

You may also freeze it for about three months. To do so, wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap before placing in the freezer.

What Happens When You Add Jell-O to Cake Mix?

Adding Jell-O to cake mix imparts moisture and tenderness—and a pop of whatever flavor you choose. Further, poking holes in the top allows the Jell-O to enter the cake, which results in a pretty, tie-dye look when cut.

This recipe calls for strawberry, but modify with any flavor you like. In this cake, the lemon zest and juice add a subtle lemon flavor to the strawberry Jell-O, which isn't too distinct but adds sweetness.

How Do You Poke a Poke Cake?

This cake gets its distinctive look and flavor from the Jell-O that seeps into holes poked into the top. You can create a similar effect using pudding, condensed milk, or another sweet mixture.

To poke a poke cake, first bake it. Take it out of the oven, and let it cool. Then, use a fork or wooden skewer to poke holes all around the top of the cake (but don't poke all the way through to the bottom, as this will allow the pour-over ingredient to seep out). Pour your gelatin, pudding, or other ingredient on top. Let it sit until the cake absorbs all the liquid.

For more inspiration, check out our lemon-lime poke cake and our red, white, and blue poke cake recipes.

Editorial contributions by Alesandra Dubin.

Ingredients

  • Baking spray with flour

  • 1 (15 1/4-oz.) pkg. yellow cake mix (such as Duncan Hines)

  • 1 cup tap water

  • ½ cup vegetable oil or canola oil

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest plus 3 Tbsp. fresh juice (from 1 large lemon)

  • 1 (3-oz.) pkg. strawberry gelatin mix (such as Jell-O)

  • 1 cup boiling water

  • ¾ cup cold water

  • 1 (8-oz.) container frozen whipped topping (3 cups) (such as Cool Whip), thawed

  • Mixed fresh berries (such as sliced strawberries, blackberries, or raspberries)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven 350°F. Coat a 13- x 9-inch baking pan with baking spray.

  2. Whisk together cake mix, water, oil, eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a large bowl until well combined and no lumps remain; pour into prepared baking pan.

  3. Spread batter evenly in prepared baking pan. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Using tines of a fork, poke holes spaced about 1/2 inch apart all over surface of cake.

  4. Whisk together gelatin mix and boiling water in a medium-size heatproof bowl until dissolved, about 1 minute. Whisk cold water into gelatin mixture; spoon evenly over cake. Chill cake, covered, until cake absorbs liquid and is set, about 2 hours. Store cake, covered, in refrigerator up to 2 days.

  5. Spread whipped topping over top of cake, and garnish with mixed berries.

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