Southern Coconut Poke Cake

Southern Coconut Poke Cake slices on plates

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Cool and Chill: 3 hrs
Total: 3 hrs 45 mins
Servings: 20 to 24 servings
Yield: 1 (9 x 13-inch) cake
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
194 Calories
10g Fat
25g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 20 to 24
Amount per serving
Calories 194
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 12%
Saturated Fat 8g 41%
Cholesterol 8mg 3%
Sodium 57mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 25g 9%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Total Sugars 24g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 68mg 5%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 113mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A cake mix makes this moist coconut poke cake super easy.

Why Is It Called Poke Cake?

Poke cakes take their name from the process of poking holes in the warm cake. In this recipe, the coconut cake is poked to make holes and then it's topped with a simple mixture of sweetened condensed milk and coconut cream. The cooled cake is frosted with whipped cream and flaked coconut. The layers of flavor make for a coconut lover's dream.

Toast the Coconut for Even More Flavor

If you'd like to toast some of the coconut, spread it in a single layer in a large, dry skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring and turning constantly until the coconut is lightly browned. Sweetened coconut browns quickly, so watch carefully. Transfer the coconut into a bowl to cool before sprinkling over the whipped topping. Toasting even a small amount of coconut adds extra texture, flavor, and color to the cake.

“As you can imagine, this moist coconut cake was extremely easy to put together and looks like a snowy dream. Since the cake is domed in the center, the coconut cream mixture tends to pool at the edges, which makes the outer slices a bit sweeter than the ones in the middle.” —Young Sun Huh

Southern Coconut Poke Cake Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 (15.25-ounce) box white cake mix, prepared and left in 9 x 13 inch pan

  • 1 (14-ounce) can coconut cream, such as Coco Casa or other sweet cream of coconut product

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

  • 1 (16-ounce) tub whipped topping

  • 3 1/2 ounces shredded sweetened coconut, about 1 1/3 cups

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Southern Coconut Poke Cake ingredients

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Right after you take the cake out of the oven, poke holes all over it using a toothpick or a skewer.

    Cake in a baking pan, poked with a skewer

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. In a bowl, combine Coco Casa (or another cream of coconut) and 1 can of sweetened condensed milk.

    Coco Casa and sweetened condensed milk in a bowl, whisked together

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Pour over the cake.

    Coconut mixture poured over the cake in the baking pan

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. When the cake is completely cool, spread the whipped topping over top (if you prefer a thinner whipped topping layer, do not use the entire container) and sprinkle with coconut. Cover the cake and refrigerate until it is thoroughly chilled before serving. 

    Southern Coconut Poke Cake in a baking pan

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Recipe Variations

Coconut poke cake is delicious with a boxed white cake mix, but try it with any of the following combinations of ingredients:

  • Chocolate cake mix, whipped topping, flaked coconut, and shaved chocolate
  • Lemon cake mix, whipped topping, flaked coconut, and lemon zest
  • Strawberry cake mix, whipped topping, flaked coconut

You can also use whipped cream instead of frosting the cake with frozen whipped topping if you like.

How to Store Southern Coconut Poke Cake

This cake will keep for three to five days if it's covered, and it's best if it's kept in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

You can also freeze this cake, but if you plan on doing so, add a little confectioners' sugar to the whipped topping before frosting the cake. This will help stabilize the frosting. Defrost in the refrigerator.