Strawberry Poke Cake

Strawberry Poke Cake pieces on plates

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 50 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Chill: 3 hrs
Total: 4 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 16 slices
Yield: 1 cake
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
429 Calories
19g Fat
61g Carbs
5g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 429
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 9g 43%
Cholesterol 68mg 23%
Sodium 524mg 23%
Total Carbohydrate 61g 22%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 35g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 7mg 34%
Calcium 166mg 13%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 90mg 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 poke cake is one of the most delightful and easiest desserts to prepare. The cake itself is made from a boxed cake mix that is "poked" when warm, creating tunnels into the cake. Boiling water mixed with powdered gelatin is then poured over the warm cake and the brightly-colored liquid goes into the holes to create the most gorgeous, almost "leopard-striped" cake once sliced. A thick topping of whipped cream serves as the frosting. The cake is served cold and the flavor of the gelatin (in this case, strawberry) makes it a wonderfully fruity and refreshing dessert.

It is also unbelievably moist due to all those tunnels. If the boiling liquid was merely poured over the cake without the holes, it might add some moisture to the cake, particularly on the top. But the fact that the cake is poked means that the liquid can travel from the top of the cake to the bottom giving it the aforementioned stripe-y look, as well as a deeply flavorful crumb.


For the Cake:

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 (15.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1/3 cup oil

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 (3-ounce) box of strawberry gelatin

  • 1 1/3 cups water

For the Whipped Topping:

  • 2 cups heavy cream

  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • large strawberries for garnish, if desired

Steps to Make It

Make the Cake

  1. Gather the cake ingredients.

    Cake ingredients

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan with nonstick spray or softened butter. Line with parchment paper and set aside.

    Greased baking pan lined with parchment paper

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Mix ingredients and bake the cake according to the instructions on the back of the box.

    Cake batter in a prepare baking pan

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. While cake is baking, combine the strawberry gelatin and the boiling water in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

    Water and strawberry gelatin mixture in a bowl with a whisk

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Once cake is baked, poke all over the top of the warm cake with a thin utensil, such as a wooden skewer, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.

    Baked cake on a baking pan on a cooling rack, with holes poked throughout the cake

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Evenly pour the warm liquid gelatin over the cake.

    Gelatin mixture poured on top of the cake in the baking pan, on a cooling rack

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Cover the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.

    Cake with the gelatin mixture in a baking pan, covered with plastic wrap

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Make the Whipped Topping

  1. Gather the topping ingredients.

    Whipped Topping ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Combine the heavy cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer, and whisk the cream until medium peaks form.

    Heavy cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla extract in a stand mixer

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Spread the whipped cream over the cooled cake and serve, garnishing with fresh strawberries if desired.

    Strawberry Poke Cake in a baking pan

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck


  • The cake will keep up to four days in the refrigerator, lightly wrapped in plastic wrap, but the whipped cream topping is best the day it is made.
  • You may use more boiling water than the 1 cup called for in the recipe when you make the liquid gelatin—up to 1/3 cup more—if you really want to drench your cake, but the flavor will be slightly less concentrated.
  • Make sure the cake is still warm when poked, as it will better absorb the warm gelatin.
  • Chill the cake completely before spreading with the whipped cream as it is most refreshing when cold.
  • A large toothpick or wooden skewer is an excellent poking instrument.

Recipe Variations

  • You may use Cool Whip instead of the homemade whipped cream to top your cake.
  • You may use different flavored gelatin—lime or lemon would be lovely.
  • You may use different flavored boxed cake mixes, such as a white cake or a lemon one, or you may make a homemade cake.