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Food & Recipes

Jello Poke Cake Recipe Will Take You Right Back to Childhood — Moist, Creamy + Easy to Prep

Use any flavor Jello you want for a customized bite

When I hear the words “Jello poke cake,” I’m instantly reminded of potlucks and family gatherings from my childhood. This retro dessert, with its jiggly, fruity center and fluffy cake base, was a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. My favorite part was poking the holes for the Jello, which my mom always let me do. Now that summer’s here, I decided to make this comfort dessert myself with an easy 5-ingredient recipe. It’s moist and refreshing with fresh strawberries and whipped cream (my favorite combo, but you can swap in any Jello flavor!). Plus, you get to save on time with boxed cake mix and a few helpful baking tips. Here’s how to make a classic Jello poke cake.

What is Jello poke cake?

Jello poke cake, a nostalgic treat straight out of the mid-20th century, is a playful dessert that combines fluffy cake with the vibrant flavors of Jello. Typically, a simple cake is baked, then poked with holes to allow a layer of flavored Jello to seep in, creating a textural contrast and burst of fruity flavor. It’s a fun as well as easy dessert to make ahead and chill. It also adds a touch of retro charm to any gathering.

How to make the best Jello poke cake

Here are some tips I used to make sure my Jello poke cake came out great on the first try.

1. Cooling is crucial

Make sure your cake cools slightly before poking and adding the Jello. A warm cake will melt the gelatin, resulting in a soupy mess.

2. Pour carefully

Pour the Jello slowly and evenly over the cake, letting it saturate the holes. Don’t dump it all at once, or you’ll end up with a Jello layer on top instead of a delightful infusion.

3. Chill your cake

After pouring the Jello, refrigerate the cake for at least an hour, or more, to allow the Jello to set completely and the flavors to meld. Then, add your whipped cream topping so nothing melts.

4. Make it ahead

Feel free to make this dessert a day before and let it chill in the fridge overnight.

Flavor variations

Jello poke cake can have many variations, so pick a flavor that complements your cake. For example, strawberry Jello pairs well with vanilla cake, while cherry or raspberry can enhance a chocolate cake.

Easy Jello poke cake recipe

Cherry Jello poke cake on plate with fork
bonchan/Getty

Follow this recipe from I Heart Naptime for a super moist cake that’s easy to make with store-bought ingredients. Strawberry is a popular choice, but you can pick any flavor you want!

Strawberry Poke Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15 oz.) box super moist French vanilla cake mix, plus ingredients listed on box
  • 1 (3 oz.) box strawberry Jello, (or any flavor)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • ¾ cup cold water
  • 2-3 cups Cool Whip
  • Fresh berries, for topping

Directions:

  • Active Time: 20 minutes
  • Servings: 20
  1. Make the cake mix (and additional ingredients needed) according to package directions. Bake according to the package instructions. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Using a meat fork or a butter knife, poke holes all over the top of the cake.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the Jello and hot water for 2 minutes, or until completely dissolved. Stir in the cold water 1 minute more. Pour mixture evenly over cake. Chill at least 1 hour.
  3. Once the cake is completely cooled, spread the whipped cream evenly over the top. Store in the refrigerator until serving. Top with fresh berries just before slicing.

Storage instructions

Firstly, cover your leftover cake with plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. It’s best to freeze the cake without the whipped topping, but it will keep for up to 1 month. Thaw the cake first before adding fresh whipped topping.


For more cool summertime desserts, whip these recipes:

This Frozen Raspberry Mousse Cake Recipe Is Low-Calorie + Crave-Worthy!

Need a Guilt-Free Summer Treat? Whip Up These Honey and Lemon Popsicles

This Frozen Mangonada Drink Is Pure Tropical Bliss: Sweet, Spicy + Easy to Make in 10 Minutes

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