Enjoy a retro recipe throwback with this tasty Strawberry Poke Cake! This easy to make cake is bursting with flavor and will give you fond memories of the summer parties of your childhood.
Ahh, the Strawberry Poke Cake. What kid didn't beg for this for their summer birthday parties? It just screams nostalgia! And on this cold winter day in the upper Midwest, I'm dreaming of warmer weather.
What is a poke cake?
Did you know that Jell-O developed this recipe to help with sluggish sales back in the 1970s? They tapped into the "busy housewife" market, creating an easy crowd-pleasing recipe you can whip up in no time for any occasion.
It's an easy way to dress up a boxed cake mix by adding Jell-O to keep the cake nice and moist. Once the cake is baked, you poke holes all over the top, then pour your favorite Jell-O flavor over the top. And lastly, frost it with delicious Cool Whip!
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I think the best part of this recipe is that no special equipment is necessary! You don't need any fancy cake pans, stands, or piping bags. Just a 9 x 13 baking dish and a wooden spoon to make holes!
Because this recipe is so easy, it's perfect for getting your kids involved! If they are anything like mine, they will love helping you prepare the cake and then poking it all over with toothpicks. And of course, it's so yummy they will love eating it too!
- Boxed White Cake Mix. Any brand is fine here! I love Duncan Hines, which you can pretty much find at any major grocery store chain.
- Vegetable Oil. This is the real secret to any super moist cake! Vegetable oil helps distribute moisture more evenly than butter.
- Eggs. A key ingredient for any good cake.
- Strawberry Jell-O Mix. The star of the show! One package is needed to give this cake its signature strawberry flavor.
- Cool Whip. I might argue that this the best part of the cake!
- Fresh Strawberries. Optional for a beautiful garnish.
How to make Strawberry Poke Cake
- Preheat your oven and prepare your baking pan with a light coating of cooking spray. Any pan will work here: glass, ceramic, or metal.
- Mix your cake mix, eggs, water, and oil.
- Pour batter into your prepared baking pan and cook until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool for at least 10 minutes, and then use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke large holes across the cake. Be sure to distribute the holes evenly. I like to poke a hole every inch.
- Next, mix boiling water with your Jell-O until fully dissolved. Pour the mixture evenly over the cake.
- Allow the cake to chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
- Once fully chilled, spread Cool Whip all over the top and garnish with fresh strawberries.
- Make sure that the cake is still slightly warm but not hot when you pour over the Jell-O mixture. This will ensure it seeps evenly throughout the cake.
- You want your holes to be about the size of a pencil. So if you don't have the right sized wooden spoon handle, look for anything else that would work!
- The flavor really comes together the longer you allow it to sit. If you are serving for a party, you can make it the day before and let it chill overnight.
The best part about this recipe is that you can use any Jell-O flavor you want! The possibilities really are endless. Here are a couple of other tasty combos:
- Lemon Poke Cake. Yellowcake mix with lemon Jell-O garnished with candied lemon slices.
- Black Forest Cake. Chocolate cake mix with cherry Jell-O topped with cherries.
- Key Lime Pie Cake. White cake mix with lime Jell-O topped with crushed graham crackers.
Storing a Poke Cake
When you are not serving this cake, it needs to stay chilled in the refrigerator and lasts up to 2-3 days. Any longer than that and it will risk becoming too soggy.
Any leftovers can be lightly covered in plastic wrap or an airtight container and refrigerated.
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Strawberry Poke Cake
- 1 box white cake mix
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 package strawberry Jell-O mix
- 8 oz Cool Whip whipped topping
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9x13 inch baking pan with a light coating of cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine cake mix, water, vegetable oil and eggs. Mix until thoroughly combined.
- Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool, then using the handle of a wooden spoon poke holes over each inch of the cake. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the boiling water and jello. Whisk together until fully combined, then pour the jello mixture evenly over the top of the cake.
- Place the cake into the refrigerator and let it cool for 2 hours.
- Spread the whipped topping over the cooled cake and top with fresh strawberries as desired before serving.