Lemon Poke Cake with Pudding | EASY Lemon Jello Cake Recipe! (2024)

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Are you a lemon dessert lover? This super-moist lemon poke cake with pudding is an easy lemon dessert recipe perfect for any occasion. This lemon Jello cake is made with a simple cake mix, along with lemon Jello, lemon pudding and Cool Whip.

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Lemon Poke Cake with Pudding | EASY Lemon Jello Cake Recipe! (1)

What is a poke cake?

A poke cake a cake that has been baked in a 9 x13″ pan. Holes are poked into the cake and Jello and pudding is poured into the cake as a filling. A poke cake is a great way to add extra flavor and deliciousness to a simple cake mix. This lemon version is made with both lemon Jello and lemon pudding.

Topped with creamy whipped topping, this poke cake is a fantastic as a spring or summer dessert. It’s also excellent for a summer cookout, potluck or backyard barbecue.

In this post I’ll show you exactly how to make a poke cake, what ingredients you’ll need and the best way to store a lemon poke cake.

What do I need to make a lemon poke cake?

  • White cake mix – a simple white boxed cake mix that you would find in the baking section of the grocery store is ideal for this recipe.
  • Egg whites – you’ll prepare the white cake mix as directed on the box. For this you’ll need egg whites.
  • Vegetable oil – this is also a necessary ingredient in baking the cake. You can also use unflavored coconut oil.
  • Water – necessary to make the batter for the cake.
  • Lemon Jell-o mix – the lemon Jell-o is prepared with water and poured into the holes of the cake. Creates a fantastic lemon flavor in the cake.
  • Lemon pudding mix – this is found with the Jell-o mixes.
  • Milk – necessary for preparing the lemon pudding.
  • Cool Whip whipped topping OR homemade Cool Whip – this is used as a topping for the dessert. Cool whip is found in the frozen foods section of the grocery store, in the dessert section. If using Cool Whip, make sure it is completely thawed before making your poke cake.

For exact ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the post for the recipe. Thanks!

Lemon Poke Cake with Pudding | EASY Lemon Jello Cake Recipe! (2)
Lemon Poke Cake with Pudding | EASY Lemon Jello Cake Recipe! (3)

How do I make a poke cake?

Start by baking the white cake mix in a 9 x 13″ pan, according to package directions.

Once the cake has cooled for 10-15 minutes, use a straw to poke small holes every inch.

Lemon Poke Cake with Pudding | EASY Lemon Jello Cake Recipe! (4)
Lemon Poke Cake with Pudding | EASY Lemon Jello Cake Recipe! (5)

Prepare the lemon Jell-o mix, then pour the liquid Jell-o into the holes of the cake. Cover and refrigerate the Jell-o cake. Once the cake has chilled with the Jell-o, mix the lemon pudding with the milk.

Spread the lemon pudding over the chilled cake, and gently press the pudding into the holes of the cake.

Lastly, top the pudding layer with Cool Whip topping. Chill the cake before serving. Serve individual slices with fresh lemon slices and/or fresh berries.

Lemon Poke Cake with Pudding | EASY Lemon Jello Cake Recipe! (6)

Need A New 9 x 13″ Pan? This Anolon 9 x 13″ Bronze Pan with Lid is Amazing!

This 9 x 13″ non-stick pan is a staple in every kitchen. Great for cakes, desserts, casseroles and more, it includes a lid, which makes it ideal for transporting.

Ingredient Substitutions and Recommendations for lemon Jello cake:

  • White Cake Mix – if you prefer, you could use a yellow or lemon cake mix instead of white.
  • Jell-o options – instead of using lemon Jell-o, feel free to swap out another flavor, like strawberry, cherry or raspberry Jell-o for a great contrasting flavor. Serve with fresh berries.
  • Cool Whip – instead of store-bought Cool Whip, you could definitely make your own stabilized whipped cream. I have a great recipe for Homemade Cool Whip, which has no unhealthy oils, but will stay firm on a dessert.
Lemon Poke Cake with Pudding | EASY Lemon Jello Cake Recipe! (7)
Lemon Poke Cake with Pudding | EASY Lemon Jello Cake Recipe! (8)

Frequently asked questions about making a lemon poke cake with pudding:

Why is it called poke cake?

It is called poke cake, as holes are poked into a cake with the end of a wooden spoon or straw. The holes are then filled with Jell-o and or pudding filling. The cake is then topped with whipped topping and served chilled.

Why is my poke cake soggy?

Make sure the holes are no more, or no less than one inch apart. Holes too close together will cause a mushy or soggy bottom. Holes that are too far apart won’t have much filling per slice, creating a dry or flavorless poke cake.

Can I use homemade whipped cream instead of Cool Whip for poke cake?

Yes, you can use homemade whipped cream, just make sure you’re making a stabilized whipped cream. The whipped cream will be chilled on top of the cake. Here is a simple, delicious recipe for stabilized whipped cream.

What can I add to a lemon poke cake?

Try adding lemon zest to the whipped topping to give it extra lemon flavor. You can also mix in 1 teaspoon of lemon extract to the cake mix batter before baking to add extra lemon flavor.

How long will poke cake last?

Kept covered, poke cake will last for up to 5 days refrigerated. Lemon poke cake with pudding can be stored in the original pan it is baked in or individual slices can be stored in an airtight container.

Can I make a poke cake the day before?

Yes. Making a poke cake in advance of a party or holiday meal is a great time-saving option. Prepare the poke cake according to recipe directions. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and chill overnight in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Lemon Poke Cake with Pudding | EASY Lemon Jello Cake Recipe! (9)
Lemon Poke Cake with Pudding | EASY Lemon Jello Cake Recipe! (10)

Love a great poke cake recipe? Here are some of our other popular poke cakes:

If you love a great lemon dessert, check out some of these other similar posts:

Lemon Poke Cake with Pudding | EASY Lemon Jello Cake Recipe! (11)
Lemon Poke Cake with Pudding | EASY Lemon Jello Cake Recipe! (12)
Lemon Poke Cake with Pudding | EASY Lemon Jello Cake Recipe! (13)
Lemon Poke Cake with Pudding | EASY Lemon Jello Cake Recipe! (14)
Lemon Poke Cake with Pudding | EASY Lemon Jello Cake Recipe! (15)
Lemon Poke Cake with Pudding | EASY Lemon Jello Cake Recipe! (16)

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Lemon Poke Cake with Pudding | EASY Lemon Jello Cake Recipe! (17)

Lemon Poke Cake

Erin Indahl-Fink

Love a great lemon dessert? This lemon poke cake with pudding is loaded with lemon flavor and deliciousness. This lemon Jello cake is made with simple ingredients that make it great for just about any occasion.

Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Prep Time 25 minutes mins

Cook Time 33 minutes mins

Additional Time 1 hour hr

Total Time 1 hour hr 58 minutes mins

Course Desserts

Cuisine American

Servings 20 slices

Calories 85 kcal


  • Stand Mixer This KitchenAid Stand Mixer is ideal for baking any cake recipe!

  • Icing Spatula This 3-piece Icing spatula set by Wilton is great for frosting cakes, cookies and more!

  • 9 x 13" Pan This non-stick 9 x 13" cake pan comes with a lid for easy cake storage!


For the cake:

Poke cake filling and topping:

  • 1 (3 oz. pkg.) Lemon Jell-o mix
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 (3 oz. pkg.) Lemon pudding mix
  • 1 1/2 cup cold milk
  • 1 (8 oz. carton) whipped topping like Cool Whip


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9 x 13" pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.

  • Prepare the cake mix according to package directions. Using a hand or stand mixer, mix the cake mix with the egg whites, oil and water. Batter should be well-mixed and smooth with no lumps. Pour into prepared pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 30-33 minutes or until golden brown. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean and crumb-free it is done.

  • Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for 15-20 minutes.

  • Using a straw or the end of a wooden spoon, poke holes 1" apart into the baked cake.

  • Prepare the lemon Jell-o by adding the mix to the boiling water. Stir well to dissolve the mix. Add the cold water and stir. Pour the lemon Jell-o liquid into the holes of the cake, making sure all of the holes are filled.

  • Refrigerate the Jell-o cake for at least 1 hour.

  • Once chilled, prepare the lemon pudding mix, by mixing the cold milk with the lemon pudding mix. Once slightly thickened, pour over the top of the chilled cake, lightly pressing the pudding into the holes.

  • Top the pudding layer with the Cool Whip, evenly covering the top of the cake. Chill for another 30 minutes.

  • Chill the cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Cut into 20 squares. Serve with fresh berries and/or lemon slices.


Cake will keep for up to 5 days refrigerated. Keep covered with plastic wrap or store in an airtight container.

Want to use homemade whipped cream instead of Cool Whip? Try my Homemade Cool Whip recipe, which is a fantastic stabilized whipped cream recipe. It needs just a few simple ingredients to make.


Serving: 1gCalories: 85kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 2gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 50mgSugar: 3g

Keyword lemon poke cake, lemon jello cake, lemon poke cake with pudding, lemon poke cake recipe

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Lemon Poke Cake with Pudding | EASY Lemon Jello Cake Recipe! (18)

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Lemon Poke Cake with Pudding | EASY Lemon Jello Cake Recipe! (2024)


Why is my poke cake soggy? ›

Make sure the holes aren't too close together or too far apart—if they're too close together, your cake could be too moist; if they're too far apart, there may not be enough filling throughout the cake.

What's the best way to poke holes in a cake? ›

A clean wooden spoon handle is the best tool and gives you nice big holes to fill with liquid gelatin, but in a pinch a chopstick or even a fork could work. Holes about 1½ inches apart in a grid pattern are ideal, but poke cakes are forgiving; it'll be delicious regardless of the spacing.

What does lemon juice do to a cake? ›

Lemon is used to provide its unique flavor to a variety of cakes, including bundt, angel food or white cakes. However, lemon cake commonly refers to loaf cake with a tighter grain and more elastic crumb, much like a pound cake.

Why is it called poke cake? ›

Both cakes called for hole-poking action long before the 1970s. Even though Jell-O isn't quite the potluck-table staple it once was, there are still plenty of home bakers poking holes in their cakes and filling them with sugary semi-liquids.

Do you poke holes in a cake when it's hot or cold? ›

It's best to make the holes in the cake while it is still slightly warm, because as it cools the crust on top of the cake will crumble more easily.

How do you keep a cake super moist? ›

Seven Bakery Secrets to Incredibly Moist Cakes Every Time
  1. Use Buttermilk Instead of Milk.
  2. Add Vegetable Oil.
  3. Use Instant Clearjel or Instant Pudding Mix.
  4. Use the Right Recipe.
  5. Don't Overbake.
  6. Bake in Sheet Pans Instead of individual Cake Pans.
  7. Use a Simple Syrup or Glaze.
Apr 23, 2021

How long is poke cake good for in the fridge? ›

Store the Jell-O poke cake, tightly covered with storage wrap or foil, in the refrigerator for up to three days.

What causes holes in cake when baked? ›

Mixing of Eggs and Milk into Cake

For the improper cake: Creaming was stopped prematurely, butter and sugar not fully mixed, insufficient air is incorporated. This causes the cake to be extremely dense, trapping air ( such as carbon dioxide released from baking powder ) during baking, creating such huge pockets.

What causes large holes in cakes? ›

Gluten can lead to large air pockets in cakes. Too much chemical leavener, like baking powder, can lead to large air bubbles in cakes. Broken emulsion and inconsistent ingredient temperatures can cause air pockets in cakes. The way you fill your pan with cake batter can cause air pockets.

How do you increase the flavor of lemon in a cake? ›

To add extra lemon flavor to baked goods, use 1 tablespoon lemon juice powder for each cup of flour. For lemon glaze, use 1 to 2 teaspoons per cup of confections' sugar.

Why is my lemon cake dry? ›

Why is my cake dry? Cakes crumble because they've dried out too much. From years of baking, I know that dry cakes happen for one of two reasons; using too much of your dry ingredients or over-baking your cake.

Why is my lemon cake not fluffy? ›

Room Temperature Butter / Don't Over-Cream

Most cakes begin with creaming butter and sugar together. Butter is capable of holding air and the creaming process is when butter traps that air. While baking, that trapped air expands and produces a fluffy cake. No properly creamed butter = no air = no fluffiness.

Why is it called Elvis Presley cake? ›

Before it's served, you'll add a layer of cream cheese frosting and sprinkle candied pecans on top for some crunch. Internet lore would have you believe this pineapple-topped concoction was Elvis Presley's favorite cake, that he even asked his grandmother to make it for him as a kid.

Why is it called dump cake? ›

A dump cake is an American dessert similar to a cobbler but with a cake-like topping. It is so named because it is prepared by "dumping" ingredients (typically canned fruit or pie filling, followed by a boxed cake mix) into a cake pan without mixing.

Who invented the Jell-O poke cake? ›

According to Lynne Galia of the Kraft Heinz Company, the Jell-O gelatin poke cake, developed by General Foods Kitchens, first appeared in print advertising and in Jell-O recipe booklets in 1976. The subsequent Jell-O pudding poke cake recipe was introduced in 1981.

What to do if your cake has a soggy bottom? ›

  1. This is a term that usually applies to pastry particularly pies. If you.
  2. use a glass or ceramic pie dish you're sure to get a soggy bottom.
  3. Use a metal or foil pie tin cook the bottom of your pie blind, then.
  4. add the filling and pie crust. ...
  5. You've either not cooked enough or left in in the cake tin for too.
  6. long.
Apr 1, 2020

How do you dry a soggy fruit cake? ›

If they have not absorbed the alcohol from a previous feeding then you could leave them unwrapped for a couple of days in a cool place (cover loosely with a clean tea towel) and some of the excess alcohol should evaporate. Once they feel drier then you can re-wrap them and then maybe only feed them very sparingly.

Why is my vegan cake soggy? ›

You could try different ones or try reducing the water and/or oil content a little. If you're adding things like fruit to the batter it can release juices during baking that can make cakes soggy. I usually reduce my water and oil content a little when I bake these types of cakes.

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