Lemon Poke Cake is a deliciously moist lemon cake bursting with bright lemony flavor. Layers of white cake, lemon Jell-o, lemon pudding, and Cool Whip come together for a light, refreshing, and super moist lemon poke cake.
Where are my lemon lovers at? If you're crazy about lemon desserts, this lemon poke cake with lemon pudding AND lemon Jello one has your name all over it!
This luscious lemon poke cake recipe is jam-packed with bright, fresh lemon flavor.
It comes together with a simple white cake soaked with lemon Jell-o, layered with creamy lemon pudding, frosted with Cool Whip, and sprinkled with fresh lemon zest.
More Delicious Lemon Desserts
- Lemon Blackberry Bread
- Lemon Blueberry Ice Cream Sandwiches
- No-Churn Lemon Curd Ice Cream
- Pumpkin Angel Food Cake with Lemon Cream
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Light and refreshing lemon dessert
Easy lemon pudding poke cake recipe that starts with a simple box cake mix
Super moist lemon Jello cake
Lemon Jello poke cake is the perfect dessert for any special occasion
White cake mix. I love the delicate flavor of white cake, and it looks so pretty with the yellow Jell-o and pudding. You can use any flavor of boxed cake mix like yellow cake mix -- or add even more lemony flavor with a box of lemon cake mix.
Oil, eggs, and water. Follow the package directions for adding oil, eggs, and water. Some cake mixes will offer "whole egg" and "egg white" options. I use the egg white option to keep the white cake white.
Lemon gelatin. One 3 oz. box of lemon Jell-o soaks into the cake and makes it super moist and lemony.
Instant lemon pudding mix. One 3.4 oz. box of instant pudding mix transforms simple cake into this creamy lemon poke cake.
Lemon juice and lemon zest. Fresh lemon juice and a little lemon zest brighten up the lemon pudding mix. Save some extra zest to sprinkle on top of the cake.
Cool Whip. A layer of Cool Whip is the perfect creamy and light topping for this easy lemon poke cake. If you're not a fan of Cool Whip, try Truwhip. You can also use freshly whipped cream.
Poke Cake Flavor Variations
There are a million flavor combinations you can create with different flavors of cake mix, Jell-o, pudding, Cool Whip and toppings. Here are a few that sound yummy to me -- I haven't tried them, but let me know if you do!
Strawberry poke cake. White or strawberry cake mix, strawberry Jello, cheesecake pudding. Top with Cool Whip and fresh strawberries.
Black forest poke cake. Chocolate cake mix, black cherry jello, chocolate pudding. Top with Cool Whip, cherries, and chocolate shavings.
Peaches and cream poke cake. White cake mix, peach jello, cheesecake pudding. Serve with Cool Whip and fresh peaches.
Creamsicle poke cake. White cake mix, orange jello, vanilla pudding. Top with Cool Whip and mandarin oranges.
1. Bake the cake.
Prepare the cake batter and bake cake in a 9 x 13 cake pan according to the package instructions.
Let cool for 20 minutes.
Use a fork, chopstick. or the handle of a wooden spoon to poke holes about 1 inch apart in the baked cake.
2. Make the lemon Jell-o.
Place the lemon Jell-o mix in a small bowl. Add the hot water and stir for 1-2 minutes until the Jell-o has dissolved. Add the cold water and stir for another minute.
Spoon or pour the lemon Jello mixture evenly over the cake.
3. Make the lemon pudding.
In a medium bowl, add the lemon pudding mix, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, and milk. Whisk for 2 minutes until thickened.
Spread the lemon pudding evenly across the cake.
Place the uncovered cake in the refrigerator to cool completely, 3-4 hours.
5. Frost with Cool Whip.
Gently and evenly spread the Cool Whip over the pudding layer. Add a sprinkle of lemon zest.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days.
For the purest whitest cake, follow the "egg white" instructions on the cake mix box, if available.
Let the cake cool completely before adding the Cool Whip layer.
Poke the holes in the cake about an inch apart.
I like to use the handle of a wooden spoon to make nice big holes in the cake. You can also use a fork or a chopstick.
Let the cake cool for 15-20 minutes before poking holes into the cake.
Adding a little bit of fresh lemon juice and lemon zest is an easy way to brighten up the flavor of a box of instant lemon pudding.
Get the Stuff I Use
A fine grater like this one from KitchenAid is perfect for grating citrus, chocolate, ginger, and nutmeg.
I use a little brush like this to brush off the lemon zest that sticks to my microplane and put it in the dessert instead. It's also great for cleaning.
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Lemon Poke Cake
- 1 box white cake mix
- oil, eggs, and water* per the box instructions
- 3 oz box of lemon Jello mix
- ½ cup boiling water
- ½ cup cold water
- 3.4 oz box of instant lemon pudding mix
- 1 ½ cups cold milk
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest, divided
- 8 ounces Cool Whip or TruWhip or whipped cream
- Prepare and bake white cake in a 9 x 13 pan, according to the box directions. Let cool 20 minutes.
- With a fork, chopstick, or the handle of a wooden spoon, poke holes into the cake about an inch apart.
- In a small bowl, combine the lemon Jello mix and boiling water. Stir for 2 minutes until dissolved. Add the cold water and stir for another minute. Spoon the Jello mixture over the cake.
- Add the lemon pudding mix, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest to a medium bowl. Add the milk and whisk for 2 minutes until slightly thickened.
- Evenly spread the lemon pudding over the cake. Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours or until completely cooled.
- Gently and evenly spread the Cool Whip over the pudding. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of lemon zest.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Store lemon poke cake in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.