This Caramel Apple Poke Cake will be one of your favorite poke cake recipes! With plenty of apples, walnuts and caramel, this cake has all the best flavors of an apple pie wrapped up into one easy poke cake.
When it comes to making desserts, we all have a favorite, right? For me, poke cake recipes are one of my favorites!
They are super easy, using boxed cake mix and there is something therapeutic about using a straw to poke lots and lots of holes into the freshly baked cake. The “poking” would be a fun way for the kids to help, too!
PRO TIP: Don’t dis boxed cake mixes! In taste tests, similar homemade cake recipes failed miserably in the areas of taste, moistness and richness in comparison to boxed mix.
And then pouring the creamy pudding right on top is just so satisfying. There’s nothing quite like watching it sink into all the nooks and crannies.
I love how poke cakes are so easily customized, too. From the cake type to pudding flavor, add ins and frosting, the flavor combinations of a poke cake are endless. The moist richness you get from pudding, while still getting a slight crunch from the toppings and add ins is to die for!
Caramel Apple Poke Cake has the perfect combination of textures, and also provides a wonderful apple pie flavor. The cinnamon, apple pie spice and caramel perfectly complement apples and vanilla pudding to make this delicious apple cake a true dessert win.
Topping the cake with crushed Nilla Wafers and walnuts provides a crunch to the otherwise soft and creamy cake. You can also add freshly whipped cream, if you choose.
One of my favorite parts of this Caramel Apple Cake is that it uses a boxed cake mix. It simplifies your ingredient list, but still packs a huge flavor punch. This particular recipe calls for a yellow cake mix, but feel free to amp up the flavor with a spice cake mix or any other flavor you see fit.
Why You’ll Love This Caramel Apple Poke Cake
A moist cake made with a box mix and baked to golden perfection- what’s not to love!
- Perfect cake for parties – This will be your new favorite cake to serve for fall parties because it’s so easy to make and you can make it in advance.
- Fall flavors – Between cinnamon, apple and caramel, you won’t be lacking on fall flavor in this delicious cake.
- Caramel apples in cake form – No need to go through the work of dipping apples in homemade caramel sauce- this cake has all the flavor you love.
Caramel Apple Poke Cake Ingredients
We use a box cake mix to make this caramel apple poke cake even easier to make!
- Yellow cake mix – A box of cake mix is what makes this caramel apple pie poke cake so easy.
- Vegetable oil – You will need both vegetable and eggs to make the cake mix as the box instructs.
- Eggs – You will need both vegetable and eggs to make the cake mix according to the box directions.
- Apples – I like to sue red apples, but you can use granny smith apples to add an element of tartness to this caramel apple poke cake recipe.
- Sugar – Tossing the apples with a little bit of sugar helps to cut down on the tartness.
- Lemon juice – The citric acid in lemon juice helps to prevent the apples from browning too quickly.
- Ground cinnamon – Check out my guide to find out if you’re using the right cinnamon!
- Instant pudding – I used a french vanilla pudding, but you could use plain vanilla as well.
- Milk – You want to make sure your milk is cold. I prefer to use whole milk so that the pudding sets up a little better.
- Apple pie seasoning – We add this to the pudding to add even more flavors of fall.
- Crunch – We use both Nilla Wafers and walnuts chopped up to add some crunch to the top of the cake.
- Caramel sauce – I like to drizzle caramel on top. There’s not such thing as too much caramel when it comes to fall desserts!
How to Make Caramel Apple Poke Cake
You are going to love how easy it is to make this perfect fall dessert.
- Prepare oven and pan. Preheat oven and coat baking dish with cooking spray.
- Prepare cake mix. In a large mixing bowl, combine yellow cake mix, water, vegetable oil and eggs. Mix until just combined.
- Add apples. In a separate mixing bowl, toss chopped apples with lemon juice and then sugar. Shake off excess sugar and fold into cake batter.
- Pour into pan and bake. Pour into prepared baking dish. Bake until cake passes the toothpick test.
- Poke holes in warm cake. Remove cake from the oven and poke with the handle of a wooden spoon or a straw while still hot.
- Make pudding. Whisk together pudding mix with milk. It will be liquidy, but will start to thicken as you whisk. Fold in apple pie seasoning.
- Pour over cake. Pour pudding mix over cake, patting down into the holes. Use a toothpick and prick more holes into the cake and pudding. Tap the whole dish several times to allow the pudding to settle into the cake.
- Add toppings. Top with broken Nilla Wafers and walnuts.
- Allow to chill. Cover with aluminum foil and allow to set in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Store refrigerated.
There are plenty of ways for you to make this moist cake into one of your favorite poke cakes.
- Smaller cake pan – You can use a 9×9 baking pan for making a poke cake, however you might have more pudding than you need for a 9×13. Just set it aside in a little bowl and eat it by itself.
- Crunchy topping – You can leave off the topping and walnuts if you prefer. Some poke cakes are just topped with a cloudy fluff of whipped cream or other whipped topping.
- Cupcakes – They can get a little messy if you don’t eat them with a fork, but make them the same way, following directions for cupcakes on the boxed cake mix. You might use less pudding, too. Just set it aside and it is by itself.
- Frosting – You can use regular frosting a poke cake, however I will tell you from experience that it is challenging because traditional frosting doesn’t stick or spread well over the pudding. A caramel frosting for additional caramel flavor would be perfect.
Storage and Freezing
Storage: You can store any leftover cake in an airtight container. In fact, the pudding will just have more time to sink in and make the cake get all delicious.
Freezing: I would recommend freezing without the caramel drizzle or whipped cream. Store in the best airtight container you can find for three to four months.
More Easy Apple Recipes
- Apple Monkey Bread
- Quick Apple Cake with Salted Caramel
- Apple Pie French Toast
- Apple Sauce Puffs
- Apple Dump Cake
- Apple Cake Traybake
Caramel Apple Poke Cake
- 15.25 ounce box yellow cake mix
- 1 cup water
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups red apples , chopped into 1 inch cubes
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 5.4 ounce box Instant French Vanilla Pudding
- 2 cups cold milk
- 1 teaspoon apple pie seasoning
- 20 Nilla Wafer Cookies , broken into small pieces
- 1/2 cup walnuts , chopped, optional
- 1 cup caramel sauce
- Cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine yellow cake mix, water, vegetable oil and eggs. Mix until just combined.
- In a separate mixing bowl, toss chopped apples with lemon juice and then sugar. Shake off excess sugar and fold into cake batter.
- Pour into prepared baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cake passes the toothpick test.
- Remove cake from the oven and poke with the end of a wooden spoon or a straw while still hot. Make many holes. The more holes, the more space for the delicious pudding to hide.
- Allow the cake to cool slightly. Meanwhile whisk together French Vanilla pudding mix with milk. It will be liquidy, but will start to thicken as you whisk. It will take about 2 minutes. When you start to feel resistance allow to stand for 2 minutes. Fold in apple pie seasoning.
- Pour pudding mix over cake, patting down into the holes. Use a toothpick and prick more holes into the cake and pudding. Tap the whole dish several times to allow the pudding to settle into the cake.
- Top with broken Nilla Wafers and walnuts.
- Cover with aluminum foil and allow to set in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Store refrigerated.
- When ready to serve, drizzle with caramel sauce.
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was!