This deliciously moist BEST Lemon Poke Cake recipe is perfect for any occasion! It’s made easy thanks to a boxed cake mix and instant pudding!
If you’re looking for the best lemon poke recipe, you’ve found it! This layered Lemon Poke Cake is full of fresh, sweet flavor.
Have you ever made a poke cake? They are so easy and are literally bursting with flavor.
Poke cakes essentially have essentially three parts: a cake base, a custard or jello “filling,” and a frosting or topping.
This lemon poke cake has a yellow cake as the base, a lemon pudding as the filling, and a whipped lemon frosting for the topping. If you love lemon, you are going to enjoy this cake!
PRO TIP: Sift the dry cake mix to reduce clumps and prevent over mixing when combined with wet ingredients.
Most poke cake recipes use a boxed cake mix and an instant pudding or jello. And that’s exactly what this recipe uses too. Talk about easy, right??
How to make a poke cake
Start by making the base layer: the cake. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, water, vegetable oil, eggs and lemon extract (or fresh lemon juice.) Pour the batter into a cooking spray coated baking dish.
Bake the cake for 25 minutes, or until cake passes the toothpick test. When the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done.
When the cake has finished baking, poke it with the end of a wooden spoon or a straw while it is still hot. Make many holes. The more holes, the more space for the delicious pudding to hide!
Now onto the filling for this lemon burst poke cake. Whisk together the instant lemon pudding mix and milk. It will be liquidy, but will start to thicken as you whisk.
It will take you about 2 minutes to fully whisk together. When you start to feel resistance, allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute. But don’t wait too long or it will be too thick to sink down into your holes!
Next, pour the pudding mix over the cake, patting it down into the holes. You can use a toothpick to prick more holes into the cake and pudding.
Tap the whole dish several times to allow the pudding to settle into the cake. Chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes to allow the pudding to set up.
When you are ready to frost, you can start making the whipped topping. Simply whisk the whipping cream until it from peaks. Add in the powdered sugar and lemon extract or lemon zest.
Top your lemon pudding poke cake with the whipped topping, and you’re done! If you’d like to add some pizazz, you can even top it with fresh lemon wedges. You can never have too much lemon!
More delicious poke cake recipes:
Need more lemon in your life? Check out these other lemon desserts:
- Almond Lemon Cake
- Pink Lemonade Cupcakes
- Cardamom Lemon Cake
- Lemon Yogurt Pound Cake
- Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
- White Chocolate Chip Lemon Cookies
Questions you may have about poke cakes:
Can poke cakes be frozen?
I don’t recommend freezing this cake. In fact, it’s best enjoyed within a day or two of making. The pudding can make the cake slightly soggy.
Can you make this lemon poke cake with Jello instead?
Yes, you can! The cake will be less creamy and have more of a tart, lemony flavor if you use Jello.
Can you use sugar-free Jello to make this lemon poke cake?
You sure can! But keep in mind that this cake has sugar regardless of whether you use sugar-free Jello or not. If you are trying to watch your sugar, this may not be the recipe for you.
Can you make poke cake the day before?
I would suggest making this cake the day you intend to eat it. You don’t want the pudding to make the cake too soggy.
Can I use lemon cake mix instead of yellow cake mix?
If you are a lemon flavor lover and want to use lemon cake mix for this lemon poke cake, be my guest! Just omit the lemon extract.
Check out all of our ways to make box cake mix better!
Do you love poke cakes as much as we do? Tell us what your favorite flavor combo is in the comments.
Lemon Poke Cake
- 15.25 ounce box yellow cake mix
- 1 cup water
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract or fresh lemon juice
- 3.4 ounce box Instant Lemon Pudding
- 2 cups cold milk
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract or fresh lemon juice
- Fresh lemon wedges , for serving
- 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, eggs and lemon extract or fresh lemon juice. Mix until just combined. 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 instant lemon 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 1 minute. Don’t wait until it sets too long or it will be too thick to sink down into your holes.
- 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.
- Chill for a minimum of 30 minutes, but wait to frost until cake is cooled or else the frosting will melt.
- When ready to frost, prepare whipped lemon frosting whip cream in a large bowl until it starts to stiffen. Add powdered sugar.
- Fold in lemon extract or fresh lemon juice.
- Cover and chill for 30 minutes before serving.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was!
This cake is so refreshing. We loved it. I think the real whipped crea makes it so much better than with cool whip!
Yes! These are simple and amazing!
Hi! I am making this cake for my Grandson’s 17th birthday. I could not find a 5.4 oz box of instant lemon pudding anywhere. Could this be a typo? I found a 3.4 oz box that requires 2 cups of milk.
Hi Deb! You are 100% correct- this is a typo and thanks for letting us know!!! Updating now and happy birthday to your grandson!
I’m not much of a sweet tooth but when I do have cakes I love the citrus elements to balance things out. My daughter would love this!
A hit with my family and friends!
Lemon Cake is my all time favorite and I love this recipe. So very good and make it often on a Sunday afternoon.
Lemon cake was my daughter’s request for her bday, this one was different and so yummy.
That must be such a fun recipe to make – poking the cake like it is nobody’s business! Delicious dessert I could make next week!