Tiramisu Poke Cake

Tiramisu may be one of my favorite desserts — there’s just something special about the combination of the layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers and sweetened mascarpone cheese, all dusted with cocoa. But it can be time-consuming to make.

angled shot of slice of tiramisu poke cake on plate


 

That’s why I crafted this tiramisu poke cake which channels all of the flavors of a classic tiramisu but can be made way more quickly and easily. 

If you’re not already familiar with poke cakes, they may become your new go-to type of cake after this recipe! The concept is simple — after you bake a cake you poke holes into it and then pour a liquid mixture over top, infusing the cake with both flavor and moisture. It’s a winner every time!

Why You’ll Want To Make Tiramisu Poke Cake 

If you love all of the flavors of traditional tiramisu you’ll definitely want to make this simplified version. 

  • So much easier. This poke cake delivers all of the deliciousness of tiramisu with only a fraction of the time and effort required to make the original version. 
  • Show-stopping flavor. With aromatic vanilla featured in every part of this cake alongside rich coffee flavor, this cake is always a hit.
  • Perfect for any occasion. From birthdays and holidays to cookouts and potlucks, this cake is always a welcome addition to the dessert spread. 
overhead shot of tiramisu poke cake recipe

Ingredients

Each part of the cake takes only a few minutes of prep time making this a fairly quick cake to make.

  • Yellow Cake Mix– While you can certainly make yellow cake from scratch, using a boxed mix will help to make this a quick and easy recipe.
  • Ingredients Listed on Box– Since you’re preparing a boxed mix, make sure to use the ingredients that the package directions recommend. 
  • Vanilla Extract– Adding a little vanilla extract helps to give boxed cake mix a from-scratch flavor. You can use store-bought vanilla or easily make your own vanilla extract
  • Instant Coffee/Espresso- You can use instant espresso or coffee to give the cake its signature flavor. And, if you have any left after making this recipe, you can use it to make our chocolate cream pie
  • Whole Milk (Divided)- Milk is what the instant coffee and the pudding mix will be dissolved in. Using whole milk will help to keep the cake moist. 
  • Instant French Vanilla Pudding Mix- The pudding mix infuses the cake with more vanilla flavor. It also helps to give the cake its super moist texture. 
  • Whipped Topping- The whipped topping acts as the frosting for the cake — it adds a layer of fluffy creaminess to the top of the cake. 
  • Vanilla Bean Paste- Using this paste elevates the flavor of the whipped topping. 
  • Ladyfinger Cookies (Coarsely Crumbled)- These cookies add a satisfying crunchy texture to the top of the cake. 
  • Powdered Cocoa Powder- Coating the cookies in cocoa powder helps to give the cake its classic flavor. 

How to Make Tiramisu Poke Cake

Even though you’ll need to prepare several different elements of this cake separately before assembling, this cake is a breeze to make!

  1. Prepare batter. Follow the box instructions to prepare the batter for the cake, remembering to stir in the vanilla extract. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
  2. Bake the cake and remove it from the oven when it passes the toothpick test.
  3. Cool and poke. Cool the cake briefly before poking the holes in the cake with the end of a wooden spoon or a chopstick.
  4. Make pudding layer. Add the milk, pudding mix, and instant coffee/espresso powder to a medium mixing bowl. Stir them all together then allow the mixture to rest briefly. Then add the remaining milk and whisk briefly.
  5. Pour pudding over cake. Immediately pour the pudding mixture over the top of the cake and use a rubber spatula to spread it evenly so that it sinks into the holes in the cake. 
  6. Make whipped topping. Add the whipped topping and vanilla bean paste to the bowl that was used for the pudding. Stir the two together until well combined before spreading over the top of the cake. 
  7. Coat ladyfingers. Add the chopped lady fingers and cocoa powder to a small bowl. Toss until the ladyfingers are coated. 
  8. Add ladyfingers to cake. Add the coated lady fingers to the top of the cake.
  9. Chill to set. Cover the cake and refrigerate to allow the cake to set. 

What to Serve With Tiramisu Poke Cake

This dessert is a decadent treat all on its own — we like to serve it simply with a warm cup of coffee or a dalgona whipped coffee. You can also serve it with whipped hot chocolate or horchata

For the adults, try pairing the cake with coffee spiked with some Bailey’s, Kahlua, or Frangelico, or whip up our famous espresso martini recipe.

close up overhead shot of recipe for tiramisu poke cake

Variations 

This cake already brings tons of flavor to the table, but you can switch things up, too! 

  • Extract- Use coffee extract in place of some or all of the vanilla extract for more coffee flavor. 
  • Whipped Cream- Make your own homemade whipped cream instead of using store-bought whipped topping. 
  • Pudding- Swap out the vanilla pudding for another flavor. 
  • Coffee- If you are feeding kids, I highly suggest using decaffeinated coffee for obvious reasons. I made this mistake once!
  • Spices- Add warm spices like cinnamon, pumpkin spice, or nutmeg to the pudding mixture or the cake batter. 
  • Nuts- Sprinkle crushed nuts over the top of the cake for more crunchiness.
  • Cocoa Powder- For a more bold flavor, garnish the cake with an extra dusting of cocoa powder.
  • Cake- Instead of yellow cake, use a white cake mix instead.

Storage and Freezing

Since this cake contains dairy be sure to keep it in the fridge or freezer.

You can make most of the different parts of the cake ahead of time and assemble it when ready, with the exception of the pudding. You’ll want the pudding mixture to be made just before pouring so that it is thin enough to seep into the holes of the cake. 

How to Store Leftover Cake

Store the cake covered in its original dish or transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 4 days. 

Can I Freeze Tiramisu Poke Cake?

You can freeze the cake in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. However, note that the texture may be slightly altered when the cake is thawed.

straight on shot of fork digging into slice of tiramisu poke cake

Common Questions About Tiramisu Poke Cake

What does tiramisu cake taste like?

Tiramisu cake has a combination of vanilla and coffee flavors with a touch of chocolate, too.

Why is my poke cake soggy?

Poke cake can become soggy if you use too much liquid — be sure to pour it evenly over the top of the cake. Also, if the holes poked in your cake are too close together, you can also wind up with a soggy cake. Don’t overdo it — keep the holes of the cake about an inch or more apart from each other.

Why is it called poke cake?

The cake gets its name from the fact that holes are poked in the cake so that liquid can be poured over the top and seep into the holes.

close up angled shot of tiramisu poke cake slice on plate

More Quick and Easy Cakes

There aren’t many desserts I love more than a moist cake. Here are a few of our favorites that we know you’ll love too.

overhead shot of sliced chocolate mayonnaise cake on cooling rack

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake (Depression Cake)

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake is a moist chocolate cake in a 9×13 pan with chocolate buttercream frosting. One of my favorite recipes from Grandma!
See The Recipe!
overhead loaf of strawberry pound cake using fresh strawberries

Strawberry Pound Cake Recipe

Deliciously moist and buttery, this is my award winning vanilla pound cake laced with fresh strawberries and topped with a fresh strawberry glaze. Makes 2 loaves!
See The Recipe!
tall coffee mug with cake and frosting and a wooden spoon

Vanilla Mug Cake Recipe

With basic pantry ingredients, you can have a fun single-serve Vanilla Mug Cake ready in under 5 minutes! So EASY to whip up!
See The Recipe!
angled shot of slice of easy tiramisu cake mix recipe with text overlay
angled shot of slice of tiramisu poke cake on plate

Tiramisu Poke Cake

5 from 5 votes
With all of the flavors of a classic tiramisu, this EASY Tiramisu Poke Cake simplifies things into a fun, moist and delicious poke cake!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Cooling Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients

Cake:

Pudding Layer:

  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee/espresso
  • 2 cups whole milk , divided
  • 3.4 ounces instant French vanilla pudding mix

Whipped Topping:

Crunchy Topping:

  • 10 Ladyfinger cookies , coarsely crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon powdered cocoa powder

Garnish:

Instructions

Cake:

  • Preheat the oven and grease or spray a 9×13 cake pan with cooking spray or vegetable shortening.
  • Prepare the cake mix according to package directions, adding the vanilla extract.
  • Bake according to package directions.
  • Remove and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before using the round end up a wooden spoon or chopstick to poke holes generously throughout the cake.

Pudding Layer:

  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the instant coffee/espresso with 1 cup of milk. Stir and allow to sit for 5 minutes to dissolve.
  • Add the additional cup of milk and whisk with the pudding mixture. Do not whisk until it is set, only about half of the suggested time, 1 minute.
  • Pour the mixture over the cake (cake can still be warm) and spread evenly so it can go down the holes. If you wait too long, the pudding will set and you can still slather it on top, but it likely won’t fall down the holes. Set aside.

Whipped Layer:

  • In the same mixing bowl, combine the whipped topping and vanilla bean paste, folding until evenly mixed. Spread this on top of the pudding layer. Set aside.

Crunchy Topping:

  • In a small bowl, combine the coarsely chopped lady fingers and cocoa powder until coated. Sprinkle this evenly over the whipped topping, gently pressing down to stick.
  • Cover and chill for 1-2 hours before serving. Garnish with maraschino cherries or fresh fruit and of course, a cup of coffee.
  • If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.

Nutrition

Calories: 141 kcal, Carbohydrates: 21 g, Protein: 3 g, Fat: 5 g, Saturated Fat: 3 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1 g, Cholesterol: 26 mg, Sodium: 94 mg, Potassium: 115 mg, Fiber: 0.3 g, Sugar: 14 g, Vitamin A: 131 IU, Calcium: 69 mg, Iron: 0.4 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 141
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: tiramisu poke cakee
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
collage of tiramisu poke cake
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

5 from 5 votes

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Recipe Rating




Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    You can’t beat a super easy dessert like this! Moist, flavorful, and was an absolute hit! Thanks for sharing!

  2. 5 stars
    I live coffee flavored anything, especially tiramasu but it takes so much work. So I’m happy to try this take on it to satisfy my sweet tooth. Thanks!

  3. 5 stars
    Savory Experiments’ Tiramisu Poke Cake is a dessert dream come true! With its layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers and luscious sweetened mascarpone cheese, all topped off with a dusting of cocoa, it’s a true indulgence. Plus, with this recipe, you can enjoy the flavors of tiramisu without the time-consuming process!