Strawberry Jell-O Poke Cake

published Jun 25, 2022
Jell-O Poke Cake Recipe

This crowd-friendly cake needs to be made ahead of time, which makes it perfect for your next potluck.


Prep10 minutes

Cook30 minutes to 35 minutes

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A piece of vanilla cake with jello drizzles poked throughout, topped with a smooth layer of whipped cream, with a fork on the side.
Credit: Kristina Vanni

Jell-O poke cake is one of my favorite recipes for jazzing up a box of cake mix. The ingredients are accessible, the method is easy, and, for me, the taste is pure nostalgia. My mom first got this recipe from a college roommate back in the ’70s and has been making it ever since. In fact, it has frequently been my dad’s birthday cake over the years. He was born on July 5, but he loves celebrating on the night of the 4th after fireworks. This cake is perfect for serving on a warm summer day because it’s enjoyed cold, straight from the refrigerator. Plus, it already has the red and white color theme going on, so you can easily decorate it with some fresh blueberries and strawberries for a patriotic twist. It’s a great make-ahead dessert that tastes and cuts even better if you allow it to chill overnight.

What Do You Use to Poke Holes in a Cake?

Holes can be poked in the cake using a fork, toothpick, or wooden skewer. I always opt for the wooden skewer; that way you can poke holes in varying depths, making for a beautiful presentation when sliced.

What Does Adding Jell-O to Cake Mix Do?

Pouring strawberry Jell-O over a cake prepared with cake mix adds color and flavor to the cake. The red hue also adds visual appeal and a wonderfully moist texture to the cake.

Credit: Kristina Vanni

Do Jell-O Poke Cakes Have to Be Refrigerated?

Yes, this dessert is best served cold. It needs to be well-chilled before serving to allow the Jell-O to soak into the cake and set. Make sure to cover and keep it refrigerated until serving. I find that the cake cuts much better when chilled at least six hours or overnight.

One tip: Make sure to use regular whipped topping for this recipe rather than light or fat-free versions, as they are too watery and won’t set correctly.

Jell-O Poke Cake Recipe

This crowd-friendly cake needs to be made ahead of time, which makes it perfect for your next potluck.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes to 35 minutes

Serves 12

Nutritional Info


  • 1 (10-ounce) tub

    frozen sliced and sweetened strawberries

  • 1 (8-ounce) tub

    frozen whipped topping, such as Cool Whip

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 (15.25-ounce) box

    white cake mix

  • 3 cups

    water, divided

  • 1/2 cup

    vegetable or canola oil

  • 3

    large eggs

  • 1 (3-ounce) package

    strawberry Jell-O


  1. The night before you plan to make the poke cake, place 1 (10-ounce) tub frozen sliced and sweetened strawberries and 1 (8-ounce) tub frozen whipped topping in the refrigerator to thaw.

  2. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Coat the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

  3. Place 1 (15.25-ounce) box white cake mix, 1 cup of the water, 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil, and 3 large eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer (a large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until thickened and smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. About 5 minutes before the cake is ready, bring the remaining 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add 1 (3-ounce) package strawberry Jell-O, and stir until completely dissolved.

  5. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack. While the cake is still warm, poke holes all over the cake with a skewer, chopstick, or fork. Carefully spoon the hot strawberry Jell-O evenly over the cake, letting it soak in thoroughly. Let the cake cool completely.

  6. Place the strawberries and their juices and whipped topping in a large bowl and gently fold together with a flexible spatula until just combined. Spread evenly over the cake. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to overnight before serving.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftover cake can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.