True to their name, poke cakes are cakes that are baked, then (you guessed it!) poked, then filled with a liquid or syrup to add extra flavor and moisture into each bite. These no-fuss cakes are one of oldest baking hacks in the book.
So what kind of fillings work best with poke cakes? Well, just about anything you can think of: sweetened condensed milk, caramel or chocolate sauce, velvety creams or puddings, and puréed fruit are all great options. Sure, poke cakes are a bit kitschy and old-school, but that's what makes them so fun. Below we've rounded up 10 of our favorite poke cake recipes to show just how creative you can get with them.
1. Banana Split Poke Cake by Homemade Interest
This recipe uses instant vanilla pudding as its filling. You just pour it over the top of the cake, spread it evenly across the holes, and pop it in the fridge for a few hours. The pudding firms up and completely changes the texture of the cake — you can practically scoop it with a spoon.
If the vibrant pink color doesn't tempt you, this cake is also brushed with a homemade two-ingredient strawberry syrup and topped with buttercream. It may sound like a lot, but you can spread out the work and make all of the components ahead of time and assemble everything day of.
3. Chocolate Turtle Poke Cake by Mom Loves Baking
This cake is topped with a store-bought caramelized sweetened condensed milk — which is only available during the holidays — so feel free to use your favorite jarred caramel sauce or make your own in its place. (You can even make your own caramel in the slow cooker if you're feeling adventurous.)
This recipe uses three different types of coconut — coconut milk, coconut flakes, and cream of coconut — to achieve its tropical flavor. Just make sure you don't confuse cream of coconut with coconut milk; the former is sweet and thick like a syrup, while coconut milk is mild and unsweetened.
5. Red Velvet Poke Cake by Brown Eyed Baker
This recipe uses a homemade red velvet cake as the base, but you could easily use a boxed cake mix to save yourself some time. The real stars of the show are the condensed milk and the tangy cream cheese frosting, so no one will know if you take a shortcut with the cake.
6. Key Lime Poke Cake by The Recipe Critic
This poke cake is filled with a tart four-ingredient key lime filling that cuts the sweetness of the cake and adds serious flavor. Key lime juice can be found in most grocery stores, next to the bottled lemon and lime juice, but regular lime juice would taste just as nice. (Just make sure to adjust the sweetness if it's too tart.)
7. Chocolate Nutella Poke Cake by Chelsea's Messy Apron
This poke cake gets topped with a homemade Nutella mousse that is fairly simple to make, but a bit finicky. Make sure you use cold heavy cream straight from the fridge, and go slow when melting your chocolate and Nutella together. Microwave it in bursts of 20 seconds to prevent burning and you'll be A-OK.
8. Thin Mint Poke Cake by Life in the Lofthouse
Although impressive, this minty poke cake only takes a handful of ingredients to make (one being Thin Mints). A soaking of instant chocolate pudding keeps it moist, while a topping of green-tinted whipped cream keeps it festive.
9. Strawberry Poke Cake by Life, Love and Sugar
This classic poke cake gets covered in condensed milk, a homemade strawberry syrup, and tangy whipped cream cheese to make it impossibly moist and flavorful. Feel free to make the components ahead of time, as this poke cake is a bit of a project (but totally worth the effort).
10. Lemon Blueberry Poke Cake by Happy Foods Tube
This stunner takes three components to make: a homemade sponge cake, a fresh blueberry sauce, and a light ricotta frosting. Making the blueberry sauce and frosting while the cake is in the oven is a good way to time everything perfectly, or you can make them the day before to get a head start.