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Lemon Poke Cake

Guys, I figured out a way to make lemon poke cake so the whole cake is filled with lemon pudding, not just little sections. And it all relies on something you do as soon as the cake comes out of the oven!

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a slice of lemon poke cake on a white plate

If you’ve ever had a lemon poke cake with little bits of pudding and the rest of the cake is dry, rest assured this is not that type of recipe. This cake is filled with pudding.

The trick? Poke holes into your cake as soon as it comes out of the oven, then immediately spread the pudding on top. The pudding will seep into the still-warm cake, causing the rest of the cake to get extra moist and the jello pudding flavor to spread throughout the cake.

Spreading the lemon pudding while the cake is still warm is easy to do with a little help with my spatula trick.

Let’s just say I am about to make baking a lemon pudding cake one of the easiest and tastiest things you’ve ever put in your oven.

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ingredients needed to make lemon poke cake

How to Make Lemon Jello Cake

A full printable version of this recipe with ingredient measurements is available at the bottom of this post.

STEP ONE: Follow the instructions on the boxed cake mix to prepare the batter, then pour it into a 9×13-inch baking dish and bake as directed.

mixing boxed lemon cake in a glass bowl
adding lemon cake batter to a baking pan

STEP TWO: While the cake is in the oven, combine the lemon pudding mixes with milk according to the package instructions, then set the mixture aside to thicken slightly.

adding package of jello and milk to a glass bowl
prepared lemon jello mix in a bowl

STEP THREE: As soon as the cake is done baking, take it out of the oven. Using the handle end of a wooden spoon, poke holes throughout the warm cake. 

baked cake with poked holes

STEP FOUR: Evenly pour the prepared lemon pudding over the cake, ensuring it fills the holes.

adding a layer of lemon pudding over baked cake

STEP FIVE: Allow the cake to cool at room temperature. Then, transfer the cake to the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours to fully set the pudding.

STEP FIVE: Before serving, spread a generous layer of Cool Whip over the top. If desired, garnish with freshly grated lemon zest.

adding a layer of cool whip onto lemon pudding with lemon zest on top

Tips for Lemon Poke Cake With Pudding

  • Avoid over mixing the cake batter: Mix just until the ingredients are combined to keep the cake’s texture light and fluffy.
  • Level the cake: After pouring the batter into the baking dish, tap the dish on the counter to level the batter and remove any air bubbles.
  • Poke while warm: Poke holes in the cake as soon as it’s out of the oven to ensure the lemon pudding soaks all the way through.
  • Smooth pudding layer: Use a spatula to gently spread the pudding over the cake, ensuring it enters the holes and creates a smooth, even layer.
  • Cool before refrigerating: Let the cake cool to room temperature before placing it in the fridge to prevent condensation, which could make the top soggy.
  • Spread Cool Whip gently: You don’t want to pull up the set pudding or disturb the cake’s surface.

More Cake Mix Recipes 

side view of whole lemon poke cake with cool whip

Variations to Lemon Poke Cake with Jello

  • Berry blast: Fold in your favorite berry compote, like raspberry or blueberry, for a burst of berry flavor that pairs deliciously with this lemon icebox poke cake.
  • Citrus zest: Grate orange, lemon, or lime zest into the Cool Whip frosting for more of a zesty kick.
  • Strawberry puree swirl: Mix a swirl of strawberry puree into the Cool Whip before spreading for a fruity twist.
  • Rosemary hint: Finely minced rosemary can give a piney aroma that surprisingly matches the zing of lemon in pudding poke cake.
  • White chocolate shavings: These add a creamy and luxurious addition to the lemon pie filling.

Is It Possible To Make Lemon Poke Cake Without A Box Mix?

Yes, you can absolutely make a lemon poke cake using a homemade cake recipe. Opt for a simple vanilla or butter cake as your base — dense enough to hold the pudding but also able to soak up all that lemony goodness. 

Remember to monitor the baking time, as it may differ from the box mix’s instructions.

taking a bite out of lemon jello cake with a fork

Why Do You Poke Holes In A Poke Cake?

This technique allows the pudding to soak into the cake, making sure that every bite is infused with flavor.

It also helps to add moisture, creating a wonderfully tender and flavorful eating experience that differs significantly from a standard layer cake.

How Do I Store Lemon Poke Cake?

Use an airtight container or cover the cake with plastic wrap to prevent it from absorbing other odors from the fridge. 

Properly stored, lemon poke cake with pudding can last for about 3-5 days in the refrigerator.

What to Serve with Lemon Pudding Poke Cake

This lemon Jello cake is topped with plain Cool Whip, but that doesn’t mean you’re limited to using that! You can also try a Cool Whip Frosting or add some extra creaminess with my Cool Whip Cream Cheese Frosting for more of a tangy taste.

To expand the flavor profile more, try it with Cream Cheese Frosting Without Butter or even flavored frosting like Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting

a piece of lemon pudding poke cake on a plate

More Easy Dessert Recipes

a slice of lemon poke cake on a white plate

Lemon Poke Cake

Samantha Erb
Lemon Poke Cake is a delightful dessert that marries the tangy freshness of lemon with the sweetness of cake. Infused with lemon pudding and topped with Cool Whip, this cake is a citrus lover's dream.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 35 minutes
Course Desserts
Cuisine American
Servings 18 slices
Calories 176 kcal


  • 1 lemon cake mix plus required ingredients
  • 2 3.4 ounce lemon pudding mixes
  • 2.5 cups milk
  • 1 8 ounce container Cool Whip
  • lemon zest optional


  • Prepare lemon cake mix according to package instructions in a 9×13 baking dish. 
  • Meanwhile, prepare the lemon pudding mixes by mixing it with the milk. Set aside until needed.
  • Once the cake is cooked, remove it from the oven and immediately poke holes in the cake using the handle of a wooden spoon. 
  • Spread the lemon pudding mix over the surface of the cake, spreading it evenly using a spatula.
  • Allow the cake to cool, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  • Spread the cool whip over the chilled cake. 
  • Garnish with lemon zest if you’d like.


Serving: 1gCalories: 176kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 3gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 254mgSugar: 17g

This nutrition information is based on the exact products I used in this recipe. Brands and sizes of products could alter exact nutrition and should always be calculated independently.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


About Samantha

I’ve always had a love of cooking and creating new recipes, so it only made sense to create a food blog so I could share those recipes with you. This site is designed to provide easy and flavorful recipes with as little ingredients as possible. That means you still get great flavor combinations without all that extra time and effort. Read more...

2 thoughts on “Lemon Poke Cake”

  1. 5 stars
    This cake is amazing! My granddaughters and hubby absolutely loved it. You can substitute 1 can lemon pie filling for the jello.

5 from 2 votes (1 rating without comment)

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