Strawberry Poke Cake Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 25 min. Bake: 25 min. + chilling
This strawberry poke cake is a light, refreshing dessert that’s perfect for a spring afternoon or summer night.

Updated: Feb. 16, 2024

Our contest-winning strawberry poke cake is the real deal, and it couldn’t be easier to make. First, bake off two cake layers from a boxed mix, then poke the cake layers all over and top with a simple strawberry sauce. Next, top one of the cake layers with sliced strawberries and whipped topping. Finally, stack the layers, and frost the entire stacked cake with whipped topping.

It’s simple from start to finish and incredibly moist and delicious. Indeed, our strawberry poke cake is a perfect strawberry dessert for spring and summer.

What is strawberry poke cake?

Strawberry poke cake is a double-layer white cake where the cake is “poked” all over to give it holes. The holes are filled with a strawberry sauce that’s poured all over the cake. Each cake layer soaks up the sauce, taking on a delicious strawberry flavor and bright-red hue. The two cake layers are stacked and frosted, then decorated with fresh strawberries. It’s a beauty of a cake!

Ingredients for Strawberry Poke Cake

  • White cake mix: We tested this with Pillsbury’s white cake mix. You can go ahead and use your favorite boxed cake mix brand!
  • Frozen strawberries: Be sure to grab frozen strawberries that are sweetened and sliced. And remember to thaw them before starting this recipe!
  • Strawberry gelatin: Two packets of strawberry gelatin and a little liquid make the perfect strawberry sauce to soak into the cake.
  • Whipped topping: We love store-bought whipped topping for its ease of use and how stable it is, but you can certainly make your own sweetened whipped cream if you wish.


Step 1: Create the cake batter

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, use a hand mixer or stand mixer to beat the cake mix, water, eggs and oil on low speed for 30 seconds. Turn the speed to medium, and beat for two minutes.

Step 2: Bake

Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans. Pour the cake batter evenly into the pans, and use a mini offset spatula to gently spread if needed. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes.

Cool the cakes at room temperature for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and onto wire racks, and let cool completely.

Step 3: Poke the cake

If needed, level the tops of the cakes using a serrated knife. Return the layers, top side up, to two clean 9-inch round baking pans. Pierce the cakes all over with a meat fork or wooden skewer at 1/2-inch intervals.

Editor’s Tip: Here are all the secrets on leveling a cake without a cake leveler, just in case you’re new to the technique!

Step 4: Make the strawberry sauce

Drain the juice from the strawberries into a 2-cup measuring cup. Stick the strawberries in the refrigerator. Add enough water to the juice to measure to the 2-cup line.

Pour the liquid into a small saucepan, and bring it to a boil. Whisk in the gelatin until it’s all dissolved. Chill the strawberry sauce in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Step 5: Spoon sauce over the cakes

Gently spoon the strawberry sauce over each cake layer, making sure you get into all the holes and corners, too. Chill the cakes for two to three hours.

Step 6: Assemble the cake

Fill a large pan with warm water. Dip the bottom of one of the cake pans into the warm water for 10 seconds. Invert the cake onto a serving platter. Top the cake layer with the chilled strawberries and 1 cup whipped topping.

Dip the second cake pan in the warm water for 10 seconds. Invert that cake layer on top of the cake.

Step 7: Frost

Frost the cake with the remaining whipped topping. Chill the cake for at least one hour. Serve your beautiful cake slices with fresh strawberries if desired. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Editor’s Tip: When slicing and serving, we recommend wiping the knife off after every cut so the strawberry sauce doesn’t mess up the frosting. It might feel tedious, but it will make your cake slices look so much better!

Recipe Variations

  • Use a different fruit: Substitute the frozen strawberries and gelatin packets with a different type of fruit! Flavors that would make a lovely sauce are cherry, raspberry, pineapple, apricot and mango. Be sure to buy its frozen fruit equivalent, too.
  • Make a new frosting: Want something more substantial than Cool Whip? Whip up a batch of indulgent cream cheese frosting or rich chocolate frosting. Or stick with the easy theme. Make a batch of pudding mix, and gently fold it into the whipped topping.
  • Bake in a different pan: Instead of two 9-inch round cake pans, bake the cake in one 13×9-inch pan. It will make assembly easier, too!

How to Store Strawberry Poke Cake

To store, cover the strawberry poke cake with a cake dome or inverted glass bowl. You can also store it in an airtight container. Keep it in the fridge for up to three days.

Strawberry Poke Cake Tips

Strawberry Poke Cake TMB Studio

Do I have to use white cake mix?

No, you do not have to use white cake mix. We use it so you’re able to see the beautiful strawberry swirl better. However, you can use one of the best yellow cake mix brands (deemed by our Test Kitchen pros) or lemon cake mix. Even a chocolate cake mix would work (especially with the strawberry sauce!), even though you won’t be able to see the sauce very well.

What should I use to poke holes in the cake?

Poke holes in the cake with a meat fork, a wooden skewer or the end of a wooden spoon handle. If you’re going with the latter, space the holes out in 1-inch intervals so the cake doesn’t become too saturated with the strawberry sauce.

Watch how to Make Strawberry Poke Cake

Strawberry Poke Cake

Prep Time 25 min
Cook Time 25 min
Yield 12 servings.


  • 1 package white cake mix (regular size)
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen sweetened sliced strawberries, thawed
  • 2 packages (3 ounces each) strawberry gelatin
  • 1 carton (12 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided
  • Fresh strawberries, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, water, eggs and oil; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  2. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25-35 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  3. Using a serrated knife, level tops of cakes if necessary. Return layers, top side up, to 2 clean 9-in. round baking pans. Pierce cakes with a meat fork or wooden skewer at 1/2-in. intervals.
  4. Drain juice from strawberries into a 2-cup measuring cup; refrigerate berries. Add water to juice to measure 2 cups; pour into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; stir in gelatin until dissolved. Chill for 30 minutes. Gently spoon over each cake layer. Chill for 2-3 hours.
  5. Dip bottom of 1 pan into warm water for 10 seconds. Invert cake onto a serving platter. Top with chilled strawberries and 1 cup whipped topping. Place second cake layer over topping.
  6. Frost cake with remaining whipped topping. Chill for at least 1 hour. Serve with fresh berries if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.

Nutrition Facts

1 piece: 376 calories, 14g fat (7g saturated fat), 35mg cholesterol, 301mg sodium, 56g carbohydrate (37g sugars, 1g fiber), 4g protein.

That classic spring treat—strawberry shortcake—takes on a wonderful new twist with this strawberry poke cake recipe. Strawberry gelatin and strawberries liven up each pretty slice of this lovely layered cake that's made from a convenient boxed mix. —Mary Jo Griggs, West Bend, Wisconsin