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Lemon Poke Cake

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A moist lemon cake is topped with tart lemon curd and whipped topping for an easy and delicious lemon poke cake that is fit for any season.

Close up image of a slice of lemon poke cake on a white plate.

I know, I know. It’s September and I’m giving you a lemon recipe.

In my defense, I have tons of fall recipes coming for you really soon. In fact, you’re gonna get a great apple recipe in just a few days!

But lemon has no season. At least, not to me. I can eat it year-round and be totally happy.

So if you think lemon should wait until after fall is over, go ahead and save this lemon poke cake recipe for then. But me? I’ll happily eat it now AND enjoy some apple and pumpkin recipes while I’m at it.

Sliced lemon poke cake on a piece of parchment paper.

WHY I LOVE THIS LEMON POKE CAKE

It’s no secret to any long-time MBA readers: I love lemon.

If I had to choose between a bright, lemony dessert and a super rich chocolatey one, I would probably choose the lemon every single time. There’s just something about that tart, bright flavor that I can’t get enough of.

So while I’ve been on a roll making all kinds of poke cakes, from strawberry poke cake to Oreo poke cake, I obviously had to make a lemon version.

Two white plates holding slices of lemon poke cake, with a platter of the cake in the background.

At first I tried making a filling for this recipe that was like a lemon version of the filling I used in the key lime poke cake, but honestly? It wasn’t nearly lemony enough for me. 

So I decided to tweak my tried and true microwave lemon curd recipe instead. After all, it’s been a reader favorite and a personal favorite recipe for years. Why try to fix something that isn’t broken?

Using the lemon curd in combination with a simple lemon version of my doctored cake mix made for the perfect match. Top it with cool whip for a cool, creamy element and you’ve got one fantastic dessert.

Lemon cake batter spread into a 13x9-inch pan lined with parchment paper.

HOW TO MAKE LEMON POKE CAKE

This lemon poke cake is such an easy recipe. Since it has to chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving it, it is also perfect for making ahead of time.

In fact, it might just become your new go-to recipe for taking to parties.

Ingredients you’ll need

The cake base itself uses a lemon cake mix that we dress up with a few extra ingredients. You’ll need:

  • 1 (15.25 ounce) package lemon cake mix
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant lemon pudding mix
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup warm water 

If you don’t have sour cream on hand, plain greek yogurt will work just fine in the cake batter.

Microwave lemon curd whisked in a glass bowl.

For the lemon curd filling, you will need:

  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • ⅔ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 5 ⅓ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (⅓ cup)

I definitely recommend using freshly squeezed lemon juice instead of the bottled stuff. The flavor is much better and will give you a much more flavorful curd.

For topping the cake, you will also need 8 ounces of thawed whipped topping. If you don’t like whipped topping, you can use stabilized whipped cream frosting instead. 

I like to garnish the cake with some lemon zest or slices of lemon, but that is definitely optional.

Baked lemon cake with holes poked in it, ready to be assembled as a poke cake.

Making this recipe

This lemon poke cake starts with mixing up the cake batter. Add all of the cake ingredients to a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes.

Pour the batter into a greased 9×13-inch cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. The cake is done when the top springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, make the filling by whisking together the sugar and eggs in a large microwave-safe bowl until smooth and light in color. Whisk in the zest, lemon juice, and melted butter.

Lemon curd spread over a lemon cake with holes poked across the top.

Microwave the mixture on high in 1-minute increments, whisking after each minute. You’ll need to microwave it for a total of 4-5 minutes. It’s done when the curd has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.

Push the curd through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl or measuring cup, then set it aside.

Fork taking a bite from a slice of lemon poke cake.

After pulling the cake from the oven, let it cool for 10 minutes, then use a large straw or the handle of a wooden spoon to poke holes across the top of the cake. Space them every inch or so; they should go halfway into the cake.

Immediately pour the lemon curd over the cake, making sure you get it into all of the holes. Let the cake finish cooling at room temperature.

Spread the whipped topping over the cake, then cover and chill for at least 4 hours. If you’d like, garnish the cake with lemon zest and/or lemon slices before serving.

Overhead view of slices of lemon poke cake garnished with fresh lemon slices.

MORE EASY LEMON DESSERTS

If you love lemon desserts as much as I do, you will definitely want to take a look at these simple, delicious recipes:

Lemon Sorbet
The best balance of tart and sweet, this refreshing lemon sorbet tastes like a frozen lemonade – perfect for any hot summer day.
Check out this recipe
White bowl filled with scoops of lemon sorbet.
Layered Lemon Dessert
Calling all lemon lovers! This layered lemon dessert is the perfect combination of sweet and tart, with a cookie-like crust, tangy cream cheese, lemon pudding, lemon curd, and whipped topping.
Check out this recipe
Close up image of a slice of layered lemon dessert on a white plate.
Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake
Bright and sweet, this lemon cream cheese pound cake recipe is packed with lemon zest, lemon juice, and lemon extract for a beautiful spring dessert.
Check out this recipe
Two slices of lemon cream cheese pound cake on a white plate.
Homemade Lemon Bars
Homemade Lemon Bars are the quintessential dessert for lemon lovers! You’ll love the shortbread crust and the tangy lemon filling of these classic lemon squares.
Check out this recipe
Sliced lemon bar being held up by a pie server.
Lemon Cheesecake
Tart Lemon Cheesecake sits atop an almond-graham cracker crust to add a delightful nuttiness to the traditional graham cracker crust. Finish the cheesecake with lemon curd for double the pucker!
Check out this recipe
Plated slice of lemon cheesecake next to a fork with espresso in the background
Strawberry Lemonade Cookies
These colorful and cheerful strawberry lemonade cookies are summer in every single bite. Chewy, lip-puckering, and beautiful sugar cookies.
Check out this recipe
Strawberry Lemonade Cookies
Lemon Shortbread Cookies
Buttery, rich and crumbly. Lemon shortbread cookies are made with a handful of simple ingredients and flavored with fresh lemon zest.
Check out this recipe
Lemon Shortbread Cookies
Fork cutting a bite of cake from a slice of lemon poke cake on a white plate.
Fork taking a bite from a slice of lemon poke cake.

Lemon Poke Cake

A moist lemon cake is topped with tart lemon curd and whipped topping for an easy and delicious lemon poke cake that is fit for any season.
4.67 from 3 votes
Print Pin
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Cooling and Chilling Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 55 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients 

For the cake

  • 1 package lemon cake mix 15.25 ounces
  • 1 package instant lemon pudding mix 3.4 ounces
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup warm water

For the filling

  • cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 5 ⅓ tablespoons unsalted butter melted (⅓ cup)

For the topping

  • 8 ounces frozen whipped topping thawed (Truwhip or Cool Whip)
  • lemon zest or slices for garnish optional

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F and line a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat together the cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla, and water on medium speed until well combined, about 2 minutes. Be sure to scrape the bottom of your bowl as needed.
  • Spoon batter into the prepared pan and use an offset spatula or spoon to spread the batter into an even layer.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown and the top of the cake springs back when lightly touched.
  • While the cake is baking, make the filling: In a large microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until smooth and light in color. Whisk in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and melted butter until well combined.
  • Microwave on high in 1-minute increments for 4-5 minutes total, whisking after each minute, until the curd has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Towards the end, you may want to microwave in 30-second intervals, depending on your microwave.
  • Use a spatula to push the curd through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl or measuring cup. Set aside.
  • When the cake is finished baking, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Using a smoothie straw or the handle of a wooden spoon, poke holes across the cake, spaced every inch or so, halfway into the cake.
  • Pour the lemon curd evenly over the cake, smoothing it with a spatula and making sure it gets into the holes. Allow cake to cool completely.
  • Evenly spread the whipped topping onto the cake. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours. If desired, top with lemon zest or lemon slices before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 454kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 93mg | Sodium: 360mg | Potassium: 101mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 378IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 139mg | Iron: 1mg
The default measuring system on My Baking Addiction is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided as a courtesy; please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.
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Recipe Rating




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Misty

Tuesday 19th of December 2023

I had trouble getting my microwave curd to set up. I used exact measurements but it ended up kind of liquidy.

Patsarina

Tuesday 5th of September 2023

Loved it! I always follow recipes exact but I cheated this time. I had a jar of fabulous Bonne Mamon Lemon Curd. Warmed it up added a couple tablespoons of Butter and proceeded with the recipe. Next time I will make my own. Great recipe Thank you

Jamie

Friday 8th of September 2023

So glad you enjoyed! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your feedback. Happy baking! Jamie

J

Sunday 3rd of September 2023

Can you make the filling on the stove top or do you have to use microwave?

Jamie

Friday 8th of September 2023

Hi – This recipe is intended to be made using the microwave. If you have a stove-top lemon curd you like, you can make that instead, but it will take MUCH longer. Hope this helps. Happy baking! Jamie

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