Tender white cake is paired with strawberry goodness in this fun, crowd-pleasing strawberry poke cake.
Well, we survived back-to-school week. I think that deserves some celebratory cake, right?
But since I’m still a little exhausted from getting back into the school routine, let’s keep it easy.
You all know how much I love a doctored cake mix, and today I’ve got one that’s still a doctored mix, but a little bit different. We’re taking a white cake mix and turning it into a fun strawberry poke cake!
This is one that the kids will probably love helping you with, and they’ll love seeing the pinkish-red jello appear in the white cake after you slice it. And it’s delicious, so it’ll disappear in a flash!
WHAT IS STRAWBERRY POKE CAKE?
You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been really into making poke cakes lately. And with good reason! They’re easy, fun, and are always a hit at parties and get-togethers.
Today I’m sharing my version of what is probably the best known type of poke cake: Strawberry poke cake.
For all poke cakes, a 13×9-inch sheet cake is poked with holes, then has some kind of filling spread over it. In the case of my key lime poke cake, it is a key lime juice and condensed milk mixture. For my Oreo poke cake, it’s a chocolate pudding mixture.
For this strawberry poke cake, it’s a strawberry jello mixture that soaks into the white cake, giving it both a pretty pink pattern and a delicious strawberry flavor.
Don’t forget the whipped topping and the strawberries on top to finish it off!
HOW TO MAKE STRAWBERRY POKE CAKE
Strawberry poke cake is easy to make and a fun recipe to make with kids. Depending on how old your kid is, the only part they may need help with is getting the cake in and out of the oven and making sure they’re careful with the boiling water.
Let’s talk through it!
What you’ll need
To make this poke cake, you will need:
- 1 (15.25 ounce) white cake mix
- The water, vegetable oil, and eggs that are required to make the mix
- 1 ounce (28 grams) of chopped freeze-dried strawberries
- 1 (3-ounce) box strawberry-flavored gelatin
- 1 cup boiling water
- 8 ounces thawed whipped topping
- 1 ½ cups fresh strawberries, sliced
I like to use a white cake mix for this strawberry poke cake. I think the pink/red of the strawberry jello really pops best against the white cake.
How much water, oil, and eggs you need will depend on the brand of cake mix you buy. For most 15.25-ounce white cake mixes, 1 ¼ cups water, ½ cups vegetable oil, and 3 whole eggs or 4 egg whites will be needed. (See more info on this below in the FAQs section.)
We’re not just leaving the white cake as-is, though. I like chopping up some freeze-dried strawberries and folding them into the cake batter.
The freeze-dried strawberries add a ton of flavor without adding any extra moisture to the cake. The final poke cake is pretty moist thanks to the jello soak, so it’s best to stick with freeze-dried strawberries in the cake batter.
If you don’t like standard strawberry jello or Cool Whip, there are a number of natural brands out there that you can try. You can also swap the whipped topping for stabilized whipped cream frosting.
You are also welcome to try a homemade white cake mix if you like.
Making this recipe
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the cake mix, oil, water, and eggs or egg whites for 2 minutes. Use a spatula to gently fold in the freeze-dried strawberries.
Spread the batter in a greased 13×9-inch pan and bake for 30-35 minutes. The cake is done with the top springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let the cake cool for 20 minutes, then use a large straw or the handle of a wooden spoon to poke holes across the top of the cake. Space the holes every inch or so and make them halfway into the cake.
Once you’ve poke the holes, whisk together the strawberry gelatin and the boiling water until the jello is totally dissolved. Pour this evenly over the top of the cake, making sure to get it into all of the holes.
Let the cake finish cooling completely.
Spread the whipped topping evenly over the cooled cake, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Before serving, top the cake with the fresh strawberries.
Store the cake, covered, in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
How much water, vegetable oil, and eggs will I need?
In order to make the cake, you will need water, vegetable oil, and eggs or egg whites, but the amount of each ingredient will depend on the brand of cake mix you buy.
Most brands of 15.25-ounce white cake mix will call for 1 ¼ cups water, ½ cup vegetable oil, and 4 egg whites, OR 1 ¼ cups water, ¼ cup vegetable oil, and 5 eggs whites.
Some brands will also give you the option to use whole eggs instead of just egg whites. It is up to you which you prefer to do.
Be sure to check the back of your mix to know for sure how much of each ingredient you should use. If you forget and throw away the box, the above amounts are likely to work for most standard white cake mixes.
Note that these amounts only apply to standard 15.25-ounce white cake mixes – gluten-free mixes or mixes of a different size will require different amounts.
Can I make this strawberry poke cake gluten free?
If you have a favorite gluten-free white cake mix that you like to use, feel free to use it in this recipe.
If making the cake gluten free, make sure you use a certified gluten-free strawberry gelatin. The Jell-O brand is not certified gluten free, so it’s better to be safe for anyone in your household who needs to stay away from gluten.
Can I use frozen strawberries?
I recommend only using freeze-dried strawberries in the cake batter. Fresh or frozen strawberries will add too much moisture to the cake.
Depending on the store, freeze-dried strawberries can sometimes be found with snacks, in the natural foods section, or by the dried fruits.
You could use frozen strawberries on the top of the cake, but keep in mind that they will be mushier than fresh strawberries after they thaw, so they won’t look as nice.
Can I make this cake ahead of time?
This strawberry poke cake needs to chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving, so you can easily make it the night before you plan to serve it.
If you want to plan even further ahead, you can bake the cake, then let it cool completely. Freeze the cake, following my instructions for how to freeze cake, for up to 2 months.
Let the cake thaw before poking the holes and finishing the poke cake.
Note that the strawberry jello mixture does soak into the cake best when the cake is still a bit warm from the oven, so I only recommend doing this if you are really pressed for time.
Strawberry Poke Cake
- 1 box white cake mix 15.25 ounces
- Water, vegetable oil, and eggs/egg whites as called for on the cake mix box
- 1 ounce freeze-dried strawberries 28 grams, chopped
- 1 package strawberry-flavored gelatin 3 ounces
- 1 cup boiling water
- 8 ounces frozen whipped topping thawed
- 1 ½ cups fresh strawberries sliced
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl with an electric hand mixer, beat together the cake mix, water, oil and eggs or egg whites on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. Be sure to scrape the bottom of your bowl as needed.
- Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the chopped freeze-dried strawberries into the batter.
- Pour 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 30-35 minutes, or until the top of the cake springs back when lightly touched.
- Allow cake to cool for 20 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.
- In a large liquid measuring cup with a spout, whisk together the strawberry jello mix and boiling water until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Carefully pour strawberry gelatin evenly over top of cake. Cool completely on a wire rack.
- Evenly spread the whipped topping onto the cake. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
- Just before serving, top with sliced strawberries.