This lemon poke cake is insanely easy to make. Bette yet, it requires fewer than ten ingredients and minimal effort.
And it’s bright, refreshing, and citrusy to the max.
If you need a sweet treat that’s perfectly balanced and airy, this lemon poke cake recipe is for you!
It’s the absolute pinnacle of lemony deliciousness. And it all starts with a box of cake mix!
Of course, you can make it from scratch if you like. But if you’re in a rush, you won’t be disappointed here.
Lemon Pudding Poke Cake Recipe
Poke cakes are some of my all-time favorite desserts. They’re infinitely soft and moist – even if you accidentally overbake the sponge.
The extra pudding in the yellow cake mix brings a ton of flavor and plenty of moisture.
And since this cake is all about lemon, you’ll also add a yummy lemon glaze!
So it’s zippy, light, and ideal for any occasion.
What Is a Lemon Poke Cake?
A lemon poke cake features a sponge base, such as vanilla or lemon, with instant pudding mixed into the batter for moisture and flavor. You’ll poke holes over the top while the cake is still warm. Then spread lemon glaze over the surface, which seeps into the sponge, making it incredibly tender.
Some recipes call for pudding to be spread over the top. And you can totally do that if you want it extra creamy.
But I find the glaze is more than enough.
Here are the seven ingredients you’ll need to make this cake:
- Boxed Yellow Cake Mix – Yellow cake is the perfect base for this poke cake because it’s lightly sweet and allows the lemon pudding to shine. And since you’ll add a lemon glaze, there’s more than enough citrus flavor.
- Instant Lemon Pudding Mix – This gives the cake its bright, lemony flavor and plenty of moisture.
- Water, Vegetable Oil, and Eggs – You’ll need these to make the cake. Use the box for quantities.
- Lemon Juice – Lemon pudding is zesty but creamy. So if you want more punch, use real lemon juice for the glaze. It’ll bring that lip-puckering sweetness we all know and love.
- Powdered Sugar – To make the icing thick but pourable.
- Optional Extras – Feel free to top this with Cool Whip, fresh fruit, or even more pudding if you like it extra rich.
How to Make Lemon Poke Cake
Making this cake is super simple. Here’s what you’ll do:
- Preheat the oven and prep a baking dish. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175°C). Then lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray or butter.
- Make and bake the cake. Make the yellow cake batter using the instructions on the box. But don’t forget to add the dry pudding mix – that’s the key!
- Make the lemon glaze, poke holes in the cake, and pour. While the cake bakes, make the lemon glaze. When the cake comes out of the oven, let it cool for about 5-10 minutes. Poke holes evenly over the top using the handle of a wooden spoon and pour the glaze over the surface.
- Leave the cake to cool, then serve. Once the glaze is spread over the cake, set it aside to cool. Finally, pop it in the fridge for a couple of hours.
This cake is excellent as is. But if you want to make it more impressive, add a thick layer of Cool Whip or whipped cream. Then, top it off with fresh fruit.
Slice, serve, and dig in!
How to Store Poke Cakes
It’ll be fine for a couple of hours at room temperature – after it’s been chilled and without any extra toppings, like Cool Whip.
After that, simply cover the baking dish with a lid or plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge for 4-5 days.
The cake alone will freeze well if you let it cool and double-wrap it in plastic and foil.
Unfortunately, the glaze might not freeze – or rather thaw very well. So if you can, leave it off and add it when you’re ready to serve.
That said, if you let the cake cool completely, wrap it in plastic and foil, and freeze it for under two months, it should be okay.
The trick is to let it thaw slowly in the fridge overnight.
Tips & Variations
Here are a few final tips and variations to keep in mind before you dive into this recipe:
- Use room temperature ingredients. Working with room-temperature ingredients is just easier and keeps you from overmixing the batter.
- Use a fork, a wooden spoon, or straws to poke the holes. Holes made with a fork will be smaller, so you won’t get the same infusion of flavor. If you don’t have a wooden spoon, try a straw. And be sure to make the holes even with about an inch between each one.
- Use freshly squeezed lemon juice. This’ll give you the brightest taste. Roll the lemon on the counter before juicing it, and remember to strain away any seeds.
- Add lemon zest to the cake. Lemon pudding has a very creamy finish. So if you want a really bright kick of citrus, add fresh lemon zest to the cake.
- Use lemon curd instead of glaze. It’s even more lemony!
- No pudding? No problem! Try lemon Jello instead of pudding. The cake won’t be as creamy, but it’ll still taste great.
Finally, add a few decorations if you want something more jazzy. Grate some fresh lemon zest on top, or buy some yellow sprinkles or edible glitter.
You’re limited only by your imagination.
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