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Lemon Poke Cake

This lemon poke cake is easy to make with lemon cake mix and lemon jello then topped with whipped cream. It’s a moist dessert with a refreshing and flavorful taste for spring or summer!

We love poke cake recipes! Tres leches cake, chocolate poke cake and better than anything cake are fun and easy desserts!

Lemon poke cake on a plate.
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Best Lemon Poke Cake Recipe

This lemon poke cake has come to my rescue so many times when I need an impressive dessert with little notice. It consists of just 5 ingredients! Along with cake mix cookies and cake pops it’s one of my favorite boxed cake mix recipes!

Bright lemon flavor makes this jello poke cake one of the best lemon desserts along with lemon icebox pie and this lemon meringue pie recipe! It’s made with a refreshing lemon cake base, then poked with a lemon jello mixture, chilled and topped with cool whip.

Why You’ll Love Lemon Poke Cake

  • Variations: Use whatever flavor of jello you want! Lemon pairs well with lemon poke cake but so does blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, and orange.
  • Easy to make! It’s quick and easy to make this family favorite, even the kids can help. Make it ahead, serve chilled, and the longer it sits, the more the flavors get absorbed.

What You Need to Make Lemon Jello Poke Cake

Only four simple ingredients make this cake quick and easy! The lemon taste is tangy and flavorful while the cake has a light, moist and airy texture.

Lemons on a white marble countertop.

Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.

  • Lemon cake mix: Make this simple by using a lemon cake mix to start. Use the ingredients on the back of the box to mix and bake the cake according to package instructions.
  • Lemon jello: This will moisten the cake and add that sponge-like cake texture.
  • Hot and cold water: Combine the water to make the jello texture, it brings so much moisture to the inside of the cake.
  • Homemade whipped cream: A light and tasty topping that can either be whipped cream or cool whip based.

Substitutions and Variations

  • White cake mix. Dial down the lemon and use a white cake mix instead. You can also make a cake from scratch if that’s on your to-do list!
  • Yellow cake mix and lemon juice. If you’re having trouble finding lemon cake, a yellow cake works too. Add fresh lemon juice to give it a dose of lemon flavor.
  • Using a store-bought whipped topping can be done if preferred.
  • Lemon pudding poke cake is also a thing, so you can easily swap the jello for instant lemon pudding mix or even homemade lemon curd.
  • Swap jello flavors. As mentioned above, raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, or orange all pair well with lemon.
  • A different frosting. Leave off the whipped topping and slather it with a lemon cream cheese frosting instead,
  • You could also enjoy it plain, with a dusting of powdered sugar, or a drizzle of lemon glaze or cream cheese glaze.

How to Make Lemon Poke Cake

Create the best cake that is bright and yellow in color plus all the deliciousness! Poke holes in the cake to allow the jello syrup to moisten the cake from the top to the bottom.

The process of making lemon jello poke cake in a four step photo collage.
  1. Mix the batter in a bowl and bake the cake according to the package directions. Allow it to cool.
  2. Poke holes in top of the cake. For smaller holes use a fork or butter knife and for larger holes use the handle of a wooden spoon.
  3. Whisk lemon jell-o with hot water until it dissolves. Pour in cold water and stir. Wait 1 minute before pouring the jello mixture evenly all over the cake.
  4. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Top with whipped cream and keep chilled until you’re ready to slice and serve. A few slices of lemon on top is a great way to garnish it!

Expert Tips

  • Best ways to poke holes: I like to use a meat fork or butter knife, but you could use the top of a wooden spoon or the thick end of chopsticks as well.
  • Spacing holes. Poke holes a little over an inch apart. If the holes are too close the cake will be super moist and hard to cut. Too far apart and there will not be enough lemon jello in the cake!
  • Garnish: Make it look pretty by adding a few lemon slices. You can also use candied lemon rinds or lemon zest for an extra sugary topping!
Slice of lemon poke cake.

5 star review

“Oh, yum! Everyone loved this cake. This recipe is just right—light, airy, and most importantly, delicious.”


Recipe FAQs

Why is my poke cake soggy?

When poking holes in the cake, you will want to make sure that the holes are not too close together and that there is room in between them. Being too close together can create the cake to be soggy or too moist whereas being far apart won’t have the liquid to soften the cake. A good balance of holes is needed.

What is poke cake?

A poke-and-pour cake (also called poke cake) is how it sounds, the cake is poked from the top to allow syrup or liquid over top and to spill into the holes allowing the cake to be infused with more flavoring. This recipe uses lemon jello but some poke cakes use pudding mix or even sweetened condensed milk like in this death by chocolate poke cake.

Which lemon cake mix is the best?

This is totally up to the buyer and their preference for the cake mix! A couple of popular cake mix brands are Duncan Hines, Pillsbury cake, and Betty Crocker. If you need a gluten-free cake, your favorite brand works here, too.

Can poke cake be made ahead of time?

Yes! This is actually preferred as the flavor gets better while it chills. Simple keep it stored in the refrigerator until time to serve.

How to store poke cake?

Due to the moisture in this lemon poke cake and whipped topping, it needs to be stored in the fridge. Store covered in the refrigerator for up 5 days.

For longer storage, freeze it without any topping. Once it has chilled and set in the fridge, wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in a freezer-friendly bag for up to 1 month. When you’re ready to enjoy it, thaw it in the fridge overnight then add the whipped topping.

Lemon poke cake on a plate.

Other cake recipes we love include this easy dump cake, raspberry bundt cake and this recipe for pineapple upside down cake!

More Easy Lemon Desserts

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slice of lemon cake with fork

Lemon Poke Cake

5 from 20 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
This lemon poke cake is easy to make with lemon cake mix and lemon jello then topped with whipped cream. It's a moist dessert with a refreshing and flavorful taste for spring or summer!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Chill time:: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 20


  • 15 ounce box moist lemon cake mix , plus ingredients on box
  • 3 ounce box lemon jello
  • 1 cup hot water
  • ¾ cup cold water
  • 2-3 cups homemade whipped cream , or cool whip

Lemon for topping, optional


    • Mix the batter according to package directions. Bake according to the package directions. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
    • Then poke holes all over the top with a meat fork or butter knife.
    • Next mix together the jello with the hot water. Stir for 2 minutes, or until completely dissolved. Then stir in the cold water for 1 minute. Pour evenly over cake. Then refrigerate for at least one hour.
    • Once it is completely cooled, spread the whipped cream over top. Top with lemon slices or grated lemon if desired. Store in the refrigerator, until serving.


    • Variations: You can use any flavor of jello for this recipe. Some of our favorites are strawberry, raspberry, blue raspberry and orange. 
    • Make ahead: This is the perfect make-ahead dessert. Feel free to make it the day before and let it chill in the fridge overnight.
    • Freezing: I’d recommend freezing without the whipped topping. Simply wrap with plastic wrap then place in a freezer bag or container. Store in freezer for up to 1 month. Then when ready to enjoy, thaw and top with whipped cream or cool whip.


    Serving: 1slice | Calories: 111kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 169mg | Potassium: 22mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 40IU | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 0.4mg

    Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

    Course: Dessert
    Cuisine: American

    Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

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