This colorful strawberry jello poke cake is perfect to serve for special occasions & events. If you’re hosting a crowd with kids, it will surely be a hit!
This strawberry jello poke cake recipe is super versatile. Depending on the event you are hosting, you can switch out the flavor of jello. For the 4th of July, we like to do a red and blue jello mix. For birthday parties, we mix up several colors or use the person’s favorite flavors and colors. You can also top the jello cake with fruits for extra flavor and garnish.
What is a Jello Poke Cake?
Jello poke cake recipes are all-American, no-fuss desserts that have been around since the famous gelatin brand stepped onto the scene. It’s made with a sponge cake base (or sometimes a boxed white cake mix) and features swirls of strawberry gelatin and creamy whipped topping. It’s called a “poke” cake because after it’s baked it’s poked with holes all over the top and filled with jello liquid. This seeps into the rest of the cake, causing those beautiful, signature swirls!
How to Whip Up Our Strawberry Jello Cake
All this simple recipe requires is 6 ingredients and a mild technique. Consider it one of those easy dessert recipes you can lean on in a pinch!
- Make the Cake Batter: First, beat the eggs with sugar in a large bowl until light and airy, this will take about 10 minutes. Using a spatula, gently fold the flour in gradually. For more tips on making a perfect sponge cake, watch this tutorial.
- Bake the Jello Cake: Next, grease the baking dish and pour the batter in. Bake the cake at 350°F for 30 minutes and allow it to cool to room temperature.
- Poke the Cake: Using the end of a wooden spoon, poke holes into the cake. Prepare the jello according to the package instructions, allow it to cool to room temperature, and pour it into the holes.
- Frost the Cake: Next, frost the cooled cake with Cool Whip.
- Refrigerate the Cake: Chill the cake in the refrigerator for at least a few hours or up to overnight before serving. Slice and enjoy!
5 Tips for Making the Jello Poke Cake
A few helpful tips will help you get perfect swirls and a seriously moist jello poke cake.
- Use room temperature eggs. Room temperature eggs will help you get the fluffy, airy texture you want in a sponge cake. Make sure to beat the egg and sugar mixture for at least 10 minutes on medium-high speed, until thick ribbons form.
- Fold in the flour gradually. To keep the batter light and airy, fold the flour in slowly and gradually with a baking spatula. If you mix it too vigorously, the cake will fall flat.
- Use boxed cake mix in a pinch. To simplify the process you can use the boxed cake mix, although we love to use a good, old-fashioned homemade sponge cake recipe.
- Adjust the jello color and flavor for each event. This cake can be prepared for everything from Christmas (think: raspberry or cherry jello and green sprinkles on top) to a casual springtime BBQ (think: lemon and lime jello and fresh fruit on top!). There are endless combinations you can play around with – go wild!
- Whip up homemade whipped cream instead. Make a quick homemade whipped cream if you don’t like Cool Whip. To do so, whip 1 cup of extra cold heavy whipping cream in a stand mixer with a little sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla extract until light and fluffy.
- For best results, let the cake rest overnight in the refrigerator. While you can get away with a 2 hour set in the fridge, an overnight rest is best. This allows the cake to get super moist and develop its flavors.
Storing Leftover Cake
To keep jello poke cake on hand for up to a week, store it in an airtight container in the fridge. This will prevent it from soaking up any smells lingering in the fridge, while also helping it to continue to develop its flavors. Hello, delicious leftovers!
What do you use to poke holes in jello poke cake?
The best tool for poking holes in a jello poke cake is just a basic spoon. The end is the perfect size and dimension for the size of the hole you want.
Does jello poke cake need to be refrigerated?
Yes, jello poke cake needs to stay in the refrigerator between snacking. Do not store at room temperature, as it will become a soggy mess.
Can you freeze jello poke cake?
To freeze a jello poke cake, follow the recipe by pouring the jello mixture atop the cooked cake. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and store it for up to a month in the freezer. Allow the cake to thaw in the refrigerator. Then, add whipped cream right before serving.
Can you make jello poke cake in advance?
You can make your jello poke cake up to 2-3 days in advance. If you can, avoid spreading the whipped topping on until right before you serve it so it stays nice and fluffy.
Other Jello Cake Recipes to Try
- Strawberry Jello Cake Dessert – Creamy, no-bake jello cake
- Jello Fruit Cake Dessert – 70’s-style jello cake
- Bird’s Milk Cake (Ptichye Moloko) – Classic Slavic cake
- Espresso Jello Shots – Coffee and condensed milk shots
- 6 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 6 oz strawberry jello package
- 2 cups Cool Whip
- Combine the eggs with sugar, beating until the mixture is light and airy and about 3x the size in volume. This will take roughly 10 minutes in a stand mixer, longer if using a hand mixer. Follow this video tutorial for tips on making a perfect sponge cake.
- Using a spatula, fold in the flour in small portions to keep the mixture light and airy. Grease a 9in.x13in. baking dish and pour the batter in.
- Bake the cake at 350°F for 30 minutes. Once the cake is ready, a toothpick should come out clean from the center. Let the sponge cake cool to room temperature and poke holes in it with the bottom of a wooden spoon 1/2-inch apart. Prepare the jello according to the package instructions.
- Once the jello fully cools to room temperature, pour the jello mixture over the cake and fill up all the holes. Frost the top of the cake with Cool Whip.
- Let the cake rest in the refrigerator for at least a few hours before serving. Enjoy!
- If your sponge cake turns out flat, the egg and sugar mixture was most likely not beaten long enough. The batter should be roughly 3x the size in volume. This can take upwards of 15 minutes, so a stand mixer is best for the job. Another way to check for the correct consistency is by lifting the whisk attachment from the mixture, if the batter falls back in thick ribbons then it is ready.
- A boxed cake mix can be used in place of sponge cake. If using cake mix, follow cake mix instructions, and then proceed with this recipe in step 3 (starting with poking holes in the cake).
Recipe is super easy, quick and tasty. I was honestly scared to try because of the comments about flat cakes, but viewing the sponge cake youtube tutorial posted in the comment replies helped a lot! My cake came out super thick and fluffy! Give it a try!
Kayla, thank you for sharing this feedback. I am so happy it came out great for you. I think we need to add that video into the recipe details as well. Appreciate your feedback.
Ugh. Should have read the comments first. Our cake came out half an inch tall and then literally shrunk in the pan over an inch on every side. It is like a hard chewy pancake. No room to add holes or any jello. I am a good home cook and baker and made it light and airy and folded the flour in gently and yet can't go any further with this recipe.
Hi Jennifer, I am sorry to hear that the recipe didn't turn out well. Most often when the sponge cake turns out flat, it's because it wasn't beat long enough. Since there is no leavening agent like baking powder, we're relying on air to leaven the cake, which is why you have to beat eggs/sugar until they are about 3x in volume. That being said, this post could use additional detail though, so we will absolutely be working with the recipe to perfect and update it soon. Thank you very much for your feedback.
Hello!! I know what everyone’s problem is. They aren’t letting the jello cook enough before putting it in the cake. I’d also try and make the holes a little bigger. I also let the cake mix sit before I added the eggs , the flour was super fluffy. Also added white chocolate layer on top instead of icing because I’m not a fan. We loved it!! We call it kindergarten cake haha.
Hello Brittany- thank you for the tips and feedback! Glad you are enjoying it 😀
My came out dense and flat like everyone else's. I whipped the eggs and sugar for a very long time with my kitchen aid. They were light and airy. I then folded the flour super easily at only about 1/5 a cup at a time. I bake alot... this recipe isn't great unfortunately.
Hey Hillary- I'm so sorry to hear that! I don't have this issue when making the cake but it's something that we will review because I want to make sure this recipe is successful for everyone.
What the! It came out flat and dense. I'd attach picture if I could. Taste is okay. But to flat to poke
Hi Sarah-ah, I am so sorry to hear that! A flat sponge cake could be caused by under beating the eggs, or not folding flour in gently. Did the eggs get enough volume while beating?
This is awful! My cake turned out flat and hard. Did everything correct. Tried a piece and it taste like egg.
The video you’re responding with has different ingredient measurements.. which one am I supposed to follow?????
Hey Madison- I am so sorry to hear it came out flat and hard. The jello should make it pretty moist and the cake is normally a couple of inches tall at least. The sponge used for this poke cake does have a slight eggy taste because it's a lot of eggs in the recipe, but the fillings and topping used with the sponge (jello and cool whip in this instance) are usually soaked into the sponge cake thus it's not so eggy tasting in the end. That being said, if you're not a fan of the sponge you can totally substitute with a boxed yellow or white cake mix! I hope these tips help if you decide to give it another go.
Mixed the eggs like crazy to make them as fluffy as possible...my cake is super thin and flat. Was hoping to make this for a birthday party, but it's laughably short. I don't recommend...unless short floppy cakes are what you're going for.
Hey Carley, when you fold in flour did you gently fold it in of mix it with a mixer? Here is a video for this sponge cake, it should be helpful. https://www.youtube.com/watch…
My wife and I tried to make this a couple times and couldn't get it to turn out right. The first time, the cake came out really flat and hard. We went through the comments and saw some suggestions the author made about making sure to really mix a lot of air into the eggs, and then to be careful not to over-mix after the flour is added. Unfortunately we had the same results on our second attempt. Maybe there's something else we missed. Oh well!
Hey Nathan, here is a videos recipe that has same sponge cake. Maybe it will be helpful to see textures? Linked here: https://www.youtube.com/watch…
Terrible. Came out about a half inch thick. I'm a baker and followed directions exactly. Don't recommend
Hey dear, what size pan did you use? Also, I would double check on the flour you are using. The case should be at least 3 inches tall. Hope this helps us narrow it down.
Something is definitely wrong. This cake came out like an omelette.
Must be missing some other ingredients.
Hi Rosemary, I'm sorry to hear that. The sponge ingredients are correct- just eggs, sugar and flour. Was it the sponge cake itself that didn't come out, or was it after the jello was added?
Ours turned out awful! Was going to post a picture but that option is disabled. Cake was think and hard. My husband held it up by the corner and it didn’t even tear.
Hi Summer- I'm sorry the cake didn't turn out. Did you let it rest in the fridge for sometime? The cake gets softer if you let it rest in the fridge overnight so I recommend doing that. Over-mixing the cake batter can also make it fall/ be flat. I know how frustrating it is when a recipe doesn't turn out, I hope these tips are helpful if you decide to give it another try!
Thank you for your recipe
You're so very welcome Jocelyn! I hope it turned out great for you. My boys are literally OBSESSED with this cake. It never lasts more than 2-3 days haha.
This just did not turn out. Flat like a pancake and less flavor than a pancake. 😭 Didn't overmix it and the batter was very airy. Not sure what went wrongly.
Hey Jeslyn, It sounds like the sponge cake didnt fully cool or the jello didn't. When it's all at room temperature, it would be nice and fluffy.
Looks yummy. I’m assuming I can cut the recipe in half, right? I always like to try a new recipe but cut it in case it doesn’t work so I’m not wasting ingredients.
Hey Melanie, yes, you can definitely cut it, just get a smaller pan for it. Enjoy
I feel like I didn't add enough Jello this time can I add more Jello mix even tho its already been in fridge for a few hours?
It will just create a layer of jello on top if the other jello has hardened. I think it would work if you are looking for more jello flavor.
Want to try it for my Saturday dinner. Can I use other jello flavors?
Hey Irene, yes, you definitely can.
I just tried it. All my family loved it yumm..
Linda, thank you! I am so happy to hear this!
Hello! My name is Sara Bruestle and I am the features editor of The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington. I'm writing a story about Strawberry Jello Poke Cake, and was hoping I could run your photos with it. (With the coronavirus outbreak, we don't have the budget for me to make the cake myself. But I've made it many times before.) Would you be so kind as to email me your photos to go with the story? I would need them ASAP. Thanks!
I will email you, thank you!
For some reason this sponge cake turned out flat like a pancake! Dont know what I did wrong. Too dense to poke so I was sad!
There could b two factors, the eggs were not beat for long enough or they were overmixed after you added flour. Do you think that could be an issue?
So pretty, Natalya. This would be a great dessert for a special event. 🙂
Thank you! Yes, my kids love jello cakes so anytime we make it, it turns into special event 🙂
I love that the although there are only 5 ingredients in this strawberry jello poke cake, the cake is made from scratch. This is something I could totally make with my kids!
Yes, your kids will love it. Especially the eating part 🙂
I can't believe it's only 5 ingredients for this strawberry jello cake! We love strawberries in any form.
Awesome, we also love strawberries. Glad the season is around the corner!
This jello poke cake looks like such a beautiful treat for kids birthday parties! I love that it's an easy, no fuss recipe too!
Thank you! Yes for sure. My kids love Jello Cakes. We have 11th Birthday coming up for Jacob, it will be on the menu for sure.