Lemon Poke Cake

by aimee @ shugarysweets on May 4, 2014

Deliciously, easy Lemon Poke Cake made with a cake mix, lemon gelatin, homemade lemon curd, Cool Whip and some Nilla wafers! YOU WANT THIS. Today!

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Lemon Poke Cake: delicious, easy poke cake recipe with Lemon JELL-O and homemade lemon curd!

Making a poke cake is seriously one of the easiest things to bake for dessert. And they are perfect for bringing to potlucks, bbq’s, and summer picnics! Everyone loves them!

If you’re asking yourself, “what is a poke cake” let me tell you this, there are many answers to that question. Depending on who you ask!

Poke cakes are typically made using a boxed cake mix and a 13×9 baking dish. While the cake is warm out of the oven, you can do SEVERAL things:

Lemon Poke Cake: delicious, easy poke cake recipe with Lemon JELL-O and homemade lemon curd!

Growing up, my family always chose the last option. Adding gelatin. It’s a perfect spring/summer treat! Growing up with a summer birthday, this was one of my favorite cakes. I LOVE frosting, but in the summer, this light and moist gelatin cake topped with Cool Whip is just PERFECT.

Lemon desserts are quite possibly my favorite type. I would choose a lemon treat over a chocolate treat. Is that odd? Anyone else with me on this?

By adding the lemon gelatin to the cake it makes it so flavorful and moist. Light and fluffy with a lemon twist!

Lemon Poke Cake: delicious, easy poke cake recipe with Lemon JELL-O and homemade lemon curd!

But I took it a step further. I made a batch of homemade Lemon curd. Have you made this before? It’s really very easy. You can make this in advance so it’s ready to use when you’re ready to eat!

This poke cake needs to be refrigerated for about 4 hours after adding the gelatin. This gives the cake time to cool, and allows the gelatin to firm up. You can make it the night before and refrigerate overnight too! When you are ready to serve (or the day of) spread your homemade lemon curd over the top of the cake and then top it with Cool Whip. I added some crushed (and whole) Nilla Wafer cookies for a final touch to this cake!

Now, if any of you are a little worried (or hurried) to make this and want to skip the lemon curd part, I get it. Instead, you can substitute Lemon pudding. I’ve done this too. So after your cake has been poked, and your poured your gelatin on it, make up a quick batch of instant lemon pudding. Spread that over the top. Refrigerate the whole cake for 4 hours, or overnight. The gelatin will set nicely, and the top will have a delicious layer of lemon pudding. Some of which  may have seeped into the cake, and that’s totally COOL. Trust me. Top this with your Cool Whip and Nilla Wafers and you’ve still got a great Poke Cake recipe to share with family and friends! ENJOY.

Lemon Poke Cake: delicious, easy poke cake recipe with Lemon JELL-O and homemade lemon curd!

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Lemon Poke Cake

Prep Time: 4 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: 20 slices


  • 1 yellow cake mix, with ingredients to prepare according to package
  • 1 box (3oz) lemon JELL-O gelatin
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 pint lemon curd
  • 16oz Cool Whip
  • 1/2 cup crushed Nilla Wafer cookies


  1. Prepare yellow cake mix according to package in a 13x9 baking dish. Remove from oven and poke holes all over cake. I actually use a meat thermometer for this (skewer or wooden spoon handle would work too!).
  2. Combine gelatin with boiling water. Pour over warm cake, into poked holes.
  3. Refrigerate cake with plastic wrap for 4 hours, or overnight.
  4. Before serving, spread lemon curd over top of cake. Top with Cool Whip and crushed cookies.
  5. Store in refrigerator for up to 4 days. ENJOY.


**Use homemade or store bought lemon curd (found in baking aisle). **If you'd like, you can substitute lemon pudding for the curd. After pouring your gelatin on the cake, whisk 1 box (3.4oz) instant lemon pudding mix with 2 cup milk. Pour over cake. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Top with Cool whip and cookies.


Lemon Poke Cake: delicious, easy poke cake recipe with Lemon JELL-O and homemade lemon curd!

Obsessed with Lemon like me? Here are a few great desserts:


Lemon Cake with Creamy Filling and Lemon Curd


Gooey Lemon Cake Bars: an easy cake mix recipe!


Lemon Meringue Fudge

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt Robinson May 5, 2014 at 1:07 am

Love this with the lemon curd and this would be the perfect cake for any summer get together. So easy and tasty, this will happen here soon for sure. Thanks!


aimee @ shugarysweets May 5, 2014 at 9:51 am

Thanks Matt! Lemon curd is eating by the jars around here during the summer! So light and fresh!
aimee @ shugarysweets recently posted..Lemon Poke CakeMy Profile


Chloe @ foodlikecake May 5, 2014 at 6:41 am

That looks so good and summery!


taylor@ greens & chocolate May 5, 2014 at 7:14 am

YUM! I LOVE poke cakes! This lemon version looks like perfection…I love the Nilla wafers that you added.
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Rachel @ Baked by Rachel May 5, 2014 at 7:18 am

Can you believe I’ve never had a poke cake!! I definitely need to try this and of course love that it’s a lemon version! Yum!
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aimee @ shugarysweets May 5, 2014 at 9:52 am

Never? Well this a first for everything :)
aimee @ shugarysweets recently posted..Lemon Poke CakeMy Profile


Christie - Food Done Light May 5, 2014 at 8:02 am

Laughing at myself because I was wondering what exactly a poke cake was and now I know! Thanks for the explanation. I love the little flavor explosion from the lemon curd and gelatin. I have to try this delicious cake.
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aimee @ shugarysweets May 5, 2014 at 9:52 am

:) Christie, I love to educate around here, hehe!
aimee @ shugarysweets recently posted..Lemon Poke CakeMy Profile


Averie @ Averie Cooks May 5, 2014 at 8:07 am

Looks delish and the Nilla wafers just take it to the next comfort-food level for me! pinned


Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness May 5, 2014 at 8:07 am

Yes I DO want this! I’ve actually never had a poke cake, but I have been wanting to try one. And lemon curd? That stuff is amazing! This is a must try! pinned! :)


aimee @ shugarysweets May 5, 2014 at 9:53 am

I think this version is meant to be for you! Thanks for pinning Taylor!
aimee @ shugarysweets recently posted..Lemon Poke CakeMy Profile


Mir May 5, 2014 at 8:39 am

Wow, homemade lemon curd! You DID take that extra special step. It looks totally worth it to me!
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Paula - bell'alimento May 5, 2014 at 9:23 am

I haven’t made a poke cake in forever. I think it’s time I change that ; )
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How to Philosophize with Cake May 5, 2014 at 9:38 am

Mmmm, now that sounds amazing! I love lemon desserts of all kind. I’ve never made “poke cake” per se, but I’ve had tres leches cake and this sounds similar. I’ll have to try it sometime!


kristy @ the wicked noodle May 5, 2014 at 9:55 am

Yes, I AM obsessed with lemon desserts just like you! This one looks fantastic!
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eat good 4 life May 5, 2014 at 10:09 am

I have never made a poke cake of any sort before. I think I shall and very soon :-) It looks fantastic!!
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Kelly May 5, 2014 at 10:34 am

This is my first time hearing about a poke cake! Love the idea – and the lemon curd!
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Jocelyn @BruCrew Life May 5, 2014 at 11:42 am

What a delicious and perfect summer poke cake. Love the lemon blast this cake has to it. Now I’m craving a poke cake again…it’s been too long since my last one!!!
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Jess May 5, 2014 at 2:04 pm

This cake looks super moist and buttery! Very delicious, I really fancy a slice now!
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Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust May 5, 2014 at 6:57 pm

I love the idea of the gelatin!! I’m going to have to steal that idea!
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Elizabeth @ Confessions of a Baking Queen May 5, 2014 at 10:11 pm

I have been lemon crazy lately, it’s literally alllll I think about it. Which is weird for a chocoholic!! This cake looks amazing, I’ve actually only ever made a “poke cake” once- back when I was 14- I think I need to change that stat!! And I love that you put the nilla wafers on top- I bet it’s a great crunch with alll that creamy dreamy ness going on!!
Elizabeth @ Confessions of a Baking Queen recently posted..Coffee Apricot Meringue KissesMy Profile


Tahnycooks May 6, 2014 at 11:23 am

I love all things lemon! This cake looks so refreshing and light, perfect!
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Jess @ On Sugar Mountain May 6, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Oh how I do adore that lemon curd. <3 And man i need to get on the poke cake bandwagon! They always look so wonderful, and this lemon version is no exception! Amazing recipe once again, Miss Aimee! :D
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paula rosenquist February 20, 2015 at 10:42 am

I too like lemon! In fact I like anything citrus! I think I’ll try your recipe! Sounds too good not to!!


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