Lemon Poke Cake

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!

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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MORE Lemon Desserts


Yield: 20 slices

Lemon Poke Cake

Prep Time 10 minutes
Chill Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes

Delicious lemon cake topped with lemon curd and cool whip!


  • 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.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 192Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 211mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 1gSugar: 19gProtein: 2g

Did you make this recipe?

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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

About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

Affiliate Disclosure:**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

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Posted on May 4, 2014

Comments & Reviews

  1. I love making fast desserts like this but, I won’t use that INSTANT pudding for anything I’ll make my own or use the COOK N SERVE TYPE. That instant has such a imitating taste that I just can not put on one of my desserts I feed my family. Really it is a little more time making your own but just think your fammily will love you more for taking a little more time for them. If you don’t have time make it up the day you mke the cake. You have to leave the cake set anyway.

  2. Hello there,

    jello typically calls for one cup boiling water, then adding a cup of cold water? Does this recipe emit adding the cold water? I added in about a half cup and poured over my warm cake with holes in it and it kind of just made the entire cake super moist / didn’t really “fill holes.” It’s currently in the fridge and I’m sure it’s still good but… messy.

    Let me know for next time!


      1. It sound like that it only uses the hot water. That why the jello will run down in the cake better. If it is colder it will be thicker and it will be harder to get in the holes

        1. Your cake will be real wet and moist right after pouring on your jello. The jello will set up in the cake just the same as if it was in a bowl by itself. Don’t worry this will happen just take the time it is saying to wait. Don’t rush this. I’m 61 years old and I’ve been baking since I was 7. I’ve made these cakes for around 40 years and they are great. Take your time and ENJOY YOUR HARD WORK.

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