Easy make-and-take desserts for serving a crowd.
In search of an easy-to-assemble cake recipe that’s also filled (literally) with rich flavor? Look no further than the poke cake. This old-school dessert first became popular in the 1970s as an attempt by Jell-O to up the sales of its products. (Read more about the history of the poke cake here.) The process is simple: First bake a sheet cake (the traditional cake color was white), poke holes in it, and pour the Jell-O flavor of choice over it to create a colorful, crowd-pleasing dessert. As shown by our overview of 50 years of Southern recipes, the 1970s inspired many unique but delicious culinary creations. Today, poke cakes are seeing a resurgence of popularity. Choose Jell-O as your filling, or try sweetened condensed milk, pureed fruit, flavored syrup, and more. If you’re short on time, you can swap the made-from-scratch cake with a box mix for an equally as delicious product. Poke cakes are ideal for serving a crowd, so try these different recipes for treating guests at occasions all year round.
SweeTARTS and Smarties Tie-Dye Cake
This psychedelic cake looks like it’s straight from the 1970s. Better yet, it’s incredibly easy to make. Start with a white cake box mix, pour a vibrant blue gelatin mixture over freshly poked holes, swirl colorful frostings on the top in a tie-dye pattern, and garnish with SweeTARTS and Smarties candies.
Salted Caramel Gingerbread Poke Cake with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting
The combination of gingerbread and pumpkin flavors will make this cake your next go-to for fall and holiday baking.
Coconut Tres Leches Sheet Cake
Recipe: Coconut Tres Leches Sheet Cake
Sweetened condensed milk takes the flavor of this rich coconut cake to the next level. Served it chilled and topped with toasted shredded coconut.
Chocolate Tiramisu Poke Cake
Recipe: Chocolate Tiramisu Poke Cake
Once you see how easy this cake is to assemble, you’ll want to make it again and again. Decadent devil’s food cake is filled with a combination of vanilla pudding and coffee liqueur and then topped with a creamy frosting and crunchy espresso beans.
Banana Pudding Poke Cake
Recipe: Banana Pudding Poke Cake
Homemade vanilla pudding makes this cake soft, moist, and flavorful. To save time, instant vanilla pudding works just as well in this recipe. We recommend chilling the cake in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.
Vanilla Buttermilk Poke Cake with Buttercream Frosting
Topped with buttermint candies, this fluffy white cake will make a perfect addition to the holiday dessert table.