When I was a kid, Jello Poke Cake was a staple at family gatherings and picnics. It’s a vintage recipe that has disappeared from American get-togethers over the last few decades — which is as damn shame, as far as I’m concerned. It TOTALLY needs to make a comeback. So I’m here to lead the movement to bring back the Jello Poke Cake.
What is Jello Poke Cake?
For the uninitiated, here are the basics:
Poke Cake is a relic of the 1970s. It’s basically just a chilled sheet cake that has streaks of Jello running through it, which adds a different texture than a typical cake. The streaks are added by poking holes in the cake with a fork or toothpick (get it?… poke cake!) and pouring Jello into the holes before letting it set up in the refrigerator.
Traditionally, it’s made with with boxed white cake mix and strawberry Jello, and topped with a tub of Cool Whip.
But you can totally switch up the cake and Jello flavors to make a combination that’s your own: Cherry Jello and chocolate cake mix? Yes. Lime Jello and white cake mix? Go for it. Raspberry Jello with lemon cake mix? Totally.
As convenience foods became increasingly less popular over the 1990s and 2000s, Poke Cake also became less commonplace. So sad. But some say Poke Cake is becoming trendy again. And I’m here to say that I fully support this.
Is it healthy and all-natural and super good for you? Absolutely not. BUT… make it anyway. It’s easy, delicious and even a little refreshing. And it’s totally appropriate for a fun spring or summertime treat. Everything in moderation, right?
How to make Jello Poke Cake
- First, bake a white cake in a 9×13 inch pan. You could make your cake from scratch if you want, but seriously, a box of cake mix will work just fine. Just follow the instructions on the box.
- After letting the cake cool for a bit, use a fork or toothpick to stab holes all over the top of the cake. (see photo #1 below)
- Mix up the Jello with some boiling water (photo #2), and pour the Jello mixture over the holes you poked in the cake (photo #3).
- Stick the cake in the fridge to chill for at least 3 hours.
- Spread whipped topping (Cool Whip!) over the top of the cake (photo #4), slice, and serve.
There. That wasn’t so hard, was it? And now you’ve got a pan of some delicious cake with pretty pink swirls in it to get you through the rest of the week. Lucky you!
A refreshing 1970s classic dessert that's perfect for spring or summertime family get-togethers.
- 1 box White cake mix
- 3 eggs (this was what my cake mix called for, but follow the instructions on your cake mix)
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil (or whatever your cake mix calls for)
- 1 cup water (or whatever amount your cake mix calls for)
- 1 package Jell-O gelatin (I used Strawberry, but you can use any flavor you'd like)
- 1 cup boiling water
- 8 oz Cool Whip (I used Cool Whip Lite)
Prepare the box of white cake mix following the instructions on the package, using a 9 x 13 inch cake pan.
Let the cake cool for about 30 minutes, and then poke holes in the top of the cake using a fork or a toothpick.
Pour the Jello mix into a medium bowl, and pour 1 cup of boiling water into the Jello. Stir until the Jello is dissolved. Pour the Jello over the cake, taking care to pour it into the holes you poked. Cover the cake pan with foil and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Spread Cool Whip on top of the cake in an even layer. Slice and serve.
I love this stuff. My mom used to make it all the time when I was a kid.