How to Make Pudding Poke Cake

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Have your cake and pudding too! Learn how to make an easy and delicious pudding poke cake for dessert.

More often than not, the best desserts are the creative treats that combine two main ingredients. And even better are those desserts that offer an impressive (and delicious!) end result without too much fuss. Enter: a pudding poke cake.

Pudding poke cakes start with a boxed cake mix, baked as directed. Next up, holes are poked into the cake and pudding is poured over the top to fill in the gaps. It makes for the most delightful treat, with not only cake and frosting in every bite, but the tasty surprise of luscious pudding, too.

Pudding poke cakes are ideal as a family dinner dessert, or even as an option to bring to a potluck. And the best part? You can stick with a classic yellow cake and chocolate combination, or mix and match flavors to find your new favorite combo.

How to Make Pudding Poke Cake

ingredients for making cake on a blue counter top including a cake mix box, jello pudding box, jar of milk, flour, and butterMolly Allen for Taste of Home

Ingredients

For the cake and pudding:

  • 1 yellow cake mix, plus ingredients on the box
  • 1 (3.4-ounce) box chocolate instant pudding
  • 2 cups cold milk

For the chocolate frosting:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 5 cups powdered sugar

Tools You’ll Need

  • Glass Baking Dish: Baking the cake in a glass baking dish (rather than a metal pan) will make cutting and serving the poke cake easier.
  • Wooden Spoon: Use a wooden spoon with a rounded end to poke holes in the cooled cake.
  • Silicone Spatula: A sturdy spatula will make the process of spreading the pudding and chocolate frosting a breeze.

Directions

Step 1: Bake the cake

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Prepare and bake the yellow cake mix according to the directions on the box. Once baked, remove the cake from the oven and allow it to fully cool.

Step 2: Poke the holes

yellow cake in a rectangular glass pan with unorganized grid of holes poked topMolly Allen for Taste of Home

Once the cake is cooled, use the rounded end of a wooden spoon to poke holes in the cake. Poke the holes down into the base of the cake.

Step 3: Pour the pudding

cake in a glass pan with a thin layer of chocolate pudding covering the whole cake and a blue rubber spatula resting on topMolly Allen for Taste of Home

Prepare the pudding according to the directions on the box. Immediately after mixing, pour the pudding over the cake. The liquid will drip into the holes in the cake. Smooth out the pudding on the top of the cake. Place the cake in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Step 4: Make the frosting

chocolate frosting in a large clear glass bowl with electric beaters resting on the sideMolly Allen for Taste of Home

While the cake is chilling, make the chocolate frosting. In a large mixing bowl, whip the butter until fluffy. Mix in two cups of powdered sugar, the cocoa powder and milk. Continue to gradually add powdered sugar while mixing until the frosting thickens and comes together. Turn the speed up on the mixer to whip the frosting until smooth and fluffy.

Step 5: Frost the cake

cake in a glass pan with a layer of pudding on top and a blue rubber spatula spreading chocolate frostingMolly Allen for Taste of Home

Use a spatula to gently frost the top of the chilled cake. Garnish the poke cake with chocolate sprinkles and mini chocolate chips, if desired. Serve the cake immediately, or place it back in the fridge to continue chilling and pull it out once you’re ready to enjoy a slice.

Tips for Making a Pudding Poke Cake

finished pudding poke cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles and chocolate chips on top in a glass cake pan with forks an plates next to itMolly Allen for Taste of Home

Can you use another type of frosting for this cake?

While this poke cake was topped with a fluffy chocolate frosting that comes together easily, you can certainly choose another option. Love homemade whipped cream or classic whipped topping? Go for that instead! To save time, you can also grab a can of chocolate frosting. Empty the container into a bowl and whip the frosting until fluffy before frosting your cake.

Should you use instant or cook-and-serve pudding for this cake?

The key to a pudding poke cake is pouring liquid into the holes created in the cake. Because of the way instant pudding turns from whisked liquid to a thicker pudding, this is the best option for a poke cake. Cook and serve pudding won’t allow for easy pouring of the pudding into the cake.

Does this poke cake need to be refrigerated?

This poke cake should be kept refrigerated before serving. But the good news is that it tastes best served cold anyway! Keep the cake chilled so the pudding can be kept cold until you’re ready to dig in.

What other flavor combos can I make?

Pudding poke cakes are incredibly versatile, offering the option to mix and match flavors. You can choose to use either a flavored cake mix or bake your own cake from scratch. Want something fruity? Consider trying a white cake mix with banana cream pudding or even lemon pudding. Love chocolate? Bake a chocolate cake and pair it with chocolate fudge pudding. Consider including cheesecake pudding or butterscotch in the mix as well. The options are endless!

Can you freeze pudding poke cake?

Want to prep a poke cake ahead of time or freeze the leftovers to enjoy at a later date? No problem! Slice the cake and wrap the slices in plastic wrap so they’re airtight. Keep slices in the freezer and pull them out to thaw 30 minutes before it’s time for dessert.

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Molly Allen
Molly Allen is a previous bakery owner and former event planner. Now, a freelance writer and editor focused on food and beverage, lifestyle, travel and parties, she brings her years of experience and industry knowledge to readers across a variety of platforms.