7 Easy Poke Cake Recipes That Everyone Will Love

Poke Cake

One of the most popular cakes here in Utah is a poke cake called “Better Than Sex” Cake, or “BTS Cake” for those who avoid s-e-x talk in mixed company. (Personally, I don’t much care for the name — I just don’t see the point in comparing a cake to anything that isn’t also a cake!)

One great thing about poke cakes in general, however, is how easy they are to make. They aren’t any harder to make than a boxed cake mix, but they feel a bit more special all the same. In this post, I’m sharing a selection of my favorite poke cake recipes to help demonstrate how easy and versatile this dessert can be!

I’ll start by sharing the recipe for BTS Cake, and then I’ll share 6 more poke cake variations you can either make at home, or use as inspiration for your own poke cake creations!

But before we get to all of that, I thought it might be useful to start by defining what a “poke cake” actually is.

See another of my favorite quick and easy dessert ideas in the video at the end of this post!

Poke Cake

What Is A Poke Cake?

The majority of the poke cakes I’ve made or eaten start with a store-bought cake mix. After the cake is prepared and baked, it gets “poked” full of holes, filled with a sauce or filling of some sort, then covered with whipped cream or frosting.

Adding both a filling and a topping to a poke cake provides a unique opportunity to mix and match different flavors and textures. In that way, poke cake is actually closer to a decadent dessert than a standard birthday cake!

And that is especially true of BTS Cake! I personally love it as a “once in a while” treat, but it could be a bit intense if you’re into sweet desserts. (But if you don’t have much of a sweet tooth, you can always adjust the recipe to cut back on the sweetness of the various elements!)

Poke Cake

How To Make “Better Than Sex” Cake (aka BTS Cake)

Ingredients:

  • 1 box devil’s food cake mix (plus the required ingredients to make it)
  • 7 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 6 oz caramel sundae syrup
  • 8 oz Cool Whip, thawed
  • (3) 1.4 oz Heath bars
  • Chocolate sundae syrup, for drizzling

Directions:

Poke Cake

Step 1 – Make The Cake

Start by tossing your Heath bars in the freezer, then preheat your oven to the temperature listed on your box of devil’s food cake mix.

Prepare the cake mix according to the directions on the box, using a 9×13” cake pan for best results.

Bake the cake, then let it cool for about 10 minutes or so.

Poke Cake

Step 2 – Poke And Fill

After about 10 minutes of cooling, use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke round holes into your cake. (Aim for 2-3 dozen holes spaced as evenly as you can manage, but don’t sweat trying to make it look perfect. It’s going to get covered up after all!)

Warm the sweetened condensed milk and caramel syrup in a small saucepan on your stovetop, just until the mixture is warm and slightly thinned out.

Pour the warm mixture over the surface of your cake and into the holes.

Poke Cake

Step 3 – Top And Cool

Take the Heath bars out of your fridge and break them up into small pieces. (I usually just smack them against the corner of my counter, but you can use whatever technique you like!)

Sprinkle two bars’ worth of Heath bits over the surface of the cake. Set the remaining Heath bar aside to use later, then let your cake cool in the fridge for one hour.

Poke Cake

Step 4 – Finish And Eat!

After cooling, take your cake out of the fridge and spread the thawed Cool Whip evenly across the top. Sprinkle the remaining Heath bar bits over the Cool Whip, then drizzle a bit of the chocolate sundae syrup over the top to finish it off.

Poke Cake

Enjoy a piece of your finished BTS cake (and don’t be afraid to schedule in a post-cake nap too!) :-)

Poke Cake

6 More Delicious Poke Cake Recipes

Poke cakes are so versatile that the only real limit is your imagination! If toffee, caramel, and chocolate aren’t your thing, consider giving one of these 6 other deliciously decadent poke cakes a try!

I’ve listed the elements of each cake in the following format (along with notes or additional instructions as needed):

1. Banana Split Poke Cake

  • Yellow cake
  • Banana pudding
  • Whipped cream, sliced bananas, sliced strawberries, and sprinkles

2. Red Velvet Poke Cake

3. Lemon Blueberry Poke Cake

  • Lemon cake
  • Blueberry pie filling
  • Whipped cream, fresh blueberries, and lemon zest

4. Strawberry Shortcake Poke Cake

  • Yellow cake
  • Strawberry jello
    • Dissolve strawberry jello mix into 1 cup hot water, then stir in 1 cup of cold water and pour the mixture over the poked cake.
  • Cream cheese frosting and sliced strawberries

5. Cinnamon Roll Poke Cake

  • White cake
  • Cinnamon filling
    • Stir together 1/2 cup of melted butter, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk, and 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon then pour over the poked cake.
  • Cream cheese frosting

6. Black Forest Poke Cake

  • Devil’s food cake
  • Cherry pie filling and hot fudge
  • Whipped cream

BONUS: “Do Nothing” Cake

Have you ever made a poke cake before?

YouTube video
Here’s ANOTHER quick and easy dessert idea that I am obsessed with!

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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26 Comments

  1. I am Lactose Intolerent. Can I use something that is not milk product instead of
    sweetened condensed milk

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    • Sheri, there are many lactose-free alternatives available. Some are made with coconut milk or oat milk.

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  2. Our favorite is to use German chocolate cake mix, (2) small boxes of cream of coconut instant pudding, Cool Whip and shaved chocolate with toasted coconut on top. Also can top with toasted and chopped pecans. As soon as you mix the pudding, quickly pour over cake before it starts to thicken.

    I usually bake the cake and add the pudding. Cover; refrigerate until ready to serve. When ready to eat, top with Cool Whip and other toppings.

    If you are not going to eat the whole cake at once, don’t top the entire cake, use the toppings for the individual pieces of cake that are being served.

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  3. My dad just asked for a pudding cake with apples. I think I’ll try a spice cake Mix and maybe purée some apple pie filling and top it with vanilla dream pie filling.

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  4. My late aunt in New Mexico sent this recipe to me “years” ago. I put it in the church cookbook that we were putting together, but changed the name to ‘Best Ever Cake’. It’s quite a bit different from Jillee’s. Yellow cake mix, half c. water, half c. oil, 4 eggs, half pint sour cream, 1 small pkg instant vanilla pudding. Mix these 6 ingredients together, beat 2 min. Add 1 bar sweet German chocolate, grated. Stir in 6oz pkg chocolate chips, small can coconut and 1 cup chopped pecans. Bake in bundt or tube pan 1 hour @350 or till done. Icing: 1 stick oleo, half of 8oz. pkg cream cheese, 1 pound powdered sugar, and 1 tsp. vanilla, spread onto cooled cake.

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    • Thanks for sharing your Aunt’s recipe, Gail. Sounds delicious! I will have to try making it. :-)

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  5. This cake looks so great Jillee! Never heard of this one! Thanks for posting this recipe and the others too.

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  6. My favorite poke cake is banana pudding! Yellow cake mix, 2 boxes of vanilla pudding – prepare and pour over cake, then top with Cool Whip, sliced bananas and crushed vanilla wafers! Also good is German chocolate cake mix, sweetened condensed milk, hot fudge sauce, Cool Whip and crushed Hershey bars on top. I don’t have a big sweet tooth but these are delicious and always so popular!

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  7. Funny-the only BTS cake I had ever heard of is (1) yellow cake, (2) crushed pineapple+1 cup of sugar boiled for one minute and cooled before pouring over cake. (3) Then French Vanilla instant pudding made according to directions and spread over cake, (4) then fresh whipped cream (best) or Cool Whip spread over top and last, (5) toasted coconut sprinkled over whipped cream. This became popular in our area, North Carolina foothills, around 30 years ago.

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  8. Back in the 70’s we made what was called a Jello Cake. Poked holes in the cake, poured jello mixture over it, then topped with a mixture made with Dream Whip. It was my daughter’s favorite birthday cake.

    Jillee, I like the look of your website now. Thanks for removing plethora of ads!

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    • This was my first poke cake too, Elaine. Used lemon supreme cake mix, lime jello and lemon instant pudding mixed with Dream Whip. Chilled several hours before serving. One of the most refreshing cakes ever.

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  9. Do Americans not cook cakes from scratch? I’m in the UK have never used a ‘book cake’ in my life. It’s so simple and a lot healthier to make your own. In the U.K. It’s 2oz sugar, 2oz butter, 2 SR flour and 2 eggs.

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    • I don’t use boxed either because I am gluten intolerant…I am curious what SR means in your measurement of flour. also what temperature you bake it at and for how long?

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    • Zena,
      Yes, Americans do make scratch cakes. I am just offering up a quick, fun recipe. Many of the recipes I share are from scratch. I just like to share a variety of recipes for people from all countries. :-)

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      • SR means self-rising. You can buy self-rising flour or make your own. This is my version…
        For each one cup of all-purpose flour, add 1½ teaspoons of baking powder and ½ teaspoon of salt. Mix to combine.

  10. Thank you so much for all your posts! I love and greatly appreciate them! The last time you did a recipe, you had a printable version of it in the post. That was so helpful. Maybe you could consider doing this again in the future. Wonderful ideas!

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    • Hi… Thank you for your kind words. We are so happy that you love our website and tips! We are here to make people’s lives easier with solutions to everyday homekeeping, beauty routines, recipes, natural products and more.

      All of my posts have a print-friendly button at the bottom. Here is a video that shows you how to use the Print Friendly feature on the site! http://jillee.co/printfriendly

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  11. One of my favorite recipes for poke cake is using a yellow or vanilla cake mix, filling the holes with strawberry gelatin, then after that has cooled, add a layer of vanilla pudding and then a layer of whipped cream. It’s a great summer cake and sometimes I make it for the 4th of July and arrange strawberries and blueberries on top of the whipped cream in the design of the U.S. flag.

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  12. I make a Mounds Poke Cake.
    Devil’s Food cake mix
    Coconut milk and sweetened condensed milk mixed together
    Cool Whip and frozen coconut mixed together

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  13. Yes to all the poke cakes! Yesterday, I made a Butterfinger Poke Cake! Amazing!

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  14. This looks good . My mom has a similar recipe to the first one, except hers isn’t a poke cake. I agree about the sex word. I was at my Sisters a few years ago and she was looking at recipe with that word and one of her girls was nearby. So she crossed it out and said let’s find another word.

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    • I checked . The chocolate cake shown is my moms recipe . It’s delicious.

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  15. Please tell me there are actually people who get offended by the word sex. Oh, the world we live in!
    Anyways, Thanks for the awesome recipes!

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    • Yes, there is a time and place for everything. GOD created this for a beautiful thing and people had just gone nuts, so far as to sexy food, cars, etc. Lord help us all.

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