Orange poke cake is a light and refreshing dessert made with vanilla cake, orange jello and vanilla whipped topping. The combination of the orange and vanilla makes this cake reminiscent of an orange creamsicle. It is made with simple ingredients and is quick to prepare, making it perfect for an easy, light dessert. Top it with mandarin orange slices, sprinkles, or toasted coconut to make it extra special.
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What is Orange Poke Cake?
An orange poke cake is a moist vanilla cake that has been poked with holes, filled with orange jello, and topped with fluffy vanilla cream.
This cake is light and refreshing. The subtle flavours of orange and vanilla make this cake taste like a delicious orange creamsicle.
The orange jello, poured over the cake and fills the holes, gives this cake the orange marbling and makes it extra moist. The flavour is subtle, with just enough orange to know it’s there.
If you prefer a thicker, creamier filling and a more potent punch of flavour, try filling this cake with orange pudding or fresh orange curd instead.
We love to decorate this cake with mandarin orange slices to make the orange flavour pop, but you can also decorate it with candy sprinkles, crushed cookies, or toasted coconut.
We love poke cakes because they have a lot of flavour, are super moist, are easy to prepare, and have endless flavour combinations.
Because they are made in a 9×13 pan, they are easy to transport, cut, and serve, and one cake will make anywhere from 12 to 16 servings, which makes them ideal for serving a crowd.
This poke cake is made with a simple boxed cake mix, but if you have a favourite vanilla cake recipe, you can use that instead. It also works well with orange cake or a simple white or yellow sheet cake.
For a full list of ingredients and measurements, see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- French Vanilla Cake Mix (and ingredients to make cake) – You will need one box of french vanilla cake mix to make a 9×13 cake. If you’d rather make your own from scratch, use your favourite vanilla, white, or yellow cake recipe.
- Orange gelatin mix – Orange gelatin is what is used to give this cake its orange flavour. If you’d rather, you can use orange pudding mix; just make sure you make the holes larger to accommodate the thicker pudding.
- Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix – You need one box of instant vanilla pudding. This is mixed with the whipped topping to give it the vanilla cream flavour.
- Milk – This will be mixed with vanilla pudding to make the vanilla topping.
- Frozen Whipped Topping – This creates a creamy frosting. If you prefer, you can use fresh, prepared whipped cream instead.
- Mandarin orange slices – This is optional but adds a nice finishing touch to the top of the cake.
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1 – Bake the cake according to package directions and allow it to cool. Once it is cool, use the end of a wooden spoon or the wide end of a chopstick to poke holes all over the cake.
Step 2 – In a small bowl, whisk the boiling water and orange gelatin until the gelatin is dissolved. Spoon the orange mixture over the cake, paying particular attention to filling the holes.
Pro-Tip: Space the holes ½ to 1 inch apart and make sure you press the end of the spoon all the way to the bottom. This will ensure the cake is evenly filled with the jello.
Step 3 -Mix the milk and vanilla pudding in a large bowl until it thickens, then fold in the whipped topping. Spread the whipped topping over the cake in an even layer.
Top with mandarin orange slices or other garnish as desired.
Place the cake in the refrigerator for a minimum of one hour to allow the topping and filling to set before serving.
Pro-Tip: It is important to let this cake rest in the fridge before serving as it allows the filling and topping to set and will make it easier to cut. This cake should rest for at least an hour but can be prepared up to a day in advance.
Substitutions & Variations
You can customize this orange poke cake in a few ways if you need to.
- Cake – You can use any vanilla cake mix to make your cake or your favourite 9×13 vanilla cake recipe if you want to make homemade. White or yellow cake works well if you don’t have vanilla cake.
- Filling – This cake is filled with orange gelatin, which adds a light orange flavour and makes the cake extra moist. You can use orange pudding or fresh orange curd for a thicker, creamier filling. You will want to make the holes slightly bigger to accommodate the thicker filling to ensure the cake is evenly filled.
- Frozen whipped topping – If you don’t want to use frozen whipped topping, you can make fresh whipped cream to top the cake. If you would rather have a thicker frosting, you could use a store-bought tub of vanilla frosting or make your favourite cream cheese frosting.
Decorations and Toppings
We love to decorate this cake with slices of mandarin orange. They add a fresh component to the cake and the delicious orange flavour.
You could decorate this cake with orange candy sprinkles, slices, toasted coconut, or any other garnish as desired.
This poke cake can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for about five days.
This cake can also be covered and stored in the freezer for several months.
Top Tips & FAQS
Poke cake will keep for about five days when covered and stored in the refrigerator.
You can easily make this cake gluten-free using your favourite gluten-free cake mix or homemade recipe. You will want to ensure all the other ingredients you use, such as filling and topping, are also gluten-free.
Orange Poke Cake
- Bake the cake according to the directions on the box or your favourite 9×13 white or yellow cake recipe. Let cool completely before proceeding.
- Using the handle of a wooden spoon or a chopstick, poke rows of holes in the top of the cake about an inch apart.
- In a small bowl, mix the jello with the boiling water then drizzle over the cake being sure to fill all the holes.
- In a large bowl, whisk the vanilla pudding with the milk just until it begins to thicken then fold in the whipped topping.
- Spread the whipped topping evenly over the cake.
- Place the cake in the refrigerator and allow to set at least 3 hours before serving.
- Serve topped with mandarin orange slices or candy sprinkles if desired.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.