Pineapple poke cake is a light vanilla cake, marbled with pineapple pudding and topped with crushed pineapple and vanilla whipped topping. Crushed pineapple is folded into the cake batter, keeping it extra moist and giving it a burst of tropical flavour. This cake is not too sweet and is slightly tangy and refreshing. It is the perfect dessert for enjoying at a summer BBQ, or anytime you want a lighter dessert. It’s made with simple ingredients and comes together quickly.
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What is Pineapple Poke Cake?
A pineapple poke cake is a simple vanilla cake that has been marbled with pineapple pudding and topped with crushed pineapple and vanilla whipped topping.
This pineapple cake is incredibly moist because of the crushed pineapple combined with the cake batter before baking. The pineapple adds a delicious tropical flavour, without being overly sweet.
You can add flaked or toasted coconut to quickly turn this into a pina colada cake, or top it with maraschino cherries for a quick take on a pineapple upside-down cake.
This cake’s light and refreshing flavours make it perfect for serving at summer BBQs, cookouts, potlucks, or anytime you want a lighter dessert.
Poke cakes are quick, easy and economical to make, using a box cake mix, a can of crushed pineapple and instant pudding. If you want your cake to be a bit more homemade, use your favourite 9×13 vanilla, white or yellow cake recipe.
Because this cake is made in a 9×13 pan, it is easy to transport, cut, and serve, and one cake will make anywhere from 12 to 16 servings, which makes it ideal for serving a crowd.
For a full list of ingredients and measurements, see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Vanilla Cake Mix (and ingredients to make cake) – You will need one box of vanilla cake mix to make a 9×13 cake. You can also use white or yellow cake or your favourite homemade vanilla or white cake.
- Crushed pineapple – You will use the fruit and juice from one can of crushed pineapple. The fruit is mixed with the cake and the topping, while the juice is mixed with pudding to form the creamy filling. Make sure you buy crushed pineapple, not chunks or tidbits.
- Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix – You need two boxes of instant vanilla pudding. The vanilla pudding, mixed with pineapple juice creates the tangy pineapple pudding; it also combines with the whipped topping to stabilize it and add flavour.
- Milk – This will be mixed with the pudding for the filling and to make the whipped topping.
- Frozen Whipped Topping – This creates a creamy, light frosting. If you prefer, you can use fresh, prepared whipped cream instead.
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1 – Mix the cake according to package directions and stir in ½ cup of the drained crushed pineapple. Bake the cake according to the 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 – Mix one box of vanilla pudding with the reserved pineapple juice and enough milk to equal one and a half cups of liquid. Whisk until the pudding starts to thicken, remove half a cup of the pudding and set aside, then pour the remaining pudding over the cake paying attention to fill the holes.
Pro-Tip: Space the holes ½ to 1 inch apart, and press the end of the spoon to the bottom. This will ensure the cake is evenly filled with pudding.
Step 3 -Mix the reserved pudding and remaining crushed pineapple and spread it over the top of the cake.
Step 4 – In a large bowl, mix one cup of milk and one box of vanilla pudding until it begins to thicken, then fold in the whipped topping. Spread over the top of the cake.
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, white or yellow cake. Lemon cake is also an excellent choice.
- Frozen whipped topping – If you don’t want to use frozen whipped topping, you can make fresh whipped cream to top the cake.
Pina Colada Poke Cake – Use coconut milk instead of dairy milk to mix the pudding and top the cake with shredded coconut.
Pineapple Upside Down Poke Cake – Top the cake with pineapple chunks and maraschino cherries.
Decorations and Toppings
Decorating this cake is optional, but it makes it prettier and, depending on your choice, can add texture and flavours.
Flaked or toasted coconut is a great choice, and the flavour pairs well to create a delicious tropical cake.
You can also decorate the top with canned pineapple chunks or fresh pineapple wedges.
Other options include chopped nuts, candy sprinkles, or maraschino cherries.
This poke cake can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for about five days.
This pineapple cake will not freeze well. Freezing will cause the pineapple to release water as it thaws, making the cake soft and soggy.
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.
You can use any vanilla, white or yellow cake mix to make pineapple poke cake.
More Poke Cake Recipes
Pineapple Poke Cake
- 1 15.25 oz box Vanilla Cake Mix plus ingredients to make it
- 1 (14 oz) can crushed pineapple
- 2 (3.4 oz) boxes Vanilla instant pudding
- 1 ¾ cups Milk divided
- 3 cups Frozen whipped topping thawed
- pineapple chunks
- toasted or flaked coconut
- chopped nuts
- maraschino cherries
- Using a fine mesh strainer, drain the pineapple over a bowl to separate the juice and the fruit. Reserve both the juice and fruit.
- Mix the cake according to the package directions and stir in ½ cup of the drained, crushed pineapple. Reserve the rest of the fruit for later. Bake the cake according to the directions on the box. 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.
- Pour the reserved pineapple juice into a measuring cup, then add enough milk to equal one and a half cups liquid. (you should have about ¾ cups of pineapple juice, needing to add ¾ cups of milk).
- In a medium size bowl, whisk 1 box of the vanilla pudding mix with the pineapple juice and milk just until it begins to thicken.
- Remove and reserve ½ cup of the pudding, then pour the remaining pudding over the cake, filling the holes.
- In a small bowl, mix the reserved ½ cup pudding with the remaining crushed pineapple and spread it over the top of the cake.
- In a large bowl, whisk the remaining box of pudding with one cup of milk until it thickens, 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 1 hour before serving.
- Serve topped with pinepple chunks or wedges, flaked or toasted coconut, chopped nuts, 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.