This strawberry poke cake is the perfect summer dessert! With a strawberry simple syrup inside and whipped cream and strawberries on top, it’s the only strawberry poke cake recipe you’ll ever need!
The Best Strawberry Poke Cake
I have a confession to make, I don’t like being hot. If it’s hot outside, I will just stay inside somewhere that there is air conditioning, which means I spend most of the summer inside.
There is one thing that will get me outside during the summer and that’s a good barbecue or some good water games.
I don’t know what it is about BBQs, but I love them. I especially love all of the food. There is just something about good grilled balsamic chicken, strawberry spinach salad, and Brazilian lemonade that makes me happy.
And today I’m sharing one of my absolute favorite summer dessert recipes – strawberry poke cake.
What makes this one the best strawberry poke cake?
Well, it made my husband fall in love with me. That’s something right?
That might be a bit of an exaggeration but it’s pretty close. I made this strawberry poke cake the very first time we met (for a church pool party) and we were dating within a week.
I might’ve caught my husband that night but I also had people coming up to me throughout the party telling me how yummy the dessert was (my husband included).
This is a seriously blurry photo but aren’t we cute? This is just a few weeks after we met and enjoyed this strawberry poke cake together!
Strawberry Poke Cake Ingredients
There are two ways that you can make this cake – one that’s a little complicated but definitely tastes better (using strawberry simple syrup) or the option to just use Kool-Aid as your poking liquid instead.
I’m going to write the post using the simple syrup but I’ve included a note in the recipe card at the bottom of this post with details on what Kool-Aid I recommended if you want to make it that way.
Here’s everything you’ll need for this strawberry poke cake recipe.
- White cake mix (you can choose your favorite, the brand really doesn’t matter)
- Ingredients to make your cake mix (eggs, oil, etc.)
- Strawberry simple syrup (see details for this below) or Strawberry Kool-Aid
- Fresh strawberries, sliced
- Whipped topping – you can either use pre-made like Cool Whip or make your own whipped cream with this whipped cream recipe
Strawberry Simple Syrup Ingredients
Making simple syrup for recipes is one of my favorite ways to add flavor. For the strawberry simple syrup, you’ll need:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup fresh strawberries, mashed and pulsed in the blender (we love our Vitamix!) – even better if you pick them as part of your summer to do list!
This will make what you need for the strawberry poke cake, but I recommend doubling the recipe and making this mocktail recipe to go with the cake as well!
How to Make Strawberry Poke Cake
This is seriously one of the easiest cakes ever, even easier if you go the Kool-Aid route but again, I recommend the strawberry simple syrup version hands down! You can watch the video below to see how easy it is!
1 – Bake your white cake
Follow the ingredients on your cake mix to make a standard rectangle cake in a 9×13 cake pan. You could also do two round cakes (or even cupcakes) but for I prefer the rectangle version for cutting purposes.
Let the cake cool before moving onto the actually poking.
2 – Make your strawberry simple syrup
While the cake is baking, make your strawberry simple syrup by combining the sugar, water, and fresh strawberries in a pot on the stove.
Heat until boiling then stir and allowed to combine until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Strain the liquid from the strawberries in a mesh strainer like this one.
3 – Poke your cake
I’ve had a lot of people ask when to poke your cake. If you’re planning to make and serve right away, let your cake cool and poke it as soon as it’s cooled.
If you’re planning to make this ahead of time, which is a fantastic idea, leave the cake alone until you’re ready to top it. Don’t poke yet!
But assuming you’re ready to go ahead and make this strawberry poke cake, once your cake is cooled use a fork and poke holes all over the top of the cake.
Make sure to poke all over the cake (no need to be perfectly symmetrical or spaced) so the liquid can get into all parts of the poke cake.
4 – Add liquid to make it a strawberry poke cake
Pour the simple syrup you made earlier (or the Kool-Aid) all over the cake, trying to spread it fairly evenly. If you like it really flavorful and moist, you could always do two cups of the strawberry simple syrup instead of one.
And if you want a little more color than the simple syrup has, you could always add a drop of red food coloring to the liquid before pouring in. That’ll give it a bit more of that red color (if you care).
Once the liquid is in the cake, put in the fridge and allow to cool for about an hour. If you’re in a rush you can skip this step, but it does allow the liquid to soak into the cake a bit better.
And the cake is better when served chilled anyway! While the cake is chilling is a perfect time to slice your strawberries if you haven’t already.
5 – Frost the strawberry poke cake
Once the cake is sufficiently chilled, it’s time to frost.
Using either Cool-Whip or fresh whipped cream, add a layer of whipped cream to the top of the cake. If you want to go more a mixed berry route, you could even try it with this blueberry whipped cream!
6 – Add fresh strawberries to the poke cake
One of the signature parts of this cake is the fresh strawberries on top. It makes it a little bit like strawberry shortcake and highly recommended!
Take your sliced strawberries and cover the entire top of the cake so every bite of the strawberry poke cake comes with fresh strawberry. And then when you serve the cake, I recommend putting out a bowl of sliced fresh strawberries for anyone who wants to add even more on top!
7 – Serve chilled
Once the cake is completely decorated, put it in the fridge and chill until you’re ready to serve.
I typically recommend serving within a few hours of topping the cake. If you’re planning to make this strawberry poke cake ahead of time, read the instructions in the FAQs section below for making this poke cake ahead of time.
Strawberry Poke Cake Recipe FAQs
I always seem to get the same questions about this strawberry poke cake, so I wanted to answer some of them here!
If you have more questions, feel free to leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to reply quickly. And if you make this strawberry poke cake, I’d love to hear what you thought!
What’s poke cake?
Poke cake is basically a cake that you poke holes in and fill with some sort of liquid that gets into all of those holes and adds flavor to the inside of the cake.
Can you make poke cake in advance?
Yes, you can make poke cake in advance or at least sort of. If you’re planning to make this strawberry poke cake ahead of time (like say the day before), I recommend making all of the pieces (cake, simple syrup, whipped cream) of the cake ahead of time and putting it together right before you’re going to serve the cake.
You could also just make the entire strawberry poke cake the day before and leave it in the refrigerator – it is still delicious the next day but may be a little more moist and possibly even soggy if you leave it all together too long.
Can you frost a poke cake?
It depends on what you mean by frost. If you mean top it with something then yes! If you mean frost it with say regular store-bought cake frosting, I’d recommend against it – especially with this cake. The whipped cream really just adds to the refreshing summer flavor of this cake and a regular cake frosting just wouldn’t be the same.
If all you have is regular cake frosting or like a cream cheese frosting, it’ll be better than nothing.
Can you decorate a poke cake?
Yes, decorate however you want. I recommend using fresh strawberries for this strawberry poke cake but for other poke cakes, here are some of my favorite ways to decorate:
- Fresh strawberries
- Fresh berries to make it look like this American flag cake
- Chocolate shavings
- Cut up candy bar pieces like on this chocolate poke cake
- Whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate and caramel glaze
Can you layer a poke cake?
I’ve honestly never tried to layer this poke cake but there’s no reason you couldn’t.
If you want to layer the poke cake, my recommendation is to make the two round cakes and basically make an individual poke cake out of each – poking the first round cake and pouring on the liquid then topping with whipped cream (no strawberries).
Put the second cake on top of the whipped cream layer like you would for any other layer cake, poke and pour the additional liquid into the second cake, and then top and decorate like normal with whipped cream and fresh strawberries.
Can you freeze poke cake?
I don’t recommend freezing this strawberry poke cake – especially once it’s topped. But you could totally freeze the cake part of it before adding anything to it, just like freezing cupcakes, and then pull it out and defrost before topping.
Can you make poke cake cupcakes?
Yes, you can make poke cake cupcakes! Simply follow the cake mix recipe to make cupcakes and instead of making one poke cake – you’re basically going to make 24 individual strawberry poke cake cupcakes instead.
Follow the exact same process – poke, pour, and top with whipped cream and strawberries. Or if you want with the cupcakes, you could actually pipe on whipped cream frosting and just top with one individual strawberry as well.
And if you’re doing cupcakes, I highly recommend these non-stick cupcake liners instead of the regular ones so you don’t lose as much cake!
What is the best poke cake recipe?
The best poke cake recipe is going to be up to your tastes and what kind of poke cake you’re looking for. My personal favorite is this strawberry poke cake recipe (or this Snickers poke cake).
More Strawberry Recipes
Need more easy ways to use all those summer strawberries? Here are some of our favorites!
- Strawberry spinach salad
- Strawberry soup
- Strawberry popsicle recipe
- Strawberry mocktail recipes
- Strawberry lavender lemonade
- Strawberry pineapple sorbet
Strawberry Poke Cake Recipe
- 1 box white cake mix
- ⅓ cup oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup strawberry simple syrup
- 12 ounces strawberries , sliced
- 8 ounces whipped cream
Strawberry Simple Syrup
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup strawberries pulsed in blender
- Bake your cake according to directions and let cool for a few minutes.
- Poke cake with a fork all over.
- Pour strawberry simple syrup over cake.
- Let cool for an hour in the refrigerator.
- Top with whipped topping and sliced strawberries.
- Serve chilled.
Strawberry Simple Syrup
- Combine water, sugar, and strawberries in pot on the stove over medium heat.
- Bring combination to a boil and allow to boil under sugar is totally dissolved into water.
- Strain liquid out using a mesh strainer (so you have just liquid, not strawberries)
- Remove from heat and allow to cool before using.