Pumpkin Poke Cake

5 from 5 votes

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This Pumpkin Poke Cake is a deliciously rich and ultra moist cake with a creamy, crunchy topping. Every bite tastes like fall!

What Is Poke Cake?

Just like the name implies, Poke Cake is made by poking holes into the cake after baking, which are then filled with yummy goodness like pudding, jellos, cream, condensed milk… basically anything that is deliciously rich and decadent. You can use the end of a wooden spoon, a knife sharpening rod, or a straw to get those holes just the way you like them.

How Do I Make the Batter for this Pumpkin Poke Cake?

Poke Cake is famous for its drizzly toppings that seep into the cake to add extra flavor. But the batter itself is where you can layer even more goodness together. For this easy Poke Cake recipe, there are a couple of ways you can prepare the batter:

  • Prepare and bake the box mix as directed on the package, then poke the holes and add toppings. This method creates a fluffy, light texture that is to die for!


  • Combine the dry cake mix with pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice and bake. The result is a dense, pumpkin flavored cake, more like a pound cake. It is rich, supremely moist and full of fall flavor.

Try either method (or both!) It’s like getting two recipes in one! They’re both so delicious, you’ll want to make them time and again all season long.

Pumpkin Puree vs. Pumpkin Pie Filling

Make sure to buy pumpkin puree and NOT pumpkin pie filling for this recipe. Pumpkin pie filling is too thin and runny and will not give the cake the right texture. Pure pumpkin will give it the dense, rich texture and flavor you’re looking for.

How to Crush the Candy Bars

Here’s a non-messy way to get those Heath or Skor bars crushed up:

  • Unwrap several bars
  • Place them in a gallon sized ziplock bag
  • Using a rolling pin, hit the bag or roll over it a few times.
  • You can also just toss them in the blender or food processor for a few seconds. You want the candy to be small but not crushed to powder.

More Poke Cake Recipes

This Pumpkin Poke Cake is perfect for autumn time, but there are so many varieties for any season of the year! Try some of our favorites:

How to Make Pumpkin Poke Cake

pumpkin poke cake on an orange plate with crumbles on the side

Pumpkin Poke Cake

5 from 5 votes
This Pumpkin Poke Cake is rich and ultra moist with a creamy, crunchy topping. Every bite tastes like fall!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Toppings 5 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12



  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Mix together the yellow cake mix, pumpkin puree, and pumpkin pie spice until it forms a batter.
  • Pour into a well-greased 9×13 pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  • Let cool completely.
  • Using the bottom of the handle of a wooden spoon, poke holes all over the top of the cake (about 1 inch apart).
  • Mix together sweetened condensed milk and ½ of the jar of caramel topping. Pour evenly over the cake.
  • Cover and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
  • Right before serving, mix the Cool Whip and cinnamon. Spread over the top of the cake.
  • Sprinkle Heath or Skor bits over the top of the cake and drizzle with the remaining caramel topping.


Nutrition Information

Calories: 378kcalCarbohydrates: 80gProtein: 6gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 471mgPotassium: 255mgFiber: 2gSugar: 41gVitamin A: 5294IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 232mgIron: 2mg

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About the author

Echo Blickenstaff

Echo lives in Pleasant Grove, Utah with her husband, Todd, who works in advertising, and her four kids: two girls and two boys. She deploys her accounting degree as the blog’s resident problem solver. In her time outside the kitchen, Echo loves to get away from the phones and busy schedules and spend quality time with the family. Anywhere’s great – but getting out into nature in the mountains or on the beach – is the best kind of getaway.

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How many stars would you give this recipe?


  1. 5 stars
    Best cake ever! Pumpkin isn’t even one of my favorite things, but this was delicious. And it just gets better the longer you let it sit. A winner for any occasion or get together.

  2. Hi! I’m making this cake for our thanksgiving dessert! I went with the dry cake mix, pumpkin purée, and spice method for the cake part. Since I am making it the night before, should I wait to add the caramel topping and sweetened condensed milk mixture in the morning or will it be fine to pour it on tonight? I know to wait to add the cool whip in the morning! TIA!

    1. Hi Brittany! I am so sorry we didn’t get back to you sooner. We were spending Thanksgiving with family. I hope your cake turned out well! I would have probably added the caramel mixture in the morning, but it would have been fine either way!

    1. You can definitely make the cake part the night before, but I would wait to top it until right before you serve it! Otherwise it can get too soggy. Hope it turns out well!

      1. I am not a fan of cool whip icing for the top of the cake. What other suggestions would you have for the frosting of the cake?

        1. You can use homemade whipped cream, which I think tastes better. Cool Whip is the easy option, but homemade is always nice.

  3. One more question. For the poke recipe, can you bake it in a bundt pan? 2nd part of question… Doyou prepare the cake mix according to box instructions or is the cake mix and the pumpkin puree, and pumpkin pie spice the only ingredients?

    1. 1. We haven’t made it in a bundt pan, but I don’t see why not. You will probably just have to bake it longer.
      2. You don’t prepare the mix according to the box. You just add the dry mix to the recipe. Hope this helps!

        1. No, you just use the powder that comes in the cake mix box. You don’t add anything that it says to on the cake mix box.

    1. We don’t follow the Paelo lifestyle so I am afraid I can’t accurately direct you. I am guessing a Google search would be able to quickly help you with this answer. Sorry to not be of more help!

  4. I made it both ways. I prefer the instructions on the back of the box for the batter plus the puree and pumpkin spice. Yum!

    1. You will add the pumpkin puree as you are mixing the cake mix together. It will be a part of the batter. Hope this helps!

    1. Hi Carolyn, I’m not really sure what you mean by “still batter.” The cake batter can be made either with our recipe our according to the box directions and then baked. I hope that helps. If not, please comment back with your question. Thank you!

    1. You don’t prepare the cake mix as directed on the box with oil, eggs, and water – you only the pumpkin puree with the cake mix. Thanks for asking!

    1. For this recipe, I use a regular size box cake mix (15.25 oz). You can use a mix with or without the pudding. The pumpkin puree makes the cake very moist, so you don’t necessarily need the added pudding – but it won’t hurt. Great question – thank you!

  5. I would like to make this for a school event! Can I prepare the morning of or the even the night before and do the last step right before serving?

          1. I used homemade whipped cream and topped with chocolate chips. Everyone loved it.