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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!
Featured with this recipe
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.
Ingredients for Making Pumpkin Poke Cake
Create an easy pumpkin dessert with simple ingredients and baked to perfection! No need for eggs, all purpose flour, or salt. This cake has all it needs with less ingredients and is loaded with all the pumpkin spice flavor!
- Cake mix – You will not need to make the cake. Pour the cake mix in a large bowl and add in the list of ingredients below.
- Pumpkin puree – Add in this fall favorite as the substitute for the eggs and oil. Pumpkin is known to be a wet ingredient.
- Pumpkin pie spice – This is a blend of fall favorite spices that is the perfect for pumpkin season.
- Sweetened condensed milk – Sweet and creamy filling.
- Caramel sauce – Bring on a sweet and creamy sauce with this caramel topping.
- Cool whip – Whipped topping adds a light and airy sweetness.
- Cinnamon – Adds a kick spice!
- Candy bar – I used a Heath or a Skor bar crushed into bits.
Variations of Frosting
It is hard to choose the perfect frosting for this pumpkin cake when most frostings will be delicious on top. Using an electric mixer, mix together a homemade frosting, or purchase a store bought one. Make this cake as easy or homemade as you would like!
- Whipped cream – Store bought or homemade this whipped cream adds a light sweetness to this pumpkin poke cake recipe.
- Cream cheese frosting – Has a strong flavor of cream cheese frosting with a hint of vanilla extract and powdered sugar for sweetness.
- Whipped cream cheese frosting – This is a blend of cream cheese frosting and whipping it in a stand mixer until there are soft peaks formed.
“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.”-Erica
Frequently Asked Questions for Poke Cake
Nope! This is a simple recipe and you will only be using the dry mix from the box.
Change up the flavor using spice cake or white cake or pumpkin cake. Depending on what flavor you are wanting, switch up the box mix.
It is best if you don’t use pie filling. You will want to use pumpkin puree.
Candy toppings are always fun but try a more savory topping. Pecans, walnuts, and nutmeg seasoning are the perfect toppings to have or leave the top with plain with frosting.
How to Store Pumpkin Poke Cake
Leave the cake in the baking dish or place the cake in an airtight container or cover the cake with saran wrap or a lid for the cake. Store it in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days.
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:
Pumpkin Poke Cake
- 9 x 13 Baking Pan
- 1 yellow cake mix
- 1 14 ounce can pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 12 ounce jar caramel topping
- 1 8 ounce Cool Whip
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 Heath or Skor candy bars crushed into bits
- 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.
Storing Pumpkin Poke CakeLeave the cake in the baking dish or place the cake in an airtight container or cover the cake with saran wrap or a lid for the cake. Store it in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days.
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I made this and took to it work and they loved it !!
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.
If there were 6 stars, I would give it a 6!
Thank you so much! We are so grateful for the 5-star rating!
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!
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!
Can I make this the night before, or will it be too soggy/moist?
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!
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?
You can use homemade whipped cream, which I think tastes better. Cool Whip is the easy option, but homemade is always nice.
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. 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!
I’m not understanding this recipe. Dont you add eggs to this cake mix?
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.
Can you recommend a cake made with pumpkin puree, made the paleo way.
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!
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!
Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and share which way you like best!
Hi if I prepare it the way the box recipe is when do I use the pumpkin puree?
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!
Doesn’t that make a still batter?
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!
Is this cake mix prepared with oil, eggs, etc before adding the pumpkin?
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!
What size cake mix and did you use the kind with pudding in the mix?
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!
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?
Yes, you can definitely make it a day ahead.
Can this be made with a spice cake mix?
Would you still add the pumpkin pie spice or omit it?
Probably omit it.
Is the photo made with the box as directed or just with the pumpkin purée?
The one in the photo has the pumpkin purée!
I used homemade whipped cream and topped with chocolate chips. Everyone loved it.