Skip to Content

Lemon Pudding Poke Cake: A Burst of Sunshine

This Lemon Poke Cake Recipe is a luscious blend of citrusy sweet flavors. With a moist, tender cake base and a creamy, lemon pudding, this dessert is a crowd-pleaser. Easy to make and perfect for potlucks or gatherings, this recipe is a must-try for all lemon lovers.

Even though you can serve this poke cake any time of year, the bright lemon makes this Poke Cake with Lemon perfect for Spring or Summer. Just like my Lemon Icebox Pie, Lemon Snowflake Cookies, and this amazing Blueberry Lemon Pie are.

This recipe was updated from 2019 to improve my reader’s experience. No changes were made to the recipe.

Top down view of a lemon poke cake topped with whipped cream and crushed cookies - Hostess At Heart
Lemon Poke Cake

Each slice of Lemon Poke Cake With Pudding is dotted with holes that are filled with more lemon goodness, making it a perfect dessert for spring or summer gatherings. Try it today and impress your guests with this delightful treat!”

You know how I LOVE chocolate right? Well, Lemon may be a close tie. I just love how lemon brightens up any dish whether it’s in a dessert or savory dish. It just reminds me of summer and a burst of sunshine just like this Pudding Poke Cake!

Why you’ll love this Lemon Poke Cake Recipe

  • Lemon Pudding Poke Cake is an easy make-ahead refreshing lemon dessert that makes it a great recipe for entertaining.
  • Poke cake with lemon will feed a crowd. A generous 9×13 pan easily feeds 12 to 16 people.
  • Semi-homemade dessert makes the ingredients simple and short.

This Easy Cake with Lemon Pudding checked off this list plus one more essential requirement for the barbeque that I initially took this dessert to. 

Nut allergy safe!

Another requirement is that the house we were going to has a child with a serious nut allergy. I’ve become educated on how to make food “safe” for this child. You see, even though the food doesn’t have nuts in it, it still might be dangerous.

You have to look at the label of every single ingredient that you put in a dish.

The nutritional label will sometimes list allergy-specific ingredients in bold or will have a “Contains” statement that will list allergen ingredients such as gluten, wheat, tree nuts, etc.

Another very important detail is if the ingredient was processed in a facility that processes products with nuts. That makes it off-limits to people with nut allergies too.

Lastly, monitor your own working space. If I’ve recently used nuts in my own kitchen, I make sure all surfaces and utensils are CLEAN (counters, cutting boards, and gadgets)!

3/4 view of a slice of lemon cake topped with whipped topped and crumbled cookies

What is a pudding poke cake?

A pudding poke cake is a baked cake that you poke holes in so that you can infuse other flavors. In this case, lemon cake with lemon pudding. There are other poke cake recipes that call for flavored jello, juice, or sweetened condensed milk to name just a few. It’s a great technique for adding moisture and flavor to any cake.

This Kentucky Butter Cake is infused with a buttery sugar glaze that will have you licking the plate!

A few items you make need to make a Lemon Poke Cake Recipe:

Hostess At Heart participates in affiliate programs. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases. Please refer to my disclosure page for more information.

  • 9×13 Baking Dish – I’ve got this one and love it. It comes with a lid that makes taking and refrigerating my treats a lot easier.
  • Silicone Spatulas – This pretty set has a flat side and a curved side to take on your toughest job. I love that they are all one piece and can withstand 500°F! Throw out those old chipped ones and treat yourself!
  • Electric Stand Mixer – I used this mixer for doing everything in this recipe. It is my workhorse and I even have the attachments to make pasta and grind meat and nuts with too.

Ingredients for Lemon Poke Cake with Pudding

  • Lemon cake mix – You can also use a white or yellow box cake mix. A gluten-free cake mix can be used as well.
  • Instant lemon pudding – Not cook and serve. 
  • Heavy whipping cream – You can substitute with ready-made whipped topping.
  • Vanilla extract – Pure or imitation is fine. Use what you have.
  • Powdered sugar – Also known as confectioners sugar.
  • Lemon sandwich cookies – You’ll use the cookie and it’s filling.
  • Milk – Any variety will work

How do you make a Lemon Poke Cake?

  1. Bake your cake according to the box instructions and let it cool.
  2. Mix the lemon pudding and cold milk together until it starts to thicken.
  1. Poke holes into the cake with the handle of a wooden spoon and pour the lemon glaze over the top of the cake.
A mixer bowl filled with whipped cream with crushed cookies being folded in - Hostess At Heart
  1. Make the whipped cream and crush some sandwich cookies. Mix some of the crushed cookies in with the whipped topping and leave some for a garnish.
Top down biew of whipped cream being applied on top of a cake with lemon pudding glaze.
  1. Top the cake with the whipped topping mixture and let it chill for at least one hour.
Top down view of a cake covered with whipped cream and crushed cookies - Hostess At Heart
  1. Garnish with more crushed cookies and serve.

Please note, that the printable recipe card has ingredient quantities, complete instructions, and nutritional information. The following is a quick overview of the recipe.

Tips and variations to simplify this Lemon Poke Cake recipe:

  • You can poke the holes into a warm cake but it’s best if you let it cool so it’s not too soft. Poke holes approximately 1 inch apart and don’t you a large wooden spoon. That will ensure that the entire cake is infused with pudding. Any closer could make the cake soggy.
  • Don’t make the pudding according to the package directions. We use more milk than what’s called for in order to make the lemon glaze.
  • Use ready-made whipped topping instead of homemade. Personally, I love whipping my own, but no one will complain that you didn’t.
  • Use canned lemon pie filling or lemon curd instead of the instant pie filling. Note, however, the consistency will not be the same and I don’t believe it will saturate the cake as well. Again, no one will complain!
  • Top the cake with lemon frosting instead of whipped topping.
  • You can use vanilla pudding for your pudding layer.
  • Get the kiddos involved. Let them sprinkle the cookies on top and give them the half cookies to garnish the tops of the pieces of cake before serving.
  • Serve your lemon cake with pudding with a scoop of vanilla ice cream

How to store Pudding Poke Cakes

Since this recipe for lemon poke cake has dairy as an ingredient, it’s best to store this cake covered in the refrigerator. Chilling this cake also keeps this cake from becoming soggy.

This cake also freezes well in an airtight container. While it can be frozen with the topping, I prefer making and serving the topping when I need it. The cookies keep their texture better as well.

Bright yellow slice of cake with whipped topping and crushed cookies on a white plate with two broken cookies sitting on the same plate.
Lemon Pudding Poke Cake

Poke Cake FAQs

Is any difference between a lemon pudding cake and Lemon Poke Cake?

Yes. One cake uses pudding but a poke cake could use other ingredients to infuse the cake such as jello or juice.

Do I have to use a wooden spoon to poke holes in the cake?

No, you don’t. Anything with a round handle will work. Chopsticks work well too.

Can I use Cook and Serve pudding instead of instant?

Yes, you can. However, instant is thinner so it soaks into the cake quicker and evenly.

Can I use cake mix with pudding in the mix?

Yes, you can. You can use any cake mix with this recipe.

How do I know when the poke holes are deep enough for the pudding mixture to flow into the cake?

I stand my wooden spoon against the baked cake and measure how tall it is. When you poke the holes, don’t go completely through the cake.

Can you make Cupcakes with this same recipe, or does it have to be made in one pan?

Yes, you can make different sized cakes & cupcakes. A bundt cake would be beautiful but I would frost it instead of covering it with whipped topping. Be mindful that you don’t put too many holes into a smaller cake or cupcake.

Front view of a baking dish topped with whipped topping and crushed cookies - Hostess At Heart

Our Rhubarb Cake has a sugary walnut topping with a crunch. It’s so easy and great for summer just like our Chocolate Mousse Cake and this Key Lime Pound Cake. I’ve got so many favorite cakes! What is your favorite?

I hope you enjoyed this delicious recipe as much as we do. Drop me a comment below, and don’t forget to give it a star rating. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐. Your comments and ratings help others decide if this recipe is for them too.

Angled view of a sliced piece of lemon cake topped with whipped cream and crushed cookies - Hostess At Heart

Lemon Pudding Poke Cake

Author: Julie Menghini
Lemon Pudding Poke Cake is a semi-homemade dessert that is sweet, creamy, and luscious. It's an easy make-ahead recipe that will delight any lemon lover.
5 from 14 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Chill Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword: Cake with Lemon Pudding, Lemon Poke Cake
Servings: 12


  • 1 box lemon Cake Mix Pudding in the mix is fine but not necessary
  • 3.4 oz instant lemon pudding 1 small box
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream *
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract Can also use lemon extract
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 17 lemon filled sandwich cookies 15 for the cake and 5 for the topping


  • Bake the cake in a 9×13 baking dish according to the package directions. Cool the cake on a baking rack.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, combine instant pudding with the 2 cups of milk. Beat for 2 minutes. The pudding will start to thicken slightly but will still be pourable.
  • Using the end of a wooden spoon or another round-ended gadget. Poke holes into the cooled cake approximately 1-inch apart. Pour the lemon pudding mixture over the top of the cake.
  • Crush the lemon cream filled cookies in a gallon-sized zip lock bag. Pound the cookies with a rolling pin until crushed.
  • Whip the heavy cream, and vanilla extract together until soft peaks begin to form. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix until blended. Fold in the crushed cookies into the whipped cream. Top the cake with the cream cookie mix.
  • Refrigerate for at least one hour. Garnish with remaining cookie crumbs and serve.
  • Store covered in the refrigerator.


*You can replace the whipped cream topping with store bought whipped cream for convenience.  I really like the homemade myself.
Recipe adapted from Soulfully Made.


Calories: 440kcalCarbohydrates: 61gProtein: 5gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 446mgPotassium: 135mgFiber: 1gSugar: 31gVitamin A: 649IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 172mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

This recipe was calculated using the exact brands and measurements I used to make this recipe. If you are following a strict diet please note changing anything will cause the nutritional info to change. My calculations are intended as a guide only.

Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

If you enjoyed this recipe for lemon poke cake, here are some of my favorite recipes that I think you’ll like:

Recipe Rating


Sunday 17th of September 2023

I am going to make this for a friend for her birthday. I really suck as a baker. Probably a dumb question but, can I make this the day before? Thanks

Julie Menghini

Monday 18th of September 2023

Not a dumb question at all, Debbie. Yes you can make it the day before. It will probably even be better the next day.


Sunday 26th of March 2023

Will make it for Easter and my sisters birthday. She loves lemon. Sounds delicious.Thank you!

Julie Menghini

Sunday 26th of March 2023

Thank you, Bette! It's so pretty and easy too.


Monday 11th of April 2022

A smashing recipe, turned out so great when I tested it for Easter, definitely making again!

Julie Menghini

Wednesday 13th of April 2022

Thank you, Kathi! It's a great easy recipe for Easter.

Lynn @ Fresh April Flours

Monday 11th of April 2022

So simple and perfect lemon flavor!

Julie Menghini

Wednesday 13th of April 2022

Lemon is such a delicious flavor and one of our favorites!

Lemon Burst Poke Cake @

Monday 10th of August 2020

Should it be refrigerated before serving?

Julie Menghini

Tuesday 11th of August 2020

Yes, for 1 hour.

As Seen On