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Strawberry Poke Cake

Here's a classic Strawberry Poke Cake recipe just like grandma used to make. With a vanilla cake, poke holes throughout the top and soak with strawberry jello. Then top the cake with a creamy, cold whipped topping and loads of fresh, sweet strawberry slices.

You'll find this cake is not only super fluffy and moist, but it also boasts the best infused strawberry flavor.

A dessert plate with a large slice of cake with jello in it with a whipped topping layer and fresh cut strawberries next to a fork and a bowl of strawberries.

We love the texture of each bite-- moist, vanilla strawberry flavored cake with creamy cold whipped topping and sweet strawberry bites. It's so delicious.

You'll find this is a wonderful summer comfort recipe, too.

And as a bonus-- this Strawberry Poke Cake is a fun cake to make and serve despite how complicated it may look.

As a matter of fact, I can remember my sister requesting that our grandma bake this cake for her birthday when I was just a kid. It was one of the coolest cakes I remember us having as a kid.

Our family loved Grandma's poke cakes! She baked all sorts of cool flavors, like lemon cake with lime jello, too.

But once I started eating gluten and dairy free I forgot about this recipe until a close friend reminded me of it awhile back. And I'm so glad she did!

We wanted to share this must-try recipe with you just in time for your summer BBQ plans.

strawberry poke cake ingredients and tips

  • gluten and dairy free vanilla or white cake mix-- plus ingredients to bake the cake. There are is a box cake suggestion below. For a homemade gluten and dairy free cake recipe, see the link below.
  • strawberry jello -- we use Simply Delish Strawberry Jel Dessert and here is their allergen statement. You can purchase one .7 oz box here . For eaters who are not worried about possible manufacturing cross-contamination, we suggest the Jell-O brand 3 oz box.
  • boiling water
  • cold water
  • dairy free whipped topping-- we use one 9 oz. container of So Delicious Cocowhip found in the freezer section of the grocery store. Here is their allergen statement.
  • fresh strawberries-- one pound washed, dried, and sliced
  • 9 x 13 inch baking pan-- we use this baking pan in our kitchen. It comes with a nice lid, too.
  • non stick spray-- we use grapeseed oil nonstick spray
  • whisk-- I prefer using a mini whisk for the jello in this recipe
  • wooden spoon-- we use these spoons daily in our kitchen. You can also use a fork or chopstick.
  • angled spatula-- this spatula is another of my favorite kitchen gadgets I don't know what I would do without
  • serving spatula-- a serving spatula makes this cake easy-peasy to cut and remove slices from the pan
A collage of 4 pictures. The first picture is of a baked cake with multiple holes in  it and jello having been poured over it. The second picture is with whipped topping being spread on it. The third picture is of a hand placing strawberries on top of the whipped topping. The last picture is of the top of the cake with strawberries on top.

is Jell-O gluten and dairy free

While Jell-O ingredients are naturally gluten and dairy free, it can easily become contaminated with gluten through the manufacturing process.

If possible cross-contamination isn't a problem for you, we suggest the 3 oz. Jell-O brand commonly found on grocery store shelves.

A safer brand if you're sensitive is the Simply Delish Jel Dessert. Their allergen statement is here, and one .7 oz box can be purchased on Amazon here. You need 1 box for this recipe, and follow the water measurements as indicated on the recipe card.

Another option is to omit the jello completely and enjoy slice after slice of cake topped with whipped topping and sliced fresh, sweet strawberries. This is a mouthwatering option too.

what safe cake mix can I use

Our favorite certified gluten free vanilla cake mix is from King Arthur available here. However they have recently announced their mixes have a risk of dairy cross-contamination; see here.

If dairy-cross contamination is a concern, we recommend baking a cake from scratch with this white cake recipe from the Mom Time Out website. We use it often with these substitutions: dairy free butter, gluten free all-purpose flour with xanthan gum, whole eggs not just the white, and refrigerated unsweetened almond milk. You will not need the frosting recipe for this Strawberry Poke Cake recipe.

what can I use to poke the holes in the cake

We use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke holes about 1 inch apart over the top of the cake. Others use a fork or even a chopstick.

Most importantly, make sure the holes aren't too close together or too far apart. If they're too close together, your cake can come out too moist. Or if they're too far apart, there may not be enough filling throughout the cake for that amazing strawberry flavor.

how long does a poke cake last

If you like to make desserts ahead of time like me, a Strawberry Poke Cake a great choice.

You can make the poke cake up to three days before you need it. After you bake the cake and it has completely cooled, top it with saran wrap and refrigerate until you're ready to poke holes in the cake.

For leftovers we suggest covering and refrigerating. The strawberry juices will start to run on the whipped topping after a few hours. So we top the cake with strawberries right before serving.

A dessert plate with a large slice of cake with jello in it with a whipped topping layer and fresh cut strawberries next to a fork on a cutting board.

more summertime desserts you'll love

  • rice krispie treats-- these gooey treats are a great idea year-round, and they're the perfect dessert option if you're not wanting to use the oven.
  • lemon poppy seed bundt cake-- full of lemon flavor this cake and lemony cream cheese frosting is absolutely mouthwatering with poppy seeds
  • cherry dessert pizza-- just like the dessert pizzas at the local pizza buffet, this dessert pizza is filled with cherry pie filling and a decadent streusel topping
  • no bake cookies-- another classic recipe combining chocolate and peanut butter everyone loves
  • ice cream sandwich cookies-- these are always a great idea to have stocked in your freezer during the hot summer months, and they're loaded with safe ice cream and tons of chocolate chips
  • chocolate peanut butter layer bars-- layer bars with a yummy brownie on the bottom, followed by a crunchy peanut butter layer, and a decadent melted marshmallow and chocolate topping


Having go-to dessert ideas for the summer is a must. Pin this recipe so you have it at your fingertips for the next BBQ, birthday party, or last minute get-together.

Strawberry Poke Cake can be baked and prepared in the morning, then ready to serve that evening with fresh strawberries and cocowhip.

You will find so many more safe recipes for every occasion and holiday on our Eating Gluten and Dairy Free Website.

Follow along on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. Be sure to like and comment often so our posts keep showing up in your social media feed.

We don't want you missing out on the best of eating gluten and dairy free.

Eat well and feel well,


A dessert plate with a large slice of cake with jello in it with a whipped topping layer and fresh cut strawberries next to a fork.

Strawberry Poke Cake

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Course: Dessert
Servings: 15 slices


  • 1 box vanilla cake mix plus ingredients to prepare cake mix, suggestions in post
  • 3 oz strawberry jello box suggestions in post
  • 1 c boiling water
  • ¼ c cold water
  • 1 9 oz container whipped topping suggestion in post
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries washed, dried, sliced into small bites


  • Prepare the cake according to directions in a 9x13 inch cake pan.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
  • Using the end of a wooden spoon, fork, or chopstick, poke holes over the entire cake. We make 7 rows with 6 holes in each row over the cake about 1 inch apart.
  • Then in a saucepan over high bring the water to a boil and add in the jello mix. Whisk for 2 minutes until the jello is completely dissolved.
  • Next whisk in the cold water.
  • Now transfer the liquid jello mixture to a large measuring cup and slowly pour over the holes in the cake.
  • Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.
  • Thaw the cocowhip and just before serving, frost the cake and decorate with strawberry bites.
  • Cut, serve, and enjoy.
  • Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.
  • To prepare this cake ahead of time-- the cake can be baked up to 3 days ahead of time if covered and refrigerated. We recommend frosting the cake with whipped topping and strawberries just prior to serving. The strawberry juice will start to break down on the cake after it sets for awhile.
  • If using Simply Delish Strawberry Jel Dessert-- prepare one box of the jello mix with the same water amounts as above (1 cup boiling water, ¼ cup cold water),

Nutritional Disclaimer

These Nutritional Facts are ESTIMATED. Your actual nutritional info with this recipe may vary depending on the brands you choose. “Eating Gluten and Dairy Free” is not a registered dietician or nutritionist. The provided nutritional info above is based on a generic calculator, if you want more accurate info, use your nutritional calculator of choice where you can choose brands and get more info that way.

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