Cannoli Poke Cake

This Cannoli Poke Cake is a lovely vanilla cake soaked with sweetened condensed milk and covered in sweet cannoli filling. It’s a moist, indulgent dessert that will rock your socks off!

Cannoli Poke Cake - vanilla cake topped with cannoli filling icing!

Cannoli Poke Cake - vanilla cake topped with cannoli filling icing!

Cannoli Poke Cake

Can you believe I’ve never made a poke cake before? I’ve been wanting to for forever, but never quite got around to it. Until now. And boy have I been missing out! This Cannoli Poke Cake is super easy to make and SO tasty!

If you don’t know much about poke cakes, they are basically a cake that’s baked, covered in sweetened condensed milk which soaks up into the cake, making it incredibly moist, and then usually topped with some kind of whipped topping. There are a ton of variations out there. The sky is the limit!

Cannoli Poke Cake - vanilla cake topped with cannoli filling icing!

A friend requested something “cannoli flavored” for her husband’s birthday a while ago and since I’ve been wanting to make a poke cake for so long, it just popped into my head and I knew I had to do it!

There are so many ways to make cannoli’s – particularly the filling – and when done right, they are absolutely delicious!

The filling really is the best part – and that’s exactly what this cake is covered in. Get pumped!

Cannoli Poke Cake - vanilla cake topped with cannoli filling icing!

The cannoli filling “icing” on this cake is one of those things that you just cannot get your finger out of. I was lucky any of it made it onto the cake.

And my small group felt exactly the same way! They were basically licking the sides of the pan where the topping was left behind – using their finger of course. So stinkin’ good.

Cannoli Poke Cake - vanilla cake topped with cannoli filling icing!

One thing I did a little differently with this poke cake is that I didn’t use an entire can of sweetened condensed milk when pouring it over the cake. I didn’t want to the cake to be too soggy, but I wanted it to have the moist-ness and delicious-ness that the sweetened condensed milk gives.

But since it didn’t all go into the cake, and I hate wasting things, I put it into the cannoli filling.

Best. Decision. Ever.

It sweetened the topping up just enough and made it even harder to resist. Pure deliciousness.

Cannoli Poke Cake - vanilla cake topped with cannoli filling icing!

Have you seen my Baklava Poke Cake? Or my Cannoli Icebox Cake? So yummy!

Update 6/10/14: One thing to note about the topping on this cake is that it is not like a traditional icing. It is meant to be more like cannoli filling. The texture is kind of like whipped cream at the soft peak stage. If you’d prefer it to be thicker, you can do one or both of these two things – leave the sweetened condensed milk out of the topping (as it thins it out a bit) and/or add up to about 3 cups of powdered sugar (which would thicken it). I chose to leave it thinner so that I didn’t dilute the cannoli flavor from the cheeses – I love that flavor! And though it’s thinner, it’s still plenty thick to be on top of the cake. I’ve made this cake a couple of times and it has sat out at parties and the icing stays in place. So it isn’t so thin that it runs or anything, it’s just not a traditional icing. I hope that helps, as I know many have been surprised the fact that it isn’t thicker.

You might also like

Cannoli Layer Cake
Cannoli Cheesecake
Cannoli Tart
Cannoli Icebox Cake
Baklava Poke Cake
Cannoli Stuffed French Toast

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A slice of Cannoli Poke Cake on a white plate

Cannoli Poke Cake

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: Box Directions
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 15-18 Servings 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


This Cannoli Poke Cake is a lovely vanilla cake soaked with sweetened condensed milk and covered in sweet cannoli filling. It’s a moist, indulgent dessert that will rock your socks off!



  • 1 box white cake mix, plus ingredients on box
  • 1 14 oz cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, optional
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • powdered sugar, for dusting


1. Bake cake according to directions on box for a 9×13 pan.
2. Remove cake from the oven and poke holes all over the top of the cake. (I used a straw)
3. Reserve half a cup of sweetened condensed milk and pour the rest of the sweetened condensed milk over the cake.
4. Put cake in refrigerator for about an hour to absorb milk.
5. Combine ricotta cheese, mascarpone cheese and vanilla extract in a mixer bowl. Mix until smooth.
6. Add powdered sugar and cinnamon, if using and mix until combined.
7. Add reserved sweetened condensed milk and mix until combined.
8. Once cake has absorbed milk, spread cannoli topping evenly over cake.
9. Top with mini chocolate chips and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.
10. Cover cake and allow to set in refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Cake should keep for 4-5 days.


Do consider straining the ricotta before using, especially if it’s a particularly watery brand. Also, when mixing together the ricotta and mascarpone cheese, DO NOT over mix it. If mascarpone cheese is over mixed, it becomes very thin.

Keywords: cannoli cake, cannoli cake recipe, poke cake, poke cake recipe, cannoli recipe, cannoli cream recipe, italian christmas cake, italian dessert recipe, moist vanilla cake recipe, moist cake recipe


Cannoli topping modified from The Vintage Mixer.

Cannoli Poke Cake - vanilla cake topped with cannoli filling icing!

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Recipe rating

  1. Laura P

    Making this tonight. My kids and husband love cannoli’s so I think they will enjoy this. 
    Do you let the cake cool before poking holes through it? 

  2. Maria

    I made this today for my husband and my dad for Father’s Day. It was an absolute hit!  Super yummy ???? Thank you so much for a great recipe!! 

  3. Laura

    I baked my own birthday cake using this recipe…. oh my yumminess.  I could just take a spoon and eat the icing from the bowl…. thanks for a delicious recipe that i will be making again.

  4. Natalie

    What a great recipe! I used Galbani brand Marscapone and Ricotta (Whole Milk) and had no problems with it being runny. I will say that I only gave my topping ingredients one good mix. I gradually folded it in which may have helped with consistency.

    Like all good Italian recipes, slow and steady wins the race. I mixed my topping and allowed it to set for 2 hours in the fridge before topping my cake. I also let my completed cake sit overnight in the fridge before diving into it.

    Now, I did make two minor adjustments that added big flavor. I adore maraschino cherries in my cannoli filling so I added about 8 to 10 of those. I chopped them up very finely and mixed it into my topping. If you do use maraschino cherries, make sure to let the juices drip out of a paper towel BEFORE adding to the topping so there is not any additional moisture. Delicious!

    My second adjustment was adding a teaspoon of almond extract into my cake batter. It really elevates it to another level!

    Thanks for an amazing recipe that reminds me of my childhood! =)

  5. Holly

    This recipe looks AMAZING! Just a few questions:

    Do I have to wait for the cake to cool before poking holes in it?
    When I combine the ricotta cheese and mascarpone cheese, do the cheeses have to be chilled or at room temperature? I’m afraid to over mix the cheeses, how long do you think I should mix it for? Would it be with an electric mixer on low? Also does making it the night before affect the taste or texture of the cake? Thanks so much!!

    1. Lindsay

      You can do it while warm or cool, it’ll be fine. Both the cheeses can get fairly soft at room temperature. I think it’s a little more stable when they’re chilled. Just mix them on low until they’re combined. Making it the night before will be fine and give it a chance to set.

  6. Maryann

    How do you measure the ricotta and marscapone? Do you use dry measuring cups or do the packaged containers equal 1 1/2 cups? If so, what size packages do I need to use?

  7. Sheri

    I made this cake but the cannoli filling was too runny. I saw another recipe which was similar and it said to use 2-3 cups confectioner sugar…perhaps the filling wouldn’t have been so runny. I didn’t care for this cake. Sorry.

  8. Betsy

    This was worse than awful. What a waste of time and ingredients. I threw half of it away because nobody in my house wanted to eat it after the first taste

  9. Chris S.

    I’ll be honest, I feel like the “frosting” and the cake part don’t really match up when I think of cannoli flavors. The cake by itself is good, and if you believe my wife, requires no additional frosting at all. The cannoli frosting isn’t bad, but doesn’t quite hit the flavor of cannoli fillings I’ve had in the past (not that I’m a cannoli expert or anything!). In addition, the cost of this cake (~$15, at least for me) did not match up to the results. Marscapone cheese is so darn expensive, and its flavor didn’t scream out when tasted the frosting. If I were ever to make it again, I’d probably make it with some sort of homemade mascarpone substitute and a different cake.

  10. Norma Grandone

    This cake looks awesome. To the person who found it lacking in flavor, they might try adding some Lemon flavoring to the cake recipe. Also, to the person who’s husband does not like chocolate, she could sprinkle some coconut over the icing instead of the chocolate chips. I make a poke cake with crushed pineapple instead of condensed milk, vanilla pudding (I use only 1 cup of milk in the pudding mix to thicken it), Kool whip over the pudding and finish the cake with coconut.. AWESOME!!!.

  11. Elizabeth

    I’ve been eyeballing this cake for weeks now – it looks so yummy (and so right up my taste buds’ alley LOL). After pondering (and fantasizing) about this cake, I was SO excited that I was selected to bring our Memorial Day Cook-out dessert. Without hesitation I went to pick the ingredients up – and was hoping you could help me quickly with a question! I am going to make it the day before, however, reading that the icing isn’t super thick I wanted to ask if you recommended me doing the cake the day prior, then the icing the day of (of course waiting right before serving to dust with the powdered sugar)? I’m so excited to make this, I’m sure it’s going to be a hit!!!!

  12. Georgina

    Hi there, would you please tell me if the cake needs to be cooled before you put holes and pour the condensed milk?

  13. ~ Anna

    My mother is planning on making this Cannoli Poke Cake and she would like to know if instead of using condensed milk, if you could use regular milk instead.

    1. Lindsay

      I wouldn’t recommend it. They quite different flavors and consistencies. I’d think regular milk would just soak right through the cake without really giving it much flavor like the sweetened condensed milk does.

  14. Marissa Webb

    My family loved this!! It’s just three of us, and the entire cake was gone in less than 24 hours. However, we live on an air base in Japan so I couldn’t find marscapone cheese in our small commisary, so I subbed cream cheese and it still tasted like cannoli filling, but I would maybe add some sour cream to make it a little tangier next time, and there definitely will be a next time!!

  15. Lisa C

    Hi, this cakes looks awesome and I can’t wait to try it, I just have a quick question.  Many poke cake recipes I have seen direct you to pour the condensed milk onto the cake while it is still hot from the over, but you suggest letting it cool first.  Any specific reason for that? Thanks!


    I am so impressed that you care enough to read and answer every comment!  that takes a lot of time.  You must be an incredibly nice person.
    I’m going to try this recipe for an Italian themed Bunco but the ladies are crazy for chocolate so I think I will use a chocolate cake mix.  I say that one other had done this and said it was good.

    1. Lindsay

      Haha, thanks Karen! I try to respond, though I’m probably not always as quick as some would like. 🙂 I hope you enjoy the cake!

  17. Ashley

    For my sons second birthday I went with Italian food for the menu. I wanted the cake to go along with the “food theme” and decided I’d give this cake a go. I was super nervous because I’ve never had a cannoli before. This recipe is a KEEPER! Everyone loved it, wanted seconds and a copy of the recipe. I served it with vanilla bean ice cream and it was to die for.

  18. Counselor73

    Just made this and it was fantastic! It’s not exaclty the same flavor as a cannoli from a proper Italian bakery, but this recipe is marvelous. I would recommend making the icing by simply adding condensed milk a tablespoon at a time according to the texture of the icing you desire – if you want more thick and creamy icing, don’t add as much condensed milk and it shouldn’t be as runny, as some have written. Also, refrigerating it after you’very iced it for at least 5 hours will help the icing adhere to the cake and solidify more neatly. Great suggestion to substitute cream cheese for mascarpone if it’s not available in your market, but if you’ve never heard of mascarpone, I would ask one of the deli staff if they carry it and use it.

  19. Rebecca

    I can’t find the recipe on the page! This looks so delicious and I really want to try it! It looks like it was supposed to go at the end of the writing but there are just some link-type words, so maybe a bad link?

    1. Lindsay

      Hi Rebecca, I redesigned my site yesterday and it seems to have caused some issues with recipes displaying on mobile. If you can view it on a computer, you should be able to see it.

  20. Tina

    This cake was a HUGE hit with my big Italian family. We have cannolis at every family party and for our Sunday dinner someone dropped the ball on placing and order so I baked this. It was quite popular and crazy inexpensive to make especially in comparison to buying cannoli from a bakery. I did however cheat and sub low fat cream cheese for the mascarpone 🙂

    This cake tasted even better the two days after I baked it!

  21. Morgan

    I absolutely loved this recipe. I did strain my ricotta. The consistency of the frosting was perfect and I wanted to eat the whole cake myself!

  22. Jenn C

    This cake looks amazing! I was thinking about making it in two 8″ pans and stacking the cakes with some of the topping in the middle as well as on top… Will the cakes stand up to stacking, or does the poke and soak make them too flimsy to try stacking them? Thanks!


      I haven’t ever tried it. If you do stack it, I probably wouldn’t poke the cakes and soak them.

  23. Lauren

    Holy Cannoli!!! This was gooooood! Of course, I didn’t read the recipe ahead of time, so on the day I made it, I realized that I wasn’t going to have enough time to make the cake (with the soak and set times) so I made cupcakes. I used one of the OP’s suggestions, and added 3 Tbsp (ok, it might have been more like 4) of the sweetened condensed milk and 1 3/4 cups of confectioners sugar, since the icing was going on top of cupcakes & I didn’t want it too thin. Finished it with mini chips & powdered sugar & they were adorable! And yummy! I made 24 for a barbecue & there were none left. Even my picky DS loved them! Thanks!

  24. JudyL

    This popped up on my facebook today and I almost didn’t give it a second look. I’ve only heard of poke cakes with pudding or jello poured over them & I don’t care for them. But this looked SO DELICIOUS that I just HAD to click on it & see – and I’m glad I did. The recipe is more like a Tres Leche cake, which I LOVE, and the idea of the cannoli filling sounds perfect. And then I see all of the other cakes to tempt me following this recipe & now I’ going to be stuck looking through your recipes for several hours now 😀
    Pure sweetened condensed milk sounds a little too sweet to me, so I may try to make 2 version – yours, and then do one with the tres leche millk mix and the cannoli topping and see which we like best.


      I’m so glad you clicked over to check it out. Most of my poke cakes use something other than pudding or jello to flavor them, so you’re in the right place. 🙂 The comparison sounds like a great idea. It all depends on how sweet you like things. I definitely have a sweet tooth. 😉

  25. Stacia

    I just made this cannoli poke cake last night and it’s delicious!! My husband doesn’t like treats because they are usually too sweet for him, but he loved it! Thank you!

  26. Lumpy Icing

    I just made this cake and I beat the icing FOREVER and could not get lumps out! I beat just the cheeses first and then when I couldn’t get them smooth I added the milk to see if that would help. It still tastes pretty good but I’m worried people will think its too lumpy to enjoy. I have read and re-read all the instructions thinking I missed something and I read most of the comments and no one else had this issue so I’m wondering if I did something wrong.


      Hmm, I’m not sure. There isn’t much in the ingredients that could be lumpy. Maybe the ricotta? There’s definitely a lot of variation in the texture of ricotta. If you make it again, maybe try smoothing the ricotta first, then add in the mascarpone and other ingredients.

    2. Laura James

      It’s probably the brand of ricotta. I bought the store brand the first time, and it was grainy. Tasted delicious, but the texture was a bit off. The last time I got the ricotta in the “fancier” cheese section and it was as smooth as the ricotta in these pictures.

  27. Rachel

    This looks so good. I’ve never made a poke cake before and I was just wondering, do you poke the holes all the way down to the bottom of the cake or only part way through?
    Thanks so much!
    My cake is in the oven now. Can’t wait to try it!


      You’ll poke the holes all the way through (or at least mostly) so that everything soaks in. Enjoy it!


      That depends on why the replacement. Do you not care for chocolate? The chocolate chips are more of a garnish that add a little chocolate flavor and are usually on the ends of a cannoli. You could leave them off if you’d prefer. If you’d like to replace the chocolate with something, you could try some crushed nuts, maybe a sprinkling of cinnamon or cocoa?

About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

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“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12