Strawberry Poke Cake

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This Strawberry Poke Cake is made with a moist vanilla cake covered with sweetened condensed milk and a fresh strawberry sauce! It is then topped with cream cheese whipped cream for a delicious strawberry treat that is homemade from scratch!

Strawberry Poke CakeStrawberry Poke Cake recipe

I’m so excited to finally share this Strawberry Poke Cake with you today! After many versions of this cake, I finally have a winner! I wanted to make it completely from scratch with no cake mix and it took a while to get it just right. I considered using a couple different versions of my vanilla cake and experimented with both of them.

First I played around with my original moist and fluffy vanilla cake. It’s such a wonderful vanilla cake, but it has a large amount of butter and sugar and gives you a little more of a dense cake. When combined with the sweetened condensed milk and fresh strawberry mixture, it was just a little too much.

Next, I played around my newest moist vanilla cake. I love this cake. Such a classic! Light, moist and full of flavor! But when made into a 9 x 13, it was a little more dense than I wanted so I had to make some adjustments. One of the biggest differences you’ll notice is that I decided to use cake flour. I don’t use cake flour that often, so when I do it’s because it really makes a difference. In this particular cake it really lightens the cake up and gives it a very tender crumb.

So how do you make a Strawberry Poke Cake?

Well for starters, you’ll make the cake. This cake uses the traditional creaming method. It also uses a combination of butter and vegetable oil to add both flavor to the cake and moisture that lasts.

Once the cake is baked, you’ll poke it with holes all over. You can poke the holes right away or wait until the cake has cooled. I often like to wait until the cake is cool because I feel like you don’t get as many crumbs coming out of the cake when you poke it, but otherwise there’s really no difference. I use a knife sharpening rod to poke my cake but feel free to use something similar, like the end of a wooden spoon or a large straw. You just want to be sure to have holes large enough that the sauce will be able to fill them.

Best Strawberry Poke CakeBest Strawberry Cake recipe

The first thing that is poured over the cake is sweetened condensed milk. I debated whether not to use it on this cake but ended up deciding it was a definite YES. It adds great flavor and moisture to a poke cake and this cake is no exception.

Following the sweetened condensed milk, the cake is covered in a homemade strawberry sauce. It’s made with a combination of fresh strawberries that are puréed in a food processor, sugar and a little vanilla extract. It’s cooked over the stove for a bit to thicken the sauce a little and bring out the flavor of the strawberries. Most of the sauce will soak into the holes, but some will be left sitting on top of the cake.

I’m often asked if using frozen fruit is ok, and in this cake I’ll go ahead and tell you that it is. Frozen strawberries would work just fine, as long as you have the same amount of strawberry puree to work with.

After adding the milk and strawberry sauce to cake, you’ll refrigerate it until everything is nice and cool, then add the topping.

The topping is a fresh whipped cream made with cream cheese. It’s super easy to make and wonderfully light! It complements the Strawberry Poke Cake perfectly! The cream cheese adds a bit of flavor to the whipped cream so that you have a nice strawberries and cream cake – such a classic flavor for summer!

slice of Strawberry Poke Cake

As with most poke cakes, this one is refrigerated. I will say though that I prefer to serve it a little closer to room temperature. I’m not a huge fan of refrigerating cakes in general – I think it dries them out and takes away from the flavors – but sometimes it’s necessary. With this cake, I would recommend serving a little cool, but not cold.

The final cake really is a party in a pan! The moist vanilla cake, sweetened condensed milk, fresh strawberry sauce and cream cheese whipped cream topping all go perfectly together! It’s a light, wonderful dessert that’d be great to serve at a potluck or just have at home on a fun night in!

Read transcript

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slice of Strawberry Poke Cake

Strawberry Poke Cake

  • Author: Life Love and Sugar
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 32 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 47 minutes
  • Yield: 12-15 Slices 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


This Strawberry Poke Cake is made with a moist vanilla cake covered with sweetened condensed milk and a fresh strawberry sauce! It is then topped with cream cheese whipped cream for a delicious strawberry treat that is homemade from scratch!




  • 2 3/4 cups (358g) cake flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (168g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (310g) sugar
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups (300ml) milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk


  • 1 1/2 lbs strawberries, pureed*
  • 1/2 cup (104g) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • 1 3/4 cups (420ml) heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 3/4 cup (86g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • Strawberries, for topping, optional


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C) and grease a 9×13 cake pan.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
3. Add the butter, sugar and oil to a large mixer bowl and beat together until light in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
4. Add the eggs and mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
5. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until mostly combined.
6. Add the milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
7. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.
8. Add the batter to the prepared cake pan and spread evenly.
9. Bake for 28-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out with just a few crumbs.
10. Poke holes all over the cake. I use a knife sharpening rod, but you could also use something like the end of a wooden spoon or a large straw. The holes can be poked when the cake is warm or after it has cooled.
11. Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the can and spread it evenly so that it can soak into the holes.
12. Add the pureed strawberries, sugar and vanilla extract to a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, until it begins to boil. Boil for 1 minute
13. Remove the strawberry sauce from the heat and pour it over the cake, spreading it evenly and letting the juices soak down into the holes. There will still be a thin layer of the sauce on top of the cake.
14. Cover the cake and refrigerate cake until completely cooled.
15. To make the whipped cream, add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl. Whip on high speed until soft peaks form.
16. Add the cream cheese and whip on high speed until stiff peaks form and whipped cream is smooth.
17. Set aside about 1 cup of the whipped cream and then spread the rest evenly onto the cake.
18. To finish off the cake, top it with swirls of the remaining whipped cream and some additional strawberries. I sliced some strawberries very thinly and added a layer of those on top of the cake, then added the piped whipped cream.
19. Store the cake in the fridge until ready to serve. Allow the cake to sit out for about 45 minutes before serving. Serve the cake cool, but not cold (it just tastes best that way). The cake is best when stored well covered and eaten within 3-4 days.

* about 3 1/2 – 4 cups of chopped strawberries

Keywords: strawberry cake recipe, vanilla cake recipe, homemade cake recipe, strawberry sauce



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images of Strawberry poke cake slice and whole cake

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Recipe rating

  1. Aracelis Reyes

    Just wondering if anyone who has made this cake thought the sweetened condensed milk made cake too sweet.  Some of my family members and i don’t like cakes when they are too sweet and i thought that the strawberry purée made with sugar combined with the milk would be overly sweet.  Any comments appreciated cause I would really love to try thia

  2. Sandy

    How do you get the “pokes” to come out so visible? I poke all the way to the bottom of the pan, but they never look like that. It seems the liquid doesn’t soak all the way into the poke hole.

    1. Lindsay

      Hmm, it could be from the size of what you use to poke the holes. I use a knife sharpener, so maybe that’s wider?

    1. Lindsay

      Gosh, I don’t really measure, but maybe 1/2 to 1 inch apart. I like to have plenty of holes for the filling to seep into without ruining the structure of the cake. I push all the way down to the bottom.

  3. Shannon

    I do have one question…I have this in the fridge right now! But I typically whip my whipping cream cold. But when I added my room temp cream cheese it immediately went into little chunks!! It was impossible to beat until it was smooth! Not very appealing!  What is your suggestion! Beat the whipping cream when it is room temp?

    1. Lindsay

      Hmm, I’m sorry you had trouble with chunks. Mine usually smooths out fine (I use a stand mixer – don’t know if that makes a difference). You could try beating the cream cheese separately, so that it’s smooth before adding it to the whipped cream. You definitely want to use cold heavy whipping cream for whipped cream.

    2. Paula

      I mixed up the order and started whipping up the cream cheese and sugar first. I added the cream in slowly after and it formed nice peaks! A stand mixer makes a huge difference! I also let it go for several minutes. 🙂

    1. Lindsay

      Hmm, probably practice cutting a LOT of cakes. 🙂 I also wipe the blade of the knife with a paper towel between cuts.

  4. Jenny

    This looks wonderful! I made it and will be bringing it to a potluck today. Haven’t yet had the chance to taste it, but looking forward to it 🙂

    I had a little bit of trouble baking the cake. Not sure if I went wrong somewhere? After 32 minutes of baking, the outside was dark golden brown and edges were done, but this inside was still gooey! I had to bake it for another 10+ minutes or so. Also, wondering if you have any tips on the frosting. I had the cream cheese at room temp, but it I couldn’t quite get all the lumps our and it never formed stiff peaks. Any tips are appreciated. LOVE your blog!!!

    1. Lindsay

      I hope you enjoyed it!

      For baking time, it could simply be a difference in our ovens. Hard to say for sure. Hopefully it baked up alright. For the whipped cream, were you using a hand mixer or stand? I find that the stand mixer tends to do a better job getting out the lumps and producing a stiffer whipped cream. But in the future, you could definitely beat the cream cheese until it’s smooth separately and then add it.

  5. Angela

    I am going to make this for my husbands birthday. I am so smitten with your berry marscarpone cake that I am going to replace the cream cheese in this recipe with marscarpone. This looks so delicious I am so excited to make it. I received so many compliments from the berry marscarpone cake, some people even declared it was the best cake they have ever had. Thank you for so many wonderful recipes.

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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