Strawberry Poke Cake

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 Cake

Strawberry 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!

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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
  • 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


  • Serving Size: 1 Slice
  • Calories: 674
  • Sugar: 68.3 g
  • Sodium: 217.3 mg
  • Fat: 30.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 91.5 g
  • Protein: 11.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 128.8 mg

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

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  1. Hb

    This cake is so delicious! Definitely a keeper! The only change I made was using almond extract in the strawberry sauce instead of vanilla. It’s added a satisfying depth and nuttiness to the flavor. Next time I will try to find a way to work in some lemon- I just have to decide which component to add it to. 

  2. Merry

    Would it be okay if i made this ahead of time and let it sit in the fridge for a couple hours? Or would it get too soggy?

    1. Lindsay

      Definitely! In fact, most poke cakes really are best if they have a little while to sit before serving. I typically make them a night ahead.

  3. Tina

    This recipe came out great, I loved the cake flavor on its own and the the layer of strawberry sauce + cream cheese whipped cream just made this dessert truly something special. I made everything except for the whipped cream mixture, I bought whipped cream and creamed it together with the cream cheese & remaining topping ingredients. I also had to let my cakes bake for an additional 10 minutes or so. I was so afraid of putting too much strawberry sauce but I could’ve used more. Mines didn’t go all the way down to the bottle such as the one posted here. I also added lemon juice to cut some sweetness in the strawberry sauce. My sauce didn’t come out as red as yours did , I’m wondering if I mix strawberry jello mix with it will it come out a bit more red with more strawberry flavor. Made 2 of these cakes I’m already on my 4th slice:-)

  4. Sam

    Ur recipe is amazing! I made this dessert and my family loved it…..its a crowd pleaser. Thanks for sharing ur recipe.

  5. Suzette

    Has anyone used Cool Whip instead of heavy whipping cream? No whipping cream in the house and too tired to go get it. 

      1. Lindsay

        You can use Cool Whip instead of homemade whipped cream. I would just be sure to stir up your cream cheese and get it nice and smooth before you start combining it with the Cool Whip. You don’t want to end up with big chunks of cream cheese.

      1. Sara

        Or, should a person poke and add the condensed milk/sauce on day 1, and do the topping on day 3? I have to make my cakes on Friday before going camping and have to serve on Sunday. Which way do you recommend for this?

      2. Lindsay

        Because of the way I see comments on the backend, I cannot see the comment you are replying to so I don’t have context for your question. But it sounds like it’s about making it ahead. I would do at least everything up to adding the strawberry mixture on top of the cake. All the moisture soaks into the cake better when everything is warm. Whether or not you add the whipped cream on top beforehand will not make a big difference. I hope that helps.

  6. Cindy

    NO matter how long I whipped the whipped the whipping cream with the added cream cheese it did not form any kind of peaks it turned to soup!

    1. Lindsay

      Hmm, was the whipping cream nice and cold? Did you use the full amount of powdered sugar? It should definitely form peaks. I’ve used that whipped cream many times without an issue.

  7. Heather

    I made this cake and it came out pretty well. The cake was tender and tasty. The sweetened condensed milk gave it an interesting taste. I was worried it would be a mushy mess after I added the strawberry purée, but it came out fine. I think I should have made larger holes for the condensed milk and strawberry purée to seep in to. My whip cream/cream cheese was a little lumpy but still tasted great. Everyone enjoyed!

    Lone your recipes! Thank you.

About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29