Tiramisu Poke Cake

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With all of the classic tiramisu flavors and none of the work, this Tiramisu Poke Cake is made with Kahlua, espresso, and the traditional mascarpone topping. Plus it’s incredibly moist and easy to make!

Looking for a more classic tiramisu dessert? Try my homemade Easy Tiramisu Recipe!

The Best Tiramisu Cake Recipe

Every so often, I make a dessert that leaves me feeling pretty impressed with myself, one that’s so good I want to eat it all myself. This Tiramisu Poke Cake is one of those recipes.

I absolutely love tiramisu and make my classic tiramisu recipe whenever I can. Unfortunately, that’s not very often as it’s a bit of a hassle to make. The store where I get my ladyfingers is 45 minutes away and the dipping and layering of the tiramisu take some time. It’s totally worth it but what about those days when I’m craving that tiramisu flavor and just don’t have the time to make the classic dessert?

Enter this easy tiramisu cake.

By easy, I mean we’re starting with a box cake mix. Use your favorite vanilla cake if you really want to but my goal was to keep this as easy as possible. From there, we add some espresso to the cake, and then, once baked, the real magic happens. A heavenly combination of Kahlua, espresso, and sweetened condensed milk is poured over the holes poked in the top of the cake. All this sweet goodness soaks into the cake, making it extra moist and flavorful.

Then it’s all topped with the exact same filling you’d use in tiramisu. The combination of the soaked cake and the tiramisu topping is sheer heaven. It tastes just like classic tiramisu, but without as much fuss. Talk about the perfect dessert!

Tiramisu Poke Cake on white plate

What You’ll Need

Since we’re starting with a cake mix, the ingredient list to make this poke cake recipe is fairly short. The tiramisu topping requires just 4 ingredients!

For the Cake

  • White cake mix – I used Betty Crocker but any brand will do.
  • Water
  • Espresso powder – Gives this dessert the classic coffee flavor.
  • Vegetable oil
  • Eggs
  • Kahlua – Kahlua also helps create the traditional tiramisu flavor and helps to keep the cake extra moist.
  • Sweetened condensed milk – Combined with the Kahlua and drizzled over the top of the cake.

For the Topping

  • Egg – Only the yolks are needed for this mascarpone topping.
  • Sugar
  • Mascarpone cheese – A traditional tiramisu ingredient.
  • Heavy whipping cream
Tiramisu Poke Cake in pan with servings missing

Can I Make This Without Alcohol?

While I highly recommend making this tiramisu cake with Kahlua, you can also make it without. If you do decide to skip the Kahlua, you’ll want to replace it with some sweetened espresso. The sweetness will be necessary so that the cake isn’t bitter.

Tiramisu Poke Cake on white plate

How to Make Tiramisu Poke Cake

Since we’re starting with a box cake mix, this tiramisu cake is crazy simple to make.

  • Make the espresso. Measure out the water then transfer 4 tablespoons to a small bowl. Microwave the small bowl until warm, then add the espresso powder. Stir until dissolved.
  • Make the cake. Combine all ingredients, including the espresso, according to the cake box instructions. Bake according to the instructions.
  • Poke the holes and add the Kahlua. Poke holes in the top of the cake immediately after removing it from the oven. Heat the Kahlua in a small bowl. Add the remaining espresso powder and stir to dissolve. Combine this mixture with the remaining Kahlua and sweetened condensed milk. Pour evenly over the cake.
  • Refrigerate. Refrigerate the cake until cool.
  • Make the topping. Combine the egg yolks and sugar in a double boiler over boiling water. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Whip the yolks with a mixer until they thicken. Add the mascarpone and mix until smooth. Place a metal mixing bowl in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. Add whipping cream to the bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. Fold in the cream to the mascarpone mixture.
  • Add the topping. Spread the mascarpone topping evenly over the cooled cake. Top with a sprinkle of cocoa.
  • Refrigerate. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.
Tiramisu Poke Cake on white plate with bite on fork

Tips for the Best Poke Cake

Whether this is your first time making a poke cake or just your first time making this tiramisu poke cake, you may find the following tips helpful.

  • Poke the holes while the cake is hot. For the liquid to be absorbed into the cake, it should be poured over the cake while still hot from the oven. Poke the holes immediately after removing it from the oven.
  • What to use to poke holes in a poke cake? I used the end of a knife sharper. You can also use a wide straw, the end of a wooden spoon handle, or anything else you find that’s small and circular.
  • Poke holes evenly across the cake. Make sure your holes aren’t too close together (cake will be too moist) or too far apart (some parts could be dry).
  • Chill the cake before adding the topping. Once you add the Kahlua, pop the cake in the fridge for a bit before adding the mascarpone topping. Otherwise, the topping can melt as you spread it on the cake.
  • Serve chilled. Like tiramisu itself, this poke cake should be served chilled. After you add the topping, pop it back into the fridge until serving. This also gives time for the condensed milk-Kahlua-espresso mixture to soak into the cake.
Tiramisu Poke Cake on white plate
Tiramisu Poke Cake on white plate

How to Store Tiramisu Cake

One great thing about poke cakes is that they’ll last for several days and they tend to get better after the first day, when the filling has had more time to soak into the cake. For that reason, this tiramisu dessert is perfect for making in advance!

Cover the pan tightly with foil and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

More Tiramisu Recipes:

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Tiramisu Poke Cake on white plate

Tiramisu Poke Cake

  • Author: Life, Love and Sugar
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 15-18 Servings
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


With all of the classic tiramisu flavors and none of the work, this Tiramisu Poke Cake is made with Kahlua, espresso, and the traditional mascarpone topping. Plus it’s incredibly moist and easy to make!



  • 15.25 oz (or similar) box white cake mix*
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tbsp expresso powder, divided
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup kahlua, divided
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk


  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (8 oz) mascarpone cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9×13 inch cake pan.
  2. Measure out water into a measuring cup, then remove 4 tbsp and put it in a small bowl.
  3. Microwave the water in the small bowl until warm, then add 2 tbsp espresso powder. Stir until dissolved.
  4. Combine ingredients, including espresso, according to box instructions and bake in 9×13 pan.
  5. Once cake comes out of the oven, poke holes in the top of the cake. I used a knife sharpener.
  6. Place 3 tbsp of kahlua into a small bowl and heat until warm. Add remaining 2 tbsp espresso powder and stir until dissolved.
  7. Combine kahlua espresso mixture, remaining kahlua and sweetened condensed milk in a medium sized bowl, then pour evenly over the warm cake.
  8. Refrigerate cake until cool.
  9. While cake cools, make the topping. Combine egg yolks and sugar in the top of a double boiler, over boiling water. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can use a metal mixing bowl set over a pot.
  10. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, with heat on low, stirring constantly.
  11. When done, whip yolks with mixer until they thicken and yellow a bit.
  12. Add mascarpone to whipped yolks and mix until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
  13. If you have a second metal mixing bowl, use it for your whipped cream. If not, put mascarpone mixture into another bowl and get your metal mixer bowl clean.
  14. Place metal bowl and whisk into freezer for about 15-20 minutes.
  15. Remove bowl and whisk from freezer, add whipping cream to bowl and whip with mixer until stiff peaks form, about 5-7 minutes.
  16. Fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture.
  17. Spread mixture evenly over the cooled cake and sprinkle cocoa over topping
  18. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


NOTE: The water, vegetable oil and eggs for the cake are the ingredients required for the box of cake mix I used (betty crocker). Adjust ingredients for the box mix you have and use the liquid called for in the steps 2 and 3.


  • Serving Size: 1 Slice
  • Calories: 426
  • Sugar: 26.6 g
  • Sodium: 111.3 mg
  • Fat: 23.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 47.3 g
  • Protein: 5.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 132.9 mg



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