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Easy Chocolate Poke Cake

This easy chocolate poke cake recipe is made from fudgy homemade chocolate cake soaked with chocolate pudding, topped with fluffy whipped cream. It’s the ultimate chocolate dessert that’s totally irresistible!

Looking for even more poke cake inspiration? These 15 irresistible poke cake recipes have you covered.

Close up of a slice of chocolate poke cake topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

The Best Chocolate Poke Cake Ever!

Once upon a time, many of my poke cake recipes started with a boxed cake mix. At the end of the day, though, nothing beats homemade – especially when it comes to a fudgy and classic chocolate cake. My favorite chocolate cake recipe is now the base for so many of my poke cake recipes. From my scandalously delicious Better Than Sex Cake to this ultimate chocolate poke cake, it really puts in the mileage. This recipe takes my moist chocolate cake, soaks it in chocolate pudding, and tops it with the fluffiest (and easiest!) homemade whipped cream. It’s rich, it’s indulgent, and you’re destined to be obsessed.

Why You’ll Love This Chocolate Poke Cake Recipe

  • Big chocolate flavor. Thanks to some key ingredients, this simple chocolate poke cake is anything but simple in terms of rich, fudgy, chocolatey flavor. A filling of creamy chocolate pudding takes the decadence to a whole new level.
  • Easy to make. The cake batter comes together lickety-split, and after a quick bake, it’s time for your “poke” cake to live up to its name! Poke holes all over and pour on that chocolate pudding, then top everything with a thick layer of whipped cream.
  • Versatile. There are so many ways to customize a poke cake! Change the flavor of the pudding or the topping, and decorate this chocolate poke cake any way that you’d like. See further in the post for ideas.
A slice of chocolate poke cake drizzled wth chocolate sauce on a white plate, with a second slice in the background.

What is a Poke Cake?

A poke cake is a style of sheet cake that originated in the 1970s as a Jello poke cake. After a cake is baked, and while it’s still warm, you use the end of a wooden spoon to poke holes all over the top of the cake. The holes are then filled with something liquid and delicious, such as Jello, pudding, custard, or condensed milk.

A gold fork stuck into a slice of chocolate poke cake garnished with whipped cream on a plate.

Key Ingredients

Below is a short overview with some notes on the key ingredients in this chocolate poke cake. Be sure to scroll to the recipe card for the full amounts and recipe details.

  • Sugar
  • Oil – I use vegetable oil in place of butter for the softest, lightest cake crumb.
  • Eggs and Vanilla
  • Sour Cream – Sour cream adds bucketloads of richness and moisture to chocolate cake. If you don’t have sour cream, use Greek yogurt instead.
  • Flour
  • Cocoa Powder – I make this recipe with unsweetened natural cocoa powder, like Hershey’s Special Dark or similar. Alternatively, you can use Dutch-processed cocoa powder for a darker color and fudgier flavor.
  • Espresso Powder – You won’t actually taste the coffee, but adding a tablespoon of instant espresso powder helps enhance the flavors in a chocolate cake. Feel free to omit it if you’re avoiding caffeine.
  • Baking Powder, Baking Soda, and Salt
  • Brewed Coffee – Like espresso powder, hot brewed coffee intensifies the chocolate flavor (without making the cake taste like coffee). If you’d rather not use coffee, try warm water or milk instead.
  • Chocolate Pudding – You’ll need one package of instant chocolate pudding to make the filling for your poke cake.
  • Whipped Cream – I include my easy recipe for homemade whipped cream, made with heavy cream and powdered sugar.
  • Chocolate Sauce and Chocolate Shavings – As an optional garnish.

How to Make Chocolate Poke Cake

Let’s get started on this decadent chocolate poke cake:

  • Make the cake batter. First, cream the oil together with sugar, eggs, and vanilla, then add sour cream. Next, sift the dry ingredients into a separate bowl. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet batter, alternating with brewed coffee until combined.
  • Bake. Now, you’ll transfer the chocolate cake batter to a 9×13-inch pan, and bake at 350ºF for 26-28 minutes. After the cake has cooled, use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke holes all over the surface of the cake.
  • Fill the cake. Whisk together the instant pudding mix with milk, and pour the filling over the cake, filling all of the holes. Then, pop the cake into the fridge to chill for 10 minutes. At the same time, chill the bowl and mixer attachment you’ll use to make the whipped cream in the freezer.
  • Make the whipped cream. In the chilled bowl, beat heavy cream with powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Afterward, spread the whipped cream all over the cake.
  • Serve. Serve your chocolate poke cake slices with a drizzle of hot fudge sauce and a sprinkle of chocolate shavings.
Close up of a gold fork holding up a big bite of chocolate poke cake.

Tips for Success

You’re going to want to make a fresh chocolate poke cake every week! With this in mind, here are some final tips for the best results:

  • If you’re avoiding caffeine, feel free to omit the espresso powder and replace the brewed coffee with warm water or milk. Note that the flavor of the cake won’t be quite the same.
  • Use a boxed cake mix instead. If you’re pressed for time, you can absolutely swap out the from-scratch chocolate cake in this recipe for your favorite store-bought chocolate cake mix. Zero judgment.
  • Check the cake for doneness. The easiest way to tell when your chocolate cake is done baking is to stick a toothpick into the middle of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, or with the odd crumb attached, the cake is ready to come out.
  • Don’t poke the holes straight through the cake. Poke only about 3/4 of the way down into the cake. The pudding will continue to seep into the chocolate cake as it sets. Poking straight through can cause the pudding to pool at the bottom.
  • Chill the bowl before making the whipped cream. Make sure that the mixing bowl and stand mixer attachment you’ll use to whip the cream are cold from the freezer. This yields the creamiest, fluffiest whipped cream.

Variation Ideas

Can you ever have too many poke cake recipes? I’m gonna go with no. There are endless flavor combinations. Try one or more of these easy variations:

  • Different Topping – Trade out regular whipped cream for another homemade variation, like hot chocolate whipped cream or strawberry whipped cream.
  • Different Filling – In place of chocolate pudding, try caramel sauce or sweetened condensed milk.
  • Fresh Fruit – Garnish your chocolate poke cake with fresh strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries.
  • Chocolate Drizzle – Drizzle with chocolate ganache, caramel sauce, or strawberry sauce.
  • More Garnishes – Sprinkle over crushed cookies (like Oreos or Chips Ahoy!), chocolate chips, toffee bits, or your favorite sprinkles.
A slice of homemade chocolate poke cake on a plate, drizzled with chocolate sauce next to a gold fork.

How to Store a Chocolate Poke Cake

  • Fridge. Refrigerate this chocolate poke cake until you’re ready to serve it (poke cakes are perfect for making ahead!). Store the cake covered tightly in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Freezer. Store the poke cake airtight and freeze it for up to 2-3 months. Defrost the frozen cake in the fridge before serving.

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Close up of a slice of chocolate poke cake topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

Easy Chocolate Poke Cake

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 1 review
  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 26 minutes
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Yield: 15 slices
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This easy chocolate poke cake recipe is made from fudgy chocolate cake soaked with chocolate pudding, topped with fluffy homemade whipped cream.


Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 ½ cups (285g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (118 ml) vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (118 ml) light sour cream
  • 2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (55 g) cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon (5g) espresso powder  (optional)
  • 2 ½ teaspoons (9 g) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (2 g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • 1 ¼ cup (296 ml) brewed coffee

For the filling:

  • 1 package instant chocolate pudding (3.4oz)
  • 1 ¾ cup (295ml) milk

For the topping:

  • 1 ½ cup (354ml) heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons (148g) powdered sugar
  • Hot Fudge Sauce (optional)
  • Chocolate Shavings (optional)

Instructions

  1. For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed until the eggs and oil are well incorporated and the batter is lighter in color.
  3. Next mix in the sour cream and beat until well combined.
  4. In a sperate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Then add half the dry ingredients followed by half of the coffee and mix just until the flour starts to incorporate.
  5. Finally add the remaining dry ingredients, mixing on low speed while pouring in the remaining coffee and beating until all of the ingredients are well combined.
  6. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir the batter from the bottom to the top to ensure it’s well mixed.
  7. Pour the batter into a 9×13-inch pan and bake at 350°F for 26-28 minutes. Test the cake for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, you cake is done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  8. Take a wooden spoon or another round object and poke holes over the top of the cake.
  9. For the filling: In a small mixing bowl, combine the instant chocolate pudding with the milk and whisk together until the powdered mix is dissolved.
  10. Pour the liquid pudding mix over top of the cake, try to fill the holes with the pudding mix.
  11. Refrigerate the cake until the pudding is firm, about 10 minutes or so.
  12. Place the mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to chill
  13. Pour the heavy whipping cream into the chilled bowl and use an electric mixer to beat the heavy cream on medium-high speed until the cream thickens.
  14. Slowly add the powdered sugar and continue beating on high speed until stiff peaks start to form. Spread the whipped cream over the top of the cake. Keep refrigerated. Serve with hot fudge sauce and chocolate shaving or chocolate sprinkles.


Notes

  • Make ahead of time: This cake can be prepared 1-2 days in advance and kept refrigerated. The whipped topping is best served fresh if possible
  • Keep stored in the refrigerator
  • Substitute for sour cream: I would recommend substituting with nonfat Greek yogurt
  • Substitute for coffee: If you do not want to use coffee, then I suggest using warm water

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 340
  • Sugar: 30.9g
  • Sodium: 365.5mg
  • Fat: 14.4g
  • Saturated Fat: 10g
  • Carbohydrates: 49.6g
  • Fiber: 1.6g
  • Protein: 5.8g
  • Cholesterol: 54mg

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8 comments on “Easy Chocolate Poke Cake”

  1. Avatar photo
    Bonnie Vannieuwenhoven

    I made this according to directions and it was fabulous. But I needed to change some things with the next one I made. My husband loves Almond Joy candy bars, so I used a dark chocolate pudding and I toasted coconut and almond slivers. I then sprinkled those over the whipped cream and my husband said it was amazing. Now he always asks for my Almond Joy pudding cake?






  2. Hi – looks so good! My kids want to make it this weekend. Could you leave out the coffee? Would you add in any other liquid?

  3. Avatar photo
    Jessica Pavlik

    I made this for a small party with friends. The cake was loved by everyone. Many ended up having more than one piece! The only difference for me was that I added 2 more tablespoons of confectioner sugar to the whipped cream and a few drops of vanilla. Amazing cake! Thank you.

  4. Avatar photo
    Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch)

    First of all, this cake is stunning in appearance. So rich and dark looking. And with coffee flavors, I must give this one a try. Pinning.