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Lemon Raspberry Poke Cake

This lemon raspberry poke cake is a sweet summertime treat filled with lemon raspberry flavor! It’s an easy lemon cake recipe soaked in sweetened condensed milk and fresh raspberry sauce, topped with fluffy whipped cream.  

a slice of lemon cake on a plate next to a fork with a bowl of raspberries and a lemon in the background

The Best Lemon Raspberry Poke Cake

Is there any fruit duo more dynamic than lemon and raspberry? I don’t think so. This lemon raspberry cake is a homemade lemon buttermilk cake soaked in sweetened condensed milk and topped with fresh raspberry sauce, homemade whipped cream, and fresh lemon zest. What’s not to love?!

This is one of those cakes that disappears in minutes. It’s so sweet and so refreshing! If you love fruity desserts, this lemon raspberry poke cake is similar to my equally summery strawberry cheesecake poke cake. This creamy lemon version is filled with condensed milk, layered with raspberry sauce, and topped with whipped cream frosting.

Why You’ll Love This Poke Cake Recipe

  • Easy to make. There’s the option to make your poke cake with or without the shortcut of a boxed cake mix. Either way, the ingredients are simple and the cake comes together in minutes.
  • Fresh, fruity flavors. I love the combination of moist lemon cake with creamy filling, topped with fresh raspberries and homemade whipped cream. It’s the ultimate dessert to make when berries are in season.
  • Make-ahead friendly. This cool and creamy, fruit-filled cake is the perfect dessert to bring to all your summer BBQs and potlucks. It’s easy to make ahead of time, too!

Why Is It Called Poke Cake?

Poke cakes, also called poke-and-pour cakes, are some of my favorite desserts to make. A poke cake involves poking holes in a freshly baked cake and then adding some kind of pourable topping, such as condensed milk or Jell-O. The topping soaks into the cake as it cools, for an ultra-moist cake with endless flavor combinations.

side view of a slice of cake on a white plate

Key Ingredients

Here are a few tips and notes to keep in mind as you gather the ingredients for your lemon poke cake. Be sure to scroll to the recipe card for a full list of ingredients and amounts.

  • Eggs and Egg Yolks – whole eggs add moisture and act as a binding agent to hold the cake together. Adding extra egg yolks creates a richer flavor and a softer, more moist texture.
  • Sour Cream – sour cream creates a moist, yet fluffy texture. I use light sour cream, but plain Greek yogurt would work to lighten it up even more.
  • Lemon Zest – you can easily zest a lemon using a cheese grater or a Microplane. Be sure to only shave off the bright yellow exterior, not the white pith directly underneath.
  • Buttermilk and Sweetened Condensed Milk – buttermilk is the key to a tender texture while sweetened condensed milk provides sweetness and richness.
  • Homemade Whipped Cream – I like to whip up a batch of homemade whip with heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and more lemon zest.

How to Make a Lemon Raspberry Poke Cake

There are a few easy steps involved in making this lush lemon raspberry poke cake. Let’s get into it!

  • Combine the wet ingredients: In a bowl, mix together sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add in sour cream and lemon zest and beat until combined.
  • Add the dry ingredients: In another bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. Add half of the dry to the wet batter and beat on low while pouring in half of the buttermilk. Repeat with the rest of the dry ingredients and buttermilk.
  • Bake: Pour the batter into a 9×13″ baking dish and bake at 350ºF for 28-32 minutes.
  • Cool, poke, and fill: Cool the cake for 30 minutes, then use a wooden spoon to poke holes all over the top. Pour a jar of sweetened condensed milk over the top, then cool completely in the fridge.
  • Add the raspberry sauce: In a pot, mix together raspberries, sugar, and flour. Gently crush the raspberries and add lemon juice. Place the pot over medium heat and cook until bubbling. Cool until no longer steaming, then pour over the top of the cake. Refrigerate until completely cooled.
  • Make the whip: Chill your mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer. To the cold bowl, add heavy cream. Beat until thickened. Add in the powdered sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
  • Add the topping: Spread the whipped cream over the chilled cake, then top with lemon zest and serve.
a fork being plunged into a slice of lemon poke cake on a white plate

Tips for Success

This lemon poke cake recipe is super straightforward, but a few tips never hurt. Here are some helpful tips and time-saving ideas to keep in mind when making a poke cake from scratch:

  • Use fresh raspberries. The flavor is so good, but if they aren’t in season, you can use frozen raspberries.
  • Cool the cake for 30 minutes before poking for cleaner holes. If you poke it while it’s still hot, it will become messy.
  • Cool the cake completely before adding the topping. If the cake is warm, the whipped cream will just melt.
  • Chill the mixing bowl and whisk attachment before making the homemade whipped cream for a fluffier texture.
  • Use the handle end of a wooden spoon to poke holes all over the top of the cake. It works perfectly! If you don’t have a wooden spoon, simply use something similar in size to create your holes.
  • Add the whipped cream right before serving. You can definitely add it ahead of time, but some of the red colors from the raspberries may migrate through the whipped cream.
  • Use cake mix. While I do love a homemade lemon cake, feel free to save a little bit of time with a boxed lemon cake mix. It won’t be as dense, but it will still be delicious.
  • Use Cool Whip. Keep the topping simple with Cool Whip instead of homemade whipped cream.
side view of a slice of lemon raspberry cake garnished with a raspberry and a lemon slice with a forkful taken out

Make-Ahead and Storing Extras

  • Prepare ahead: Bake, poke and fill the cake and keep it in the fridge for up to 2 days OR bake the cake 2 days ahead and store it on the counter. Poke and fill the cake 2 hours before you’re ready to serve, then top it with whipped cream and keep it in the fridge until serving.
  • Storing: Store your finished lemon raspberry poke cake airtight in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Freezing: I don’t recommend freezing a finished poke cake. However, you can freeze the baked and cooled lemon cake on its own. Thaw the cake at room temperature before adding the filling and whipped topping.

More Poke Cake Recipes

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closeup of a square slice of lemon cake on a plate garnished with fresh raspberry and a lemon slice

Lemon Raspberry Poke Cake

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 8 reviews
  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 15 slices
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Lemon Raspberry Poke Cake is an easy lemon cake soaked in sweetened condensed milk and raspberry sauce, then topped with fluffy homemade whipped cream. Make this fruity dessert with or without the help of a boxed cake mix!


Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 2 cups (380g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (118 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) lemon or vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup (59ml) light sour cream
  • 1 large lemon, zested
  • 2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 package (3.4oz) instant lemon pudding
  • 3 teaspoons (11.2 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) salt
  • 1 cup (236ml) buttermilk
  • 1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk

For the Raspberry Sauce:

  • 36 ounces containers fresh raspberries
  • ¼ cup (47.5g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (11.6g) flour or corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon (10ml) lemon juice or water

For the Topping

  • 1 ½ cups (354 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • ¾ cup (98g) powdered sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Instructions

For the Cake:

  1. 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, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
  3. Next mix in the sour cream and lemon zest and beat until well combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients. Add half the dry ingredients to the batter and beat on low speed while pouring in half of the buttermilk 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 buttermilk 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 in a 9-inch by 13-inch pan and bake at 350°F for 28-32 minutes, keeping a careful eye on the baking during the last few minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  8. Test the cake for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, your cake is done. Cool for 30 minutes.
  9. While the cake is still warm, take the end of a wooden spoon or another round object and poke holes all over the top of your cake. Pour the jar of sweetened condensed milk over top of the holes as equally as you can. Allow the cake to cool completely, refrigerating if necessary.

For the Raspberry Sauce:

  1. Combine the raspberries, sugar and flour in a medium-sized pot. Gently crush the raspberries and add the lemon juice.  Cook over medium heat while stirring until it starts to bubble slightly.
  2. Once the sauce is bubbling and thick, remove from the stove and allow the raspberry sauce to cool until it is no longer steaming. Pour the raspberry sauce over top of the cake, spreading evenly. Refrigerate the cake until it is completely cooled.

For the Topping:

  1. Put your mixing bowl and wire whisk in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes until it is completely cold. Beat the heavy cream on medium-high speed for several minutes until it starts to thicken. Add the powdered sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Spread over the cake only once the cake is completely cooled. Zest a lemon over top of the whipped cream. Serve chilled.

Notes

Original cake mix recipe: 1 box vanilla cake mix,  1 box (3.4 oz) instant lemon pudding mix, 1 cup buttermilk (or milk), ½ cup vegetable oil, 3 large eggs, 1 large egg white, Zest of 1 lemon. Pour the batter into a 9-inch by 13-inch pan and bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 485
  • Sugar: 56.9g
  • Sodium: 420.8mg
  • Fat: 17.2g
  • Saturated Fat: 11.7g
  • Carbohydrates: 78.2g
  • Fiber: 1.1g
  • Protein: 7g
  • Cholesterol: 78.2mg

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85 thoughts on “Lemon Raspberry Poke Cake”

  1. Avatar photo
    Monica Guthrie

    The recipe was easy to make, and everyone raved about the flavors and how well they went together. The recipe is definitely a keeper, and I will make it again.

    My cake did fall in the middle, but I may have over mixed it.






  2. Sounds like great recipe but can I make in 8 inch pan (just my husband & I). Also, how can I make the sauce
    smooth instead of slightly whole?






    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Yes, a half recipe of the cake would be perfect for an 8-inch pan. Try pureeing the raspberries for a smoother topping

  3. Made for the assisted living facility I work at… had to sub out the raspberries for blackberries. It’s a winner!






  4. I made this for today’s Thanksgiving along with 2 pies. It was a hit, great flavor and very moist! Will make again!






  5. I made this cake for our Easter lunch today. It was delicious & it got rave reviews (it was all gone before days end). A wonderful cake with the fresh lemon & raspberries for Spring. Thxs for the recipe…it’s definitely a keeper.






      1. Avatar photo
        Rebecca Casey

        I’m a little confused about when to pour the sweetened condensed milk over the cake. First it says cool completely then it says pour over while the cake is still warm.

      2. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
        Beyond Frosting

        Ah sorry for the confusion. Honestly with would work, but it does soak in a little better when it’s warm, so I will update that.

  6. Hi! Love your blog. Would it be okay to substitute warmed up seedless raspberry
    Jam in a thin layer instead? Thank you.

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi there, thank you so much! This cake is served cold, so while the warm jam might help to spread easier on the cake, it will get cold again in the fridge.

  7. Yummy recipe. Made it for my friends bday. She loved it too. I made it from scratch and indeed it was a bit denser in texture but so delicious. I will make it again!

  8. I think this is the best cake I’ve ever had. I made it for a dinner party and everyone loved it and wanted the recipe. I’m going to make it again next week for my coworkers!

      1. I’m wondering if seedless raspberry jam could be used instead of fresh raspberries. I don’t like the seeds.

  9. Hello! I bake every Thursday for my co workers and this cake has been a HUGE hit! It is the prefect combination of tart, sweet..light and refreshing..it is perfect. Thanks for such a great recipe and keep ’em coming!!
    Many thanks,

    Donna RN

  10. Avatar photo
    Kathleen Carlson

    Tiffany, could you have your pretty serving platter ready and cut pieces of this beautiful cake and arrange them attractively upon the platter. Perhaps wait until just ready to serve then sprinkle with lemon zest?

  11. My raspberry sauce never thickened, so I just poured it over! Refrigerating now – hope that it will still work. ?

  12. Hi this looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it. Can this cake be made the day before its served or does it do better making it the day of?

  13. Hi, When serving this cake do you keep it in the baking dish? I was hoping to put it on a serving tray, but with the condensed milk part I’m thinking it will have to stay in the baking pan

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Tiffany- yes, I don’t recommend taking it out of the dish after you add the sweetened condensed milk. Perhaps you can transfer the cake to your serving dish prior to adding the toppings?

  14. Avatar photo
    Amy McKinstry

    I made this for a family birthday party and it was a big hit! I was reading the recipe on my phone and scrolling up and down between the measurements and instructions so I mistakenly added the condensed milk into the cake mix!! All was fine it just took a bit longer to bake. It made the cake really moist and more like a brownie consistency. It was still delicious so that’s all that matters to me! My partner ate three pieces 🙂