Lemon Raspberry Poke Cake

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This Lemon Raspberry Poke Cake is an easy lemon cake soaked in sweetened condensed milk, with a fresh raspberry sauce and topped with whipped cream. 

This post has been updated in 2018 

A slice of lemon cake on a white plate with a raspberry filling and whipped cream topping, garnished with fruit

Lemon Poke Cake

If you’re looking for a lemon cake recipe that will knock your socks off, look no further. This is a homemade lemon cake soaked in sweetened condensed milk, with a fresh raspberry sauce and topped with whipped cream and little more lemon zest. I mean, what’s not to love here?

This is one of those cakes that disappears in minutes. It’s served cold and just so refreshing. 

If you’re not comfortable baking from scratch, my original recipe was developed using a cake mix. 

A silver fork sinking into a slice of lemon cake

Two ways to make this poke cake

When I updated this recipe, I offered an option for both the original recipe, made with cake mix. However I also remade the recipe with a from-scratch lemon buttermilk cake. The homemade cake is a lot more dense than the cake mix version but it is pretty dang good!

For the cake mix version, I use a combination of a vanilla cake mix and lemon pudding with some fresh lemon zest. You could just use a lemon cake mix, but I like the addition of the pudding mix myself.

Definitely do not skip out on the lemon zest though, it elevated the punch of lemon flavor in the cake. Once it’s baked and cooled, poke the holes and pour a can of sweetened condensed milk over top and let it soak in the goodness.

A slice of lemon cake with a layer of raspberry filling, a couple bites are missing

Homemade raspberry sauce

Lemon and raspberry are the perfect combination. The homemade raspberry sauce is quite simple and adds a bit of tang to this cake.  

  • 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.
  • Once the sauce is bubbling and thick, remove from the stove.
  • Allow the raspberry sauce to cool until it is no longer steaming. Cool completely. 

A horizontal shot of alice of lemon cake with raspberry filling and a fruit garnish

Whipped Cream Topping. 

When it comes to adding the topping, you can definitely add the whipped cream ahead of time, but some of the red color from the raspberries might migrate through the whipped cream, leaving it a little red in some spots.

So if you are looking for that crystal white whipped cream, you might want to hold off adding it until you are ready to serve. Then add a little bit of lemon zest to the top and call it a day.

You can also substitute Cool Whip for homemade whipped cream 

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A horizontal shot of alice of lemon cake with raspberry filling and a fruit garnish

Lemon Raspberry Poke Cake

  • Author: Beyond Frosting
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 12-15 slices


This Lemon Raspberry Poke Cake is a home lemon cake soaked in sweetened condensed milk, with a fresh raspberry sauce and topped with whipped cream.


For the Cake

  • 2 cups (380g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (118 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoons (5ml) 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


  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, 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.
  10. For the raspberry sauce: 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.
  11. 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.
  12. For the topping: 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.
  13. Zest a lemon over top of the whipped cream


Per your request: these are the ingredients for the original cake mix version: 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 Information:
1 slice
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Poke Cake Recipe, Lemon Cake, Lemon Cake Recipe



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69 Responses
      1. 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.

        1. 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.

  1. Mrs. Ptrsn

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

    1. 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.

  2. Katie E

    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!

  3. Kristin

    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!

  4. Donna

    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

  5. 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?

  6. Jacquelyn

    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?

  7. Tiffany

    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. 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?

  8. 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 🙂

  9. Erin M.

    What a delicious recipe! I made it for a friend’s barbecue last weekend, and they all loved it. My husband said it was the best cake I ever made and asked if you had any chocolate poke cake recipes. 🙂 I see that you do, so he’ll be happy to hear that. Thanks!

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Whitney, yes I don’t see why not but as it get thickened as it cools, it might be a little harder to spread. Hope you like it!

  10. Alyson

    It didn’t have enough lemon to my taste, so I added the juice from the lemon and a 1 1/2 of lemon extract. Also, I ran out of milk so I substituted 1/2 c water and 1/2 cup creek yogurt; and excluded the sweetened condensed milk. And lastly I had rhubarb so I made a rhubarb raspberry sauce to fill in the holes

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Melissa, I use a wooden spoon, just something wide enough for the pudding to soak down in as opposed to a toothpick that won’t make a very big hole.

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Rose, it’s the 3.4 oz size as listed in the recipe. If you purchased the larger one, just measure out 1/2 cup of the powder. That is just about equivalent to the smaller sizes.

  11. Susan

    I am in the midst of making this delicious looking cake but right now the cake has been in the oven for an hour and it still is not baked completely. I will let you know of the outcome.

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Susan. That sees odd, it should not need nearly that might time. Are you using a glass pan? I know those baking times are longer but an hour it a lot! It is possible your oven temperature is off? I hope it turns out ok!

      1. Susan

        It was a glass pan but the time was 40 minutes (not an hour like I mistakenly wrote). Everything else is going great. I am making it for a friend’s birthday tomorrow so I will be adding the whip topping then.

          1. Crystal

            Mine has been in the oven for 30mins and still not baked through. I hope it doesn’t over bake – eager to put it all together and taste!!

          2. Beyond Frosting

            Hi Crystal- It could depend on the type of pan or true oven temperature, but normally a 9-x13 inch cake shouldn’t bake much longer than 30 minutes. I hope it turns out well for you!

  12. Maya

    OMG the cake looks delicious and I just want to make a bite right now.
    Thanks for your recipe. I will try to make one but the percentage of success might be more than zero a little bit.

  13. Maria @ kitchenathoskins

    Apart from tres leches, am new to the world of poke cakes !! This looks so beautiful and incredibly easy

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