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Strawberry Cheesecake Poke Cake

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This strawberry cheesecake poke cake recipe transforms my favorite moist vanilla cake into an irresistible summer treat! It’s soaked in sweetened condensed milk, then topped with fresh strawberry sauce and tangy cream cheese whipped cream. It’s a bite of heaven on a fork!

overhead of a slice of cake on a plate with milk and strawberries in the background

Easy Strawberry Cheesecake Poke Cake

I’m always creating and sharing new poke cake recipes (or rounding up my favorite poke cakes all in one place). I can’t get enough. This strawberry cheesecake poke cake, well, takes the cake. If the positive reviews and comments are any indication, you guys agree!

This strawberry cheesecake poke cake starts with a rich and moist vanilla cake that’s then filled with sweetened condensed milk and fresh strawberry sauce. Afterward, I finish everything off with a generous layer of fluffy cream cheese frosting for the perfect hint of cheesecake tang. This poke cake is a bit like the sophisticated cousin of my totally retro strawberry jello poke cake, and it’s just as mouthwatering.

Why You’ll Love This Strawberry Poke Cake Recipe

  • Convenient. Make this cake with a boxed vanilla cake or whip up my easy vanilla cake recipe. Either way, this strawberry poke cake is delicious! Poke cakes are also famously make-ahead friendly, and this one is no exception.
  • Fresh strawberry flavor. For the topping, I make an easy homemade strawberry sauce with fresh strawberries, lemon juice, and sugar. If you’d prefer you can use a premade fruity topping. But the flavor of homemade is second to none.
  • The most incredible frosting. Skip the traditional whipped cream. This whipped cream cheese frosting is insanely rich and creamy and pairs perfectly with strawberries. It’s similar to whipped cream, only a little sweeter, tangier, and more stabilized (just like a cheesecake!).
a carton of strawberries from the side

Key Ingredients

The ingredients for this strawberry poke cake couldn’t be easier! Below, I go over some of the main ingredients you’ll need. Don’t forget to scroll to the recipe card for the full ingredients list and recipe details.

  • Vanilla Cake Mix – Using a boxed cake mix makes this recipe super convenient. It’s perfect if you’re in a hurry! You can use any brand of boxed vanilla cake mix you prefer, and don’t forget to buy any additional ingredients listed on the box. Alternatively, you can use my recipe for homemade vanilla cake, which I link to in the recipe card notes.
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk – Make sure that you’re using the sweetened kind and not regular condensed milk.
  • Strawberries – I fill my cake with a simple homemade strawberry sauce (which I include in the full recipe). You can make the sauce with fresh or frozen strawberries.
  • Lemon Juice – Lemon juice brightens up the strawberry sauce and helps to break down the berries along with the sugar.
  • Cream Cheese – For the cream cheese frosting. I recommend using full-fat cream cheese that comes in blocks (vs. the spreadable kind that comes in tubs).
  • Whipping Cream – Like your cream cheese, full-fat heavy cream is best and yields an ultra-creamy, smooth frosting.

How to Make This Strawberry Cheesecake Poke Cake

This poke cake is made up of three simple components that come together super easily! Here’s how you’ll make this fruity dessert filled with the flavors of strawberries and cream.

  • Bake the cake: Prepare your vanilla cake batter according to the instructions on the box. Afterward, add the batter to a 9×13″ baking dish. Bake at 350ºF for 20-22 minutes, and then allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes.
  • Poke the holes: Once the cake has cooled slightly, use the handle of a wooden spoon (or something similar in size) to poke holes over the top of the cake.
  • Add the filling: Next, pour sweetened condensed milk onto the cake and spread it over the holes. Place the poke cake into the fridge to chill.
  • Prepare the strawberry sauce: In a large enough saucepan, toss your rinsed and chopped strawberries with sugar and flour. Next, stir in water and lemon juice, and bring the berries to a boil. Gently mash the mixture, and keep it simmering until it thickens. Let the sauce cool off a bit before pouring it over the cake.
  • Prepare the whipped cream. Chill your bowl in the freezer beforehand. Add the cream cheese to your cold bowl and beat until smooth. Gradually stream in the heavy cream until you reach a liquid consistency, and then beat the mixture to soft peaks. Finally, beat in the powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.
  • Add the topping: Spread the cream cheese whipped cream over the cake right away, and refrigerate the cake until serving.
a slice of strawberry poke cake on a plate with a fork and strawberries in the background

What’s the Best Way to Poke Holes in a Cake?

I find the easiest tool to use to poke a cake is the handle end of a wooden spoon. It makes holes that are just the right size to absorb all of that delicious moisture from the sweetened condensed milk.

Simply hold the spoon and poke holes all over the cake, just deep enough to infuse the inside of the cake with moisture and flavor. Don’t forget to do this while the cake is still warm!

If you don’t have a wooden spoon, another option is to use a fork to make lots of smaller holes in the top of the cake.

Tips for the Best Strawberry Poke Cake

Poke cakes are wonderfully simple recipes that pack in tons of flavor. Here are my tips for the best strawberry cheesecake poke cake:

  • To prevent a lumpy frosting, First beat the cream cheese until it’s smooth and free of lumps. Slowly adding the cream, allowing the cream cheese to reach a liquid consistency will prevent a lumpy frosting.
  • Let the cake cool completely before adding the topping. If it’s still at all warm, the topping will melt. I let it cool for 15 minutes, fill it with milk and strawberry sauce, then pop it in the fridge to speed up the cooling process.
  • Fresh vs frozen strawberries: While I usually use fresh strawberries, you can certainly use frozen as well. I recommend buying them already chopped so they cook more quickly in the sauce.
  • Try another fruit sauce. This strawberry sauce recipe works great with other fruit as well. Try blueberries, raspberries, or even peaches! And if you’re short on time or if you’d prefer, go ahead and use a store-bought fruit sauce instead.
  • Prepare the cake in advance. Poke cakes are one of the best desserts to prepare ahead of time because they just get better as they sit. See below for easy make-ahead tips and storage instructions!
a slice of strawberry cake with a bite taken out on a plate

How to Make Ahead and Store Extras

  • Prepare ahead: You can bake, poke, fill, and top the cake and store it in the fridge for up to 2 days before serving. Another option is to bake the cake a day or two ahead of time, and then store it airtight at room temperature. Add the filling and topping and then refrigerate the finished cake for at least 2 hours before serving.
  • Storing: Your strawberry cheesecake poke cake will last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Freezing: Avoid freezing the final, finished poke cake. Instead, bake the cake, allow it to cool, and then wrap it tightly to store in the freezer. The frozen cake can be thawed at room temperature, filled, and then topped with whipped cream.

More Strawberry Desserts to Try

closeup of a slice of strawberry poke cake on a plate

Strawberry Cheesecake Poke Cake

  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 15 slices


This Strawberry Cheesecake Poke Cake is a rich and moist vanilla cake drenched with creamy filling, topped with fresh homemade strawberry sauce and whipped cream cheese frosting. 


For the Cake

  • 1 box White or vanilla cake mix (15 oz)
  • Ingredients listed on the box (water, oil, eggs, etc)
  • 1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk

For the Strawberry Sauce

  • 1 lb Strawberries (16 oz), rinsed
  • ¼ cup (48g)  sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (8g) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (59ml) water
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) lemon juice

For the whipped cream topping

  • 1 pkg (8oz) full-fat cream cheese
  • 2 cups (473ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups (260g) Powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract


For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the cake mix according to the ingredients on the box. Beat on medium speed until well combined.
  2. Bake cake in a 9×13” pan for 20-22 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the middle of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, you cake is done. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Once the cake has cooled, take the end of a wooden spoon or another round object and poke holes all over the top of your cake. Pour the can of sweetened condensed milk all over top of the cake and spread gently. Chill until the strawberry sauce is ready. 

For the Strawberry Sauce:

  1. Rinse the strawberries and chop into quarters and again in half.
  2. In a medium-sized sauce pan, combine strawberries with the flour and sugar, toss to combine. Add the water and lemon juice; stir well.
  3. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture starts to boil and strawberries are softened, gently smash strawberries to create a sauce. Once boiling, continue cooking for about 10 minutes to thicken. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Pour strawberries sauce over top of the cake and refrigerate until cake and toppings are completely cooled.

For the Topping:

  1. Place the mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to chill.
  2. Spoon the cold cream cream into the bowl and beat on a medium-low speed (speed 3 on your stand mixer). Slowly pour in the heavy cream, about 1/4-1/2 cup, allowing the cream cheese to turn to a liquid consistency. Then adding the remaining heavy cream. Increase the mixing speed to high (speed 8-10) and beat it until soft peaks form.
  3. Next, add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, beating on low until sugar is incorporated. Then continue beating at a high speed until stiff peaks form. Use immediately and keep refrigerated.


  • If you’d like to make a homemade cake, try my Vanilla Cake Recipe
  • Storage instructions: A fully assembled poke cake will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days.
  • How to prepare in advance: The baked, unfilled cake can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept in an airtight container. Add the filling and topping and chill for 2 hours. 
Nutrition Information:
1 slice
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: strawberry poke cake, strawberry poke cake recipe


Leave a Comment

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114 Responses
  1. Mary Dominguez

    This recipe looks absolutely delicious. I’m going to try it tomorrow. I can hardly wait for my husband to try it. Thank you so much for the recipe. I will text you when I make it and let you know how it turns out. Again thank you. Mary.

  2. Alexandra

    I made this recipe for a going away party and then tried again to make in a cupcakes format! As the recipe goes it was a hit both ways. I was wondering if you had a similar recipe for cupcakes so i wasnt so aggressively winging it! My daughter likes the recipe so much shes requested it for her own bday 2 years in a row now!

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Alexandra! This makes me so happy, thank you so much! So you could make my vanilla cupcakes and then hollow out the center of the cupcakes and fill them with the strawberry filling. Then top them with a cream cheese whipped cream. The only part that is missing would be the sweetened condensed milk. You could drizzle some in the cupcakes with the strawberry filling but I wouldn’t add too much at the risk of causing the cupcakes to crumble or be too wet.

  3. Darlene Bobik

    Had trouble with the cream cheese, whipped cream topping, did not set up. Measurements were precise and instructions were followed. Can you please let me know what the problem might be.

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Darlene, did you use a block of full-fat cream cheese? And did you have a stand mixer or hand mixer? A stand mixer is very helpful I do think sometime people tend to undermix this, so it doesn’t set properly.

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      You must have missed the part where I suggest a homemade vanilla cake instead of a cake mix but thanks!

    2. Rachel B.

      I love pointless negative reviews. I made this recipe last year for the first time (with a boxed cake *gasp*) for my mom’s birthday, who has always made everything from scratch. This was such an incredible hit that both of my sisters and 2 of my nieces asked for it for their birthday’s as well. Even 6 months later they still couldn’t wait for this cake! Absolutely delicious. The words “This is the best cake I have ever had!” came out of both my brother-in-laws mouths. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

      1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
        Beyond Frosting

        Hi Rachel! Thank you so much for sharing. This is amazing and I have to agree with their reviews 🙂

  4. Priscilla

    This recipe is amazing I made it for my Mom’s 78th Birthday and she loved it. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Jeanne Pratt

    I made this a couple weeks ago using huckleberries instead of strawberries. It was delicious. It was for a birthday, everyone loved the gooey. Another day I will use strawberries. Today I am using this wonderful topping to frost my huckleberry cake for another granddaughters birthday. If you can’t tell, I live in north Idaho and have abundant huckleberries. Thank you for a terrific recipe. ❤

  6. Elizabeth

    My sister made this for my birthday, and it was delicious! She requested it for her birthday too. 🙂

  7. Susan

    Oh my, this dessert is amazing! I added fresh blueberries on top of the strawberries for the 4th. Will make it many times more I’m sure. Also, handed out the recipe to the group, including your blog info. I’m sure you’re going to be getting some new subscribers.

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      OMG Susan, thank you for sharing this and for sending it to your friends. I am so grateful for your support. I hope you enjoyed your 4th.

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Absolutely yes- there’s a small note about this in the recipe card with a link to the vanilla cake recipe.

  8. Kim

    I just made this cake this afternoon and it is absolutely delicious! A perfect Mother’s Day dessert. It’s like fresh strawberry shortcake but with a very moist light cake texture. The whipped cream topping perfectly compliments the cake and fresh strawberries. It’s very smooth, light and not too sweet. My family loved it. In fact my fiancé is not much on sweets or cake, and he said he totally wants this for his birthday cake this year so that is really saying something. I think this is one of the best dessert recipes I have found on Pinterest and I have been baking from scratch for almost 50 years (started when I was 8). Delicious!

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Thank you so much Kim! I am so glad to hear that everyone enjoyed it! This is a personal favorite of mine as well!

  9. Theresa

    Hi there… In step 10, it says to add powdered sugar and vanilla extract. However, for the whipped cream ingredients, it doesn’t state how much vanilla extract to use. How much vanilla needs to be added to the whip cream? Thanks! So looking forward to making this!

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Theresa- up to 1 teaspoons, it’s optional though. Thank you for pointing this out so I can correct it!

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi DeeDee, yes! But I would probably make the topping the day of serving for the best results. It will definitely keep in the fridge, but this is what I prefer to do.

  10. Wendi

    This looks and sounds amazing! My son is not a tres leche fan, could I use 1/2 of the amount of condensed milk to keep it moist, but not quite tres leche style or should I just leave it out completely? Thank you

      1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
        Beyond Frosting

        I’ve never tried myself, it might be a little more watery, so you may need additional dry ingredients to balance it out.

  11. Katie

    Best thing EVER!! I have made this at least three times in the last few months. It’s incredible. My husband loves it, my kids love it, my friends love it. If you’re a visitor reading this – make this TODAY!!

  12. Angie

    I made this with a mix of blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries and reduced the powdered sugar by half and it was a hit!!! Also added fresh fruit on top; it was beatiful and delicious! Thanks for the recipe!!!

  13. Kari

    Omg….this cake was beyond delicious. My only change was making the white cake from scratch because I didn’t have a box mix on hand. This is definitely getting made again.

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Michelle, yes of course! I would try to get more sturdy ones if you can, that are little bit deeper. This cake is a bit heavy.

  14. Meg

    Made this for Easter. It was the perfect dessert! Everyone loved it. Super moist! Great for spring. And the icing…Yum! I could eat just a bowl of that alone. And the cake and icing together is even better! I will be keeping this recipe. Thanks!!

  15. Madeleine

    HI! I would like to make a lighter version of this cake. Is it possible if I don’t put sugar in the fruits and If I use Dream whip instead of heavy cream???

    Thank you for helping me!

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Madeleine, You can reduce the sugar with the fruit but I’ve never reduced fruit without some sugar. I am not familiar with Dream Whip, but if you want to lighten up the frosting you could either make a traditional whipped cream, leaving out the cream cheese all together or buy some prepared whipped topping from the freezer section at the grocery store.

  16. Fiona

    Tried this for the first time today. The recipe went together really well and looked delicious but both my husband and I found it far too sweet. It might be my mistake in converting cups to grams or just personal taste, but I will definitely try again and adjust the sugar next time.

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Fiona, Sounds great! If you are looking for something a little less sweet, you might want to try just a regular whipped cream instead of the cream cheese whipped cream. Or maybe try some pudding filling instead of the sweetened condensed milk. Enjoy!

  17. Amanda Kendall

    I LOVE this cake. I stumbled upon this last summer when my husband was wanting a desert. I follow your recipe exactly but instead use a lemon cake. It makes a yummy strawberry lemon cake that is to die for. Thank you so much for putting this recipe out there!

  18. Mary

    Can you substitute whole or regular milk for heavy cream? This sounds amazing, but I don’t know if I can bring myself to make something with a whole pint of heavy cream AND two cups of powdered sugar on top of the super super sugary sweetened condensed milk and cake! AH! But it sounds like heaven.

  19. Patricia

    Probably a stupid question but the recipe says 1 pint heavy “whipped” cream. Is that the same as the heavy whipping cream in the milk section of the store?

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Tina, it depends if your frozen strawberries are packaged with simple syrup or not. I would suggest to use a can of Strawberry Pie Filling (such as Lucky Leaf) instead. It might be a little easier for you.

  20. Chrissy

    I made this yesterday for my sister-in-law’s birthday, and it was delicious! Everyone was moaning and groaning while they ate it 🙂 I was a little nervous about the condensed milk making the cake mushy, but holy moly. The cake was soooooo perfectly moist. I love that the strawberry topping is still tart, so it balances the flavors beautifully. The cream cheese whipped frosting…I didn’t know anything like that was even possible. It was also perfect for balancing all the flavors, since the cream cheese is a little tart and the frosting doesn’t have too much powdered sugar in it. It was decadent while still light. I think this might be my favorite cake. Thank you!

  21. Theresa

    I made the cake yesterday. It was very dry and the icing was a total flop. I had to throw it away and use cool whip.

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Theresa, I am sorry you did not enjoy it. But I am confused by your comment that it was dry. There is a whole can of sweetened condensed milk poured over the finished cake. So it is more of a “wet’ cake. In regards to the icing, it’s very soft, it’s not supposed to be of a frosting consistency. Please let me know if you have any further questions.

  22. Holly Klatt

    This has become my most requested dessert to bring to events. I was curious though — have you ever tried to substitute cherries for the strawberry part? I’m curious as to how it would turn out. Thanks.

  23. Kelsey

    I made this for my husband and his first remark was “I want this for my birthday” Needless to say he and all of my co-workers loved it. I did too! The frosting is amazing! Thanks for sharing this with us all.

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Rita, this is a typo. For the whipped cream topping, the powdered sugar is added all at the same time.

  24. novaladypdx

    I made this cake for my granddaughters graduation. I used a strawberry cake mix and made a strawberry
    champagne cake. I also used fresh hood strawberries. I made the cake with condensed milk one day and finished the topping the next day. This was the most delicious cake I’ve ever made and I bake a lot. The only problem was transporting it on a day that was over 100 degrees. Out of this world and well worth the effort!

  25. Michelle

    Hi this looks great and have everything to make it right now! I am just substituting frozen for the fresh strawberries. I have made tons of jello and fruit poke cake but not with condensed milk. I’m thinking about mixing the cool strawberry sauce with the sc milk then pouring over cake, have you of anyone tried that, if so was it ok? Thanks for all the great recipes loved them all!

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Michelle, I have not done that but it should like a wonderful idea!! It should work out okay. However, you might end up with extra liquid from the frozen strawberries. So you might want to reduce the sweetened milk by 2 to 3 tablespoons. I don’t think it would end up effecting the cake too much either way.

  26. Rica

    Hi. When do we remove the cake from the pan? Also, can I use the canned strawberry filling instead of fresh strawberries? Thanks

  27. Kathy

    This recipe looks delicious. Do you put the condense milk in with the cake mix? It doesn’t say in the directions.

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Kellie, I am not sure I would recommend this because they are very “wet” once you add the sweetened condensed milk.

  28. Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures

    Wow! Tres leches is one of my favorites. Combining that with a strawberry sauce is ingenious!

  29. tanya

    I love the homemade strawberry sauce in this cake. You took an ordinary recipe and made into something fresh!

  30. Coleen @ The Redhead Baker

    This sounds absolutely delicious. Perfect summer dessert. I’m drooling over your photos!

  31. Trish - Mom On Timeout

    I’m all over this one Julianne! I am so totally addicted to everything strawberry at the moment.. Perfection! Sounds like everyone had a blast in Portland!!

  32. Joan Hayes

    I lOVE Tres Leches Cake, and strawberries, so naturally I think this is a brilliant idea! I can’t get over how delicious it looks, I must have some now! Well done! : )

  33. Erin @ Miss Scrambled Egg

    I’m planning on going strawberry picking in the next couple of weeks and this would be the perfect way to enjoy them after! Thank you for sharing. I still can’t believe I’ve never had poke cake.

  34. Julie @ Tastes of Lizzy T

    My husband loves poke cakes and I am terrible at making them! This looks so good, though! Maybe a Father’s Day dessert?!

  35. Hayley @ The Domestic Rebel

    You had me at strawberry cheesecake! I love this fabulous, super fun poke cake recipe!

  36. Renee @ Tortillas and Honey

    I’m a huge fan of poke cakes! I love everything about this cake, from the sweetened condensed, to the strawberry topping, and the fact you make cream cheese whipped cream! This is definitely made it’s may to the top of my baking “to do” list!

  37. Sheila | Sweet Baked Life

    Oh Julianne, this is beautifully heavenly! I could definitely jump into this poke cake right now! 🙂

  38. Kimberly@The Little Girls Bakery

    This sounds delicious! What a great combination- strawberries, tres leches cake, cream cheese, whipped cream…Can’t wait to try it!

  39. Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom

    OK, I just left Dorothy’s blog and her ice cream poke cake. . a poke cake needs to happen in my life . . like now!!!!!! I love this cake! and man! I wish I made it to Indulge!!!! can’t wait to read your recap! I love PDX. . one of the best cities . . seriously and great food!!!!!!

  40. Jocelyn (Grandbaby cakes)

    You are always killing the poke cakes! This is just fantastic. Maybe a book on poke cakes? And I cannot wait for your recap from this weekend. That creme brulee doughnut was insane!! And I want it!

  41. Mir

    This poke cake is probably the prettiest one I’ve seen. And I am envisioning two rounds of topping poured into the cake holes, and that is making me want this cake very badly. It looks perfect!

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