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Poke cakes are a fun and easy dessert that have a creamy surprise inside! This Boston Cream Poke Cake is simple to make with a yellow cake mix, vanilla instant pudding, and a chocolate glaze on top. This one-pan dessert makes for the perfect potluck or gathering treat.

Did you know I have lots of poke cake recipes on the site? If you love candy bars and cookies then be sure and check out my deliciously easy Oreo Poke Cake, this Easy Butterfinger Poke Cake, or Reese’s Poke Cake. For more fruity flavors try this Strawberry Jello Poke Cake and Peaches and Cream Poke Cake

A slice of the poke cake

Boston Cream Pie Poke Cake Recipe (Only 5 Ingredients!)

This crowd favorite delicious poke cake has it all – with a delicious combination of yellow cake, a creamy vanilla pudding filling (custard-like), and an easy chocolate glaze over top. It’s also a one pan cake recipe that is simple to make with 5 easy ingredients + the ingredients needed to prepare the yellow cake mix. 

If you love classic Boston cream cake or Boston cream donuts, then this Boston cream poke cake will be an instant hit. It uses a couple of shortcuts like a boxed cake mix, instant pudding, and store-bought frosting to make prep so simple that anyone can make it. 

Overhead of the frosted cake inside the glass pan.

Ingredients Needed To Make This Easy Poke Cake

  1. A Box of Yellow Cake Mix : Use a classic yellow cake mix or the golden butter yellow cake mix. Either one works great! You also need to the ingredients called for on the box which typically incudes oil, water, and eggs. 
  2. Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix : The creamy vanilla pudding mixture is what gets ‘poked’ into the holes in the cake. It resembles that vanilla custard filling that classic Boston cream pie has. French vanilla pudding can also be used. 
  3. Milk : The recipe calls for whole milk or half and half milk and I definitely recommend using one of those and not any milk that is lower in fat. You want that vanilla pudding custard filling to be thick, creamy, with tons of flavor. 
  4. Vanilla Extract : For the best vanilla flavor be sure you are using pure vanilla extract and not imitation vanilla extract. 
  5. Store-Bought Canned Chocolate Frosting : I make it real simple and buy a container of store-bought chocolate frosting but you can make your own if you prefer. 
Labeled ingredients for this one pan dessert.

How To Make This Boston Cream Poke Cake Recipe (Printable Recipe Card)

Preheat the oven according to the instructions on the bake of the cake mix. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. 

Prepare the yellow cake mix according to the package instructions. This typically includes adding water, oil, and eggs and then mixing it thoroughly. 

Process images

Pour the cake batter into the prepare pan. Bake according to the directions on the cake box (typically 25-35 minutes). The cake is done when the edges slightly away from the sides of the pan and using the toothpick method yields a clean, dry toothpick. Stick a toothpick into the middle of the cake and it should come out clean or with crumbs on it, and not wet batter. 

Process images

Let the cake cool slightly while you prepare the vanilla pudding filling. In a large bowl, whisk together the instant vanilla pudding mix, milk, and vanilla extract until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. 

Once the cake has cooled slightly, use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke holes all over the top of the cake making sure the holes are 1-inch apart. 

Pour the prepared pudding into the holes and spread it out over top of the cake using an offset icing spatula. Cover the cake with a lid or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 6 hours to allow the cake to cool completely and for the frosting to thicken and set. 

Process images
Process images

Remove the cake from the fridge. Place the tub of chocolate frosting inside the microwave and microwave for 20-30 seconds to thin it out and make it more pourable. Pour the chocolate frosting over the cake and spread it out evenly using an icing spatula.

Serve the cake right away or for a firmer texture and frosting, cover the cake with a lid or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving. 

Process images
Process images

Tips For Elevating Store-Bought Frosting

While it would be great to make frosting from scratch – sometimes you just don’t have the time or need something with minimal and easy prep. This is where the store-bought canned frosting comes in handy. Store-bought frosting tends to be sweeter and denser than homemade frosting, which is why I don’t like it, and probably why a majority of people don’t care for it. But don’t worry because there are some very quick and simple fixes to make the store-bought frosting taste much better!

  • Whip It Scrape the frosting into a mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer, or inside a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, and whip it really good. The consistency will start to change immediately and you’ll see that the frosting gets light, airy and cloud-like because you are whipping air into the dense frosting. This also makes the frosting double in size so don’t worry if you don’t use it all to frost this 9×13 one-pan dessert. Unless you love a thick layer of frosting then go for it!
  • Add Whipped Cream – Adding some whipped cream is another great way to lighten up the dense frosting and tone down the sweetness. Using a beater, or whisk attachment, beat heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Add the chocolate frosting and mix on low speed to thoroughly combine everything together. I recommend using 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream if doing this. 
  • Make It Thinner : Beat in some milk to thin out the dense and thick store-bought frosting. 
  • Make A Glaze : Put the frosting inside a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. This creates a thinner glaze consistency that can basically be poured over top the cake. As the cake cools at room temperature, or inside the fridge, the glaze will firm up. 
Process images

Expert Tips

Use a baking dish that has a lid to make storing and refrigerating this Boston cream poke cake recipe even easier! I love this OXO Glass Baking Dish With Lid or try this nonstick 9×13 Baking Dish With Lid. I use both of them all the time when baking cakes. 

You want to poke bigger & deeper holes for this poke cake. You don’t want small pokes in the cake because then the thicker pudding mixture won’t be able to seep down into them. The end of a large round wooden spoon handle is perfect for poking holes into the cake or you can try using a cupcake corer instead.

Overhead shot of the cake sliced into squares and some missing from the pan.
A slice of cake with a fork

How To Store Leftover Poke Cake

Store any leftover cake inside the cake pan, covered with a lid or plastic wrap, in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. You can also store individual slices inside an airtight container. I think the cake gets better and better as it chills in the fridge so leftovers are always fabulous no matter the day. 

A slice of poke cake on a white plate with a fork.

More Easy Boxed Cake Mix Desserts To Try

  1. Best Cake Mix Desserts : I’ve rounded up all my best, family favorite, tries & true dessert recipes that all start with a cake mix! You are sure to find some faves in this list. 
  2. Honey Bun Cake : You won’t believe how simple this cake is to make and it tastes just like the iconic honey bun snack cakes – similar to a cinnamon roll cake. 
  3. Strawberry Cake : Easy Strawberry Cake starts with a white cake mix, strawberry jello, and fresh strawberry puree. This strawberry cake is topped with a creamy and fluffy fresh strawberry frosting.
  4. Pineapple Pistachio Cake : Easy 5 ingredient cake recipe that starts with a cake mix, pistachio pudding, and crushed pineapple.
  5. Funfetti Cake Batter Cookie Bars : Probably one of our favorites! A cake mix + sugar cookie mix create magic with these sprinkle funfetti-filled cookie bars. 
  6. Chocolate Brownie Bundt Cake : This cake mix + brownie mix bundt cake is sure to cure any chocolate craving with its rich chocolate cake and chocolate ganache glaze. 
  7. Orange Pineapple Cake : Also called ‘pig pickin’ cake this fruity and tropical, super moist cake is sure to be a hit. 
Overhead shot of the cake sliced into squares and some missing from the pan.
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Boston Cream Poke Cake Recipe


Author Jessica – Together as Family
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Chill Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 45 minutes
Servings 18
Poke cakes are a fun and easy dessert that have a creamy surprise inside! This Boston Cream Poke Cake is simple to make with a yellow cake mix, vanilla instant pudding, and a chocolate glaze on top. This one-pan dessert makes for the perfect potluck or gathering treat.

Ingredients
  

  • 1 box (15.25 oz) yellow cake mix (plus ingredients called for)
  • 2 boxes (3.4 oz each) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 4 cups whole milk OR half and half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 container (16 oz) store-bought chocolate frosting

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven according to the instructions on the bake of the cake mix. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. 
  • Prepare the yellow cake mix according to the package instructions. This typically includes adding water, oil, and eggs and then mixing it thoroughly. 
    1 box (15.25 oz) yellow cake mix
  • Pour the cake batter into the prepare pan. Bake according to the directions on the cake box (typically 25-35 minutes).
    * The cake is done when the edges slightly away from the sides of the pan and using the toothpick method yields a clean, dry toothpick. Stick a toothpick into the middle of the cake and it should come out clean or with crumbs on it, and not wet batter. 
  • Let the cake cool slightly while you prepare the vanilla pudding filling. In a large bowl, whisk together the instant vanilla pudding mix, milk, and vanilla extract until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. 
    2 boxes (3.4 oz each) instant vanilla pudding mix, 4 cups whole milk OR half and half, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Once the cake has cooled slightly, use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke holes all over the top of the cake making sure the holes are 1-inch apart. 
  • Pour the prepared pudding into the holes and spread it out over top of the cake using an offset icing spatula. Cover the cake with a lid or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 6 hours to allow the cake to cool completely and for the frosting to thicken and set. 
  • Remove the cake from the fridge. Place the tub of chocolate frosting inside the microwave and microwave for 20-30 seconds to thin it out and make it more pourable. Pour the chocolate frosting over the cake and spread it out evenly using an icing spatula.
    1 container (16 oz) store-bought chocolate frosting
  • Serve the cake right away or for a firmer texture and frosting, cover the cake with a lid or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving. 
    * I prefer refrigerating the cake for a few hours before serving it (once it's frosted).

Notes

Cake Mix : Use a yellow cake mix or a golden butter cake mix – either one will work great. 

Nutrition

Calories: 280kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 344mg | Potassium: 147mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 38g | Vitamin A: 88IU | Calcium: 130mg | Iron: 1mg

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