Lemon Poke Cake

Lemon Poke Cake
Lemon Poke Cake

This Lemon Poke Cake and I have spent sweet quality time together over the years. Since I was tall enough to hover over the counter, I have the fondest memories of standing in my grandma’s kitchen, using a butter knife to cut sliver after sliver of this lemon burst poke cake right out of the pan. I’d pop each directly into my mouth and go back for another, until she’d finally make me sit down with a proper slice (which she would insist on pairing with Ovaltine, because nutrients!).

Every time I eat this Lemon Poke Cake, it surprises me anew with how moist and lively it tastes. With bleak winter not budging anytime soon, I thought it would be just the recipe to wake us all up and bring a ray of brightness into our routines.

As a bonus, if you are looking for a dessert to impress a lemon lover but aren’t the most experienced in the kitchen, I cannot overstate how dead simple this Lemon Poke Cake is to prepare—you hardly even need to measure (this will make sense when you see the list of ingredients).


  •  1 (3-ounce) package lemon gelatin
  •  1 cup boiling water
  •  1/2 cup canola oil
  •  1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  •  4 large eggs
  •  1 (15.25-ounce) package yellow cake mix — Grandma says Duncan Hines
  •  2 cups powdered sugar
  •  1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice — from about 2 medium lemons


  •  Fresh berries
  •  Whipped cream


  1. Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9×13-inch pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water. (I measured the water into a large measuring cup, then stirred the gelatin right in. You could also do this in a heatproof bowl.) Let cool to room temperature.

  3. In a medium mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the oil, applesauce, and eggs until combined. Beat in the cooled gelatin. Reduce the speed to low, then slowly add in the cake mix, stopping as soon as the dry ingredients disappear.

  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top springs back lightly when touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it.
  5. While the cake bakes, in a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth.
  6. While the cake is still warm, use the tines of a fork to poke holes all over the top. Pour the glaze slowly and evenly over the top, allowing it to drip down into the holes. Let cool to room temperature. Enjoy warm or hot with plenty of fresh berries and whipped cream.
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