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Banana Pudding Poke Cake Recipe

Introduction to Banana Pudding Poke Cake

Banana Pudding Poke Cake is a delightful dessert that marries the creamy sweetness of banana pudding with the moist, tender crumb of a buttery cake. This ingenious creation is believed to have originated from the Southern United States, a region renowned for its rich, comforting desserts. Over time, it has gained popularity across the country, becoming a beloved treat for its ease of preparation and irresistible flavor profile. The cake gets its name from the method of “poking” holes into the baked cake and then filling these crevices with luscious banana pudding, allowing the flavors to meld together beautifully. The result is a dessert that boasts a harmonious blend of flavors and textures: the soft, spongy cake layered with smooth, velvety pudding, often topped with a light, airy whipped cream and crunchy vanilla wafers. Its taste is a nostalgic nod to traditional banana pudding, while its texture offers a delightful contrast between the dense cake and the creamy filling.

Why Banana Pudding Poke Cake?

The allure of Banana Pudding Poke Cake lies in its unique combination of two classic desserts: the comforting, homely taste of banana pudding and the rich, satisfying texture of cake. This dessert stands out for its versatility and ease of customization, making it a favorite among both novice and experienced bakers. Its simplicity does not detract from its elegance; it is as suitable for a casual family dinner as it is for a festive celebration. The cake’s ability to be prepared in advance also adds to its appeal, making it a go-to option for busy hosts seeking to impress their guests with a minimum fuss. In the landscape of modern desserts, where the fusion of flavors and textures is celebrated, Banana Pudding Poke Cake holds a special place. It encapsulates the essence of comfort food while offering a sophisticated palate experience, making it a timeless choice for any occasion. Whether it’s a birthday, holiday, or just a regular day, this cake promises a slice of joy and nostalgia, proving that sometimes, the simplest desserts are the most extraordinary.

Ingredients Overview

The Banana Pudding Poke Cake is a testament to the magic of simple ingredients coming together to create something spectacular. At its core, the recipe calls for:

  • 1 box of yellow cake mix: For those looking to add an extra layer of banana flavor, substituting with a banana-flavored cake mix is a delightful option. Alternatively, a homemade yellow cake batter can be used for a more traditional touch.
  • Ingredients required by the cake mix: Typically, this includes eggs, oil, and water. To make the cake moister, consider replacing the water with milk and adding an extra egg than the box suggests.
  • 2 packages (3.4 ounces each) of instant banana pudding: It’s crucial to use instant pudding as it sets without the need for cooking. For a homemade twist, vanilla pudding with added banana extract can replace the store-bought banana pudding, offering a more natural flavor profile.
  • 4 cups of milk: Whole milk is preferred for its richness, but 2% milk can be used as a lighter option. Milk alternatives can also be experimented with, though they may alter the pudding’s consistency slightly.
  • 1 tub (8 ounces) of whipped topping (Cool Whip): For a homemade alternative, whipped heavy cream with a touch of sugar and vanilla can be used, though it may not hold up as long as its store-bought counterpart.
  • Vanilla wafers: A key ingredient for adding that quintessential banana pudding texture and taste. While the name brand is recommended for its flavor, any vanilla wafer will contribute that beloved crunch.

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions

  1. Prepare the Cake: Start by baking the yellow cake according to the package instructions in a 9×13-inch pan. For a richer taste, consider the substitutions mentioned above. Once baked, allow the cake to cool for a few minutes.
  2. Poke Holes: With the handle of a wooden spoon or a similar object, poke holes throughout the cake, making sure they are evenly spaced and go all the way to the bottom. This allows the pudding to seep into the cake, creating moist pockets of flavor.
  3. Mix the Pudding: In a large bowl, whisk together the instant banana pudding mix and milk until smooth. Let it sit for just 1-2 minutes; it should start to thicken but still be pourable.
  4. Add Pudding to Cake: Pour the slightly thickened pudding over the cake, taking care to fill the holes. Use the back of a spoon to help guide the pudding into the holes if needed.
  5. Chill: Place the cake in the refrigerator to let the pudding set, about 2 hours.
  6. Top and Serve: Once set, spread the whipped topping over the cake. Crush the vanilla wafers and sprinkle them on top for that final touch. For the best flavor and texture, chill the cake for an additional hour before serving.

Tips for Perfect Consistency and Flavor:

  • Ensure the pudding is just beginning to thicken before pouring it over the cake; this ensures it seeps into the holes properly.
  • For an added touch of banana, layer slices of banana between the cake and the whipped topping. Note: do this only if serving immediately to prevent browning.
  • Letting the cake sit overnight in the refrigerator not only allows the flavors to meld but also improves the texture, making it even more irresistible.

Tips and Tricks

Expert Tips for the Perfect Cake

Achieving the perfect Banana Pudding Poke Cake involves a few key strategies to ensure the pudding sets perfectly and the cake maintains its moistness. First, when adding the pudding over the cake, ensure it’s just beginning to thicken. This consistency allows it to seep into the holes effectively without making the cake soggy. If you’re experimenting with cake mix and pudding variations, remember that the consistency of the pudding might vary. Using a banana-flavored cake mix can amplify the banana essence, while a vanilla or even a chocolate cake mix offers a delightful contrast. For those looking to enhance the pudding, consider mixing in a tablespoon of banana extract to intensify the flavor without altering the texture.

Decoration and Serving Suggestions

Presentation plays a big role in making your Banana Pudding Poke Cake a standout dessert. Consider garnishing with fresh banana slices and a sprinkle of cinnamon or cocoa powder just before serving to add a touch of elegance. For a festive look, drizzle caramel or chocolate sauce over the whipped topping. When serving, a dollop of fresh whipped cream on each slice, accompanied by a few Nilla wafers, can elevate the dessert experience. This cake pairs beautifully with a cup of coffee or a glass of cold milk, making it a versatile choice for various occasions.

Part 2: Advanced Techniques and Variations

Advanced Baking Techniques

For those looking to take their Banana Pudding Poke Cake to the next level, making your cake mix and pudding from scratch can make a significant difference. A homemade cake mix allows for customization of flavors and can be adapted for dietary restrictions, such as gluten-free or vegan options. Similarly, a homemade pudding offers control over the sweetness and texture, allowing for a more tailored dessert experience. When customizing for dietary restrictions, consider using almond milk or coconut milk in the pudding and a suitable substitute for eggs in the cake mix.

Variations of Banana Pudding Poke Cake

The versatility of Banana Pudding Poke Cake means the possibilities for variations are nearly endless. For a tropical twist, layer slices of fresh mango or pineapple between the cake and the pudding. A chocolate banana pudding poke cake can be achieved by using a chocolate cake mix and adding a layer of chocolate ganache under the whipped topping. For a more decadent version, mix in mini chocolate chips or chunks of banana bread into the pudding before pouring it over the cake. Another delightful variation involves swirling peanut butter into the banana pudding, offering a nod to the classic peanut butter and banana combination. Each of these variations adds a unique twist to the traditional recipe, allowing for endless creativity in the kitchen.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you add sliced bananas to this cake?

Yes, adding sliced bananas to your Banana Pudding Poke Cake can enhance its flavor and presentation. For the best results, place the banana slices between the cake layer and the whipped topping. To prevent the bananas from browning, lightly brush them with lemon juice or layer them just before serving. Keep in mind that fresh bananas may not hold up as well if the cake is stored for an extended period.

Can this cake be frozen?

Banana Pudding Poke Cake can be frozen, but it’s best to do so before adding the whipped topping and any fresh fruit decorations. Wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil to protect it from freezer burn. When you’re ready to enjoy it, thaw the cake in the refrigerator overnight, then add the whipped topping and any additional garnishes. Note that the texture of the cake may change slightly after freezing.

Will this work with different sizes of cake mixes?

Yes, this recipe is quite forgiving and can adapt to various sizes of cake mixes. If you’re using a smaller cake mix (due to changes in product sizes over the years), you may need to adjust the amount of added ingredients (eggs, oil, and water) accordingly. The key is to ensure the cake batter fits well in a 9×13-inch pan and bakes up nicely.

How to store leftovers?

Leftover Banana Pudding Poke Cake should be stored in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. Cover the cake with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, or store it in an airtight container. Properly stored, the cake will last for up to 3 days in the fridge. If you’ve added fresh bananas on top, consider consuming the cake sooner to enjoy the best quality.

Banana Pudding Poke Cake Recipe

This Banana Pudding Poke Cake recipe combines the creamy sweetness of banana pudding with the moist texture of cake, creating a delightful dessert perfect for any occasion. It's easy to make, customizable, and sure to be a hit with all ages.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time (for chilling): 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 servings
Calories 270 kcal


  • 9x13 inch baking pan
  • Mixing bowls
  • Whisk
  • Wooden spoon or similar object for poking holes


  • 1 box yellow cake mix and ingredients called for on the box: typically eggs, oil, and water
  • 2 packages 3.4 ounces each instant banana pudding
  • 4 cups milk whole or 2% recommended
  • 1 tub 8 ounces whipped topping (e.g., Cool Whip)
  • Vanilla wafers crushed (for topping)
  • Fresh bananas sliced (optional, for garnish)


  • Prepare the Cake: Bake the cake according to the package instructions in a 9x13-inch pan. Allow to cool slightly.
  • Poke Holes: With the handle of a wooden spoon, poke holes throughout the cake.
  • Prepare the Pudding: Whisk together the instant banana pudding mix and milk until smooth. Let sit for 1-2 minutes until slightly thickened but still pourable.
  • Assemble: Pour the pudding over the cake, ensuring it fills the holes. Refrigerate for 2 hours to set.
  • Decorate: Spread the whipped topping over the set pudding layer. Sprinkle with crushed vanilla wafers and add fresh banana slices if desired.
  • Chill: Refrigerate for an additional hour or until ready to serve.


  • For a richer cake, substitute water with milk and add an extra egg to the cake mix.
  • Lemon juice can prevent banana slices from browning if added as a garnish.
  • The cake can be frozen without the whipped topping and bananas for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and add toppings before serving.
  • Experiment with different cake mix flavors or homemade pudding for a custom twist.
Keyword Banana Cake, Banana Pudding Poke Cake, Easy Dessert, Party Dessert, Pudding Cake