This Banana Pudding Poke Cake is the easiest and most delicious banana dessert around! Buttery yellow cake is infused with banana pudding, then slathered with whipped cream, crushed vanilla wafers and banana slices! Naturally a make ahead recipe, this is a dessert the whole family will love!
This is one of my Dessert recipes I know you’ll want to have on hand!
I don’t know about you, but I’m all about easy, make ahead dessert recipes. Especially when the weather gets warm!
Banana pudding is so creamy and delicious, so pairing it with cake is a match made in heaven.
Plus, it’s such a simple, easy to make recipe. Although it does require a little forethought, since the cake does have to cool before you add the whipped cream topping.
However, that’s true for any cake right? Frosting a warm cake will end up a gooey mess… trust me… been there before.
In fact, you can even make this cake completely ahead of time, and let it hang out in the refrigerator overnight. The flavors get deeper and more meshed together, and all you have to do on the day of serving is sprinkle some crushed vanilla wafer cookies and add some sliced bananas on top!
How to make a banana poke cake?
This is just an overview; the full ingredients and directions are in the recipe card toward the bottom of this post.
- Prepare cake according to package directions and bake. Use your favorite brand of cake mix. Our favorites are Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker.
- Poke holes in warm cake. It’s best to do this while the cake is still warm so it will absorb the pudding mixture we add next.
- Combine milk and pudding mix. We only have whole milk on hand, but I’m sure 2% would work too.
- Pour pudding mix over cake and spread around, as you want to make sure the holes get filled up with the pudding. Cover and refrigerate cake for 1-2 hours.
- Spread whipped topping on top of cake.
- Crush vanilla wafer cookies. Alternately, you could chop them, or use your food processor.
- Spread cookie pieces on top of the cake, with banana slices. It’s best to do this before serving, so they don’t get soggy and discolored.
You can use any tool you’d like to poke the holes, I just find the end of a wooden spoon is handy. Whichever utensil you use, just make sure you’re poking through to the bottom of the pan, so the pudding can really get in there!
Variations of this recipe
- Sugar-free – I haven’t specifically tested this, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Use sugar free cake mix, pudding mix and whipped topping for a sugar-free dessert!
- Other cake flavors – I like to use yellow cake mix because it has a great yellow color that pairs well with the banana. However, you can switch up the cake mix and use white, vanilla/french vanilla, or any other flavor you’d like.
- Poke Cupcakes – instead of following the package directions to make a 9×13 cake, make cupcakes. Poke holes in the cupcakes and continue with the recipe.
- Banana slices – to bump up the banana flavor, after adding the pudding and letting it soak into the cake, before adding the whipped cream, add a layer of banana slices.
- Homemade – not into using cake mix and prepared whipped topping? No worries, you can absolutely use your own from-scratch recipes to make those and use them here. It’s a very versatile recipe!
Yes! For best results, freeze the cake after you’ve added the pudding and let it set, but before you add the whipped topping. Then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and put in a freezer container. The cake should freeze well for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Sure can! Instead of a 9×13″ cake, follow the box directions for making 2 round cakes. Then use half of the pudding on each cake and let set for at least 1 hour. Add a layer of whipped topping on top of one of the rounds, then top it with the other round and frost as desired.
Making a poke cake ahead of time
This cake is a bit of a natural make ahead dessert, as the cake needs to chill in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours. Not only to cool, but to allow for the pudding to really soak down into the cake.
However, this cake can be made completely, including the whipped cream topping, then covered and refrigerated a day or two. Just make sure not to add the vanilla wafers and banana slices until right before you serve, so they don’t get soggy.
Leftovers should be refrigerated and eaten within 3 days.
I love that this pan is made in the USA, and has held up to years of heavy duty use with no issues!
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @the_chunky_chef on Facebook and Instagram!
- 1 box yellow cake mix (plus ingredients to make the cake – check the box for directions)
- 2 (3.4 oz each) packages instant banana pudding
- 2 cups cold milk
- 8 oz container frozen whipped topping thawed
- 2 cups crushed vanilla wafer cookies
- sliced bananas
- Prepare, and bake cake in a 9×13" baking pan, according to package directions. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs.
- While cake is still warm, poke holes in the cake with the end of a wooden spoon.
- In a mixing bowl, add pudding mix and milk. Whisk well to combine.
- Pour pudding evenly over the warm cake, spreading if necessary to make the pudding fill the holes in the cake. Cover cake with foil and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours, or until cooled.
- When cake is cooled, spread whipped topping evenly over the entire top of the cake.
- To serve, top cake with the cookie pieces and/or banana slices right before serving.
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- You can make this cake (up to step 4) one or two days ahead. Just cover it as directed in step 4 and refrigerate until needed.
The Chunky Chef is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.