Easy Old-Fashioned Jello Cake

Revamp a boring box of white cake mix into something truly special -an Old-Fashioned Jello Cake! Learn how to make a strawberry jello-filled poke cake with whipped pudding frosting and fresh strawberries. Lighter (low fat and low sugar) ingredient options are included.

a slice of strawberry jello cake on a plate with a fork topped with a sliced strawberry

Strawberry poke cake with pudding is one of my childhood favorites. Traditional cake recipes don’t exactly align with my health and wellness goals. That’s where this lightened-up poke cake comes in.

I modified just a few things to cut back on the fat and sugar, but don’t worry -the full fat and full sugar ingredients are also listed in the recipe if you prefer the more indulgent variation.

My favorite part of this cake is the frosting. It’s sweet, creamy, and smooths over the surface of the cake like a dream. Who would have thought a box of cake mix, a box of jello, and a pudding snack pack would make the best poke cake? Enjoy.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe 

  • Classic jell-O poke cake with low fat and low sugar options
  • Uses boxed cake mix
  • It’s super easy and a great baking recipe for beginners
  • Easy to customize from top to bottom with cake mixes, Jello-O flavors, and toppings

Ingredients You’ll Need

recipe ingredients for strawberry jello cake on a counter

For the strawberry poke cake:

  • Boxed Cake Mix: I always use white cake mix, but you can poke holes into any baked cake mix with success.
  • Oil: Canola, grapeseed, olive oil, avocado oil are great options.
  • Egg Whites: Egg whites separated from the whole egg, NOT the stuff in the carton.
  • Strawberry Jello: I use a large box of sugar-free jello for a lighter option (but you can use the real deal, of course).
  • Boiling Water +cool water: to dissolve and “bloom” the jello powder.

For the whipped pudding frosting:

  • Milk: Cold whole milk or skim milk as the lighter option.
  • Pudding: Get creative with the flavors. Cheesecake, vanilla, and white chocolate pudding are delicious whipped into the frosting. I use sugar-free pudding for fewer calories and sugar.
  • Vanilla Extract: enhances the flavor.
  • Confectioners Sugar (optional): After mixing everything together, give it a taste. If it’s not sweet enough, gently fold in confections sugar.
  • Frozen Whipped Topping: the base of your frosting. You can also use a cup of heavy whipping cream ( you’ll need to whip everything together with the paddle attached to your mixer).

How To Make Old-Fashioned Jello Cake

collage photo of a baked cake, jello mixed in a Pyrex dish, pouring jello over cake, poke cake ready to chill

Step 1: Prepare for baking. Preheat your oven to the temperature recommended on the cake mix box. Spray a 9″x3″ baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Step 2: Combine wet ingredients with cake mix. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, add the oil, egg whites, cake mix, and water (use the amount of water as directed from the cake mix instructions). Mix to combine.

Step 3: Bake and cool. Pour cake batter into your prepared baking pan and bake for the time recommended on the cake mix box. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

Step 4: Dissolve jello. Meanwhile, dissolve the jello in the boiling water. Then, add the cold water.

Step 5: Poke cake and chill. Once cooled, poke holes in the cake with a large skewer, leaving 2″ inches in between each hole. Be careful not to poke to the bottom. Pour the jello liquid over the top of the cake, so the liquid drips into the holes. Transfer your cake to the fridge, uncovered, for at least two hours to overnight.

Step 6: Make the frosting. Mix the cold milk, pudding, vanilla extract, confectioners sugar, and whipped topping in a separate bowl until smooth.

pudding frosting whipped in a mixer bowl

Step 7: Frost cake. Spread a thick layer of frosting over your cake and garnish with fresh strawberries.

Step 8: Store until serving. Transfer to the fridge until you’re ready to slice and serve.

a pan of strawberry jello poke cake with a slice on a plate in front of it

Recipe Tips

  • Wait until the jello powder is fully dissolved in the boiling water before adding the cool water.
  • You can also add a tablespoon of the jello powder to your frosting for a subtle fruity flavor and a hint of color.
  • Sneak a layer of fresh strawberries or strawberry pie filling on top of the cake before layering on the frosting.

Variations

Boxed Cake Mix

  • Instead of white cake mix – you can use pound cake, yellow cake, funfetti cake, devil’s food cake, lemon cake, etc.
  • You can also bake the cake from scratch.

Jell-O

  • Switch up the fruit flavor – Swap strawberry jello for blueberry, raspberry, peach, orange, lemon, lime, or any other fun favorite.
  • Use a combination of jello flavors – and pour the different flavors in a pattern, so when you slice into the cake, you get a colorful blend of each flavor.

Whipped Topping

  • Instead of the whipped pudding frosting, feel free to keep it simple with Cool Whip or TruWhip (make sure it’s very cold).
  • If cool whip isn’t your thing, top your poke cake with homemade whipped cream.

Storing & Freezing

Storing: Store your cake, covered, in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.

Freezing: If you’re planning to freeze your poke cake for later, hold off on the frosting until then. To freeze your cake, wrap it whole in a couple of layers of plastic wrap and a layer of foil. Store in the freezer for 2 to 3 months, and thaw in the fridge before serving.

Recipe FAQ

Can I make strawberry jello poke cupcakes?

Yup! Preheat your oven and bake the batter in a lined cupcake pan according to the directions on the cake mix box.

Can I make a gluten-free jello poke cake?

Absolutely. Use a boxed gluten-free cake mix you’ve had success in the past with and bake as directed.

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close up of a slice of poke cake with a fork and strawberry garnish on top
close up of a slice of poke cake with a fork and strawberry garnish on top

Easy Old-Fashioned Jello Cake

A low fat, low sugar recipe for delicious strawberry jello poke cake made with white cake mix, strawberry jello and a whipped pudding frosting. 
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Refrigeration Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 24
Calories: 171kcal
Author: Amee

Ingredients

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1/3 cup oil Olive oil, canola, grapeseed, and avocado oil are great options.
  • 3 egg whites from whole eggs, not the carton of egg whites
  • 6 oz box strawberry jello I use large box of sugar-free jello for a lighter option
  • 1 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 cup cold milk You can use low-fat milk to lighten it up
  • 3.4 oz pudding cheesecake, vanilla, and white chocolate are great options. I used sugar-free to reduce calories and sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • confectioners sugar to taste I leave it out completely
  • 8 oz frozen non-dairy whipped topping thawed, you can also use a cup of heavy whipping cream

Instructions

  • Combine the oil, egg whites, cake mix, and amount of water as directed on the box and mix until combined.
  • Pour into a 9×13 baking pan sprayed with baking cooking spray and bake according to package directions (since this can vary slightly per mix)
  • Allow the cake to cool to room temperature.
  • While cake is cooling, mix the jello with the boiling water until dissolved and add the 1/2 cup of cold water.
  • Prick holes in the cake with a large skewer or fork every two inches being careful not to go all the way to the bottom. Pour jello mixture over the cake.
  • Refrigerate uncovered overnight, or at least two hours.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, use a whisk attachment to mix the last 5 ingredients until smooth and fluffy. Spread on the chilled cake. Refrigerate until served. Store in the refrigerator and garnish with fresh strawberries, if desired.

Notes

  • Wait until the jello powder is fully dissolved in the boiling water before adding the cool water.
  • You can also add a tablespoon of the jello powder to your frosting for a subtle fruity flavor and a hint of color.
  • Sneak a layer of fresh strawberries or strawberry pie filling on top of the cake before layering on the frosting.

Nutrition

Calories: 171kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 225mg | Potassium: 44mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 36IU | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @ameecooks or tag #ameecooks!
Amee Livingston
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7 Comments

    1. I mixed the jello & cool whip, milk & vanilla extract & then put on cake. Will it still turn out the same way?

5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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