A Red White and Blue Poke Cake with Jello is the perfect way to celebrate the 4th of July or any patriotic holiday. But don’t limit yourself to just the holidays – it’s a fun addition to any summer meal.
This is a FUN recipe to make. And the end result is a stunning cake all your guests will ooh-and-aah over. And our easy Layered Angel Food Cake with Berries and Red White and Blue Charcuterie Dessert Board are more festive desserts for patriotic holidays.
Possibly the best thing about this dessert recipe for poke cake is the minimal prep time – just 10 minutes! And the jello makes the cake really moist so there’s zero chance of having to rescue a dry cake.
You’ll get a Pinterest-worthy cake, oozing with color and flavor, without spending much time in the kitchen. That’s a big win!
We’re sharing tips to help you get the best results with this recipe. If you don’t need the tips, scroll to the bottom for the full recipe and a printable recipe card.
✨ What’s a poke cake?
It’s a traditional cake that you poke holes in after baking. The holes are then filled with ingredients like jello, pudding, condensed milk, chocolate or caramel sauce.
This retro dessert was hugely popular in the 1970s when Jell-O promoted it to boost sales of their gelatin product. Poke Cakes quickly became a staple dessert to take to potlucks and summer parties.
Today it’s undergoing a revival. The bright ribbons of color in a jello poke cake are eye-catching and make for a fun addition to the dessert table.
There are many color and flavor variations, making this a fun recipe if you want to get creative in the kitchen.
Red White and Blue Recipes
Can poke cake with jello be frozen?
If you’re busy leading up to the 4th of July holiday, you can prepare this cake a day or two in advance.
You can also freeze the cake for up to one month. Allow the jello to set, then wrap the cake tightly in plastic before storing in the freezer. For best results, you’ll want to hold off on frosting and decorating the cake until you’re ready to serve it.
What do you need to make a 4th of July poke cake?
You’ll need the following ingredients to make this red white and blue dessert cake (complete quantities and instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom):
Boxed cake mix – a White cake mix will give the best contrast for the vivid blue and red gelatins.
Gelatin – cherry and berry blue flavors. The gelatin will create eye-catching ribbons of blue and red inside the cake. Feel free to swap out other red and blue flavors.
Eggs – use room temperature eggs for best results.
Buttermilk – gives the boxed cake mix a rich, homemade flavor.
Oil – I use sunflower oil but vegetable and canola oil work well, too.
Homemade Frosting – this fluffy frosting takes your cake to the next level. You’ll need cream cheese, whipped topping, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Alternatively, you can top with whipped topping. But trust me, the homemade frosting is the BEST!
How to Decorate the Cake for Patriotic Holidays
Once you’ve frosted the cake, you can decorate the top of the cake to create a stunning red white and blue dessert.
Using the white frosting as a base, create your own version of the stars and stripes using these items:
- Red, white and blue sprinkles (also available in star shapes)
- Red and blue candy (like M&Ms)
- Fresh fruit – pair blueberries with strawberries or cherries
- Use red and blue food coloring to color additional whipped topping for an abstract burst of color
How do you make a red white and blue poke cake?
Full instructions are in the printable recipe card below, but it’s a simple process.
Prepare the cake using the cake mix, eggs, oil and buttermilk and bake as directed. Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes.
After cooling, poke holes in the top using a skewer or a large fork. I prefer to make smaller holes when using gelatin.
Fill the holes with jello. For an even pattern of color, I fill one row of holes with blue gelatin and fill the next row with red gelatin. Continue by alternating colors for each new row.
Putting the prepared gelatin in squeeze bottles gives you more control and will make it easier to add the jello to the holes.
The cake may look like a sticky mess at this stage, but don’t worry. The next step is where the magic happens.
Allow the jello to set by cooling in the fridge for at least three hours or overnight. Now you’re ready to add the frosting and toppings.
Now that you know how to make a poke cake with jello, you can experiment with other holiday versions. Try a red and green version for Christmas or red for Valentine’s Day. The options are unlimited.
Whether you are planning a party or grilling at home this year, your guests will enjoy this pretty red, white and blue poke cake.
More Dessert Recipes You May Enjoy
Red White & Blue Poke Cake with Homemade Frosting
- 1 white cake mix
- 4 Large eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 small box cherry gelatin (3.4 oz), use ½ the package
- 1 small box berry blue gelatin (3.4 oz), use ½ the package
- 1 cup boiling water, divided
- 1/2 cup cold water, divided
- 1 8 ounce whipped topping, thawed
- 1 8 ounce cream cheese , softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Fresh Fruit
- Additional whipped topping
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Combine cake mix, eggs, buttermilk & oil and mix until smooth.
- Spread batter evenly into baking dish. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
- Combine ½ of the red gelatin package (about 2 tablespoons) with ½ cup boiling water. Stir about until dissolved (about 2 minutes). Add ¼ cup cold water and stir to combine.
- Combine ½ of the blue gelatin package (about 2 tablespoons) with ½ cup boiling water. Stir until dissolved (about 2 minutes). Add ¼ cup cold water and stir to combine.
- Using a wooden skewer or a large fork, poke holes into cake about every 1/2 inch.
- Carefully pour gelatin over the cake, alternating colors. Or use squeeze bottles to add gelatin directly into holes.
- Chill in the refrigerator at least 3 hours or overnight.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth.
- Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix until smooth.
- Gently fold in whipped topping.
- Spread over cake.
- Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Garnish with additional whipped topping, sprinkles or fruit.
- Cover leftovers and store in the refrigerator.
- Change the gelatin flavors for other holidays.
- Make layered jello cups with the leftover gelatin mix.
- Nutritional information is provided as a reference, using an online calculator. We recommend verifying this information independently for accuracy.
Nutritional information is provided as a reference, using an online calculator. We recommend verifying the information independently for accuracy.