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Cranberry Poke Cake

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Cranberry poke cake is easy to make, tastes great, and looks stunning. There is sweet and tart flavor in every bite. It is a great dessert for the holidays, but it will be enjoyed no matter the occasion.

Dessert plate with square piece of cranberry poke cake with red jello stripes in white cake topped with creamy cranberry frosting, bite on fork ready to eat.

There is something extra fun about a Jello poke cake. The flavor and color soaking into the cake and leaving a beautiful pattern makes it stunning as well as delicious.

This cake is extra thick and delicious. And the cranberries are in the frosting as well as the cake, making it extra tasty.

And because it starts with cake mix, it is super simple to put together. That mixed with the fact that it is made in advance makes it perfect for after a holiday meal.

Ingredients including cake mixes, eggs, oil, water, milk, cranberry jello, cranberry sauce, and cool whip, ready to be made into poke cake.

Plus, it has the right mix of vintage goodness with modern conveniences. You can picture your grandma serving it, but it also feels current and fabulous.

Making The Cake

This recipe starts with two cake mixes. I know, shocking, right?

That gives you a nice tall fluffy cake. And if you use a deep cake pan, there will be plenty of room for both.

If you think that is too much cake, use one cake mix and reduce the remaining cake batter ingredients by half.

When the cake is baked, use the handle of a wooden spoon or other similarly shaped object to poke holes in it. That gives the Jello a path into the cake and is what gives the finished product its striking marbled appearance.

Cranberry Jell-O tends to be seasonal. If you can’t find it, raspberry Jell-O is a good replacement.

Once the cake has chilled enough for the gelatin to set, it is time to make the easy two ingredient frosting. Just break up a can of whole cranberry sauce and stir it into some Cool Whip.

It is simple, but oh, so good. If you like a little nutty crunch, you could always stir in some lightly toasted chopped pecans.

Chill your beautiful creation until you are ready to serve it. Then enjoy every last bite!

Storing, Freezing + Make Ahead

Cranberry poke cake is a fabulous make ahead dessert. The cake can be made a day or two in advance and kept in the fridge.

The frosting only takes a couple of minutes to make and can easily be applied a day in advance as well. So it is a great way to get dessert done and cleaned up before hosting a meal.

Spatula lifting piece of jello poke cake out of pan showing vanilla cake, stripes of cranberry jello, and cranberry frosting on top.
  • Does it need to be refrigerated? Yes, this dessert is best served cold. And it needs chilled for the jello to set. Make sure to cover it and keep the cake refrigerated until serving. Leftovers should also be stored covered in the refrigerator.
  • Can you freeze it? Sure, though, I would wait to apply the frosting until you are ready to serve it. Simply wrap the unfrosted cake with plastic wrap, then place it in a freezer bag or container. Store in the freezer for up to 1 month. When ready to enjoy, thaw and top with cranberry Cool Whip mixture.

More Poke Cake Recipes

If you like the idea of flavors seeping into your cake, you are not alone. Poke cakes are one of our favorites.

For a creamy tropical cake, try making pineapple poke cake. It features lots of fruit and creamy condensed milk.

Bite of cranberry poke cake on fork next to piece of cranberry poke cake, ready to eat.

Chocolate lovers have poke cakes too, try making my Oreo poke cake for a yummy mix of chocolate cake and cookies. It is another favorite.

For more tasty inspiration, check out my full collection of cake recipes. There is sure to be something there that you will love.

Piece of cranberry poke cake with red Jello soaking into white cake topped with fluffy cranberry frosting, additional whipped cream, and a few fresh cranberries.

Cranberry Poke Cake

Servings: 12 Servings
Author: Carlee
Cranberry poke cake is easy to make, tastes great, and looks stunning. There is sweet and tart flavor in every bite. It is a great dessert for the holidays, but will be enjoyed not matter the occasion.
5 from 1 rating
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Chill Time 4 hours
Total Time 5 hours 10 minutes


  • 2 white cake mixes 15.25 ounces each
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 oz box cranberry Jell-O
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 15 oz can whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 8 oz Cool Whip
Makes: 9 x 13inch rectangle2inch height


  • Preheat the oven to 325℉ and spray a deep 9×13 cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the two cake mixes, eggs, oil, milk, and water. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat until no lumps appear. It will seem thin, but this is what you want.
    2 white cake mixes, 6 large eggs, 1 cup vegetable oil, 1 cup water, 1 cup whole milk
  • Pour into your prepared cake pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake (deeper than just the top bit of cake) comes out clean. Let cool for about 20 minutes.
  • With the handle of a wooden spoon, or with a similarly shaped object, poke holes in the cake. There should be a hole about every inch and be careful to not go all the way through the cake. Just go a little over halfway down.
  • Stir the jello powder into the boiling water until dissolved.
    3 oz box cranberry Jell-O, 1 cup boiling water
  • Slowly pour the jello over the top of the cake, first covering the holes and then any surface of the cake left after that.
  • Cover the cake and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until the jello is set.
  • Put the cranberry sauce in a medium mixing bowl and use a fork or other utensil to break it up until no large chunks remain and it resembles a homemade style cranberry sauce.
    15 oz can whole berry cranberry sauce
  • Add the cool whip to the bowl with the cranberry sauce and fold it together until fully combined.
    8 oz Cool Whip
  • Frost the top of the cake with the mixture. Refrigerate until ready to serve and store any leftovers in the refrigerator.


  • Store the cake covered in the fridge, for up to 5 days. Freeze without frosting in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Frost when ready to serve.
  • If you like more frosting, double the frosting recipe.
  • If you can’t find cranberry Jell-O, raspberry is a good substitute.
  • Don’t try to speed up the bake time by increasing the temperature. A thick cake like this does better lower and slower.
  • If you don’t want to make such a thick cake, you can use just one cake mix and cut the ingredients that go in the mix in half. Bake at 350 and start checking the cake around 20-30 minutes.


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 636kcalCarbohydrates: 97gProtein: 8gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 11gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 87mgSodium: 685mgPotassium: 145mgFiber: 1gSugar: 58gVitamin A: 200IUVitamin C: 0.4mgCalcium: 248mgIron: 2mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian 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 and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)
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