A view of a layered Holiday Poke cake with red streaking the top layer and green streaking the bottom layer. There are marshmallow christmas trees on tierh side of the area where a piece of cake has been removed.

Layered Holiday Poke Cake

We all know that I love my poke cakes, especially for holidays. I love to make the holiday flag poke cake for 4th of July or Memorial Day barbecues, and to be honest, most of the time, I bake my poke cake in a 9X13 inch pan, but occasionally, when I’m not serving a big crowd, and I’m just making a poke cake for our family, I change things up a bit and make a layered poke cake for the holidays.

If you’re wondering why I don’t make a layered poke cake to take to a picnic with other people, I have three reasons.

  • You can easily get 12, or more, servings out of a rectangular cake while the round layered cake tends to serve only 8 people (at least in our house).
  • The single layer cake isn’t likely to shift during the trip to our destination which means it will still look good.
  • I only have to decorate the top of the cake prepared in the 9X13 inch pan, because, usually, I leave it in the pan for transport to our destination and serving.
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What do you need to prepare this recipe?

From the Pantry

  • Cherry Gelatin Mix
  • Lime Gelatin Mix
  • Instant Pudding Mix
  • White Cake Mix

From the Refrigerator

  • Milk
  • Frozen Whipped Topping

The Layered Poke Cake is a great holiday dessert and can be changed up for different holidays. The cake in this post is a “Christmas Poke Cake” which used red and green gelatin on the different cake layers, but there are other possible color combinations.

Color combinations for layered holiday poke cakes for different occasions:

  • Green and Purple for Halloween on a yellow or orange tinted cake
  • Purple and Yellow for Easter on a white cake
  • All Green for St. Patrick’s Day
  • Red and Blue for 4th of July on a white cake
  • Red for valentine’s day

These color combinations can also work with a single layer cake, but the different colors would have to be added separately and the cake chilled between layers.

Why did I choose this combination of flavored gelatin?

The answer is a simple one. During the summer, I love to drink cherry limeade. As a result, cherry and lime gelatin seemed like a great combination to use on my cake. I chose a white cake for this recipe because the colors of the gelatin would show up better on a white cake than if I used a yellow cake.

How do you make a layered poke cake?

A round cake layer, still in the pan with large holes poked in the top

The first step is to make two 9 inch round layers using a white cake mix. If you prefer, you can make this cake using 8 inch square pans instead. It doesn’t really matter. You just need two cakes that are the same size. Bake your cakes according to the package instructions, then allow them to cool in their pans, and poke holes in the top.

Red liquid gelatin is streaming onto the top of a round cake layer with large holes poked into it.

I used the handle of a wooden spoon to poke holes in my cake, but be careful not to go all the way through to the bottom. Some people prefer to use a fork. The choice is yours. There really isn’t a right or wrong way to do this.

A layer of white cake poked with holes is covered with green gelatin

Once you have poked the holes into your cake, mix up the gelatin. and pour one color on top of one cake and another color on top of the other. Cover both cakes, still in their pans, with plastic wrap and put them into the refrigerator and allow the gelatin to set up. This takes at least 3 hours, but sometimes, I let them stay in the fridge overnight.

A cake coated in red liquid gelatin is covered with plastic wrap.

Once everything has set up, Remove the cakes from their pans. If they’re stuck, dip the bottom of the pans in hot water for about 10 seconds, then try again. Don’t do what I did, and just cut around the edges with a knife before dumping it out.

A red colored cake has a large crack in it breaking off nearly  one-fourth of the cake.  It is st with the pieces closely approximated.

As you can see, my cake broke, but no worries. I used it as the top layer, and covered it with frosting. No one noticed. They were too busy eating to notice that the cake had been broken and reassembled.

A green layer of cake is under a red layer of cake. White frosting is visible between the layers.

Once the gelatin on the cake has set up, gelled, assemble frosting and frost the cake, stacking the layers on top of one another with a layer of frosting between them. Then, simply cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting.

A layer of white frosting is being applied to the top of a red layer of cake stacked on top of a green layer of cake.

As you can see, we opted to decorate this cake using some Christmas themed Peeps, but you don’t have to do any decorating beyond frosting the cake.

A cake frosted with white frosting is topped with green marshmallow peep christans trees, and brown marshmallow peep reindeer alternated around the top and sides.

There are other simple ways to decorate the cake

  • Place holiday themed, or colored, sprinkles on the cake
  • Decorate using Candy
  • Use different types of cereal to decorate
  • Color part of the frosting with food coloring and decorate either the top or sides with a different color

Of course, if you’re a talented cake decorator, you could actually pipe some flowers onto the cake, but I don’t do that often. I prefer to let the children have fun sticking things to the top of our cakes.

A view of a layered Holiday Poke cake with red streaking the top layer and green streaking the bottom layer. There are marshmallow christmas trees on tierh side of the area where a piece of cake has been removed.

What do you think of this Layered Poke Cake? Do you prefer this to the single layer poke cake? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Thanks for visiting Patty Cake’s Pantry.

Layered Holiday Poke Cake

Layered Holiday Poke Cake

This simple, but delicious cake is begins with a storebought cake mix. The addition of flavored fruit gelatin makes the cake moist and adds interesting flavor. The frosting, made from a combination of vanilla instant pudding and whipped topping is light and fluffy. This cake can be decorated, but we opted to stick some seasonal marshmallow peeps on ours as a simple way to make a festive holiday cake. Total cost for this recipe is $5.00 or about $0.50 per serving.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Chilling Time 4 hrs
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 10
Calories 474 kcal


  • 1 (15.25 oz) box white cake mix plus ingredients to make the cake per package instructions ($1.74)
  • 2 (4 serving size) boxes gelatin (I used cherry and lime for this cake) ($1.16)
  • 2 (4 serving box) vanilla instant pudding ($0.98)
  • 2 cups milk ($0.14)
  • 1 (8 ounce) carton frozen whipped topping ($0.98)


To Prepare the Cake

  • Bake cake according to package directions.
  • Allow cake to cool in pan.
  • Using a fork, or the handle of a wooden spoon, punch holes into the top of the cooled cake. The smaller the size of the holes, the closer you need to place them in order for the gelatin to soak into the cake. Take care not to pierce through to the bottom of the cake. You only want to pierce about 3/4 of the thickness of the cake.
  • Mix each package of gelatin with one cup boiling water in separate bowls.
  • Stir gelatin mixture for two to three minutes until it's completely dissolved in the water.
  • Pour the gelatin mixture over each cake–one color on each cake, distributing it evenly over the surface of the cake.
  • Cover pans and allow to chill in the referator for 3 hours.

For the frosting

  • Mix both packages of instant vanilla pudding mix with two cups milk until thickened.
  • Fold in coolwhip until well combined.

To assemble the cake

  • Arrange strips of wax or parchment paper around the edges of cake serving plate.
  • Place on layer of the cake onto the plate with strips of paper just under the edge..
  • Cover the top of the layer with frosting.
  • Place second layer of cake on top of the first. Taking care to center it.
  • Apply frosting to the top and sides of the cake.
  • Decorate as desired (optional)
  • Remove strips of parchment paper from around cake.
  • Chill in the refrigerator for one hour before serving to allow pudding to set up.
Keyword cake, cool whip, gelatin, instant vanilla pudding, poke cake

The following nutrition information is calculated for one serving (on-tenth) of the layered poke cake prepared according to the recipe above.

Layered Poke Cake Nutrition Label

Disclaimer:  Nutritional information is calculated using online tools such as those available at cronometer.com or verywellfit.com.  We make every attempt to ensure that the information is calculated correctly, but this information should be considered estimates.   Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe.  In addition, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition-fact sources, databases, and the algorithms used.   You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.  Under no circumstances will PattyCakesPantry.com be responsible for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information provided. 

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