Orange Jello Poke Cake Easy Dessert

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How to make the best orange Jello poke cake with the most refreshing citrus Cool Whip topping. Easy dessert recipe everyone will want!

My mom was the queen of Jello cake when I was growing up, so it stands to reason that it's still one of my absolute favorite desserts to this day. And just like my favorite lemon Jello poke cake, it's always such a refreshing dessert.

Orange Jello cake is no different. Made with a vanilla cake mix and an orange-infused whipped topping, it is so deliciously refreshing . It makes the perfect potluck dessert.

sliced orange Jello poke cake, topped with mandarin orange slices, in mint green and white baking dish

Now you could bake up my homemade vanilla cake mix for this recipe, but a store-bought vanilla cake mix will work just fine too. Vanilla cake is usually very light and fluffy, which is why it's best for this orange Jello poke cake recipe.

Garnish your finished cake with mandarin oranges, and you've got a really pretty dessert everyone will love.

Another one of my favorites is strawberry Jello poke cake, made with strawberry Jello instead of orange.

What Is a Poke Cake?

Jello cake is cake soaked with liquid Jello, whatever flavor you want, and chilled. That means you can make this exact recipe with whatever flavor Jello you want; it doesn't have to be orange. I even make a red, white and blue poke cake with sprinkles every 4th of July!

In order to get the liquid Jello into the cake, you poke holes in the top of the cake first, then pour the Jello over the already baked, still warm cake and let it all soak in.

I usually use a fork to poke holes for liquid gelatin, but you may need to use the handle of a wooden spoon for thicker liquids.

Want to learn how to make gelatin? <<— I'll walk you thru the quick and easy process!

Why I Love This Orange Jello Poke Cake

  • Quick and easy to make with simple, everyday ingredients, a cake mix and a citrusy Cool Whip frosting. 
  • Cool, refreshing dessert that’s perfect for a hot summer day.
  • Orange Jello poke cake is best made ahead of time. The longer it chills, the more orange flavor infuses into the cake. 
ingredients for orange Jello cake in various bowls on white marble countertop

Ingredients & Substitution Notes

  • Vanilla Cake Mix: You can make a homemade vanilla cake, or even this classic yellow cake recipe, but vanilla cake mix makes it so much easier. We'll talk about how to make this gluten-free below, but I actually love making this with gluten-free cake mix too.
  • Milk, Butter, and Eggs: How much milk, butter and eggs you use will depend on the specific cake mix you're using. Some mixes call for water and canola oil instead; and sometimes they call for more eggs. Just follow the instructions on your specific cake mix to actually mix up and bake the cake itself. Any cake mix will do, whether a regular cake mix or gluten-free.
  • Orange Jello Mix: The fun thing about a Jello cake is you can make any flavor you want, whether it's orange, lime, lemon, or strawberry. Even berry blue!
  • Orange Juice: I like to use a high pulp orange juice. You can use any type of orange juice you prefer.
  • Whipped Cream: While I use Cool Whip to make it easy, you can also make a homemade whipped cream, use Dream Whip, etc.

How to Make Orange Jello Poke Cake

Before getting started, prepare your cake pan by spraying it well with nonstick cooking spray. This will keep your orange Jello cake from sticking to the sides. Let's get started…

How to Make the Orange Jello Cake

  1. In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, blend together the cake mix, milk, butter, and eggs according to the package directions for the cake mix you're using.
  2. Bake the cake according to the package directions, and allow it to cool for 10-15 minutes. You can tell that your cake is fully baked when a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
mixing up batter for vanilla cake mix, poured into mint green and white baking dish, and baked in pan
  1. Meanwhile, while your cake is cooling, mix the Jello mix with boiling water in a large glass measuring cup, mixing 'til the Jello powder is fully dissolved.
  2. Then stir the cold water into the Jello mixture.
  3. Poke holes all over the top of the cake with a fork, or even the handle of a wooden spoon. Don't poke too many holes, or your cake will be completely orange, and we're going for orange stripes in the cake instead.
  4. Slowly pour the Jello mixture over the entire cake, and allow the cake to finish cooling.
dissolving orange Jello in Pyrex measuring cup, poking holes in vanilla cake with fork, and orange Jello poured over cake to make Jello cake

How to Make the Citrus Frosting

  1. Whisk together the pudding mix, milk, and orange juice 'til the pudding thickens.
  2. Fold the whipped cream into the pudding mixture with a spatula. (By fold, I mean gently mix by hand.)
  3. Spread the frosting onto your completely cooled cake, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.
  4. Garnish each slice with mandarin oranges before serving.
mixing up whipped frosting for orange poke cake in stainless mixing bowl, folding in Cool Whip, and spreading frosting on cake, then adding slices of mandarin oranges to top of cake in mint green baking dish

And that's it. You've got the orange creamsicle poke cake of your dreams. Yum!

Expert Tips and Recipe FAQ's

Why would my cake fall in the middle?

I can remember coming in from school and my mom yelling, “Don't slam the door; I have a cake in the oven!” There are several reasons a cake will fall in the middle. The most common cause for a cake sinking in the middle is it is under-baked in the middle. You can tell that your cake is fully baked when a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Make sure your ingredients are room temperature, and don't over-mix. And finally, try your hardest not to open the oven door while baking because this allows cool air to hit your cake and can cause the cake to fall.

Can I make a gluten-free Jello cake?

I make gluten-free Jello cake anytime I make it, and to do so, I use a gluten-free cake mix. As for Jello and Jello pudding mix, Kraft Foods will not guarantee that Jello is fully gluten-free. While they do list any allergens on the ingredient label, they say they “sometimes purchase flavoring, color or spice ingredients from suppliers who do not list every possible source of gluten beyond what is required by law.” I recommend looking for an alternative gluten-free gelatin mix or gluten-free pudding mix instead. And as always, check all your ingredient labels to make sure all your ingredients are truly gluten-free.

What about dairy-free?

Again, check ingredient labels. You'll need to find a dairy-free cake mix that doesn't use milk or butter, and you'll need dairy-free whipped cream (or choose a dairy-free canned icing instead).

Should I refrigerate poke cake?

Yes, you should; and it should keep for at least 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Can Jello cake be frozen?

You can freeze poke cake, but you really want to freeze it before adding the whipped cream topping. Once you've poured the liquid Jello over the cake, that's when you need to make sure it's covered well or sealed in an airtight container before placing it in the freezer.

Poke Cake Toppings & Variations

There are so many different types of poke cakes other than mandarin orange Jello poke cake that the sky is the limit when it comes to various toppings and variations. Here are a few ideas you may like…

slice of orange poke cake with whipped frosting and mandarin orange on top, on ivory plate with fork

More Cake Recipes You'll Love

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Orange Jello Poke Cake

How to make the best orange Jello poke cake with the most refreshing citrus Cool Whip topping. Easy dessert recipe everyone will want!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Cakes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 12
Calories: 343kcal
Author: Mel Lockcuff

Ingredients

Whipped Frosting:

Instructions

  • Mix together the cake mix, milk, butter, and eggs according to the package directions for the cake mix you're using.
  • Bake the cake according to the package directions, and allow it to cool for 10-15 minutes. Your cake is fully baked when a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Meanwhile, while your cake is cooling, mix the Jello mix with boiling water, mixing 'til the Jello powder is fully dissolved.
  • Then stir the cold water into the Jello mixture.
  • Poke holes all over the top of the cake with a fork. Don't poke too many holes, or your cake will be completely orange, and we're going for orange stripes in the cake instead.
  • Slowly pour the Jello mixture over the entire cake, and allow the cake to finish cooling.
  • Once your cake has cooled, whisk together the pudding mix, milk, and orange juice 'til the pudding thickens.
  • Fold the whipped cream into the pudding mixture with a spatula. (By fold, I mean gently mix by hand.)
  • Spread the frosting onto your completely cooled cake, and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
  • Garnish each slice with mandarin oranges before serving.

Notes

*In regards to the cake mix, milk, butter, and eggs, follow the ingredient amounts and directions on the package for the specific cake mix you are using. Ingredient types and amounts may vary, per cake mix. Any cake mix, whether regular or gluten-free, will work.
*I prefer to use orange juice with pulp.
Should I refrigerate poke cake?
Yes, you should; and it should keep for at least 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator.
Can Jello cake be frozen?
You can freeze poke cake, but you really want to freeze it before adding the whipped cream topping. Once you've poured the liquid Jello over the cake, that's when you need to make sure it's covered well or sealed in an airtight container before placing it in the freezer.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 343kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 380mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 27g
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4 thoughts on “Orange Jello Poke Cake Easy Dessert”

  1. 5 stars
    My son-in-law requested an orange jello cake for his birthday. This recipe sounds delicious and the whipped frosting and mandarins will make it extra special.

    Reply
  2. 5 stars
    This sounds Absolutely Delicious! I can’t wait to try it myself. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise with us.
    I pray GOD Blesses You in Abundance
    Ramona

    Reply

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