Pumpkin Poke Cake is a crowd-pleasing, easy-to-make cake that’s moist, filled with festive pumpkin flavor, and topped with a cream cheese frosting that’s literally the icing on the cake! With warm spices and plenty of flavor, this delicious cake is the perfect finish to any fall meal.

cream cheese frosting on cake

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I love making poke cakes, and this one is particularly delicious! With the warm spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, and more, this easy cake is made in a 9×13-inch baking dish, so there’s plenty to feed a crowd or to have leftovers!

Pumpkin Poke Cake

Poke cakes are amazingly moist cakes because after poking the holes in the cake, you fill them with even more flavor! In this Pumpkin Poke Cake, the holes are filled with a pumpkin pie spice-infused creamy filling. And boy, is it good!

a serving of Pumpkin Poke Cake

This cake starts with a cake mix, so there’s even less prep time, and because this cake tastes best when it has had time to set for a few hours, it’s the perfect cake to make ahead of time.

Loaded with pumpkin flavor and not too sweet, this Pumpkin Poke Cake is perfect for Thanksgiving or whenever you need a fall dessert to share!

9x13 pan of cake with frosting

Why I love this recipe

  • Using some pantry staples in this poke cake recipe really cuts down on the prep time.
  • This Pumpkin Poke Cake is moist, has plenty of pumpkin flavor, and the frosting is so good!
  • It makes about 12 servings, so it’s perfect to feed a small group or if you want some leftovers.

ingredients for poke cake

Gather these ingredients

  • Water
  • Spice cake mix – 1 box (do not follow the instructions on the box; use my directions instead).
  • Pumpkin puree – Canned. 
  • Water
  • Oil – Use a neutral-flavored cooking oil like vegetable oil.
  • Eggs
  • Pumpkin pie spice
  • Vanilla extract
  • Sweetened condensed milk – 1 small can, you will need 1 cup.
  • Grated nutmeg
  • Cream cheese – 8 ounces; softened.
  • Unsalted butter – Softened.
  • Powdered sugar

how to make Pumpkin Poke Cake

How to make Pumpkin Poke Cake

  1. Preheat your oven to 350-F spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set it aside.
  2. Mix the spice cake mix, pumpkin puree, water, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl with a hand or stand mixer for about 2 minutes or until smooth.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes.
  4. Poke holes in the cake with the handle end of a wooden spoon, 5 across and 6 down (30 holes).
  5. Mix the sweetened condensed milk with the pumpkin pie spice and pour the mixture into the holes. Cover the cake with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
  6. Beat the cream cheese with a hand or stand mixer in a large bowl until smooth. Add the softened butter and beat for another 30-60 seconds or until smooth and combined.
  7. Turn off the mixer and add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat on low speed until combined and fluffy.
  8. Spread the cream cheese frosting evenly over the top of the cake, then sprinkle the powdered nutmeg over the top, slice into 12 pieces and serve!

making a poke cake

Tips & substitutions

  • When mixing cake batter, don’t overmix and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • How to tell when your poke cake is cooked? Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake, and if it comes out clean or with a few clingy crumbs, then it is cooked. If the toothpick is gooey, it needs more time to bake.
  • You can make this cake up to a day in advance.
  • You can make the frosting up to a few days in advance, too, and store it in the fridge. Let the frosting come to room temperature before spreading it on the cake.
  • You can cut larger or smaller sizes of cake, depending on your guests and how hungry they are for this delicious cake!

taking a fork bite of cake

Serving suggestions

I love everything fall and pumpkin and often serve this Pumpkin Poke Cake with other fall dishes like Butternut Squash & Rosemary Soup, Sweet Potato Ravioli, or for dessert after a hearty fall salad. This is also a great Thanksgiving dessert and pairs so well with a meal of turkey.

gooey, rich, cake with pumpkin

Storage

Store any leftover Pumpkin Poke Cake in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. You can also freeze the leftovers for up to a month.

piece of pumpkin spice cake

Check out these awesome pumpkin dessert recipes while you’re here

cream cheese frosting

cream cheese frosting on cake
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Pumpkin Poke Cake

Moist and with just the right amount of pumpkin flavor and pumpkin pie spice, this Pumpkin Poke Cake is easy and a real crowd-pleaser!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
refrigerate cake: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
Yield: 12
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Ingredients
 

  • 1 box spice cake mix, you are only using the mix, do not follow the instructions on the box
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk, use 1 cup
  • Nutmeg, grated (for dusting)

Cream Cheese Frosting (makes 2 cups)

  • 1 8-ounce package brick style cream cheese softened
  • ½ cup unsalted butter softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350° F.  Prepare a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, pumpkin puree, water, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Mix with a hand mixer for about 2 minutes or until smooth.
  • Pour the cake mixture into the prepared baking dish, and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
  • Once cooled, taking a wooden spoon (or dowel), poke holes in the cake.
  • In a small bowl, mix the 1 cup of sweetened condensed milk with the pumpkin pie spice, and pour the mixture into the holes; cover the cake and refrigerate 2 hours.

Make the cream cheese frosting:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter and beat for another 30 seconds to 1 minute until well combined and smooth.
  • Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  • Remove the cake from the refrigerator and spread the cream cheese frosting evenly over the cake. Sprinkle the cake with fresh grated nutmeg for garnish (optional). Slice into 12 pieces and serve!
  • Store covered in the refrigerator.
Cuisine: American
Course: Dessert
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moist pumpkin cake