Coconut Poke Cake

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

This tropical coconut poke cake recipe is so moist and flavorful from the sweet cream of coconut and fluffy coconut whipped cream toppings. Simple to make using a box of cake mix, this easy coconut cake is perfect for any occasion!

Why You’ll Love This Coconut Poke Cake Recipe

  • Easy to Make: Using a box of cake mix makes this cake super simple to make and the kids will love getting to help poke holes all over the top.
  • Family Recipe: This coconut cake recipe is one of my mom’s famous cake recipes that I remember enjoying every holiday growing up. It is so easy, moist, and creamy you will fall in love at first bite!
  • Tropical Flavor: Reminiscent of your favorite beachside drink, this delectable coconut poke cake takes your taste buds on vacation!
  • Extremely Moist: This rich tasting, dreamy cake melts in your mouth thanks to a liberal soaking in both sweetened condensed milk and a can of cream of coconut. A layer of coconut whipped cream and toasted coconut takes it over the top!
  • Travels Well: Unlike frosted layer cakes, this coconut sheet cake travels particularly well as it’s made in a 9×13 cake pan.

Looking for more coconut desserts? Try this old fashioned coconut cream pie, super creamy tembleque (Puerto Rican coconut pudding) or this pineapple coconut bundt cake!

Ingredients for coconut poke cake recipe arranged on a countertop. From top to bottom: cream of coconut, powdered sugar, heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, cake mix, vanilla extract, gelatin, coconut extract, water, toasted coconut, egg and oil.

What You Will Need

Moist and tender, this coconut cake is a lovely, retro recipe: a can of this, a can of that, a boxed cake mix and voila! Scroll down to the recipe card for exact amounts.

For the Cake

  • White Cake Mix: Grab your favorite standard-sized box of white cake mix, plus any cake ingredients listed on the box to make the cake.
  • Coconut Extract: Just a splash will give your cake the perfect coconut flavor!
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk: Don’t use canned evaporated milk or coconut milk, you need the thickness and sweetness of canned sweetened condesend milk.
  • Cream of Coconut: This is also a thick, sweetened canned product made with real pieces of coconut. I use the Coco Lopez brand, usually found next to the drink mixers at the grocery store.

Toppings

We top this cake with a homemade, stabilized whipped cream. However, if you’d prefer to use Cool-Whip, feel free to do so!

  • Gelatin: Use powdered, unflavored gelatin, such as Knox brand. This will keep your whip cream fluffy and stop it from collapsing over time.
  • Heavy Cream: Do not substitute for half and half, it will not whip up correctly.
  • Sugar: Use powdered sugar, granulated sugar can make your whipped cream grainy.
  • Vanilla Extract: Add pure extract for the best flavor.
  • Toasted Coconut: Use unsweetened or sweetened shredded coconut, whichever you prefer.
Coconut sheet cake in a baking pan topped with toasted shredded coconut.

How to Make Coconut Poke Cake

This easy coconut cake recipe is perfect for people who don’t have time to bake from scratch. It comes together in about 10 minutes after the cake bakes. So moist and delicious, one will ever guess the shortcut! Scroll to the recipe card at bottom of the post for full detailed instructions.

  • Bake the Cake: Mix as directed, spread cake batter in a greased 9×13 pan, and bake following the package directions. 
  • Poke: Use a chopstick, wooden spoon handle, or toothpick to poke holes all over the top of the warm cake. Pour the condensed milk and cream of coconut over the cake layer. It will look like a lot of liquid, but the cake will soak it all up. Leave the cake to cool completely while the liquids soak in.
  • Frost: Once the cake is cooled to room temperature, it’s time to top it with a nice, thick layer of homemade whipped topping. Spread over the cake in a generous, even layer. Top with toasted, shredded coconut.
  • Enjoy: Cover cake and chill in fridge until ready to serve!
Coconut Poke Cake in a baking pan topped with cream of coconut, sweetened condensed milk, coconut whipped cream and toasted shredded coconut.

Chef’s Tips for Success

  • Don’t Under Bake: Since the end result is an ultra-moist cake, make sure to bake the cake until it’s fully done. The cake should be golden on top and cooked all the way through until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Make in Advance: This cake can be fully prepared up to 2 or 3 days in advance without sacrificing on flavor or texture. It’s a great make-ahead dessert for parties!
  • Double the Coconut: For coconut lovers, add a 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of coconut extract to the whipped cream topping for a dreamy coconut whipped cream!
  • How to Toast Coconut: Spread shredded coconut on a parchment paper lined sheet pan and toast in a 350°F oven for 5 to 7 minutes until golden brown. Plan to watch closely and shake or stir halfway through for even color.

Coconut Cake Recipe Variations

  • Fruit: Sprinkle berries or sliced strawberries or maraschino cherries on top before serving.
  • Coconut Pineapple Cake: Drain a small can of crushed pineapple and stir it into the cake before baking. Or, you can add crushed pineapple on top of the cake before the whipped cream layer!
  • Pudding: If you prefer your poke cake topped with pudding, whip up a batch of instant coconut pudding according to the package directions. Spread it over the top of the cake before the whipped cream layer.
A slice of easy coconut poke cake on a plate with a fork taking a bite.

How to Store Coconut Cake

  • Fridge: Store leftover sheet cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
  • Freezer: This coconut cake is best to freeze before it’s frosted. Wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap (with a layer of aluminum foil to guard against freezer burn) and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw the cake in the fridge before frosting with whipped topping to serve.
A slice of moist coconut poke cake being served with a cake serve out of a baking pan.
4.5 from 13 votes
Print Pin Recipe
Yield: 12 servings

Coconut Poke Cake Recipe

This moist and decadent Coconut Poke Cake recipe is so easy to make using boxed cake mix. Similar to a tres leches cake, this coconut cake is topped with cream of coconut, sweetened condensed milk and sweet whipped cream! This cake is great made up to a couple of days ahead and travels well, making it perfect for any occasion!
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time55 minutes

Ingredients

Stabilized Whipped Cream Topping:

  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin, the powdered kind
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups shredded coconut, toasted

Instructions 

  • Whisk together cake batter according to package directions and add coconut extract. Bake cake according to directions in a greased 9×13 cake pan, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • While cake is still hot from baking, poke tons of holes with a toothpick, chopstick, or fork on top of the cake. Slowly pour sweetened condensed milk and cream of coconut on top of cake. (Don't get nervous if it looks like a lot of liquid sitting on the sides. The cake will soak it all up!)
  • Once cake has cooled to room temperature, add the gelatin and water to a small bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Gelatin should be completely dissolved, stir to combine once more and set aside.
  • In a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer), beat heavy cream and powdered sugar until it starts to look foamy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat until soft peaks form.
  • Turn your mixer (or beaters) to low and slowly stream in the gelatin mixture. (If your gelatin has harden, microwave again for just a couple of seconds to loosen it.) Turn the beaters back to high and beat until stiff peaks form.
  • Frost cake with whipped cream and top with toasted shredded coconut. Store in the fridge until ready to serve!

Notes

Store: Store leftover sheet cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
Make in Advance: This cake can be fully prepared up to 2 or 3 days in advance without sacrificing on flavor or texture. It’s a great make-ahead dessert for parties!
Cool Whip: If you would prefer, you can skip the stabilized whipped cream and use cool whip instead. You will need about 12 oz of cool whip to top the cake.
Double the Coconut: For coconut lovers, add a 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of coconut extract to the whipped cream topping for a dreamy coconut whipped cream!
How to Toast Coconut: Spread shredded coconut on a parchment paper lined sheet pan and toast in a 350°F oven for 5 to 7 minutes until golden brown. Plan to watch closely and shake or stir halfway through for even color.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 slice, Calories: 661kcal, Carbohydrates: 84g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 35g, Saturated Fat: 25g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 67mg, Sodium: 352mg, Potassium: 255mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 68g, Vitamin A: 817IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 202mg, Iron: 1mg

Categories:

Post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

Related Posts

Comments

Thank You For Being Here!

Jessica
For the past 15 years, Jorge & Jessica have loved getting to share their families' favorite recipes with all of you. They live in Florida with their 3 kids.