Key Lime Poke Cake – A moist and delicious white cake infused with key lime flavor and topped with a luscious whipped cream frosting and crushed graham crackers.
Although my favorite desserts almost always involve chocolate, I try to make non-chocolate desserts as much as possible during the summer months. I think we can respect chocolate enough not to want it to melt all over the place! And as much as I’m not a huge fan of fruit, I do have to concede that summer is made for fruity desserts. When I think of warm-weather fruits, my mind immediately turns to citrus. Enter this moist and delicious Key Lime Poke Cake.
Have you ever made a poke cake? Or at least heard of them? There are crazy amounts of poke cake recipes in the internet universe, and I suspect this is not the only key lime version out there. Probably not one tastier, though. If I do say so myself!
So, what is a poke cake? It’s a cake into which holes are poked immediately after baking. Then, a liquid, filling, or syrup is poured over the cake, infusing the cake with tons of flavor or even color. Poke cakes are totally old school – dating back to 70s – and often have been made with different Jell-O flavors. In fact, my grandma’s Christmas Jell-O Cake is one such poke cake.
I’d argue that today’s poke cakes have a lot more flair and creativity than the standard Jell-O cakes of the 70s. Because poke cakes are so easy to make (using a box mix!) and almost always impressive in flavor, they are a great potluck dessert. And we certainly have no shortage of large get-togethers in the summer months!
My husband took this cake to work on July 5th, and I thought for sure it would take a while for it to disappear due to holiday weekend food guilt. Nope. The empty pan was left in his office with this note:
A keeper for sure! I love this Key Lime Poke Cake because it is infused with the slightly tart flavor you’d expect from key limes, but it’s balanced out really nicely by a very lightly sweetened whipped cream frosting. And, of course, graham crackers. The crème de la crust of most key lime pie recipes!
The whipped cream frosting recipe is the same one I used for the Banana Split Cake Roll recipe. I loved it so much in that recipe and knew it was absolutely perfect for this Key Lime Poke Cake. There is a thick layer of frosting, but it’s so light that it’s not overpowering at all. Not too sweet (whatever that is), either.
If you’ve ever squeezed key limes, you know that it takes way more key limes than regular (Persian) limes to get the amount of juice you need. Those little guys just don’t produce a lot of juice!
If you want the key lime flavor, but don’t want to squeeze a couple dozen key limes, try using a combination of freshly squeezed lime juice and fresh lemon juice. (Ratio in recipe notes below.) It will give you a flavor really close to that of key lime juice. You also can use bottled key lime juice as a substitute, but the flavor may not be super genuine.
I know this Key Lime Poke Cake is going to become one of your new favorite spring or summer desserts! Trust me on this one. We’ll wait for cooler weather to enjoy our favorite chocolate desserts. In the meantime, we’ll savor every bite of light, mouth-watering desserts like this Key Lime Poke Cake!
- 1 box white cake mix
- Ingredients noted on box water, oil, eggs
- 1 can 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
- ½ cup key lime juice
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups very cold heavy whipping cream
- 3 sheets graham crackers crushed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom of a 13” x 9” pan.
Prepare cake mix according to directions on the box.
Bake cake for time noted on box. (Mine took about 29 minutes.) Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done.
Allow cake to cool for 5-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the sweetened condensed milk and key lime juice in a small bowl until well combined. Mixture will be thin at first but will thicken as it sits.
While the cake is still warm, poke holes all over the top of the cake with the end of a wooden spoon or other small round object. (I used a drinking straw; using a fork would work, too!)
Pour the key lime mixture all over the top of the cake. Then carefully spread with a spatula to ensure the entire cake is covered.
Allow cake to cool completely.
Chill mixing bowl and beaters in refrigerator for at least 1 hour prior to mixing.
Add the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract to the chilled bowl and mix on medium speed until combined.
While the mixture is mixing, slowly pour in the heavy cream.
Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until the cream can hold a stiff peak. Stop and scrape down the bowl as needed.
Spread whipped cream evenly over the top of the cooled cake. Top with graham cracker crumbs.
Store cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Leftovers must be refrigerated.
- If you do not want to juice five million key limes or cannot find quality bottled key lime juice, you can substitute 1/3 cup regular fresh lime juice and 2 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice.
- If you are using store-bought graham cracker crumbs, use ½ cup.