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Cinnamon Roll Poke Cake

close up shot of cinnamon roll poke cake sliced in a clear dish
The Cinnamon Roll Poke Cake takes a boxed cake mix and upgrades it to something like a delicious cinnamon roll. Enjoy this easy to make cake in less than an hour with enough portions to keep everyone happy for a short while.
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Table of Contents
  1. CINNAMON ROLL POKE CAKE INGREDIENTS
  2. HOW TO MAKE THIS CINNAMON ROLL POKE CAKE RECIPE
  3. HOW TO SERVE
  4. STORAGE
  5. FAQ
  6. MORE RECIPES YOU'LL LOVE
  7. JUMP TO RECIPE

If you love cinnamon rolls but want something a little different, then this Cinnamon Roll Poke Cake will be perfect. This easy-to-make recipe uses a box of white cake mix to do the hard work and is ready in less than an hour, including making the delicious cream cheese frosting on top.

Don’t limit yourself to just a cinnamon poke cake! You can also try making a Coconut Poke Cake with its classic flavors. Or try something fun and colorful with the Jello Poke Cake

close up shot of a slice of cinnamon roll poke cake being cut with a spoon

MORE CINNAMON RECIPES:
Cinnamon Roll Casserole | Cinnamon Roll Cake


CINNAMON ROLL POKE CAKE INGREDIENTS

cinnamon roll poke cake raw ingredients that are labeled

You will need:

For the Cake

  • 1 box vanilla (white) cake mix, prepare as directed on the box

For the Filling Mixture

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

For the Frosting

  • 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
  • 8 tablespoons (½ cup) butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons clear vanilla flavoring
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons half and half cream

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

VANILLA FLAVORING: You can use vanilla extract if you do not have clear vanilla. The clear vanilla flavoring keeps the frosting white so if you use a brown extract, your cake will look a little different from the pictures.

CREAM CHEESE: You can use either regular or Greek cream cheese. But don’t use a fat-free one as it doesn’t work as well in the frosting.

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HOW TO MAKE THIS CINNAMON ROLL POKE CAKE RECIPE

STEP ONE: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with a baking spray.

STEP TWO: Prepare the vanilla cake as directed on the cake box. After baking, allow the cake to cool until it is still just slightly warm to the touch.

PRO TIP:

Some white cake box recipes give the option of 2-3 eggs using the whole egg or only the egg whites. Either works for this recipe, so it’s personal preference. These box cakes are almost always done baking several minutes before the suggested bake times on the back of the box so keep an eye on them in the oven!

cinnamon roll poke cake process shot of baked cake

STEP THREE: Using the handle of a wooden spoon or spatula, poke holes in the cake. Spread the holes ½ inch apart. 

PRO TIP:

I prefer using the end of a silicone spatula and poking holes while the cake is still just slightly warm, the cake slips right off the spatula and doesn’t cause any surface cake rips. 

cinnamon roll poke cake process shot of cake in a dish

STEP FOUR: In a heat-safe bowl, add the 5 tablespoons of butter, light brown sugar, ground cinnamon, vanilla extract and sweetened condensed milk. Whisk until all the ingredients are combined. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat on high for 1 minute, remove and stir. Heat for another minute and stir. Stir and make sure all brown sugar clumps have been removed. Return to the microwave for 30-second increments until all lumps are removed. 

cinnamon roll poke cake process shot of ingredients being mixed together

STEP FIVE: Carefully ladle the melted butter mixture evenly over the top of the entire cake.

PRO TIP:

When you’re pouring the mixture into the holes, tap the pan on the counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles and make sure the sauce fills the holes completely.

cinnamon roll poke cake process shot of glaze being poured on cake

STEP SIX: Using a stand mixer, or a hand mixer and a medium bowl, on medium to medium-high speed, cream the butter and cream cheese together. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl.

STEP SEVEN: Reduce the mixer speed to low then add the clear vanilla flavoring, heavy cream, and the powdered sugar ½ cup at a time. Don’t rush this process. Return the mixer speed to medium and continue mixing until the frosting is smooth.

cinnamon roll poke cake process shot of ingredients being mixed together

STEP EIGHT: Spoon all of the frosting on top of the cake, and using a silicone spatula smooth the frosting.

HOW TO SERVE

Since it’s so easy to make, this is an ideal dessert to serve to guests that pop over or take along to a summertime potluck or even a brunch. It is a true crowd-pleaser. It would also be a tasty dessert at home or for an evening snack with a cup of coffee, tea or latte. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a bit of whipped cream and you have a scrumptious treat.

STORAGE

IN THE FRIDGE: The cake should be stored in the fridge due to the cream cheese frosting. Pop portions in an airtight container and use within 3 to 4 days.

IN THE FREEZER: If you want to freeze the cake, do it before you add the frosting. Pop it into a freezer bag or container for up to three months. Defrost thoroughly then add the frosting to serve.

close up shot of cinnamon roll poke cake sliced in a clear dish

Poke cakes are a fun way to make a boxed cake into something even tastier. This cinnamon poke cake recipe is tasty, simple, and has all the flavor to satisfy your cinnamon roll craving but with much less work!

FAQ

Do I have to use a white cake mix?

You can use whatever cake flavor you prefer for this easy cake recipe. Try vanilla or yellow cake as two great options.

What do you use to poke holes in poke cake?

The end of a wooden spoon is the best size to poke holes in the cake. 

Can I make this easy dessert ahead of time?

You can make this easy cinnamon roll poke cake a day or two in advance. Since the cake should chill overnight to give it time for all the liquids to soak in, it is best to make it the day before.

MORE RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE

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close up shot of cinnamon roll poke cake sliced in a clear dish

Cinnamon Roll Poke Cake

5 from 2 votes
The Cinnamon Roll Poke Cake takes a boxed cake mix and upgrades it to something like a delicious cinnamon roll. Enjoy this easy to make cake in less than an hour with enough portions to keep everyone happy for a short while.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 15 slices

Ingredients
  

CAKE

  • 1 box vanilla (white) cake mix prepare as directed on the box

FILLING

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup light brown sugar packed
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • teaspoons clear vanilla extract
  • 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

FROSTING

  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 8 tablespoons butter softened (½ cup)
  • 2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract you can use vanilla extract if you do not have the clear vanilla. The clear vanilla flavoring keeps the frosting white
  • cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons half and half

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with a baking spray.
  • Prepare the cake as directed on the cake box. Some white cake box recipes give the option of 2-3 eggs using the whole egg or only the egg whites. Either works for this recipe, so it’s personal preference. These box cakes are almost always done baking several minutes before the suggested bake times on the back of the box so keep an eye on them in the oven! After baking, allow the cake to cool until it is still just slightly warm to the touch.
  • Using the end handle of a silicone spoon or spatula or a wooden handled spatula, poke holes in the cake. Spread the holes approximately ½ inch apart.
  • In a heat-safe bowl, add the 5 tablespoons of butter, light brown sugar, ground cinnamon, vanilla extract and sweetened condensed milk. Whisk until all the ingredients are combined. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat on high for 1 minute, remove and stir. Heat for another minute and stir. Stir and make sure all brown sugar clumps have been removed. Return to the microwave for 30-second increments until all lumps are removed.
  • Carefully ladle the butter mixture evenly over the top of the cake.
  • Using a stand mixer or a handheld mixer and a medium-sized mixing bowl, on medium to medium high speed, cream the butter and cream cheese together. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl.
  • Reduce the mixer speed to low then add the clear vanilla flavoring, heavy cream, and the powdered sugar ½ cup at a time. Return the mixer speed to medium and continue mixing until the frosting is smooth.
  • Spoon all of the frosting on the cake, and using a silicone spatula smooth the frosting. Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container.

Notes

TIP: Some white cake box recipes give the option of 2-3 eggs using the whole egg or only the egg whites. Either works for this recipe, so it’s personal preference. These box cakes are almost always done baking several minutes before the suggested bake times on the back of the box so keep an eye on them in the oven! 
TIP: I prefer using the end of a silicone spatula and poking holes while the cake is still just slightly warm, the cake slips right off the spatula and doesn’t cause any surface cake rips. 
TIP: When you’re pouring the mixture into the holes, tap the pan on the counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles and make sure the sauce fills the holes completely.

Nutrition

Calories: 336kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 53mg | Sodium: 172mg | Potassium: 136mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 42g | Vitamin A: 590IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 104mg | Iron: 1mg
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Proudly Prepared by the Spaceships Kitchen

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  1. Nicc says

    5 stars
    Amazing! It’s my nephew’s new favorite cake! Literally tastes like a cinnamon roll from the fair, but with the soft delicate texture of cake.

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