Cranberry Poke Cake

Homemade cranberry sauce is a key part of this Cranberry Poke Cake with whipped frosting. The cake is easy to make and perfect for a holiday celebration.

When the holidays roll around, I’m always looking for something new. I quickly get tired of gingerbread and cinnamon. It’s often the fruit flavors of Christmas such as cranberry and orange that get overlooked for the richer Christmas desserts.

This Cranberry Poke Cake was born after I made my homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. I knew that sweet and tangy sauce would be excellent poured over a white cake. And I hope you will agree!

a piece of cranberry poke cake on a plate with a bite out

About Cranberry Poke Cake:

  • Flavor: White cake, sweet and tangy cranberry sauce and a very lightly sweetened cream cheese frosting. It’s not as sweet as you might think.
  • Texture: The cake is soft and the cranberry sauce and frosting help to seal in that moisture. The cranberry sauce does have some pieces of cranberry is not completely smooth. But the cool and creamy frosting pairs really well with the cake and sauce.
  • Method: I like to bake in glass baking dishes. This is baked in a 9×13″ baking dish.
cranberry poke cake with a slice on a spatula

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

This poke cake recipe uses my tried and true homemade cranberry sauce. I did add a little more cranberry juice than I normally do so that it soaked in a little better to the cake.

Whip up the homemade sauce while the cake is baking.

  • In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the cranberries, sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved. Heat the mixture to boiling, stirring often. The cranberries should start to “pop” and turn the sauce red.
  • Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and butter.
  • Mix until the butter has completely melted.

Don’t skip that butter. It adds a richness to the cranberry sauce and cuts the sweetness slightly. 😋

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

This frosting is rich and creamy, but not overly sweet and heavy like buttercream frosting.

It’s easiest if you have a stand mixer with both the paddle attachment and whisk attachment. The paddle will to cream the cream cheese and powdered sugar. Then the whisk to whip in the cold heavy cream.

This frosting is cool and creamy. Excellent!

a cake with chopped nuts in a baking pan

Storage Instructions

  • Room temperature: This cake cannot be stored at room temperature because of the cream cheese whipped frosting.
  • Refrigerator: Store this cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Serve cold.
  • Freezer: Freeze the cake whole or sliced in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature before eating.
a slice of cranberry poke cake on the table
a slice of cranberry poke cake on the table

Cranberry Poke Cake

4.78 from 9 votes
Homemade cranberry sauce is a key part of this Cranberry Poke Cake with whipped frosting. The cake is easy to make and perfect for a holiday celebration.
Servings 15
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients
 

For the cake:

  • 1 box box white cake mix 15.25 ounces
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • cup vegetable oil

For the cranberry sauce:

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries about 2-2 ½ cups
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup cranberry juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream cold

To garnish:

  • coarse sparkling sugar
  • chopped pecans

Instructions
 

Make the cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350º Fahrenheit. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (or use an electric mixer with a large mixing bowl), mix the cake mix, milk, eggs and oil for 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan.
  • Bake for 21-26 minutes or until the center of the cake bounces back when you touch it.
  • Allow the cake to cool for 5 minutes, then poke holes all over the top of the cake using the back skinny end of a wooden spoon.

Make the cranberry sauce:

  • In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the cranberries, sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved. Heat the mixture to boiling, stirring often. The cranberries should start to “pop” and turn the sauce red.
  • Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and butter.
  • Mix until the butter has completely melted.
  • Allow the mixture to cool while the cake is baking and cooling.

Make the frosting:

  • Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together cream cheese, powder sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, use a hand mixer.)
  • Switch to the whisk attachment and slowly add in heavy whipping cream. Whip until fully incorporated. Scrape the side of the bowl as needed.
  • Beat topping until it thickens and forms soft peaks, about 3-5 minutes. It should have a light, creamy texture.

Assemble the cake:

  • Spread the cranberry sauce over the top of the cake, allowing it to soak into the holes in the cake.
  • Then spread the frosting over top the cranberry sauce.
  • Top with coarse sparkling sugar and chopped pecans.

Notes

Refer to the article above for more tips and tricks.
The calories shown are based on the cake being cut into 15 pieces, with 1 serving being 1 slice of cake. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information. The information in the nutrition box are calculated through a program and there is room for error. If you need an accurate count, I recommend running the ingredients through your favorite nutrition calculator.**

Nutrition

Calories: 391kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 78mg | Sodium: 320mg | Potassium: 131mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 41g | Vitamin A: 661IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 133mg | Iron: 1mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 391
Keyword box cake mix recipe, christmas cake, poke cake

Other Poke Cake Recipes to Love

Poke cakes are perfect for any season! Here you’ll find everything from pumpkin poke cakes to tiramisu to tropical jello poke cakes.

About Julie Clark

We are Julie, Maddie, and Kinslee – a mother and daughter team sharing with you the best cakes to satisfy any need or sweet craving that you may have. Welcome to our family’s kitchen!

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