Coconut Poke Cake

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Made with just 5 ingredients (including a box cake mix), this easy coconut poke cake recipe is oh-so-moist, sweet, and a traditional Southern holiday cake.

Fork breaking off a piece of coconut poke cake.

Around these parts, we call this my Daddy’s coconut cake, because he’s a coconut lover and it’s his favorite cake at Christmas time and Easter. Luckily, none of us complain because it’s just divine beyond compare. It’s another great refrigerator cake recipe, which means you can make it up to three days ahead of time and then let it sit in the fridge. It will just grow moister and more delicious with every passing minute. There’s nothing like tender and moist coconut topping on a soft and fluffy piece of cake.

Coconut around the holidays is a tradition in the South, especially coconut cakes! Back in the old days that was the only time of the year you could get such an exotic thing as coconut in these parts (well, in Alabama anyway). So, it’s no surprise this coconut poke cake recipe is just one of four on my blog! You can also check out my Grandmama’s coconut cake with 7-minute frosting, my key lime coconut sheet cake, and Miss Patsy’s too easy coconut cake

You only need 5 ingredients and a little bit of time to whip up this coconut poke cake. Once you bake the yellow cake mix, you’re going to poke holes in the warm cake and top it with a deliciously creamy and sweet combination of ingredients: sugar, whipped topping, sour cream, and coconut. Then you let it chill and let all of those delicious flavors soak into the cake. It’s no wonder it’s a family favorite right? My mouth is already watering over here, so let’s get bakin’!

For the complete listing of all recipes I have posted to the Holiday Baking Category (including gift mixes), click here.

Labeled ingredients for coconut poke cake.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Yellow cake mix
  • Flaked coconut (you can use any kind of coconut, including canned coconut).
  • Sour cream
  • Whipped topping (such as Cool Whip)
  • Sugar

How to Make Coconut Poke Cake

Spray pan with cooking spray.

We’re making a coconut sheet cake today, so prepare your pan by lightly greasing it with cooking spray.

Bake yellow cake mix according to package directions.

Then you’re going to need to bake a yellow cake. Just get a boxed mix like I do or use your favorite recipe.

The cake isn’t that important as the icing is our key player here. I used a yellow boxed mix and made the cake batter according to the package directions.

Add icing ingredients to a mixing bowl.

While the cake is warm, we need to assemble our whipped cream topping. So place all icing ingredients (sugar, coconut flakes, whipped topping, and sour cream) in a mixing bowl.

Mix icing ingredients together until blended.

Mix until well blended.

Poke holes in cake with fork.

Poke holes in the warm cake with a fork.

Top cake with coconut icing.

Cool cake in the pan for about 10 minutes and then spread the icing over the top of the entire cake.

Coconut poke cake, ready to chill in the fridge.

Spread over, cover, and refrigerate!

You can make this as a layer cake but I find it is much easier to deal with (and store in the fridge) as a sheet cake.

Slice of coconut poke cake.



  • Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Because there’s sugar in the frosting, the cake will also freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge and then bring to room temperature before serving.

Slice of coconut poke cake on spatula.

Recipe Notes

  • You can use the box cake mix (including white cake mix) or pound cake recipe of your choice. You could even use a chocolate cake mix to make chocolate coconut poke cake and top the cake with shaved chocolate. YUM. Or how about a strawberry cake mix with fresh strawberries?
  • If you like, you can toast some coconut flakes quickly in the oven (keep an eye on them as they brown quickly) and sprinkle the toasted coconut over the poke cake before serving.
  • For added coconut flavor, add 1.5 teaspoons of coconut extract to the whipped cream topping.
  • Some coconut cake recipes substitute sour cream and sugar for 1 can of coconut cream (NOT coconut milk, folks). If you prefer this method, go ahead. Another option (if that’s too much coconut flavor) is to opt for a can of sweetened condensed milk instead.

Check out these other holiday favorites:

Southern Plate’s Must-Make Christmas Cookies

Homemade Christmas Candies

Cream Cheese Mints

Coconut Macaroons Recipe (3 Ingredients Only)

Pecan Snowball Cookies

Easy Pumpkin Pie Recipe From Scratch

Slices of coconut poke cake.

Coconut Poke Cake

Made with 5 ingredients (including a cake mix), this easy coconut poke cake recipe is moist, sweet, and a traditional Southern holiday cake.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cake, coconut


  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups whipped topping
  • 16 ounces sour cream
  • 12 ounces shredded coconut


  • Prepare the cake batter according to the package directions and bake it in a 9x13-inch pan.
    1 box yellow cake mix
  • Combine the sugar, sour cream, whipped topping, and shredded coconut in a mixing bowl. Blend well and chill.
    2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups whipped topping, 16 ounces sour cream, 12 ounces shredded coconut
  • Poke holes all over the top of the warm cake and pour the coconut mixture over the cake (after it has rested in the pan for about 10 minutes).
  • Cover well and refrigerate for 1-3 days before serving. Store in refrigerator.
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!


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  1. 5 stars
    Never thought I would hear myself say this but this is too much icing. Next time I’ll cut the icing recipe in half. . Otherwise it’s absolutely delicious!

  2. Made this tonight and it was selfish. We couldn’t wait for the cake to be chilled so we went ahead and ate it after the frosting was a bit chilled. Tomorrow it will taste even better! Thanks, Christy, this will be great for Christmas!

  3. Made this today to bring to work tomorrow. I colored a little bit of coconut green and sprinkled on top, and added a few jelly beans on top of the “grass.” Looks cute!

  4. I made the cake but I didn’t put any cool whip in the frosting. I made it the way my mama used to with sugar, coconut and sour cream. I don’t remember her ever putting any in there so I didn’t either. Still delicious!

  5. When I was a teenager, my best friend’s mother made this cake, but she made it a layer cake. It’s AMAZING! Never thought about just making it into a sheet cake – much easier, I think. Gotta try it.

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