Ultra moist and easy to make, this recipe takes a classic poke cake and packs it with tasty pineapple and coconut flavor. It’s the ultimate pina colada dessert!

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Side view of two pieces of pina colada poke cake served on plates with forms, surrounded by a bowl of toasted coconut and a glass of milk.

About Pina Colada Poke Cake

Perfect for any time of the year, this simple pina colada poke cake embodies all the great pineapple-coconut flavor of the iconic cocktail and pairs it with the simple deliciousness of a tried-and-true poke cake.

What’s in pina colada poke cake?

  • White cake mix – Used as a shortcut for the base of the cake, the powdered mix is used and then “doctored up” with other ingredients to create a more moist and delicious cake.
  • Crushed pineapple – Used both in the cake mix and in the whipped topping.
  • Vegetable oil and eggs – Classic ingredients for rounding out the cake.
  • Cream of coconut – To give the pina colada filling a creamy coconut flavor.
  • Pineapple juice – Also used in the pina colada filling, to give it a hint of pineapple.
  • Rum extract – Because anything “pina colada” can use a touch of rum flavor.
  • Instant coconut pudding mix and whole milk – For giving the cake frosting a thick texture and coconut flavor.
  • Cool Whip – Used as a creamy base for the frosting.
  • Toasted coconut – An optional garnish for the top of the cake. You can also use sweetened shredded coconut.

Cream of coconut vs coconut milk

This recipe calls for cream of coconut, and it’s important to note that this is not the same thing as coconut milk or coconut cream. All three ingredients come from a similar base, but there are key differences in consistency and how they’re used.

Overall, coconut milk is liquid like cow’s milk, and is made from simmering one part shredded coconut and one part water. It’s very commonly used in Thai recipes.

Coconut cream is unsweetened and has a very thick consistency. Like coconut milk, it’s made from simmering shredded coconut and water, but the ratio has far less liquid, using four parts coconut to one part water.

Cream of coconut is also made with by simmering four parts shredded coconut and one part water, but it’s been sweetened and the consistency is more like syrup. Cream of coconut is common in mixed drinks and desserts.

Because of the significant differences in consistency and taste, I do not recommend trying to substitute coconut milk or coconut cream for cream of coconut. Make sure you’ve found true cream of coconut before making this recipe.

Top down view of two slices of pina colada poke cake served on plates with forks.

Where can you find cream of coconut?

If you’re having trouble locating cream of coconut at your local grocery store, check these areas first:

  • Canned fruit and vegetable aisle.
  • International foods. However, be careful not to confuse this with coconut milk or coconut cream – they are not the same and should not be substituted for each other.
  • If neither of the above, check your local ABC or big box alcohol stores (BevMo, Total Wine, etc) as they may have it in their drink mixes section.

Do you have to use Cool Whip?

In theory, no – there’s nothing “special” about Cool Whip that would make this cake better (or worse) if you were to use an alternative ingredient, such as homemade whipped cream. Cool Whip does bring additional sweetness and flavor, but most whipped cream is sweetened to a similar amount.

Please note I have not tested this recipe with whipped cream; I’ve only ever used Cool Whip.

Can you use real rum instead of rum extract?

If you’d rather use real rum as opposed to rum extract, you totally can – but keep in mind that extract is more concentrated than rum, so you’ll need to use more of it to get the same flavor. And since you’ll be adding more liquid, it’s best to subtract the amount of rum you use from another liquid – like the pineapple juice – in order to ensure the consistency of the pina colada filling doesn’t get too watered down.

Given the above, you can use anywhere from two tablespoons to 1/4 cup of rum to replace the rum extract. And when doing this, you’d also need to lower the amount of pineapple juice from anywhere between 1/3 cup to 1/4 cup.

Dark rum, light rum, or spiced rum can all be used.

Close up side view of a piece of pina colada cake with a bite taken out, showing off the texture inside.

Can you make poke cake in advance?

Certainly!

This cake can be completely baked and decorated per the recipe instructions up to 24 hours in advance. Just store in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

How long is poke cake good for?

Once prepared and cooled, pina colada poke cake can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Can you freeze poke cake?

Yes, you totally can!

Once prepared and cooled, pina colada pike cake can be stored in a sealed container or freezer bag for up to three months.

Notes & tips for pina colada poke cake

  • This cake can be served cold or at room temperature.
  • The cake itself tastes more like pineapple while the topping tastes like coconut, giving this dessert a perfect balance of pina colada flavor.
  • If you can’t find instant coconut pudding mix, you can substitute it for instant vanilla pudding mix or instant french vanilla pudding mix.
  • In a pinch, you can substitute the cream of coconut in this recipe for 14 ounces of sweetened condensed milk.
  • This recipe is kid-friendly! It uses rum extract, not “actual” rum, and only a very small amount. If you’re still leery of the preservative alcohol contents in an extract, you can use a rum emulsion instead.
  • You can also substitute the rum extract for vanilla extract.
  • Be careful when slicing and serving; the cake will be extremely moist and may fall apart if working too fast.
Side view of a fork holding up a small piece of pina colada poke cake

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How to make pina colada poke cake

This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.

Step 1 – Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer + large bowl), whip together the following ingredients: cake mix, crushed pineapple, oil, and eggs.

Step 2 – Pour the cake batter into a 9×13 baking dish coated in baking spray. Use a spatula to smooth out the top of the cake into an even layer.

Step 3 – Bake!

Step 4 – While the cake cools, prepare the pina colada filling by adding cream of coconut, pineapple juice, and rum extract to a bowl. Whisk everything until incorporated.

Step 5 – Use a fork to carefully poke holes in the top of the cake, then pour the pina colada filling over it. Give the cake time to absorb all the liquid.

Step 6 – When ready to decorate the cake, add milk and instant coconut pudding mix to a medium bowl. Whisk the ingredients together until the pudding mix beings to thicken.

Step 7 – Add Cool Whip and more crushed pineapple to the bowl, then use a spatula to gently fold ingredients together until combined.

Step 8 – Pour the topping over the prepared cake, smoothing it out into an even layer. If desired, sprinkle toasted coconut over the frosting.

Step 9 – Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Details

Side view of two pieces of pina colada poke cake served on plates with forms, surrounded by a bowl of toasted coconut and a glass of milk.
5 from 1 vote

Pina Colada Poke Cake

20 mins prep + 34 mins cook + 1 hr Cooling Time
407 kcal
Yields: 12 servings
Ultra moist and easy to make, this recipe takes a classic poke cake and packs it with tasty pineapple and coconut flavor. It's the ultimate pina colada dessert!

Ingredients 

Pineapple Cake
Pina Colada Cake Filling
Whipped Pina Colada Topping

Instructions

For the Pineapple Cake
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with baking spray, then set aside.
  • Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer + large bowl), add cake mix, crushed pineapple, oil, and eggs. Mix on medium speed until combined, about 2-3 minutes.
    16.25 ounces white cake mix, 1 cup crushed pineapple, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 3 large eggs
  • Pour batter into prepared baking dish. If needed, use a spatula to smooth out top into an even layer.
  • Bake cake for 29-34 minutes or until a tester toothpick comes out clean.
  • Place baking dish on a wire cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
For the Colada Cake Filling
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream of coconut, pineapple juice, and rum extract. Set bowl nearby.
    15 ounces cream of coconut, 1/2 cup pineapple juice, 2 teaspoons rum extract
  • Using a fork, poke holes along top of cooled cake, being careful not to crumble or break down surface
  • Slowly pour pina colada cake filling evenly over cake.
  • Allow cake to sit until completely cool and liquid has been absorbed, about another 30 minutes.
For the Whipped Colada Topping
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and coconut pudding mix until it begins to thicken, about 3-5 minutes.
    1 cup whole milk, 3.4 ounces instant coconut pudding mix
  • Add Cool Whip and crushed pineapple to bowl, then use a spatula to gently fold ingredients together until completely combined and there are no streaks.
    8 ounces Cool Whip, 1/2 cup crushed pineapple
  • Pour coconut topping over cooled cake and use a spatula to spread it into an even layer. Top with toasted coconut (optional).
    toasted coconut
  • Cut cake into roughly 12 servings, typically 4 rows by 3 rows.
  • Serve immediately.

Notes

Cake can be cut into 12 servings (4 rows by 3 rows) or 15 servings (5 rows by 3 rows).

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 407kcal | Carbohydrates: 75g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 52mg | Sodium: 444mg | Potassium: 143mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 55g | Vitamin A: 149IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 143mg | Iron: 1mg

I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.

Author: Chrisy

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