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How far in advance can you make a poke cake?

Poke cakes are a fun and easy dessert to make for any occasion. But a common question is – how far in advance can you actually make one? Here’s a look at what a poke cake is, how long it keeps, and tips for making ahead of time.

What is a Poke Cake?

A poke cake is a type of cake that is pierced with holes once baked, and then soaked in a liquid like condensed milk, pudding, juice, alcohol, etc. This liquid then infuses the cake with flavor. Poke cakes are soft, moist, and full of texture and taste.

How Far in Advance Can You Make the Cake?

For the actual cake itself, it’s best to bake it 1-2 days before you plan to serve it. Here are some tips for baking ahead:

  • Bake the cake completely until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Let the cake cool completely after baking.
  • Tightly wrap the cooled cake in plastic wrap and then foil and store at room temperature.
  • The cake should stay fresh for 1-2 days at room temperature.
  • For longer storage, you can refrigerate the cake for 3-4 days.
  • Freeze the unfrosted cake for 2-3 months.

When to Poke and Assemble

You’ll want to wait to poke holes and soak the cake as close to serving time as possible. The poking and soaking process makes the cake very moist. Here are some tips:

  • Poke holes and soak cake just a few hours before serving.
  • If assembling a day ahead, refrigerate after soaking and allow cake to come to room temperature before frosting and serving.
  • Don’t poke and soak more than 24 hours in advance or cake may become mushy.

How Long Do Poke Cakes Last?

Once a poke cake is fully assembled and soaked, here is how long it will last:

Storage Method Shelf Life
Room temperature 2 days
Refrigerated 4-5 days
Frozen 2-3 months

Be sure to store any leftovers promptly in an airtight container or wrapped well in plastic wrap or foil.

Tips for Making Ahead

Here are some tips to keep in mind if you need to make your poke cake in advance:

  • Bake cake layers ahead, but don’t soak until ready to assemble.
  • Make frosting up to 4 days ahead and refrigerate.
  • Prep any toppings like chopped nuts or fruits a day ahead.
  • Assemble cake within 6 hours of when you want to serve it.
  • Keep assembled cake refrigerated until ready to serve.
  • Allow refrigerated cake to come to room temperature before serving for best texture.

Recommended Timelines

Based on storage times, here are some recommended timelines for making poke cakes in advance:

2-3 Days in Advance

  • Bake cake layers
  • Make frosting
  • Prep any toppings

Day Before

  • Assemble cake layers with frosting
  • Poke holes and soak with filling
  • Refrigerate overnight

Day of Serving

  • Take cake out of fridge and let come to room temp
  • Add any additional toppings
  • Serve cake


Poke cakes can be made 1-2 days in advance, but soaking and assembling is best done within 6 hours of serving. Bake cake layers ahead of time, make frosting in advance, and prep any toppings. Then assemble, poke, and soak the cake right before you need it. Follow proper refrigeration and make sure to bring the cake to room temp before serving for best texture and flavor.