Jello Cake is a light and cool dessert that is has been around for generations. Vanilla cake drizzled with orange jello and topped with a creamy whipped topping gives this vintage recipe all the flavors of an orange creamsicle. 

Poke cakes are fun and easy desserts for any occasion. Jello Cake isn’t the only way to make a poke cake, try our Banana Pudding Poke Cake or Cinnamon Roll Poke Cake. Both are also delicious and make the perfect treat.

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orange jello cake slice on a plate with whipped topping

Easy Orange Jello Poke Cake

Whoever said baking is hard has clearly never made a JELL-O poke cake!  They are always so moist and easy to make!  Nothing beats the summer flavor of orange and vanilla, to take you back to the days of buying creamsicles from the ice cream truck.

Hot summer days get me in the mood for a cool dessert, that isn’t ice cream. If you haven’t had a jello cake, you’re missing out! It’s a cold moist cake that can be made in any flavor……the possibilities are endless.

I grew up on this classic poke cake- my favorite version is Orange Creamsicle Jello Cake. It’s probably one of the first desserts I learned to make. Not only is it an easy dessert, but it’s also a total crowd pleaser and perfect for any potluck! It’s always the first cake to disappear on the dessert table!

orange jello cake on white plates with orange slices

How To Make an Orange Creamsicle Jello Cake

(full printable recipe at the end of this post)

This is not a complicated recipe by any means, it’s actually one of the easiest cakes you can make. So, even if you’re a novice baker, you can still whip up your own orange creamsicle cake with ease when you follow these simple steps.

To start just preheat your oven and grease and flour a 9×13 cake pan. Mix and bake a vanilla cake according to directions on the box, using a 9×13 cake pan. Cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes.

After the cake cools, poke holes in the cake using a fork. Holes should not go all the way through the cake to the bottom of the pan. The entire cake should be perforated with holes every 1/2 – 3/4 inch.

Next, combine orange jello mix in a medium bowl and boiling water, stir for about 2 minutes until the jello is completely dissolved (do not chill the jello).

Now you are going to pour the jello over the cooled cake allowing it to seep into holes.

Finally, place the cake in the refrigerator at least 3-4 hours before serving. Top each piece, or the entire cake with COOL WHIP or whipped cream when serving. (store covered in the refrigerator)

how to make a jello cake photo collage

Tips For The Best Jello Cake

I’ve always used a box mix because I love the convenience, but you can certainly use your favorite recipe and make your cake from scratch. You could even use a store-bought cake without frosting.

Vanilla cake and white cake pair well with almost all flavors of jello.

Cool Whip is always my choice of topping for a jello cake (again, it’s easy and we love it), but homemade whipped cream is just as light and airy and will work just as well.

Make sure the cake is completely cooled before adding the whipped topping.  You can speed this step up by placing the cake with the jello in the freezer for 30-60 minutes. Just long enough to set the jello, but not freeze the cake.

If you’d like, decorate with fresh fruit (or canned Mandarin oranges with the Orange Creamsicle Jello Cake), sprinkles, or fresh mint leaves when serving.

Jello Cake Variations

Vanilla and white cake go with most flavors of jello. But you don’t have to limit yourself……..

  • Chocolate cake with raspberry, strawberry or cherry jello, whipped topping with chocolate shavings 
  • Strawberry cake with strawberry jello, whipped topping, and fresh strawberries
  • White cake with blueberry and strawberry jello, whipped topping with red and blue sprinkles
  • Lemon cake with lemon or lime jello, whipped topping and lemon zest on top
  • Orange cake with pineapple jello, whipped topping with toasted coconut on top
  • Cherry cake with cherry jello, whipped topping and cherry pie filling on top 
  • LIGHTER VERSION: I often make this cake with sugar-free jello and top with light Cool Whip – for a more “diet-friendly” version.

orange jello cake bite on a fork

Storage and Make-Ahead Options 

Do you need to refrigerate Jello Cake? Yes! The jello does not set like gelatin normally does, but it does set up in the cake and needs to chill for a few hours. You will need to store the poke cake covered in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

Can you make jello cake ahead of time? Yes, you can! We actually enjoy this cake best after 24 hours and all of the flavors have had a chance to mingle. I recommend adding the whipped topping the day that you plan to serve it. FYI it’s also delicious without the topping, so I often serve the whipped topping by the slice, instead of covering the whole cake.

Can I freeze a jello cake? You sure can!! It’s best to freeze it after adding the jello and letting it chill for a few hours (do not add the whipped topping until ready to serve).  Simply double wrap the cake in plastic wrap, or a layer of plastic wrap then a layer of foil. Place in the freezer for 1-3 months. When you are ready to enjoy the cake, put it in the fridge at least 24 hours in advance to thaw, then top it with whipped topping and serve. 

Tools Used To Make Jello Cake

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Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer:

I honestly don’t know where I would be without my stand mixer! It’s truly a lifesaver for anyone who does a decent amount of baking or cooking. With that being said, if you aren’t ready to commit to a stand mixer purchase, a good hand mixer works just as well too!

Glass Mixing Bowl Set

Everyone should have a good set of mixing bowls in their kitchen. This set is my favorite because the variety of sizes means I always have exactly what I need available. 

9 x 13 inch Non-Stick Pan

My non-stick cake pan is easily my most used baking pan. I absolutely love how all my cakes turn out when baked in this pan, and the snap-on lid is just the icing on the cake!

Cooling Racks: 

Every good baker needs a good set of cooling racks, and I can’t say enough great things about this set. These oversized cooling racks are the perfect size to accommodate almost any dessert you need to let cool. 

Like This Orange Jello Poke Cake Recipe? Pin It!


orange jello cake collage

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Originally posted 2009. UPDATED AUGUST 2020. We spiffed up this post with more info and better pictures! No changes to the original recipe.

Orange Dreamsicle Jello Cake

Orange Dreamsicle Jello Cake

Yield: 16 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Chill Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 40 minutes


  • 1 vanilla or white cake mix, prepared with ingredients listed on the box
  • 1 large box of orange jello
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip Whipped Topping


  1. Mix and bake cake according to directions on the box, using a 9×13 cake pan. Cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes.
  2. After the cake cools, poke holes in the cake with a fork. Holes should not go all the way through the cake to the bottom of the pan. The entire cake should be perforated this way with holes every 1/2 – 3/4 inch.
  3. Place jello mix in a medium bowl and add boiling water, stir for 2 minutes until jello is completely dissolved (do not chill jello).
  4. Pour Jello over cake allowing it to seep into holes.
  5. Place the cake in the refrigerator at least 3-4 hours before serving. Top each piece with cool whip when serving. (keep cake refrigerated)


*I often make this cake with sugar free jello and top with light Cool Whip – for a more “diet friendly” version.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 15 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 74Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 28mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 0gSugar: 7gProtein: 1g

Nutrition information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, and freshness of ingredients used.

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orange jello cake with whipped topping