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This easy cinnamon roll poke cake is made with a fluffy vanilla cake which gets poked and filled with rich and creamy cinnamon and brown sugar filling, then topped with a homemade cream cheese frosting. This ultra-rich cinnamon poke cake is the perfect way to recreate cinnamon roll flavors in the form of an easy sheet cake!

slice of cinnamon roll poke cake with cream cheese frosting on a plate.

Cinnamon Poke Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This wildly delicious cinnamon roll poke cake is made the same way I make cannoli poke cake, hot chocolate poke cake, and all my other poke cake recipes. And it’s made with similar flavors found in this cinnamon roll cheesecake!

Why is it called poke cake?

A poke cake is called as much because you literally poke holes all over it, usually with a wooden skewer, and pour a filling over the top. The filling soaks in and creates a super moist cake and every bite is filled with a surprise.

Just one slice contains all the caramel flavors from the condensed milk and brown sugar which is only enhanced by the cinnamon.

This simple recipe is full of nostalgia and comfort. One slice of this cake will remind you of Sunday brunch, holiday breakfasts, and freshly baked pastry!

My cinnamon roll loving family LOVED this one.

spatula lifting a slice of cinnamon roll poke cake.

Why you’ll love Cinnamon Roll Poke Cake

Tastes Like A Cinnamon Roll –   The vanilla cake oozes with a sweet cinnamon filling that elevates the entire flavor of the cake. 

Semi-Homemade  –  Using a box mix for the cake saves you time, so you only have to make the filling and the frosting.    

Cream Cheese Frosting – Like the rich frosting that tops your favorite cinnamon rolls, cream cheese frosting is the ideal addition to these cinnamon rolls. 

Creamy Filling – The milk, butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar make the cake perfectly moist. 

Party-Ready –  This stunning cinnamon poke cake tastes as good as it looks! And you can feed a larger crowd with this simple recipe.  

side view of a sliced cinnamon roll poke cake with cream cheese frosting.

Equipment you’ll need


Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe, why you need them, and possible substitutions. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card with measurements.

  • White Cake MixI use Betty Crocker Super Moist white cake but you can use your favorite brand. Yellow cake works too.
  • For the Filling – Unsalted butter, sweetened condensed milk, light brown sugar, ground cinnamon, and salt. Together these mimic the cinnamon swirl in a traditional roll.  
  • For the Frosting – Heavy cream (keep it cold until the last minute), room temperature cream cheese (so bring it out about 1 hour beforehand), salted butter (also room temperature), powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and salt.
overhead shot of labeled ingredients laid out to make a cinnamon roll cake.

How to make Cinnamon Roll Poke Cake

This section shows you how to make this recipe, with process photos showing the steps to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.

  1. Step One: Bake the cake according to the boxed cake mix package directions, which usually include water, eggs, and oil. Use a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Once done, allow it to cool for about 20 minutes. Then, use the end of a wooden spoon to poke holes into it, being careful not to poke to the bottom.
overhead shot of a white cake with holes poked in it.
  1. Step Two: Melt the butter in the microwave and then add the sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt and whisk together until smooth.
overhead shot of cinnamon sugar mixture in a bowl.
  1. Step Three: Pour this filling over the cake. Use a spatula to spread it across evenly, and to help some of it drip into the holes. Set the cake aside for a moment.
cinnamon sugar filling being spread over a poke cake.
  1. Step Four: To a large chilled mixing bowl, pour in the cold heavy cream. Using chilled beaters, beat the cream on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form (about 5-10 minutes).
overhead shot of whisk showing homemade whipped cream.
  1. Step Five: To another large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth, add powdered sugar, and continue beating, followed by the vanilla and salt, and continue mixing until fully combined. Use a spatula to fold the whipped cream until incorporated and then spread it evenly over the cake. Finish with a sprinkling of cinnamon!

What to serve with Cinnamon Roll Poke Cake

A poke cake is both impressive and not at all fussy. It’s the perfect thing to serve at potlucks and family dinners. It’s the kind of cake you want with a hot cup of coffee or tea or a cold glass of milk.

Basically, whatever you’d enjoy with a cinnamon bun, you’ll want with this cake!

If you want to add other desserts to your menu, the cinnamon flavors will taste the best with easy apple strudel. It will also taste perfect with French breakfast muffins, and baked cinnamon sugar donuts.

Tips & Suggestions

  • Let the cream cheese warm up to room temperature. This will make it easier to whip without leaving lumps of cream cheese in the mix.
  • The end of a wooden spoon is the best way to poke the holes, as long as it’s not too large. You don’t want gaping holes. You can also use a plunger from a kid’s medicine syringe. You want the holes big enough to absorb the yumminess.
  • Before you make the whipped cream, put your mixing bowls and beaters in the freezer for 10 minutes. This helps the whipped cream to whip up faster.
  • Instead of making your own whipped cream, you could use Cool Whip instead.
  • If you want to add another twist, crushed Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal would also make a fun topping.

How to reheat and store Cinnamon Roll Poke Cake

How to store leftovers

Leftover poke cake should be stored in the fridge, and covered in an airtight container.

How long will cinnamon poke cake last in the fridge?

Homemade poke cake usually keeps for up to 4 days in the fridge.

Can I freeze it?

Yes, poke cake freezes well. Freeze the entire cake or individual slices by wrapping them in plastic wrap and placing them in a freezer bag. They’ll keep up to 2 months in the freezer when stored properly. Thaw at room temperature before enjoying a leftover slice.

fork poking into a slice of cinnamon roll cake.


What is the difference between a poke cake and a dump cake?

The whole point of calling it a poke cake is that you poke holes into the baked cake and add filling. A dump cake involves just dumping all the ingredients into a cake pan and baking it without worrying about how pretty it looks.

Why is my poke cake soggy?

There’s a fine line between moist and soggy. If you pour too much liquid into your poke cake, it can get soggy. If you stick to the recipe as written, you should be just fine.

Can I make this cinnamon poke cake ahead of time?

You can! Bake the cake, poke the holes, and pour the mixture over the top. Allow the cake to absorb the flavors overnight and then serve it the next day. If you have the spare time, I recommend waiting to add the whipped topping until just before serving.

Need more poke cake recipes? Try these:

Easy Halloween Poke Cake

Pistachio Pudding Poke Cake

Caramel Apple Poke Cake

Better Than Sex Cake

Click here for my entire collection of dessert recipes.

a bite missing from a slice of cinnamon roll poke cake with cream cheese frosting.

Did You Make This?

If you made this recipe, I’d love to know how it went in the comments section below.

You can also tag me on Instagram – @melissa_ppplates or share a pic in the Persnickety Plates Community Facebook group. I love seeing what you’ve tried!

slice of cinnamon roll poke cake with cream cheese frosting on a plate.
5 from 1 vote

Cinnamon Roll Poke Cake

Servings: 15 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 28 minutes
Total Time: 53 minutes
This easy cinnamon roll poke cake is made with a fluffy vanilla cake which gets poked and filled with rich and creamy cinnamon and brown sugar filling, then topped with a homemade cream cheese frosting. This ultra-rich cinnamon poke cake is the perfect way to recreate cinnamon roll flavors in the form of an easy sheet cake!


For the Cake

  • 14.25 ounce white cake mix prepared according to the package instructions

For the Filling

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup light brown sugar packed
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 4 Tablespoons salted butter softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • teaspoon salt


To Make The Cake

  • Prepare and bake the cake according to the box instructions (water, oil, eggs) in a 9×13 glass baking dish. Set aside to cool for approximately 20 minutes.
    14.25 ounce white cake mix

To Make the Filling

  • To a medium, microwave safe mixing bowl, add the butter and melt in the microwave (approximately 30-60 seconds).
    6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • To the melted butter, add the sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt and whisk together until smooth.
    ½ cup sweetened condensed milk, ½ cup light brown sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Once the cake has slightly cooled, use the end of a wooden spoon or a dowel to poke holes all over the cake, approximately 1" apart.
  • Pour the filling mixture over the cake and then use a spatula to evenly spread it around. Set aside.

To Make the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • To a large, chilled mixing bowl, add the heavy cream. Beat on medium-high speed with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form. This can take 5-10 minutes. Once stiff peaks have formed, set aside.
    ½ cup heavy cream
  • To another large mixing bowl, add the room temperature cream cheese and butter. Beat on medium speed until smooth.
    8 ounces cream cheese, 4 Tablespoons salted butter
  • Add in the powdered sugar and continue beating until smooth.
    1 cup powdered sugar
  • Add in the vanilla and salt and beat until fully incorporated.
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • Use a spatula to gently fold in the whipped cream until fully incorporated.
  • Spread the frosting evenly over the cake, sprinkle with cinnamon, slice and serve.



  • I used Betty Crocker Super Moist White Cake Mix (14.25oz). You can use yellow or white cake.
  • To poke the holes, I recommend using the end of a wooden spoon (I used the end of my candy dipping set) or the plunger from a kids medicine syringe also works well! You don’t want giant, gaping holes, but you also don’t want them to be too tiny that they can’t absorb the filling.
  • When making whipped cream, I highly recommend putting your mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for approximately 10 minutes before starting.
  • Store leftovers covered covered in the fridge for up to 4 days.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 340kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 334mg | Potassium: 96mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 33g | Vitamin A: 581IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 119mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag me on Instagram @melissa_pplates so I can see!

Originally published January 22, 2014

Cinnamon Roll Cake | Persnickety Plates

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  1. I am going to make this for the weekend, but wondering if I can make the cake like the recipe for your pistachio poke cake and only use the egg whites? The cake in that recipe was so nice and fluffy and usually my cakes are just blah and dry.

    1. I haven’t tested this one with only egg whites but my friend did and she wasn’t happy with the results. She said it tasted great but it was crumbly. If you try, let me know!