Salted Caramel Pumpkin Poke Cake

My cousin Lusi called me up the other day and needed a quick, fall dessert for her church group and asked if I could help out.  Of course I said “yes” because I love her.  She is ALWAYS helping others out, myself included so being able to help with something so simple was a pleasure.  Especially because we got to taste test this cake before I made it for her to take.

She asked for a fall dessert so of course my mind immediately goes to fall flavors- pumpkin, apple…

Obviously I chose pumpkin.

A poke cake is so simple to do and is easy to make for a crowd.  She needed to feed 60 on a budget so this was a no-brainer.  I used boxed caked mix, doctored it up with some canned pumpkin, some pumpkin spice and then the kicker is INSTEAD of sweetened condensed milk I made a salted caramel sauce to drizzle in the holes instead.  Top with some cool whip and drizzle again with caramel and there you go!


The caramel sauce is easy to make but you have to keep your eye on it so it doesn’t burn.  It also isn’t the consistency of actual caramel sauce like you put on ice cream, it is more like a liquid so it is pretty runny.  Oh, and on a side note–it is awesome in your hot chocolate as well. Better yet, have a piece of it with some pumpkin hot chocolate!


  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • 14 oz pumpkin puree {NOT pie filling}
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/4 cup caramel sauce, divided
  • 8oz cool whip
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/14 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt


  1. Combine the yellow cake mix, the pumpkin, egg, pumpkin pie spice and oil in a large bowl or mixer. Spread mixture into a greased 9×13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely
  2. While baking, make the caramel sauce if you haven’t already and set aside to cool just a bit.
  3. Caramel Sauce:In a pot, pour the sugar so it is evenly spread on the bottom, and heat on medium-high for about 7-9 minutes before touching it at all the sugar will have started to melt and you will need to slowly move the melted part to avoid burning while the rest of the sugar melts. Stir slowly for another 5-6 minutes stirring and moving around the sugar until it is all completely melted and a caramel brown color. Just before the sugar is completely melted, place the milk in the microwave for a 1-1.5 minutes until it is very warm. Once the sugar is melted completely, turn heat down to the lowest setting and begin adding the milk slowly, about a few tablespoons at a time stirring slowly between each until the mixture melts again. {The milk will cause the sugar to harden in places, but it will always melt}. Once all of the milk is incorporated, remove from the heat and stir in salt. Let cool for about 20-30 minutes before using and store in a tight container in the fridge for up to a few week
  4. .When cake is cooled, use the back of a wooden spoon or a straw to poke many holes into your cake. Pour about 1 cup of the caramel sauce over the cake, and be sure to fill all the holes. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight to let the sauce sink in to the cake. Top with cool whip and drizzle remaining caramel over the top.

Recipe adapted from Color Me Meg
Recipe Name
Salted Caramel Pumpkin Poke Cake
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