Kentucky Butter Poke Cake is a delightful twist on a classic butter pecan pound cake! Buttermilk & cream cheese star in this rich, flavorful butter poke cake topped with toasted pecans.
This butter pecan poke cake is made with a boxed cake mix which makes it perfect to whip up before any event or family gathering. Using a few simple ingredients this Kentucky butter cake is a light, fluffy and sensational dessert!
Why Is It Called a Kentucky Butter Cake?
No one really knows why this dessert is named after a specific state. But this buttermilk cake recipe is called a “butter cake” because the made-from-scratch versions often contain a good amount of butter to make the cake extra moist and flavorful. Our cake uses a combination of buttermilk and cream cheese to give us those same incredible results. There is never a wrong time for a Kentucky butter cake and this southern dessert is always welcomed at my house. Trust me when I say that you have never had a butter poke cake recipe quite like this before.
Why you will love this Butter Pecan Poke Cake
Here are a few quick reasons why we think you are going to fall head over heels for this cake:
- The ingredients are simple. From the boxed cake mix to the homemade cream cheese topping you will need less than 10 ingredients in total and many of them are probably in your home already (eggs, powder sugar, vanilla, etc.) This means that this is a cake recipe you can whip up without a large trip to the grocery store.
- We toast the pecans ourselves. With about 5 minutes of stirring some pecans in a skillet, we end up with an incredible depth of flavor and sweetness from the nutty pecans which pairs wonderfully with the buttery cake.
- This recipe is versatile. If desired, you can add up to ½ cup of shredded coconut to the pecans while they are toasting to give you an even greater flavor combination in every bite.
Butter Cake Ingredients
For the cake, you will need:
Cake Mix: You will need 1 standard-sized 15.25-ounce box of yellow cake mix for this recipe. If you really want a stronger butter flavor then you can use butter-flavored cake mix. Remember that you are only using the dry box mix, you are not preparing it according to the package directions.
Buttermilk: Use 1 cup of buttermilk to add richness and moisture to the cake.
Cream cheese: You will need 4 ounces of softened cream cheese for the cake batter.
Eggs: Use 2 large eggs to help bind the cake together.
For the topping, you will need:
Cream cheese: You will need 1 8-ounce package of softened cream cheese to make the glaze creamy and rich.
Butter: Adding in ½ cup of softened butter will make the frosting extra flavorful.
Vanilla extract: Use 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to help enhance the flavors in the topping.
Powdered sugar: To make the glaze nice and sweet you will need 1 ½ cups of powdered sugar.
Milk: Use ¼ cup of milk to help get the glaze to the perfect consistency.
Pecans: You will need 1 cup of chopped pecans to add a nice crunch to this cake. But other nuts like walnuts or even sliced almonds would work well too.
How to make Kentucky Butter Poke Cake
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and spray the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray before setting it aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cake mix, buttermilk, 4 ounces of softened cream cheese, and the two eggs, until well combined.
Next, pour your cake batter into the prepared baking dish and bake in the oven for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted and come out clean.
Once done baking, set the cake aside to cool.
Begin by placing the pecans into a small dry skillet over medium-high heat and stir them around for about 4-5 minutes until fragrant and slightly darker in color. Be careful to not let them burn.
Once browned, remove the skillet from the heat and allow the pecans to cool for a few minutes.
In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and 8 ounces of cream cheese, whisk together until smooth.
Then, add in the vanilla extract and the milk, stir until combined.
After that, whisk in the powdered sugar and blend until smooth.
Using the bottom of a wooden spoon or a large straw (like a smoothie straw), poke holes into the cake all over and down to the bottom of the pan.
Next, pour the glaze over the top of the cake and spread it around to cover the entire surface of the cake.
Then, immediately top with the toasted pecans, sprinkle evening over the whole cake.
Proceed to place the cake into the fridge to chill for 1 ½ hours.
Slice, serve and enjoy!
Kentucky Butter Cake vs Gooey Butter Cake
While both cakes feature butter there is a distinct difference between the two. A Gooey Butter Cake (also known as a chess cake) is a dense, flat cake that almost looks like lemon bars. A Kentucky Butter Cake is a taller, pound cake made by creaming ingredients together to create a lighter volume. While both cakes are delicious they are very different, so feel free to choose both to bring to your next party.
Kentucky Butter Poke Cake
- 15.25 oz Yellow Cake Mix
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 4 oz cream cheese ½ brick, softened
- 2 eggs
- 8 oz cream cheese 1 brick, softened
- ½ cup butter softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Spray the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside.
- Beat together the cake mix, buttermilk, 4 ounces of softened cream cheese and the 2 eggs with an electric mixer, until well combined.
- Pour the cake batter into the pan. Bake 28 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set cake aside to cool.
- Toast pecans by heating them in a small skillet on medium-high heat for about 4-5 minutes. Stir often. Pecans will begin to be fragrant and turn slightly darker in color. Remove from heat and cool.
- In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and 8 ounces of cream cheese, whisk together until smooth.
- Then, add in the vanilla extract and the milk, stir until combined. Next, whisk in the powdered sugar until smooth.
- Using the bottom of a wooden spoon or large straw (like a smoothie straw) poke holes into the cake.
- Pour the glaze all over the top of the cake spreading around as needed. Then, immediately top with the toasted pecans, sprinkle evening over the whole cake.
- Refrigerate 1 hour 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
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Can I make Kentucky Poke Cake in a bundt pan?
Yes, just make the recipe according to the directions listed above and place it into a greased and floured bundt pan (10-12 cup size pan). Bake for about 1 hour or until a toothpick can come out clean. Allow cooling in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Then poke with holes and add topping over the cake.
How long is Kentucky Butter Cake good for?
This cake can be stored, well-covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days. You may even notice that the cake tastes even better on the second day because the flavors have had a longer time to develop.
WHAT IS A POKE CAKE?
A poke cake is a cake that has been baked in a large pan (usually a 9×13 baking dish) then after cooling, it’s literally poked either with the back end of a wooden spoon, a toothpick, the tines of a fork, or even a clean finger. After that, a liquid (usually pudding or jello) is poured over the top so that it can soak into the cake. Poke cakes are almost always topped off with some whipped cream spread over the top and chilled for a few hours before serving.
How to Zest a Lemon
The easiest way to zest a lemon is to use a citrus zester. By rubbing the peel of a washed lemon along the grated edges we get tiny shredded pieces perfect for your baked goods and recipes. If you do not have a citrus zester you can use a vegetable peeler to remove the outermost layer of peel (not the white part under the colored peel). Then chop the peel into very tiny pieces, like minced garlic, and use as desired.
More Delicious Poke Cake Recipes To Try
- ORANGE CREAMSICLE POKE CAKE
- OREO POKE CAKE
- EGGNOG POKE CAKE
- CARAMEL PUMPKIN POKE CAKE
- COCOA PUFFS PUDDING POKE CAKE
- FERRERO ROCHER POKE CAKE
- MINT CHOCOLATE POKE CAKE
- ULTIMATE CHOCOLATE POKE CAKE
- CARAMEL APPLE POKE CAKE
- LEMON STRAWBERRY POKE CAKE
- FRUITY PEBBLES POKE CAKE
- PEANUT BUTTER POKE CAKE
- PINA COLADA POKE CAKE
This Kentucky butter pound cake recipe is like a combination of pound cake and a poke cake in every bite making it a perfect dessert for flavor and textures you won’t want to be without. From the moist cake to the buttery cream cheese glaze and toasted pecans this cake is a perfect dessert for any occasion.
Sherri Truett says
Thanks for letting us know!
I love this recipe! Can I use almond milk or soy milk instead of regular milk in it?
Yes you can!
Anita GAMBRELL says
I made this last night and it is the best cake I ever had!!!
High praise, thank you!
The cake is in the oven right now and it smells heavenly! Can’t wait for dessert tonight!
So what do you think about adding a lemon twist to this? Using lemon cake mix, adding lemon flavoring to the icing, and perhaps a bit of lemon zest sprinkled on top
Ohh you had me at lemon! 🙂
Sue Tawwater says
I really love the cake portion…..don ‘t care for the cream cheese icing. I believe I will try the cake portion with a caramel icing or something different next time.
Thank you all for sharing this recipe and going through the pains of perfecting it.
Oooh I love the idea of using a caramel icing! Let me know how that turns out!