This ghosts in the graveyard dessert is a fun and festive Halloween poke cake decorated to look like a spooky haunted graveyard. It makes a perfect dessert for a Halloween party or just to make as a fun Halloween activity with the kids.
Not only does this Halloween dessert look awesome, but it tastes pretty amazing as well.
A chocolate devil’s food cake is poked and filled with white chocolate pudding creating a perfectly moist and rich chocolate cake. Then the cake is topped with light and creamy cool whip, followed by a generous layer of oreo cookie crumbs which gives the dessert a delicious cookies and cream taste.
Finally, the top of the cake is decorated with cookie tombstones, marshmallow ghosts, and your other favorite Halloween candies. This step is a favorite with the kids. They will love helping you decorate the cake and turn it into a spooky graveyard.
This easy dessert will be a hit with chocolate lovers, OREO lovers, cookies and cream lovers, and pretty much everyone who loves a delicious chocolatey dessert.
This section includes ingredient notes and substitution options. Get all measurements, ingredients, and instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this post.
- Devil’s food cake mix— plus water, eggs, and oil as called for on the package instructions
- White Chocolate Instant Pudding Mix— the 4-serving size, 3.4 ounce size box.
- Milk— I recommend using whole or 2% but any milk will work.
- Cool Whip— thawed overnight in the fridge
- OREO cookies crumbs— The “dirt” in the graveyard is made from chocolate sandwich cookies crumbs. I prefer using a food processor to make my cookie crumbs but you can also use a freezer baggie and rolling pin to crush cookies by hand.
- Food coloring— You will need green and orange food coloring to color the pudding.
- Milano cookies— These will be the graveyard’s tombstones.
- Chocolate chips or edible marker— For decorating the milano cookies to look like tombstones. We used melted chocolate but next time I plan on using an icing writing gel or food coloring marker because it should be easier to work with.
- Assorted Halloween Candy— We used ghost peeps, black cat peeps, pumpkin peeps, candy pumpkins, halloween sprinkles, and gummy worms but feel free to get creative and use whatever fun stuff you can find. Candy corn pieces would be a great addition!
How to Make Ghosts in the Graveyard Poke Cake
This section shows you how to make the recipe with step-by-step photos and instructions. For the full printable recipe, see the recipe card below.
Step 1: Prepare the cake mix in a 9×13 pan according to the package directions. After baking set aside the cake to cool for 15 minutes.
Step 2: Meanwhile, combine the instant pudding mixes and cold milk in a large bowl. Use a wire whisk to whisk well until smooth and combined. Divide the pudding equally into 2 bowls. Use food coloring to dye one bowl of pudding green and the other orange. Set aside.
Step 3: Use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke holes about 1 inch apart in the cake. Carefully spoon the pudding into the holes, alternating between the green and orange pudding. (You could also use a cupcake injector to make the task easier).
Remember, it doesn’t have to look neat on top because it will get covered up. Messy is just fine.
Step 4: Spread the whipped topping over the cake in an even layer. Then, sprinkle the crushed cookies on top.
Step 5: Place the poke cake in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours.
Step 6: Meanwhile, decorate your milano cookies by breaking the bottom off each cookie and writing “R.I.P.” or a date using an edible black marker or melted chocolate (see the section below for how to melt chocolate.) Set aside.
Step 7: Before serving, decorate the top of the dessert with the tombstone cookies, marshmallow ghost peeps, and other halloween candy and sprinkles as desired.
Cover leftover dessert with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
This easy Halloween cake is great for making ahead because it actually tastes better the day after it is made. The extra chilling time allows the pudding to really soaks up into the cake, making it super moist and delicious.
To make ahead, simply prepare the cake up through step 5, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 2 days until ready to serve. Then top with oreo crumbs and decorate just before serving.
How to melt chocolate chips for decorating
Place your chocolate chips or melting wafers in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until the chocolate is smooth and melted. Place the melted chocolate in a freezer bag and cut a small hole in the corner. Use this to pipe melted chocolate onto cookies to make them look like tombstones.
Variations and Substitutions
- Vanilla Pudding: Can’t find white chocolate pudding? Use vanilla pudding instead.
- Double Pudding: Use 2 boxes of pudding and 3 cups of milk for an extra moist and flavor-packed cake. You will want to spread the extra over the top of the cake to form a layer of pudding under the layer of cool whip.
- Whipped Cream: Not a fan of Cool Whip? You can top your Halloween poke cake with homemade whipped cream instead. Just keep in mind that whipped cream doesn’t keep as well as Cool Whip whipped topping does so you will want to wait until just before serving.
- Chocolate Pudding: Or skip the whipped topping altogether and top the cake with a layer of chocolate pudding instead.
- Cake Mix: Any variety of chocolate cake mix will work for this recipe. I like to use either Devil’s food or chocolate fudge but you can choose your favorite.
- Tombstones: Nutter Butter cookies or a vanilla sandwich cookie would make great tombstones if you aren’t a fan of milanos.
- Pan Size: Don’t have a 9 x 13 baking dish? You can use two 9-inch baking dishes or 8-inch baking dishes instead.
- Edible Grass: Cut small pieces of green chewy fruit snack rolls and press them into the cake around the tombstones to resemble green grass in the graveyard.
- I have found that the handle of a wooden spoon is the perfect size for poking holes in a poke cake. However, a chopstick or a smoothie straw (wider than typical straw) can work as well. The key is to get wide holes for the pudding to fill.
- If you have one handy, a cupcake injector or pastry syringe makes the task of inserting pudding into the holes in the cake much easier.
- Serve your ghost in the graveyard dessert after a ghost-themed dinner such as Halloween shepherd’s pie or ghost pizzas for a whole evening of ghost-themed family fun.
More Fun Halloween Desserts
- Rice Krispies Spider Treats
- Witch Hat Cupcakes
- Mummy Cookies
- Halloween Cake Mix Cookies
- Halloween Trifle
- Witch Hat Cookies
- Candy Corn Fudge
- 1 (15.25 ounce) package devil's food cake mix
- water, oil, and eggs as called for on cake mix box
- 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant white chocolate pudding mix
- 2 cups cold milk
- green and orange food coloring
- 1 (8 ounce) container cool whip, thawed
- 30 oreo cookies, crushed
- 4 milano cookies
- ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips or black writing icing
- Additional decorations: ghost peeps, black cat peeps, pumpkin peeps, candy pumpkins, halloween sprinkles, gummy worms
- Prepare the cake mix in a 9x13 pan as directed on the package. After baking set aside the cake to cool for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine the instant pudding mixes and cold milk in a large bowl, whisking well to combine. Divide the pudding equally into 2 small bowls. Use food coloring to color one bowl of pudding green and the other orange. Set aside.
- Use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke holes about 1 inch apart over the top of the cake.
- Carefully spoon the pudding into the holes, alternating between the green and orange pudding.
- Spread the Cool whip whipped topping evenly over the top of the cake.
- Sprinkle the cookie crumbs over the top of the cake.
- Place the cake in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, decorate your milano cookies by breaking the bottom off each cookie and writing "R.I.P." or a date using black writing icing or melted chocolate. (see notes for how to melt chocolate.) Set aside.
- Before serving, decorate the top of the cake with tombstone cookies, ghost peeps, and other Halloween candy and sprinkles as desired.
A chopstick or a wide smoothie straw can be used to poke holes in the cake as well. Turn them in the cake a bit to create a wide enough hole for the pudding to fill.
How to melt chocolate for decorating: Place your chocolate chips or melting wafers in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until the chocolate is smooth and melted. Place the melted chocolate in a freezer bag and cut a small hole in the corner. Use this to pipe melted chocolate onto cookies.
Store dessert covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 590
The nutritional information provided is automatically calculated by a third party and intended to serve as an estimate only. The accuracy of nutritional information is not guaranteed.