Canadian Flag Cake with Strawberries

Happy Canada Day to Kitchen Parade's many Canadian readers! How about a crowd-pleasing strawberries & cream poke cake to highlight your own patriotic celebration? It's fun, it's festive and best of all, it's super-easy to make. The recipe uses a trio of conveniences, a box cake mix, two boxes of strawberry gelatin and a couple of cartons of whipped topping like Cool Whip. But wow, this cake is extra tempting, so fresh and summery, thanks to a full 2 pounds (900g) of juicy, ripe (and Canadian red?!) strawberries. (And for the American followers, the recipe is just updated with an American flag cake and a "red, white and blue" summer cake. This last version works all summer long, it's such a pretty summer cake!)

Canadian Flag Cake with Strawberries ♥, use strawberries to decorate a cake with the Canadian flag.

Such Beautiful Color! Potluck & Party Friendly Especially for Canada Day and July 4th Celebrations. Budget Friendly. Just Four Ingredients! A Real Crowd Favorite.

You Call That a Maple Leaf, Eh?

I sure hope you have a good imagination or better yet, a good sense of humor, because when my Inner Martha Stewart emerges, it’s not pretty, it’s just not.

Let’s back up.

For the Americans who read, July 1 is Canada Day, that’s like the 4th of July only cooler and low-key.

Last week, I asked my Canadian family from my mum's side, all of them great cooks, "What do you cook for Canada Day? What is the traditional Canadian food that binds Canada Day celebrations like hot dogs, potato salad and cold beer do for Independence Day menus?"

The answer? Absolute silence.

I couldn’t help myself, I so wanted to inspire a generation of Canadians! my own family at minimum! with a special treat for Canada Day. A Canada Flag Cake caught my eye awhile back. It’s from Kraft Canada, it uses a cake mix, how hard could it be?

Now me being me, I set out to make not one but two cakes – stop laughing, cousins! – the first one with a cake mix, jello and Cool Whip, just to practice.

The second cake, I fantasized, would be a homemade sponge cake with a fruity layer and whipped cream frosting. Both cakes would be ooo-ahhh-like-fireworks beautiful – the strawberries perfectly aligned to form the proud Canadian maple leaf and stalwart red side bands.

That first cake undid me entirely, the homemade cake must wait for another day, another year, maybe another decade. (Update, indeed, I got close, the magnificent Finnish Strawberry Whipped Cream Cake is layers of homemade sponge cake, real whipped cream and mounds and mounds of pretty berries. Could it be adapted to a flag cake? I do believe!)

With a little imagination, okay, a lot, you might conjure up a maple leaf from my strawberries.

But y'know, for my Canadian family and Canadian readers, an easy but festive cake just might work. When it comes to summer, especially low-key summer celebrations, perfection just might be, well, un-Canadian.

It's the thought that counts, right? Please?

Canadian Flag Cake with Strawberries ♥, use strawberries to decorate a cake with the Canadian flag.

What's In a Canadian Flag Cake? Convenience + Strawberries

In all my recipes and most well-written recipes, every ingredient serves a purpose. Each one matters. Each one contributes to the overall dish. Usually I'm a big fan of substitutes, in this case, I recommend sticking with the recipe, it just works.

  • White Cake Mix Use your favorite brand and follow the box's instructions, including any extra ingredients like egg, oil and more. I also like to some times use a strawberry cake mix, the flavor doesn't add much but the color is sure pretty.
  • Strawberry Gelatin The gelatin is mixed with finely chopped strawberries, these will soak into the cake, moistening it, keeping it fresh and berry-tasting. I use sugar-free gelatin but regular sugar-based Jello works fine too. What about raspberry gelatin? Black cherry gelatin? Yes and yes. The flavors aren't all that different, it's all about texture.
  • Strawberries This recipe calls for a full two pounds of strawberries! Half might be frozen, they'll be used with the gelatin. The other half should definitely be fresh berries, they're used on top to form the shape of a maple leaf and the side bands, forming the Canadian flag in strawberries and cream!
  • Whipped Topping In my world, that means Cool Whip, either unsweetened or regular, your call. It will be spread across the cake like frosting, you'll need to thaw it thoroughly first and take note, it takes longer to thaw Cool Whip than you might guess!
Canadian Flag Cake with Strawberries ♥, use strawberries to decorate a cake with the Canadian flag.

How to Make a Canadian Flag Cake with Strawberries

The detailed recipe is written in traditional recipe form below but here are the highlights in five easy steps. You can do this!

  • BAKE THE CAKE Follow the cake mix's instructions to bake a 9x13 cake, including whatever extra ingredients are specified, oil and eggs are quite typical. Let the cake cool completely. If you like, "poke" the cake to form fissures for the strawberry-gelatin mixture to soak into the cake.
  • ADD THE STRAWBERRY LAYER Pour boiling water over the gelatin powder and right away, stir-stir-stir to remove all the tiny clumps of powder. Right away, stir in a pound of puréed or chopped strawberries. Spread the strawberry mixture evenly across the cake, letting the gelatin soak into the cake. At this stage, I like to continue poking the cake, opening it up to still more of the strawberry-gelatin to soak in. Refrigerate to let this firm up.
  • SPREAD THE WHIPPED TOPPING Carefully spread thawed whipped topping such as Cool Whip across the strawberry layer, working carefully so the red berries don't stain the whipped topping. Chill for an hour or up to a day.
  • IF NEEDED, SPREAD THE SECOND LAYER OF WHIPPED TOPPING A second layer isn't "required" but it does help prevent the strawberries from staining through the whipped topping. Chill again, an hour is fine this time since the cake starts off cold.
  • NOW GET CREATIVE WITH STRAWBERRIES! Slice a pound of fresh strawberries, use them to form the shape of a Canadian maple leaf in the center of the cake, then the remaining strawberries to its left and right. Pretty, yes?!
American Flag Cake with Strawberries & Blueberries ♥, use fresh berries to decorate a poke cake with the American flag.

You Might Wonder Be Wondering ...

Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

  • Is there a way to convert this recipe to an American Flag Cake? Yes! Follow the same idea, perhaps substituting frozen blueberries for strawberries in the jello. To decorate, create a star field with fresh blueberries, then red stripes of fresh strawberry. Happy 4th of July!
  • Not into decorating cake tops with fruit? No problem. Not celebrating Canada Day or the Fourth of July? No problem. Looking for a really pretty summer cake that people really love? This is it!
  • I especially love the ease and look of this cake when the top is scattered with chopped strawberries and blueberries. More upside? It's easier to cut plus everybody gets both blueberries and strawberries in every bite.
  • This Chocolate Raspberry Icebox Cake is also so easy, yet so impressive, and especially pretty for July Fourth parties.
Summer Poke Cake with Strawberries & Blueberries ♥, so fresh and festive all summer long.

My Favorite Version All Summer Long ...

So the flag cakes are fun, yes? But what if it's May? or August? or you just can't be bothered with the fuss of flag-building?

Just scatter fresh berries across the top of the cake, creating a bright, colorful and festive summer cake. More upside: this cake is easier to cut, too, and every piece includes strawberries and blueberries.

Bookmark! PIN! Share!

How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this festive cake recipe inspires you, please do save and share! I'd be honored ...

Canadian Flag Cake with Strawberries ♥, use strawberries to decorate a cake with the Canadian flag.

American Flag Cake with Strawberries & Blueberries ♥, use fresh berries to decorate a poke cake with the American flag.

Summer Poke Cake with Strawberries & Blueberries ♥, so fresh and festive all summer long.


Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 6 - 24 hours
Serves 20 (cut 4x5) or 24 (cut 4x6)

Allow time up front for frozen (if using) berries and Cool Whip to thaw.
  • 1 white cake mix
  • Egg, oil, or any other ingredients the cake mix calls for
  • 2 small boxes (.3 ounces for sugar free, 3 ounces for sugar) strawberry Jello
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 cups ice cubes
  • 16 ounces (450g) fresh strawberries, puréed or chopped fine
  • 8 ounces (340g) Cool Whip Lite, thawed (and possibly, a second 8 ounces)
  • about 1 pound (450g) fresh strawberries, trimmed and sliced thin

CAKE Bake the cake as directed on the package in a 9x13 pan. Let cool completely.

POKE the cake all over with a knife or a skewer or even the handle end of a wooden spoon, this will let the Strawberry Layer soak down into the cake itself.

STRAWBERRY-GELATIN LAYER (Be sure to purée or chop the strawberries before mixing the gelatin.) After the cake is completely cooled, pour the jello powder into a large bowl, stir in the boiling water (boiling! not just tap hot! and be careful, it'll swell up quite big) until the jello dissolves completely. Add the ice cubes and stir until the mixture cools, then lift out and discard any remaining ice chunks. Stir in the puréed or chopped strawberries.

Pour the Strawberry-Gelatin mixture over the cake, distributing the berries as evenly and flat as possible, especially in the center if the cake baked up with a rounded top.

You may even worry if there's too much. There's not! At this stage, it helps to poke into the cake with the handle of a soup spoon, reaching deep into the cake, using the handle to widen the opening to let the mixture make its way in. Do this all over the cake, it really makes a difference.

Let the Strawberry-Gelatin Layer firm up on the counter or on the fridge, about 30 minutes.

TOPPING LAYER Cover the cake evenly with 8 ounces of thawed Cool Whip. If you like, chill for four hours, overnight works too and in fact the cake tastes extra-good on the second day. Check midway, if any strawberry juice has stained the Topping, spread a second layer with another 8 ounces of Cool Whip.

STRAWBERY MAPLE LEAF No more than two or three hours before serving, use a toothpick to outline a large maple leaf in the Cool Whip. (What does Canada's maple leaf look like? Just search on "Canadian maple leaf" and from there, it's easy to sketch it yourself.)

Fill the maple leaf with slices of strawberry, don't be too picky. If you also search on "Canadian maple leaf flag cake with strawberries", you'll see, the results are ambiguous at best.

STRAWBERRY FLAG Use the remaining strawberries to create the flag's side bars on either side of the maple leaf.

SERVE Cover and refrigerate the cake until ready to serve later in the day.

LEFTOVER CAKE (If there are any!) The cake keeps several days although the top becomes increasingly stained by the berries, be sure to store in the fridge.

ALANNA’s TIPS Be sure to get the Cool Whip out early to thaw, it takes forever! If you have time, just thaw it in the fridge for 24 hours. If you like, use frozen (but thawed) strawberries in the Strawberry-Gelatin Layer. The berries on top really should be fresh. How much Cool Whip seems to vary. The original recipe called for "2 cups"". The first time I made the cake, I used a 12-ounce tub and the Strawberry Layer bled through so I added a second layer. Since then, Cool Whip now comes in 8-ounce tubs and I have only needed one tub, especially when the Strawberry Layer firms up well before the Cool Whip is applied. If the strawberries are juicy, that works great for the Strawberry Layer but not so much for the berries that make up the Maple Leaf and Flag. It helps to slice them onto a paper towel to drain off the juice. Or just go with the juice, it's a poke cake after all! Talk about a racket. How much will we pay for sugar? In 2023, the Walmart price for a small box of mostly-sugar Jello is $1.32. That's compared to $.57 when this recipe was first published in 2010 and the equivalent of $7 per pound. Yikes!

AMERICAN FLAG CAKE Instead of using only strawberries for a Canadian Flag Cake, use strawberries and blueberries to create a "stars and stripes" flag, strawberries for the red stripes, the whipped topping for the white stripes and blueberries for the star field. So patriotic!
SUMMER POKE CAKE Decorate the top of the cake with chopped strawberries and whole blueberries, just scattering them across the top. So pretty and extra-easy to cut, too.

FOR MORE INFO If you "skipped straight to the recipe," please scroll back to the top of this page for ingredient information, ingredient substitutions, tips and more. If you print this recipe, you'll want to check the recipe online for even more tips and extra information about ingredient substitutions, best results and more. See .
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Slice (assumes 20 pieces, cut 4x5): 223 Calories; 5g Tot Fat; 4g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 205mg Sodium; 33g Carb; 1g Fiber; 21g Sugar; 2g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 5 & sorry, other WW points will be updated later & future WW points This recipe has been Alanna-sized.
Adapted from Kraft Canada, unfortunately, their recipe is no longer online.

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A Veggie Venture

If you like Kitchen Parade's recipes, you'll love A Veggie Venture, my food blog about vegetables with more from-scratch recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, home to the famous Alphabet of Vegetables and vegetables in every course, seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

More Canadian Recipes Inspired By My Canadian Family

A collection of recipe ideas for Canada Day ♥
~ Canadian recipes ~
Bloody Caesar, Canada's Bloody Mary ♥, made with Clamato instead of tomato juice.

Butter Tart Bars ♥, the classic Canadian favorite, here in easy-to-make bars, rich, easy, delicious.
  • THE RECIPE Butter Tart Bars Small bites of Canadian nostalgia.
  • ANOTHER TAKE Family Shortbread All the family tips and tricks to make simple, ethereal English shortbread.

Mom's Blueberry Coffeecake, another easy summer recipe ♥, moist and delicious with fresh or frozen blueberries. Rave reviews!

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ strawberry recipes ~
~ gelatin (Jello) recipes ~
~ cake mix cakes (scroll down a bit) ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2010 & 2023 (repub)2

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. What a fun take on a flag cake -- could easily be adapated for 4th of July.

  2. Marilyn6/29/2010

    That is the cake I make for Canada Day, it is so easy and I really like that you posted it.

    My favourite Canada days memories are celebrating it on Lake of the Woods with fireworks by Canadian campers on the 1st and then by the American campers on the 4th.

  3. If you’re at the lake/up the lake, that’s why they don’t fuss, Alanna!

  4. Nothing says Canada Day like Nanaimo bars!!! In fact, I just posted my own low carb version (for diabetics) on my own blog.

    I can very much imagine the sound of crickets when you asked what people traditionally eat on Canada Day! What's "traditional Canadian cuisine"?

  5. What a fun cake! I love the design!

  6. Anonymous ~ Thanks for that thoughtful statement. Canada and the States share that combination of not-well-documented food of its indigenous peoples and those of its immigrants. I'm headed for Canada soon and intend to look for a cookbook or two that might help me in this exploration.

  7. Anonymous9/04/2010

    If you are living in the capital I would say that standard Canada Day food would look something like this:

    - All-Canadian Beef Burgers with a side of poutine (Fries covered with gravy and cheese curds)
    - Salt and vinegar or ketchup potato chips
    - Beaver tales (stretched deep-fried dough covered in cinnamon and sugar)

    and if you stop in at Cora's for some breakfast some sucre á la crème (Sugar fudge)

    That's Canada Day for me.

  8. Hello Canadian Anonymous ~ May I hang out with you next Canada Day?

    PS I'm happy to say I've tasted all those things, well, except the sugar fudge which, wow, for breakfast? sounds wonderful!

    Thanks so much for adding your Canada Day food favorites!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna