The winger redeems himself after a terrible penalty miss against Tottenham with a fine strike to give Tony Pulis a win against his former club and three precious points.
Puncheon, who spectacularly missed from the penalty spot in Palace's 2-0 defeat at Tottenham last weekend, made the most of a mistake from Stoke winger Oussama Assaidi in the 51st minute to fire low into the net and hand the home side its first win in four league games.
Palace, bottom of the table on Saturday morning, climbs out of the Premier League relegation zone and up to 16th as a result.
The win had additional significance for former Stoke manager Pulis, who spent 10 years at the Britannia Stadium over two spells before leaving at the end of last season, and the 56-year-old was given a fine reception from both sets of fans as he emerged from the tunnel for the start of the game.
Stoke is now winless in five Premier League games, leaving the club a mere two points above Palace.
|VIEW FROM SELHURST PARK
|By Alex Young
What a difference a week makes, not only for Jason Puncheon but also the entire Crystal Palace squad. Last week's 2-0 loss to Tottenham sent the Eagles to the bottom of the Premier League, with the attacker guilty of a terrible miss from the penalty spot.
Seven days later Puncheon's quick thinking and quicker feet handed Palace a vital 1-0 win to lift the club, remarkably, up to 16th in the table.
Tony Pulis trotted straight down the tunnel after the final whistle but his cap could not hide his smile, even if he saw his former team - which he evidently still holds in high regard - punished.
The Potters arguably deserved a point for a gutless final 20 minutes, but still left themselves far too open at the back. Their blunt attack was again to blame and far from the energetic showing in the loss to Liverpool last week.
Both sides made one change from their previous outings. Palace brought in Adlene Guediora for Cameron Jerome, ineligible against his parent club, while Assaidi returned at the expense of Marko Arnautovic for Stoke.
In an tough first half, clear opportunities were few and far between.
Joel Ward headed Yannick Bolasie's cross wide in the fifth minute, before Marc Wilson's downward header was brilliantly tipped round the post by Julian Speroni 10 minutes later.
Charlie Adam went close for the visiting side in the opening minute of the second half, collecting Jon Walters' cushioned header and beating Damien Delaney before firing a right-footed shot a yard wide of the post from the edge of the area.
Five minutes later Palace moved in front as Puncheon capitalized on Assaidi's error. The Moroccan did well to track the run of Adrian Mariappa and regain possession, only to gift the ball straight to Puncheon, who made space for himself before firing low across Jack Butland and inside the left-hand upright.
Stoke midfielder Adam fizzed an effort narrowly wide from 30 yards in the 63rd minute, while substitute Stephen Ireland fired a first-time volley over the crossbar from a tight angle.
The home team appeared content to sit back and hold onto the lead as Stoke struggled to create any clear goalscoring opportunities, with Peter Crouch curling a shot well wide of Speroni's goal from 20 yards.
Palace was only denied a second by some heroic goalkeeping from Butland six minutes from time, the England international first denying Ward, before jumping to his feet to block Puncheon's follow-up and somehow smothering substitute Stuart O'Keefe's rebound.
There was still time for Butland to deny Puncheon in stoppage time, but in the end it mattered little as the home side held on to seal three crucial points in the fight to avoid the drop.