BEST Icebox Cake Recipe
Last updated on May 22nd, 2023 at 04:20 pm
Icebox Cake is a light and creamy cake, you make in the refrigerator instead of the oven, with layers of sweet cream, cookies, and berries. Sweet, tart, and cool, this is the perfect light and fluffy treat for summer. This is absolutely the best icebox cake recipe I have ever tried because of the light creaminess and summer fruits. But you can use any kind of fruit you like from apples to watermelon.
If you have never heard of icebox cakes, they originated in the early 1900s. One of the earliest recipes for this cool cake was found in a 1915 version of The Settlement Cookbook from Mrs. Simon Kander. These early versions of icebox cakes were made with ladyfingers, sort of like an all-American tiramisu. Nabisco may not have invented the icebox cake, but they made it famous by featuring it on the front of their chocolate cookie packages. The photo on the box alone does a great job of making you want to try it yourself.
It is easy to make this no-bake dessert because you can mix and match the ingredients any way you like. Try it with the ingredients listed below or use different fruits, another flavor of pudding, or any cookies you like. Mix it up to your preferences or to fit whatever you can find in the grocery store or farmers’ market.
Here is what you will need for this easy and delicious icebox cake recipe. Then, find our recipe card at the bottom of the page for the measurements and instructions.
- Sliced strawberries
- Graham crackers
- Softened cream cheese
- Instant vanilla pudding
- Cold milk
- Cool whip or homemade whipped cream
- White chocolate chips
How to make icebox cake from scratch?
- Whip cream cheese: First, beat cream cheese with the pudding mixes in a large bowl or the mixing bowl of your electric hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Or you can use a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment for even easier mixing.
- Whisk it up: Now, slowly mix in the milk before gently folding in the Cool Whip, saving a half cup for later.
- Spread whipped cream: Next, spread a very thin layer of whipped cream mixture on the bottom of a 9×13-inch cake pan. Use just enough to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Add a layer of graham crackers: Then, place five graham crackers across the pan, adding two more broken ones to fit the edges.
- More whipped cream and fresh fruit: Now, spread whipped cream on top of the graham crackers and top with fresh berries. Spread gently with a cake spreader or spoon.
- Make layers: After, add another layer of graham crackers on top of the berries and repeat with the whipped cream mixture, graham crackers, and berries. Make a total of three layers, ending with a final layer of berries.
- Cover and chill: Finally, cover the cake loosely with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least four hours but overnight is better. You want the graham crackers to be completely soft.
- Drizzle and serve: When you are ready to serve, melt the white chocolate chips as directed on the package and drizzle it on top before slicing.
- Low-fat milk: You can use skim or low-fat milk if you want to cut the fat and calories. But reduce the amount of milk by one-half cup.
- Rich cream: On the other hand, if you want your graham cracker icebox cake even creamier, use heavy whipping cream or heavy cream instead of milk.
- Make a chocolate version: Love chocolate? Try making this icebox cake using chocolate graham crackers and instant chocolate pudding mix.
- Other cookies: Be creative. Instead of regular graham crackers, use whatever cookies you like. Try vanilla wafers, any kind of chocolate wafer cookies, Oreo cookies, or whatever you happen to have on hand.
- Fun twist: If you love lemon, try adding a layer of lemon curd on top of each layer of graham crackers.
- Other flavors: Try other pudding flavors, like butterscotch, banana, or coconut.
- Use extracts: Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract or your favorite flavor to make it even more unique.
How to serve:
Nobody wants to turn on the oven during the summer because it makes the house hotter, so the air conditioner works harder. This no-bake dessert is easy to make and disappears quickly so you may want to make two. Try one of our fun ideas or share some of your own in the comments below.
- Sprinkle some powdered sugar or confectioners’ sugar on top for extra sweetness.
- Top your cake with an extra dollop of whipped cream. Our easy homemade whipped cream is perfect for this.
- To make your icebox cake extra festive, add rainbow sprinkles and chocolate shavings on top. Place it on a serving platter with extra fruit and cookies.
- Serve icebox cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or one of our easy sorbet recipes. Try our pineapple, strawberry, or tangerine sorbet.
- For an Independence Day celebration, use the berries to make a red, white, and blue flag design. Use the blueberries for the stars and strawberries and raspberries for the stripes.
- This old-fashioned icebox cake goes great with any meal, especially a backyard barbecue.
- Use leftover icebox cake to make a rich and delicious dip for dipping chocolate cookies or fruit.
- Make this cake even sweeter with a thick topping of cream cheese frosting or chocolate ganache.
Frequently asked questions
Why do they call it icebox cake?
This beloved summer dessert was named icebox cake because it is “made” in the icebox (also known as the fridge) instead of the oven. The classic icebox cake is similar to a trifle because of its layers but is easier to make. This cool treat became very popular when the refrigerator was invented in the 1920s. But it was when the recipe was printed on the back of Nabisco chocolate wafers, that the cake became so well-known.
What did the first fridge look like?
The first refrigerator was a commercial fridge devised in the late 1800s by a Hungarian inventor named Istvan Rock from electric compressors and ammonia. It was another 40 years before the home fridge was born. Invented by Fred Wolf of Indiana in 1913, it was a cooling unit placed on top of an ice box that kept the items inside cold. But the first popular fridge was made in 1927 by GE. It was similar to the Wolf version but more decorative.
How did they keep food cold before that?
The first basic cooler was a tub made of cedar with a tin tub inside. Ice was placed between the cedar and tin and then wrapped in rabbit fur. It was made by Thomas Moore who wanted a way to make his butter into a solid so he could sell it. Other versions were packed with straw or cork and lined with zinc or another material. And before that, people used rivers and other cold flowing water during the summer and packed in a snow-filled hole in the winter.
What is the difference between soft peaks and stiff peaks?
When a recipe says to beat heavy cream until soft peaks form, you want them to flop over when the beaters are lifted out. Medium peaks hold their shape but the tips curl over. Stiff peaks will stay standing up and the tips will not curl.
How do I make chocolate curls or shavings?
The easiest way is to use a chocolate candy bar and a vegetable peeler. For curls, use a room-temperature candy bar and peel strips from the edges or sides. If you want shavings, you can use a grater to shred them. A chilled candy bar works best for this.
What are the nutrition facts in this recipe?
Each serving has 250 calories, 26 grams fat, 9 grams saturated fat, and 130 mg sodium as well as 20 grams sugar and 40 mg cholesterol. But you will also get 85 mg calcium, 165 mg potassium, 1 mg fiber, 3 grams protein, 1 mg vitamin C, and 1 mg iron. The amount of each food serving contributes to how much a nutrient benefits your daily food intake.
More no-bake recipes to try:
How to store leftovers:
- Store: You can store icebox cake in an airtight container in the fridge for three to five days.
- Freeze: If you have too much left over, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and it will stay fresh in the freezer for up to a month.
- Thaw: Remember to thaw your frozen cake in the fridge overnight before serving.
- You can shorten prep time by using pre-made pudding and vanilla syrup instead of making your own.
- Use a spoon to drizzle the white chocolate over the berries or put it in a piping bag.
- If you do not have a piping bag, pour it into a small baggie and cut off one of the corners.
- Make sure you use thin layers, so you have enough to do at least three layers.
- If you want a smaller cake with more layers, use a round or square cake pan or a loaf pan.
- There are a lot of optional garnish choices like caramel sauce, chopped nuts, and chocolate chips. Be creative!
- If your local grocery store does not have any fresh berries, you can use frozen fruit instead.
- For more dessert cuisine, check out our food blog. We have new recipes every day.
- 20 oz graham crackers (plain or chocolate, or use Oreos)
- 8 oz cream cheese (softened to room temperature)
- 2 (3.4 oz) packages Vanilla Instant Pudding (or Cheesecake or Strawberry Instant Pudding)
- 2 1/2 cups milk (cold)
- 16 oz Cool Whip (or the same amount of homemade whipped cream)
- 3 cups fresh strawberries (sliced)
- 1 cup fresh blueberries (or blackberries)
- 1 cup fresh raspberries
- 4 oz white chocolate chips
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, and dry pudding mixes until combined.
- Gradually, with the mixer on low, pour in the milk and whisk until fully blended.
- Gently, using a rubber spatula, fold in Cool Whip, reserving 1 cup.
- Spread a thin layer of cool whip on the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan.
- Layer 5 graham crackers across the center of the pan, then 2 more, breaking them as needed to fit around the top and bottom edges. Or cover the bottom of the pan with Oreos, if used instead of graham crackers.
- Spread a layer of the pudding mixture over the cookies and top with a layer of berries and sliced strawberries.
- Place another graham cracker layer on top of the berries, lightly press it down with your hands, then add a layer of the pudding mixture, then a layer of berries again.
- Repeat the graham-pudding-berries layers 1 more time, you should reach the top of the pan.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or better overnight until the cookies have softened completely.
- When ready to serve, melt the white chocolate chips in a bowl and drizzle over the top. Slice and serve.
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