Graham Cracker Icebox Cake

Graham cracker icebox cake

​The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Refrigerate: 6 hrs
Total: 6 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 12 to 16 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
266 Calories
17g Fat
26g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 16
Amount per serving
Calories 266
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 22%
Saturated Fat 9g 47%
Cholesterol 38mg 13%
Sodium 131mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 26g 9%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 21g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 84mg 6%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 166mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Old fashioned icebox cakes are making a comeback, and with good reason. Easy to make and extremely versatile, icebox cakes can be flavored to your liking and are the best dessert to feed many. Made famous by wafer and cookie companies when iceboxes were making their debut in everyday life, these no-bake recipes made a difference in households all over the world. They needed little attention and were the proud product of modern inventions. Our decadent graham cracker icebox cake requires simple ingredients, very little work, and, you guessed it, your "icebox."

We used vanilla pudding for ours, but chocolate, butterscotch, or lemon will also make a fantastic cake. Instead of chocolate frosting, try vanilla, buttercream, or caramel. Swap the classic graham crackers for the honey or chocolate version. There's nothing you couldn't do to adjust this cake to your palate, but our only advice is to abstain from sandwich cookies—it might sound appealing in theory, but in practice, they are too thick to properly soften in the pudding mixture to the right consistency. 

Make the cake the night before your event for the perfect consistency. The more the cake sits in the cold refrigerator, the better the texture is and the more the ingredients set. If by any chance you're in need of many desserts within a few days, simply make two of these cakes, chill both, and freeze one for later use. When ready to eat, simply thaw overnight and serve. Your cake will remain delicious for a month if properly covered and stored. To serve, add some additional whipped cream on top and decorate to taste. Before you start, make sure to buy instant pudding. If it needs cooking it will defeat the easiness of the recipe.

“This recipe will make you fall in love with icebox cakes. Perfect to bring a summer BBQ, this recipe is fast, easy, and delicious. You will love it, and your whole family will too!” —Tracy Wilk

graham cracker icebox cake/tester image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 2 (3.4-ounce) packages vanilla instant pudding

  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk

  • 2 cups whipping cream, divided

  • 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1 (16-ounce) package graham crackers

  • 16 ounces chocolate frosting

  • 1 cup toasted pecans, or toasted coconut, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for graham cracker icebox cake

    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Blend the pudding mix and milk in a large bowl. Whisk until well blended. Refrigerate.

    Blend pudding mix

    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. In a medium bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the cream with the confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form.

    Combine cream and confectioners' sugar

    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Fold the whipped cream into the chilled pudding mixture.

    Fold whipped cream in

    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Place 1 single layer of graham crackers in the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan. Do not crumble the crackers, leave them whole. You can fill in gaps with crackers broken in half if necessary.

    Place graham crackers at bottom

    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Spoon half of the pudding mixture over the crackers and spread evenly.

    Spoon pudding on crackers

    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Repeat the process by placing another layer of crackers and the remaining pudding mixture. Finish up by placing graham crackers as the final top layer.

    Repeat with graham crackers

    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes to set slightly.

    Cover with plastic wrap

    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  9. Stir the chocolate frosting.

    Stir frosting

    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  10. In a small bowl, whip the remaining 1/2 cup cream and stir it into the frosting.

    Add whipping cream

    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  11. Spread the mixture on top of the cake up to the edges of the pan.

    Spread

    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  12. Sprinkle with the toasted nuts or coconut, if using.

    Sprinkle with toasted nuts

    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  13. Cover and refrigerate the cake for at least 6 hours.

    Ready to serve after at least 6 hours of refrigeration

    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  14. Slice the cake as desired, and serve.

    Serve a slice

    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Other Great Icebox Layers

  • Vanilla-Strawberry: Add layers of sliced strawberries on top of the pudding layers when assembling the cake. Use vanilla frosting instead and decorate with grated white chocolate and additional slices of strawberries.
  • Chocolate-Banana: Use chocolate pudding. Assemble the cake, adding 1 cup of toasted coconut between layers. Once you've added the frosting and nuts, and the cake has chilled, add slices of fresh banana, a handful of chocolate chips, and additional toasted coconut before serving.
  • Vanilla-Berry: Follow the recipe as is, but once you've placed the final layer of pudding and before you top with the final layer of graham crackers, use any berry marmalade or jelly and add a few tablespoons on top, spreading with a spatula. Top with graham crackers. Use vanilla frosting and decorate with fresh berries and nuts.

How to Store

Since icebox cakes are meant to be frozen, they keep well in the freezer. Wrap tightly and store for up to a week. After that, the cake will still be safe to eat for up to a month.