Easy Strawberry Icebox Cake

Early summer is all about strawberry no bake desserts. This easy no-bake strawberry icebox cake is made with layers of cookies, whipped cream, and sweet strawberry puree. It comes together in just 20 minutes and needs to be chilled for several hours before serving, making it perfect for summer entertaining.

A scoop of easy strawberry icebox cake on a white plate with sliced strawberries and a glass baking dish with the rest of the cake beside it.

Adapted from Jessie Sheehan | Jessie Sheehan Bakes | 2022

This strawberry no bake dessert could not be more delicious or easier to assemble. Like all the best classic icebox cakes, as long as you are willing to make some homemade whipped cream (or pudding) and can pick up some cookies or graham crackers or ladyfingers (if you’re feeling fancy) at the grocery store, an icebox cake is in your immediate future. And here’s to hoping it’ll be this strawberry icebox cake here, that is first on your list.–Jessie Sheehan

Strawberry Icebox Cake FAQs

Can icebox cake be frozen?

Because this particular icebox cake contains heavy cream, it will freeze very well. To freeze, just chill your cake in the fridge overnight, wrap it up well and stick it in the freezer. It’ll last in there for up to a month. You can eat your frozen cake anytime – frozen or partially thawed, depending on your preference. To thaw an entire cake, stick it in the fridge overnight. It should be thawed and ready to serve the next day.

When did icebox cakes become popular?

Icebox cakes found notoriety in the 1920’s and 1930’s, when “convenience foods” became popular and readily available. The cakes used pre-made, commercially-produced ingredients, and for the first time ever, folks were able to entertain almost on a moment’s notice – no more spending hours in the kitchen to whip up a dessert for guests.

Why is this called an “icebox cake”?

This strawberry no bake dessert is named because it needs to be chilled. As you likely know, waaaay back before electricity, people kept their food cold by placing it into insulated wooden and metal containers called iceboxes. Large chunks of ice were delivered by horse and carriage (and then motorized delivery vehicles) and loaded into the iceboxes. When mechanical refrigerators came about in 1913 and found their way into many homes, people continued to refer to these new appliances as “iceboxes”, and many of our parents and grandparents still use the term today.

A scoop of easy strawberry icebox cake on a white plate with sliced strawberries and a glass baking dish with the rest of the cake beside it.

Easy Strawberry Icebox Cake

A scoop of easy strawberry icebox cake on a white plate with sliced strawberries and a glass baking dish with the rest of the cake beside it.
Thin layers of strawberry puree, homemade whipped cream, and vanilla wafers make this easy no-bake icebox cake a classic that you'll want to make all summer long.
Jessie Sheehan

Prep 20 mins
Chill Time 6 hrs
Total 6 hrs 20 mins
Dessert
American
10 servings
379 kcal
5 / 4 votes
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Ingredients 

  • 2 cups strawberries chopped
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • One (11-ounce) box vanilla wafers
  • Red sanding sugar for decorating
  • Sliced strawberries for serving (optional)

Directions
 

  • In a blender or food processor, puree the strawberries and granulated sugar until pourable, but still slightly chunky, about 15 seconds.
  • Have ready a 2-quart (1.9-Liter) dish.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the cream on medium to medium-high speed until the cream begins to thicken, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute more. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the strawberries into the cream.
  • Using a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread a layer of cream on the bottom of the dish. Cover as much of the cream as possible with a layer of vanilla wafers, filling any gaps with broken wafers (breaking them yourself, if necessary). The pieces should touch. The goal is a solid layer of cookies.
  • Continue layering whipped cream mixture and cookies until you run out or reach the top of the pan. You should have 3 to 4 layers. Spread the top of the cake with whipped cream and gently cover it with plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate the cake for at least 6 hours, or preferably overnight.
  • Remove the cake from the refrigerator prior to serving and peel off the plastic wrap. Sprinkle the top of the cake with red sanding sugar.
  • Serve directly from the pan with sliced strawberries on the side, if desired. The cake will keep, tightly covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 379kcal (19%)Carbohydrates: 42g (14%)Protein: 3g (6%)Fat: 23g (35%)Saturated Fat: 13g (81%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 54mg (18%)Sodium: 139mg (6%)Potassium: 117mg (3%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 29g (32%)Vitamin A: 703IU (14%)Vitamin C: 17mg (21%)Calcium: 36mg (4%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This light and airy icebox cake is easy to put together and perfectly sweet. The strawberry flavor really shines through, and the vanilla wafers magically transformed into a sponge cake-like texture overnight. This is a dessert that both kids and adults will enjoy making and enjoying!

If I’m honest, what attracted me most to this strawberry no bake dessert was the use of the term “icebox” in the title. It conjures old-fashioned desserts made by a smiling mom in a very cute apron and chilled in the “icebox”. And this easy strawberry icebox cake will reward you with a nostalgically simple and delicious taste. It’s light, refreshing and cool – perfect for a hot summer day when you want dessert but don’t want to turn on the oven.

It was tasty after one day in the fridge but even better was the slice I had today out of the freezer thawed on the counter for about 20 minutes. The nice thing about freezing this cake is that it is easy to cut a square straight out of the freezer and then you have a terrific on-demand dessert. Easy and quick with very few ingredients required, this cake is a winner!

I made half a recipe and it turned out beautifully. I recommend using a heaping cup of strawberries to really maximize the flavor Next time I may try a layer of sliced strawberries in the middle layer for additional flavor.

I needed a quick and easy no bake strawberry dessert for this testing round and Jessie Sheehan’s strawberry icebox cake fit the bill perfectly. Barely 20 minutes of hands-on time and then it worked its magic while we slept. I didn’t grow up with icebox cakes, so the very soft texture of the finished cake was not something familiar and probably not my favorite, but the strawberry cream flavor – especially using the fabulous seasonal best berries available right now – was fresh and fabulous and the proportions of cookie to cream were just right.

You can make this in a springform pan and slice it like a baked cake and it’s a fairly stunning return for such little investment in time and ingredients.

This would be an absolutely terrific recipe to make with children of any age. They would love watching the cream go from liquid to pillowy peaks (the transformation still fascinates me as an adult!), stirring in the pretty berries, layering the cookies and then seeing how everything transforms after a few hours in the refrigerator. Topping with some colorful sugars finishes the fun!

This easy strawberry icebox cake is a perfect make-ahead summer dessert. While it was delicious after 8 hours in the refrigerator, it was even better after 12 hours; the layers were more defined and the cookies even more cakelike. While I think fresh strawberries are the best, I bet frozen could be used here for a taste of summer in December. My husband is allergic to bananas and this gives him an option for that soft cookie fruit dessert.

If I could take one cake with me to a deserted island (alone), it would be this easy strawberry icebox cake! No-bake icebox cake recipes are typically so versatile, simple, nostalgic, and delicious and this one certainly fits that bill.

As to its simplicity, it really doesn’t get easier than this strawberry no bake dessert. In under 30 mins, 27 to be exact, I had a beautiful icebox cake assembled and ready to be chilled. I have to say that I LOVED the idea of carefully folding the strawberry puree into the whipped cream. It produced a pretty strawberry-speckled, fluffy, cloud-like delicious filling. Plus, when it came time to assemble the cake, it was much easier to just spread this filling rather than layer sliced strawberries and whipped cream separately.

The assembly process was clearly laid out in the directions and worked well. A 2 qt. Pyrex dish held all of the layers and used up all of the cookies and filling. Minimal breakage of cookies was needed to produce a solid layer of cookies. It was covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight for about 12 hrs total.

As suspected, the final dish was loved by all who devoured it. I could tell they were all secretly thinking about that deserted island! The dish was pillowy and creamy with a perfectly sweetened, fresh strawberry taste. The wafers had a very, very slight bite, as they had absorbed some of that strawberry whipped cream puree. A very special no-bake dessert perfect for a warm summer day!

This no bake strawberry icebox cake is easy to throw together, looks homey and lovely, and tastes great! I’ll definitely be making this again this summer! It’s really delicious. I could see trying fresh fruit variations. Looking forward to eating more!

Originally published May 19, 2022

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Ok, I made this two more times. All of the guests who we’ve made it for have asked for the recipe, and of course, I gave it to them. Now, tho, I use three cups of cream and 3 cups of strawberries (plus more sugar and vanilla) because I make it in a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish, and it can accommodate more.

    1. Wonderful, Tarouco! I’m making it for guests next weekend, so I’ll definitely have to try your suggestion.

  2. 5 stars
    I have made this dessert every weekend for three weeks running. It’s fantastic. And it couldn’t be simpler. I’m going to try it with some other fruit besides strawberries next time.

  3. 5 stars
    This was a huge hit at my house. Even my DIL, who never takes seconds of dessert, asked for seconds. It was so easy to make, too. And I love that you can make it way ahead of time and throw it in the fridge until serving time. Thanks for this recipe!

    1. smita+ghosh, you want something that holds about 2 quarts, so an 8- by 8-inch or 9- by 9-inch pan or baking dish will work best. A 9- by 13-inch dish will be too large.

  4. I’m amazed to know icebox cakes go back that far. It makes perfect sense that the name comes from that era of zinc-lined wooden boxes with actual ice as the coolant but icebox cakes were still popular when I was growing up in the 50s. I’m not sure there actually were bridge parties or ladies’ lunches without one.

    In my mind’s eye I can still see the recipe printed on the yellow box of Nabisco ‘Nilla Wafers. …altho also popular was a version where thin chocolate wafers (larger in diameter than the domed vanilla ones) were stacked horizontally with layers of whipped cream and then frosted with more. And then, of course, there’s tiramisu.

    I love old fashioned things like this and Summer Berry Pudding. How wonderful to think that summer and luscious berries are just around the corner.

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