Who would have thought that just five ingredients could make heaven on a plate? Make a Lemon Icebox Cake and you’ll see what I mean. This easy No-Bake Dessert is out of this world delicious and super simple to assemble.
While Honey Lemon Cheesecake Bars are pretty amazing, and a Lemon Meringue Sundae is cool and easy, this Lemon Icebox Cake takes easy, lemon desserts over the top. So beautiful and elegant, but incredibly simple, It’s worth making on the regular!
I first heard about an Icebox Cake from my mother-in-law. Ruthie had told me years ago about a concoction made with applesauce, graham crackers, and whipped topping. “It sounds weird,” she said, “but it’s good.”
An icebox cake does sound weird, but it is, indeed, good!
We’ve enjoyed this concoction in lots of ways over the years, trading the applesauce for fresh fruit and preserves, the graham crackers often for our favorite cookies, and the whipped topping for freshly whipped cream.
The cookies soften slightly to resemble cake, layered with fruit and cream, making for a great addition to your selection of Easter Dessert Recipes or the perfect no-bake summer dessert.
Why Make This
It’s no bake! I love this dessert for its no-bake convenience. It’s cool and light and very make ahead, with no oven required.
It’s elegant. Don’t those pizelles make it beautiful and special?! And yet, it’s so simple to assemble.
It’s super versatile. With this basic recipe template, you can make all kinds of simple, delicious desserts to suit any flavor preference. Strawberry and Chocolate Icebox Cakes are a fun single-serve option!
It’s incredibly good. My family has requested this on more than one birthday occasion. It’s so delicious and packed with lemony flavor.
You only need five simple ingredients for this Lemon Icebox Cake:
whipped cream – You’re going to make your own whipped cream with heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar. If you prefer you can make Maple Whipped Cream or substitute another extract for the vanilla. Lemon zest is a nice addition! You can also use honey instead of sugar if you prefer. You can also use canned whipped cream if you prefer. You’ll likely need two large cans.
pizzelles – These are beautiful waffle cookies that really add to the beauty of this Lemon Icebox Cake. If you can’t find these in the grocery store — I buy mine at ALDI — you can find them on Amazon.
lemon curd – You can buy lemon curd in a jar on the jam aisle of the grocery store. In a pinch you can make a batch of this lemon sauce.
While we think lemon curd is pretty fantastic in this icebox cake, you can take the basic recipe in many different directions. There are so many ways to mix and match the cookie, the fruit, and the whipped filling, you could make a different dessert every night!
- Replace the pizelles with other types of cookies or even graham crackers.
- Replace the lemon curd with raspberry, strawberry, plum, apricot, or blueberry jams. You can also use canned pie filling, fresh, chopped fruit, nutella, or a syrup like mocha or chocolate peppermint syrup. You can also add Homemade Chocolate Pudding or another flavor custard to the layers.
- Replace the vanilla extract in the whipped cream with another flavor extract such as almond, lemon, or maple. You can also add citrus zest to enhance the whipped cream layer. Lemon zest is fantastic in this lemon icebox cake.
Line a 9×5 loaf pan with plastic wrap in overlapping layers so that every part of the pan is lined with handles hanging over the sides.
Line the bottom of the pan and up the sides with a single layer of pizzelles. Break some in half if you have to in order to cover most of the pan. (These cookies have rounded corners, so not every part of the pan will be covered.)
In a large mixing bowl, whip the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks are formed.
Spread enough of the whipped cream on the cookies to cover them. Dollop lemon curd on the whipped cream and spread it to cover.
Layer more cookies to cover the surface of the lemon curd. Repeat the layers of whipped cream and lemon curd.
Continue layering 2 or 3 more times, until the loaf pan is full, ending with whipped cream. Cover the dish with the overhanging plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours. During this time the pizzelle will soften, absorbing moisture from the whipped cream, and taking on the texture of cake.
Prior to serving, uncover the top of the pan. Invert a serving platter over the loaf pan and carefully flip it over. Gently remove the loaf pan and then peel off the plastic wrap. Garnish with additional whipped cream or lemon slices, if desired. Slice and serve.
While you don’t need to freeze an icebox cake, you can store it in the freezer if you want to keep it longer than a few days. Wrap it well and store in the freezer for up to 3 weeks.
An icebox cake is layered cookies or crackers with whipped cream and sometimes pudding while an ice cream cake is made by layering softened ice cream with a baked cake layer. The former is often stored in the refrigerator, once called “the icebox” while an ice cream cake is stored in the freezer.
You’ll need to refrigerate the icebox cake for about 4 hours before serving.
Knowing how much it costs you to prepare a recipe can help you decide if it’s the type of recipe to make regularly or one you might want to save for special occasions. Let’s crunch some numbers and see how this recipe pencils out.
- whipping cream – $2.74
- powdered sugar – $0.02
- vanilla extract – $0.25
- pizzelles – $1.80
- lemon curd – $4.99
Shopping at a mid-range grocery store at non-sale prices, you can expect to pay about $9.80 for the cake, or about 98 cents/serving.
Now, clearly the lemon curd is the highest ticket item. Buy it on sale, make lemon sauce, or make your own lemon curd to reduce the cost of this millionaire-style dessert.
More Great Lemon Desserts
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Lemon Icebox Cake
- 18 pizelles more than half a 7 ounce package
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 2 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 11-12 ounces lemon curd
- optional garnish: more whipped cream and lemon slices
- Line a 9×5 loaf pan with plastic wrap in overlapping layers so that every part of the pan is lined with handles hanging over the sides.
- Line the bottom of the pan and up the sides with a single layer of pizzelles. Break some in half if you have to in order to cover most of the pan. (These cookies have rounded corners, so not every part of the pan will be covered.)
- In a large mixing bowl, whip the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks are formed. Spread enough of the whipped cream on the cookies to cover them.
- Dollop lemon curd on the whipped cream and spread it to cover.
- Layer more cookies to cover the surface of the lemon curd. Repeat the layers of whipped cream and lemon curd.
- Continue layering 2 or 3 more times, until the loaf pan is full, ending with whipped cream. Cover the dish with the overhanging plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours. During this time the pizzelle will soften, absorbing moisture from the whipped cream, and taking on the texture of cake.
- Prior to serving, uncover the top of the pan. Invert a serving platter over the loaf pan and carefully flip it over. Gently remove the loaf pan and then peel off the plastic wrap. Garnish with additional whipped cream or lemon slices, if desired, and serve.
- Replace the pizelles with other cookies or even graham crackers.
- Replace the lemon curd with raspberry, strawberry, plum, apricot, or blueberry jams. You can also use canned pie filling or fresh, chopped fruit.
- Replace the vanilla extract in the whipped cream with another flavor extract such as almond, lemon, or maple.
- Add fresh blueberries when you add the whipped cream/lemon curd layers. Poke them down into the cream and smooth it over before adding the next layer of cookies.
This post was originally published on July 27, 2014. It has been updated for content and clarity.
Jessica, where do the blueberries come in? I see them in the URL and in someone else’s comment, but not the recipe. . .lemon sounds great but I have a box of blueberries in my fridge right now so lemon blueberry sounds even better. 🙂
I eliminated the blueberries in this last update because it was so good without and it’s not as easy to slice with the berries. If you want to add them, poke them down into the lemon-curd-whipped cream layers. The round berries will basically push their way into the cream layer and then you can smooth over the top.
Thanks! Hmm. . .maybe I’ll cook up a simple blueberry sauce instead of using raw berries. Really excited to try this as I bought a gaufrette iron last Christmas (similar to pizelles but with a waffle design) so I don’t have to decide whether it’s worth taking a chance with gluten. 😉 And yes, I realize I just turned your five ingredient recipe into a bigger project. But I enjoy baking and I’ve learned enough from you that I won’t have to resort to carry-out for dinner!
True story, ca. 2000: Dh came home for lunch (parsonage life perk) and I had forgotten to prepare anything. BUT! I had a cake baking for dessert. 🙂
This turns out nice every time! My daughter asked for this for her 14th bd this year. I use graham crackers in place of the butter cookies and resembles a lemon and key lime pie. >DROOL< 😀
Sounds like it’s becoming a family favorite. That’s so nice to hear!
If I only have frozen blueberries, should I thaw and drain first?
I haven’t tested it with frozen berries, but yes, I think I would thaw and drain first. Just save the juice for something else.
It turned out great 🙂 Except now I sort of want a box of those wafers to eat plain 😉
Yay! Love it!
Thanks! Now I have an idea for my own Icebox Cake. I have a favorite dessert from childhood that I was wondering how on earth I would make with real food. Now I have an attack plan!
Reminds me of a pudding my mother used to make, dip ginger biscuits in orange juice then sandwich them together with whipped cream, form a log shape then cover it with more whipped cream. Sounds bizarre, but it’s really nice!
There are lots of bizarre icebox cake combos, I’m finding.
I have everything on hand except lemon curd. What is that, or what could be used in place of that? Thanks for the good idea!
It’s like lemon pie filling (but better) that comes in a jar in the jam section. You could mix lemon zest into the whipped cream instead. I did that the first time and it was great.
Great idea! I have butter cookies that I have been looking to use up and this would fit the bill. I am planning on using some in banana pudding (in place of vanilla wafers) and this would give me another variation. Thanks!