This banana icebox cake is a dream! It’s a no-bake dessert that’s made with only 5 simple ingredients, and it’s perfect for summer. Layers of graham crackers, banana pudding, and cool whip come together in the easiest dessert ever. You only need 15 minutes of prep and some time to chill in the fridge to make a dish that everyone will love.
Have you ever made an icebox cake? It’s one of the simplest desserts you can make for a summer cookout or backyard barbecue.
Typically, it’s made with graham crackers or wafers, pudding or whipped cream, and sometimes fruit. Pop it in the fridge, and when it’s chilled and set, the graham crackers become soft and all the flavors come together for a tasty, cold, and refreshing treat.
This recipe is super simple and tastes like a banana cream pie. You don’t need to fuss with making a graham cracker crust or making homemade whipped cream. Instead, you’ll use a handful of ingredients like whole graham crackers, Cool Whip, and instant pudding to get this dessert in the pan in 15 minutes or less.
This section includes ingredient notes and substitution options. Get all measurements, ingredients, and instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this post.
- Instant Banana Cream Pudding Mix— Make sure you get instant pudding mix or the recipe won’t work. You may combine one box of banana and one box of instant vanilla pudding if you don’t want a strong banana flavor.
- Milk— Whole milk will give this recipe a richer flavor, but 2%, 1% or skim milk works, too.
- Whipped Topping— We used Cool Whip to make things super simple, but any store brand whipped topping or even homemade whipped cream made with heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla will work for this recipe.
- Graham Crackers— You’ll need a whole box. Use cinnamon or honey graham crackers for a little extra flavor. You can also sub vanilla wafers or chocolate wafers for the graham crackers.
- Fresh Banana Slices— For garnish. Use just ripe bananas—not overripe bananas.
Equipment You’ll Need
- 9×13 baking dish (I am obsessed with my deep pyrex dish)
- Mixing bowls
- Rubber spatula
- Plastic Wrap
How to Make Banana Cream Icebox Cake
This section shows you how to make the recipe with step-by-step photos and instructions. For the full printable recipe, see the recipe card below.
Step 1: Add the boxes of pudding mix and milk to a large bowl. Whisk until combined and then continue to mix until it starts to thicken, about 1 minute.
Step 2: Fold in 1 container of whipped topping.
Step 3: Place 1/4th of the graham crackers on the bottom of the pan. You may need to break some to make them fit to fill the bottom with a layer of graham crackers.
Step 4: Add 1/3 of the banana filling on top and smooth it out. Repeat 2 more times. Add the last of the graham cracker squares on top. You may have some small pieces left over—keep them for garnish, if desired.
Step 5: Smooth out the container of remaining whipped cream so none of the graham crackers are exposed. Cover the baking pan with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours, or even better, overnight. It needs time to sit so the pudding mixture can set and the graham crackers soften.
Step 6: Top with some of the crushed leftover graham crackers and fresh banana slices, if desired. Slice and serve.
Storage and Freezing
Store this banana icebox cake in the fridge for up to 4 days, covered with plastic wrap.
This dessert keeps well in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before serving. It’s delicious slightly frozen, though, so it doesn’t have to thaw completely.
Banana Icebox Cake Tips and Tricks
- Vary your toppings! Crushed Nilla wafers, chocolate syrup, caramel sauce, or melted peanut butter would be delicious on top of this banana pudding icebox cake.
- For neater slices, cut the icebox cake with a sharp knife when it’s slightly frozen.
- Keep the layers thin. Though it may be tempting to dump a lot of the creamy layer over the graham crackers, you want thin layers distributed evenly throughout the cake to strike the right balance between “creamy” and “cakey.”
Additions and Variations
Chocolate Icebox Cake: Make a chocolate version by substituting instant chocolate pudding for the banana pudding. Sprinkle chocolate shavings or mini chocolate chips on top to finish.
Lemon Icebox Cake: A fruity, lemon pudding icebox cake would be so refreshing in the summertime! Garnish with lemon zest and raspberries or fresh strawberries for a beautiful and tasty presentation.
Add Nuts: Pecans or walnuts will pair beautifully with this banana cream icebox cake. Crush and sprinkle the nuts over the top right before serving.
According to All Recipes, before the refrigerator, many homes had iceboxes, which were cold cabinets used for storing foods. To capitalize on the increase in iceboxes, food manufacturers began printing recipes on their packaging for icebox cakes. The name stuck!
This icebox cake lasts for up to 4 days in the fridge. Some icebox cakes only last 2-3 days in the fridge, however, if they contain fruits that turn quickly.
It can go in either one, depending on if you want to eat it now or later. Put it in the fridge if you plan to eat it within a few days. If you’re making it ahead and want to store it in the freezer, that’s fine, too! Just let it thaw overnight in the fridge and let it sit at room temperature about 20 minutes before serving.
According to the New York Times, icebox cakes became popular in the 1920s and 1930s when owning electric iceboxes (aka refrigerators) became more commonplace. Then, the refrigerated desserts enjoyed a revival in the 1950s when instant pudding mixes became household staples.
Sure! You can layer the ingredients in a springform pan, loaf pan, or just a large bowl similar to a trifle. Just remember to keep the layers thin and to give it several hours (at least 6) to set up before digging in.
More No-Bake Desserts
- No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake
- Blueberry Delight
- Strawberry Fluff Salad
- No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake Bars
- Banana Split Dessert Recipe
- No Bake Fruit Pizza
Banana Icebox Cake
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- 2 3.4 ounce boxes instant banana cream pudding mix
- 3 cups cold milk
- 2 8 ounce containers whipped topping
- 1 14.4 ounce box graham crackers
- fresh banana slices for garnish
- In a large bowl, add the banana cream mix and the milk, whisk until combined, and then continue to mix until it starts to thicken, about 1 minute.
- Fold in 1 container of whipped topping. Set aside.
- Place 1/4th of the graham crackers into the bottom of 9×13 baking dish. You may need to break some of the graham crackers up to fit.
- Add 1/3 of the pudding mixture on top and smooth it out. Repeat 2 more times. Add the last of the graham crackers on top, you will have a couple of small pieces left over, but that's okay, keep them for garnish, if desired.
- Smooth out the remaining container of whipped topping so none of the graham crackers are exposed. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours, or even better, overnight.
- Top with some of the crushed leftover graham crackers and fresh banana slices if desired right before serving.
The nutritional information provided is automatically calculated by a third party and intended to serve as an estimate only. The accuracy of nutritional information is not guaranteed.