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A ridiculously easy no-bake lemon icebox cake recipe, made using just 4 simple ingredients: lemon pudding mix, milk, Cool Whip, and graham crackers. The easy dessert is perfect for hot summer days, backyard BBQs, special occasions, or as a sweet treat following family dinner.
While some people (like me) call me no-bake desserts like these icebox cakes, I have seen them also referred to as a lemon lush or lemon dream dessert.
But, typically a lush has a cream cheese layer, which this particular recipe does not. (I do also have a lemon lush recipe if you would like something with a cream cheese layer.)
So, I think lemon icebox cake, lemon icebox dessert, or no-bake lemon pudding cake are better-suited names for this delicious treat.
I know, I know, who really cares what you call it? What matters is how it tastes, right?
Well, I can assure you that this lemon cake tastes incredible. Cool, light, and creamy lemon goodness. I love how it has just the right amount of lemon flavor so that it isn’t too lemony.
Related: 3-Ingredient Lemon Cake Mix Cookies
If you love lemon desserts, you won’t be able to resist this lemon pudding icebox cake.
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.
- Lemon instant pudding mix – Make sure you get instant pudding mix and not cook and serve pudding. For a milder lemon flavor, you can use one box of lemon pudding and one box of vanilla pudding.
- Milk – Use whole milk for an extra creamy filling – although 2%, 1% or skim milk will work, too.
- Cool Whip – Two 8 ounce tubs or one 16 ounce tub, thawed. Cool Whip or Cool Whip Lite both work well for this recipe.
- Graham crackers – You will use just about the entire box of grahams for this recipe.
How to Make Lemon Ice Box 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.
The cake is made by simply alternating layers of graham crackers, lemon pudding, and Cool Whip.
Step 1. Mix to combine lemon pudding mix and milk. Fold half of the whipped topping into the lemon mixture.
Step 2. Cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of whole graham crackers. Break as needed to cover the entire bottom with a single layer. Next, spoon half the pudding mixture over the graham crackers and gently spread into an even layer. Repeat the layers once more then top with a final layer of graham crackers followed by the remaining whipped topping.
Step 3. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or until ready to serve. Garnish with fresh berries and/or graham cracker crumbs before serving, if desired.
If you are lucky enough to have any leftovers you can store them covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
This no bake summer dessert also 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.
- Vary your toppings! Crushed vanilla wafers, lemon zest, and / or lemon slices would be perfect on top of this icebox lemon cake.
- For neater slices, use a sharp knife to cut the lemon dessert while it’s slightly frozen.
- Be careful when covering your cake. I used the lid that came with my 9 x 13 glass casserole dish but it wasn’t high enough and left a large hole in the top layer of my cake. Now that I know better I ordered an extra deep glass baking pan to use next time I make a no-bake cake… which will probably be next week, knowing me. You could use toothpicks and plastic wrap, too.
Read on for answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) to ensure your lemon icebox cake turns out perfect every time!
Absolutely! The lemon icebox cake is perfect for making in advance. It actually gets better with time as the flavors meld together. You can make it a day or two ahead and keep it refrigerated until serving.
Yes! This easy icebox cake recipe is versatile, and you can customize it to your liking. Adding fresh berries like fresh blueberries or strawberries between the layers can provide a burst of flavor and color. You can also experiment with adding a touch of vanilla extract to enhance the flavors.
Yes, you can use homemade whipped cream. Simply whip 3 cups of heavy cream until stiff peaks form, then sweeten it with powdered sugar to taste. Keep in mind that homemade whipped cream isn’t stabilized like Cool Whip is, so the texture of your cake may be slightly different and it may not keep as well.
I hope that you enjoy this easy recipe!
More easy ice box cake recipes
Lemon Icebox Cake
- 6.8 ounces lemon instant pudding mix (2 boxes)
- 2 ½ cups milk
- 16 ounces whipped topping thawed and divided
- 16 ounces graham crackers (1 box)
- fresh raspberries optional topping
- In a large bowl, whisk instant pudding mix and milk together for 2 minutes. Fold in half of the whipped topping.
- Cover the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish with a single layer of graham crackers. Add half of the pudding mixture and gently spread into an even layer. Repeat with another layer of graham crackers and then the rest of the pudding. Top with a final layer of graham crackers and the remaining whipped topping.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 4 hours.
- Top with fresh berries and/or graham cracker crumbs before serving, if desired.