This no-bake Lemon Icebox Cake recipe is a delightful blend of tangy, sweet lemon flavor, creamy filling, and shortbread cookies. A perfect refreshing, and delicious treat!
Why You’ll Love This
The easiest no bake summer dessert! Or any time of the year.
Whether hosting a backyard barbecue, attending a potluck, or simply craving a sweet, this no-bake cake will impress your guests and satisfy your dessert cravings.
It’s a simple yet impressive treat.
It’s cool, tangy, and absolutely delicious.
Some of our other favorite dessert recipes to make are Samoa Cake, Blueberry Pie That’s Not Runny, Big Boy’s Strawberry Pie, Meyer Lemon Bundt Cake, Strawberry Pretzel Salad, and Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars.
Please see the recipe card below for a complete list of ingredients and recipe instructions.
- Cake Layers – You will need classic shortbread cookies such as Lorna Doone or Keebler Sandies Classic Shortbread cookies. The Keebler Sandies will give a much thicker cookie layer which, in my opinion, is even better.
- Lemon Filling – This recipe uses 2 3.4oz boxes of instant lemon pudding mix, whole milk, and 2 8 oz containers of frozen whipped topping thawed (Cool Whip). Prepare the pudding according to our recipe instructions. Do not prepare it according to the package instructions.
- Other Layers – Lemon curd and lemon zest. These are optional but add so much more fresh lemon flavor.
This recipe uses Cool Whip for convenience, but you can make homemade whipped cream if you prefer.
In a large cold mixing bowl of a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, whip 1 1/4 cups of cold heavy whipping cream (heavy cream), 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, and 3/4 tsp vanilla extract together until stiff peaks form.
How to Make a Lemon Icebox Cake
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat 3 cups of whole milk and pudding packets for 2-3 minutes until the pudding becomes thick.
Fold in 12 ounces of whipped topping until incorporated, and you can longer see any pudding streaks. Chill while you prepare the cookies.
In a 9×13 baking dish, arrange a single layer of shortbread cookies in the bottom of the pan. Break the cookies to fit the pan as needed.
Pour half the pudding mixture over the layer of cookies and spread it into an even layer. Drizzle 1/2 cup of lemon curd over the pudding layer and carefully spread it out if desired.
Sprinkle lemon zest over the lemon curd layer.
Repeat the layers. Then carefully spread the remaining whipped topping over the top with an offset spatula and repeat with the remaining lemon zest.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap or an airtight lid and refrigerate for at least 8 hours up to overnight.
- Fresh raspberries, blueberries, or strawberries
- Crushed cookies
- Fresh lemon slices
- Lemon zest
- The shortbread cookies will soften faster if you dip them in milk for a few seconds before placing them in the pan. Or for even more lemon flavor dip them in fresh lemon juice.
- You can use graham crackers, vanilla wafers, or lemon-flavored cookies instead of shortbread cookies.
- If you choose graham crackers you will probably want to make it three layers due to their thinness.
- Icebox cakes must be refrigerated for at least 8 hours to allow the cookies to soften and the flavors to combine. This helps create the best creamy texture.
- The lemon curd is optional but I highly recommend it.
- When you are about ready to serve for easier cutting freeze the lemon icebox cake for 20-30 minutes before serving.
- For clean slicing run a knife under warm water, wipe it dry with paper towels, and then slice.
An icebox cake is a no-bake dessert made by layering cookies and cream filling. The cookies soften from the moisture in the cream filling resulting in a soft texture cake layer.
Absolutely! This lemon icebox cake tastes even better after a day in the refrigerator.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
You can freeze icebox cake for up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. I would recommend flash-freezing individual servings on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Then wrap the slices in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer-safe container or bag. But please note that the whipped topping might start to weep and separate upon thawing.
More Lemon Dessert Recipes
Lemon Icebox Cake
- 2 3.4 oz Packages Lemon Instant Pudding mix
- 3 cups Whole milk
- 1 cup Lemon curd divided
- 16 oz Frozen whipped topping (Cool Whip) divided – 2 containers
- 2 boxes Lorna Doone cookies 10 oz boxes
- 2 tsp Lemon zest about 2 medium lemons
- In a large mixing bowl beat the milk and pudding mixes together with an electric mixer for about 2 to 3 minutes until it becomes thick and incorporated.3 cups Whole milk, 2 3.4 oz Packages Lemon Instant Pudding mix
- Fold in 12 ounces of the whipped topping until you no longer see any streaks. Refrigerate while you prepare the cookies.16 oz Frozen whipped topping (Cool Whip)
- In a 9×13 baking pan arrange the cookies in a single layer on the bottom of the pan. Break the cookies if needed to fit the pan.2 boxes Lorna Doone cookies
- Pour half of the pudding mixture over the cookies and spread it out in an even layer. Drizzle 1/2 cup of the lemon curd over the pudding layer. Sprinkle the zest of one lemon evenly over the lemon curd layer.1 cup Lemon curd, 2 tsp Lemon zest
- Repeat the layers one more time, reserving the 2nd lemon zest for the garnish. Then carefully spread the remaining whipped topping over the top.
- Garnish with the remaining lemon zest. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 8 hours up to overnight.