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A rich, no bake dessert, gluten-free Strawberry Icebox Cake could not be easier to put together! You’ll need just 5 ingredients to make this decadent, fruit laden dessert that’s so refreshing on hot summer days.
Easy Strawberry Icebox Cake
Icebox cakes are the quintessential summer dessert, requiring no oven or lots of prep time. In this icebox cake recipe you’ll layer graham crackers with whipped cream and sliced strawberries and let the cake cool in the refrigerator (or, “icebox”) for several hours. During this resting time, the cream will soften the crackers and everything magically settles together into a velvety, cake-like texture.
I love to make an icebox cake because it’s marvelously unfussy yet tastes quite decadent from the whipped cream. Some versions of an icebox cake use pudding instead of or in addition to the whipped cream, but I prefer the classic preparation. In my recipe for strawberry icebox cake, a pile of sweetened, softly whipped cream is married with sliced strawberries and your favorite brand of gluten-free graham crackers to make a refreshing summer dessert.
Save this one for days when it’s too hot to cook. Or bring it to a BBQ gathering for a retro, fun sweet treat. Chances are you’ll have everyone asking for the recipe. See my variation suggestions below, or make this recipe as written. It’s a winner.
What Is an Icebox Cake?
An icebox cake is an easy, no-bake dessert composed of cookies, whipped cream, and fruit. It’s chilled in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving so the layers can settle into each other.
Why You’ll Love This No Bake Cake
There’s a lot to love about this recipe, starting with the fact that no oven is needed to make this decadent dessert. Here are a few reasons why this is one of my summer standbys:
- Short ingredients list. Just 5 ingredients are all that’s needed to make this icebox cake! I love a dessert with a brief ingredients list, meaning you can whip it up almost on the spur of the moment.
- Quick to throw together. Once you have all your ingredients you can put together this cake in 10 minutes or less. I like to keep a box of gluten-free graham crackers in the pantry so I have them at the ready when I want to make this quick dessert.
- So flavorful. As this cake chills in the fridge the strawberries, heavy cream, and graham crackers sink into each other and create a wonderfully flavorful fluffy filling. The longer the cake rests, the more the overall flavors will develop and mingle.
- A perfect summer dessert. On a hot summer day, no one feels like turning on the oven. But, we still need dessert! Icebox cakes are so fun and easy with no oven required. They’re my favorite no-bake dessert.
- Easily adaptable. You can swap in other cookies if you like – substitute the gluten-free graham crackers or other gluten-free cookies, like vanilla wafers. Or switch out the fruit for chocolate chips for a totally different type of cake.
Here’s an overview of everything you need to make this refreshing recipe. Make sure to scroll down to the recipe card at the end of this post for the full ingredient amounts.
- Heavy Cream: Heavy cream is crucial in this recipe to make whipped cream. See my optional substitution suggestions below.
- Powdered Sugar: To sweeten the whipped cream.
- Vanilla Extract: Pure vanilla extract will give the best flavor.
- Strawberries: Try to use very ripe strawberries to give the best flavor and color to this cake.
- Gluten-Free Graham Crackers: You can use whatever brand of gluten-free graham crackers you like. Some brands that make gluten-free graham crackers include Pamela’s, Schar, and Kinnikinnick. Or try my homemade gluten-free graham crackers.
How to Make Strawberry Icebox Cake
This cake is so quick to put together – you’ll need 10 minutes or less to assemble it! Leave plenty of time for it to chill in the refrigerator, at least 4 hours or overnight for the best results.
- Mix together the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Combine heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until combined, then raise to high speed and beat for about 2 minutes until soft peaks form.
- Spread ½ cup of the whipped cream evenly across the bottom of a pan. Spread approximately ½ cup of the whipped cream on the bottom of a 9×9 pan.
- Top the cream with gluten-free graham crackers. Now, top with a layer of gluten-free graham crackers.
- Spread more whipped cream on top of the crackers. Then spread ⅓ of the remaining whipped cream over the layer of graham crackers.
- Layer on sliced strawberries. Next, layer sliced strawberries over the whipped cream.
- Build more of the cake with crackers, whipped cream, and strawberries. Repeat with two more layers of crackers, whipped cream, and strawberries. On the final layer of crackers, the pan may be larger than the bottom. If you have gaps in the crackers, use broken pieces to fill them in. They will not be visible when the dish is served.
- Chill the cake for at least 4 hours. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. If you use thicker crackers or cookies, you should chill it overnight to allow them time to soften.
Here are a few ways to serve strawberry icebox cake, plus some variations:
- Substitute store-bought whipped cream for Cool Whip. If you don’t want to make whipped cream from scratch, you can use 2 containers (totaling 16 ounces) of Cool Whip in place of the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Alternatively, you can substitute 16 ounces of store-bought whipped cream for the homemade whipped cream (omit the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla).
- Go completely from scratch. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can also make this completely homemade by using my gluten-free graham crackers recipe.
- Make it dairy-free. It’s so easy to make this cake dairy-free as well as gluten-free. Simply substitute coco-whip or dairy-free heavy cream for the heavy cream and buy plant-based grahams.
- Try different fruit. You can use this method for strawberry icebox cake to make other fruit icebox cakes. Raspberries would be a wonderful swap for the strawberries in equivalent amounts, as would blueberries. You could also do a combination of berries as long as it totals 1 ½ pounds of fruit.
How to Store Leftovers
Store strawberry icebox cake in the fridge for up to 5 days. As noted, the longer the cake sets the better the crackers will settle and the flavors will develop. Serve cold from the fridge. I don’t recommend freezing this recipe.
How Long Does Icebox Cake Need to Chill?
Different brands of cookies require different chilling times, so that will affect chilling time. For example, Schar brand gluten-free graham crackers will be fine with 4 hours of chilling time while Kinnikinnick brand will need an overnight chill. You could also just plan to let the cake chill overnight regardless of what brand of cracker you use – this will create softer crackers and a deeper flavor.
Strawberry Icebox Cake
- 3 cups/709 ml heavy cream
- ½ cup/60 grams powdered sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ½ pound/680 grams strawberries, hulled and sliced about ¼-inch thick
- 16 ounces/453 grams gluten-free graham crackers
- Combine heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until combined, then raise to high speed and beat for about 2 minutes until soft peaks form.
- Spread approximately ½ cup of the whipped cream on the bottom of a 9×9 pan.
- Top with a layer of gluten-free graham crackers.
- Then spread ⅓ of the remaining whipped cream over the layer of graham crackers.
- Next, layer sliced strawberries over the whipped cream.
- Repeat with two more layers of crackers, whipped cream and strawberries. On the final layer of crackers, the pan may be larger than the bottom. If you have gaps in the crackers, use broken pieces to fill them in. They will not be visible when the dish is served.
- Cover the dish with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. If you use thicker crackers or cookies, you should chill it overnight to allow them time to soften.
- If you don’t want to make whipped cream from scratch, you can use 2 containers of cool whip in place of the cream, powdered sugar and vanilla.
- Make this dairy free by using coco-whip or dairy free heavy cream.
- For schar gluten-free graham crackers, 4 hours chilling will be sufficient. Kinnikinnick brand will require an overnight chill.
- This could also be made with other gluten free cookies, like vanilla wafers.