Desserts | lemon | Recipes

The BEST Lemon Icebox Cake

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Made with whipped cream, cream cheese, lemon curd, and vanilla wafers, this Amazing Lemon Icebox Cake Recipe is perfect for gatherings or Sunday suppers with the family.

Prep takes about 10 minutes and you don’t even have to turn on the oven!

Lemon Icebox cake

Lemon Icebox Cake

There’s nothing quite like a lemon icebox cake on a hot summer day.

The refreshing combination of lemon, sweet whipped cream, and cream cheese is absolute perfection. The lemon curd is sweet-tart, the vanilla wafers give the dessert a cake-like texture, and the whipped cream cheesecake mixture is rich and creamy and delicious. Every bite is a delight!

If you’ve never had a lemon icebox cake before, you’re in for a real treat. Trust me, it’s worth every calorie!

Why You’ll love this Lemon Icebox Cake Recipe

  • Delicious Lemony Flavor – Cold, creamy, lemony, there’s no denying the delicious lemon curd and cream cheese really puts this cake over the top. The whipped cream and cream cheese give this lemon icebox cake a soft fluffy texture and as it sets up in the fridge, the vanilla wafers soften into an amazing cake-like texture. It’s a perfect warm-weather treat.
  • Fast & Simple –  With just a few simple ingredients, the cake comes together in no time! Even better, there is no need to turn on the oven or stove. Keep in mind, that you do need to plan for a minimum of 3 hours in the fridge, making this a fantastic make-ahead recipe.
  • Always a hit – The creamy and cakey texture and lemon flavor are a departure from my favorite dump cake recipes, and everyone always loves this dessert! 
bite of lemon icebox cake on a plate

What is an Icebox Cake

An icebox cake is a dessert that is generally made by layering pudding, whipped cream, and some sort of cookie. The cake is then refrigerated for several hours to allow the flavors to meld, the filling to firm up and the cookies to soften. The result is a light and refreshing dessert that is perfect for summer.

While there are many variations of this type of cake, the basic components remain the same. For example, some recipes might call for cream cheese instead of pudding, or they may add additional layers of fruit, jam, or fruit curd. No matter how it is made, a lemon icebox cake is sure to please any crowd!

Lemon Icebox Cake Ingredients + notes

(Ingredients at a glance. Grab the full recipe at the bottom of the post.)

  • Cream Cheese | Make sure to bring the cream cheese to room temperature. You can use low fat, but I do not recommend fat-free cream cheese.
  • Powdered sugar | (Confectioners sugar)
  • Heavy whipping cream | The homemade whipped cream is part of why this icebox cake is so delicious, but you could substitute cool whip in a pinch, just gently fold it into the beaten cream cheese. 
  • Fresh lemons | You’ll need 2, one for the zest and one for garnishing the lemon icebox cake
  • Vanilla Wafers | I love using the vanilla wafers in this recipe, when the vanilla wafers soften, they have a very cake-like texture. you could use other types of cookies such as shortbread or graham crackers
  • Lemon curd | You can use store-bought or homemade lemon curd. I like Dickinson’s Lemon Curd, but you can also make homemade lemon curd, it’s really easy: Homemade Lemon Curd Recipe.
lemon icebox ingredients

How to make Lemon Icebox cake

(scroll to the bottom for the printable recipe card)

1 Make the cake filling: In a large bowl cream the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Add the heavy cream and continue to mix until medium peaks form (about 3ish minutes). Fold the lemon zest into the cream cheese mixture.

how to make a lemon ice box cake

2 Layer the ingredients: Spread a very small amount of the cream cheese mixture at the bottom of a 9 by 13 casserole dish, Top with a layer of vanilla wafers. Next, evenly spread one-third of the cream cheese mixture over the cookies. Spread one-half of the lemon curd over the cream cheese mixture, this will be a very thin layer.

how to make lemon icebox cake

Top the lemon curd layer with another layer of cookies then another layer of the cream cheese mixture and another layer of the lemon curd. Finish with a final layer of the cream cheese mixture.

3 Refrigerate: Cover the lemon cake with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight. Place in the fridge for about an hour before serving or about 20 minutes on the counter.

4 Garnish: When ready to serve, garnish with lemon slices, extra lemon curd, or crushed vanilla wafers.

lemon ice box cake recipe

Pro Tip:

Make sure your cream cheese is softened to room temperature. Using softened cream cheese is very important to avoid lumps in your cheesecake mixture.

Helpful kitchen tools:

  • 13×9 pan – I like to use a glass pan to show off all the layers! This 13 by 9 pyrex dish gets a ton of use in my kitchen.
  • Offset spatula – You can use a silicone spatula, but an offset spatula spreads the layers so easily in the pan.
  • Mixing bowls – This mixing bowl with lid is similar to the pampered chef mixing bowls that I have used for over 15 years. Love them so much and I use them for everything!

Recipe variations

  • Add raspberries or blueberries.
  • Use other jams, compotes, or curds (like cranberry curd.)
  • Use graham crackers or other shortbread-type cookies.
  • Make this Lemon Icebox Cake into a Lemon Trifle using Sara Lee pound cake instead of vanilla wafers. (If you like trifles, I have the best strawberry trifle recipe!)
slices of lemon ice box cake in a pan

FAQ’s

Can I Use Cool Whip in this recipe?

While I recommend using heavy whipping cream for the best results, you can use Cool Whip instead of the heavy cream. You will need about 5 cups or almost 2 tubs.

How To Store This Lemon Icebox Cake

Stored in the refrigerator, this Lemon Icebox Cake should last about 3 days. After that, I would freeze any leftovers.

Can You Freeze This Icebox Lemon Cake?

Yes, this dessert freezes beautifully! To freeze: cover the dish with plastic wrap and a layer of foil and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, remove from the freezer for at least 30 minutes before serving. (Although I have also eaten this partially frozen and it is almost just as good, lol.)

bite of lemon ice box cake on a fork

More No-Bake Desserts

Tried This Lemon Icebox Cake Recipe?

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Lemon Icebox Cake

Lemon Icebox Cake Recipe

  • Author: Jamie Sanders
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 12 servings
  • Category: desserts
  • Method: no bake

Description

Made with whipped cream, cream cheese, lemon curd, and vanilla wafers, this Amazing Lemon Icebox cake is perfect for gatherings or Sunday suppers with the family. Prep takes about 10 minutes and you don’t even have to turn on the oven!


Ingredients

Units
  • 6 oz Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Powdered sugar
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (depending on your lemon and zester this may take 1 to 2 lemons)
  • 1 box Vanilla Wafers
  • 1 cup of lemon curd

Optional garnish:

  • lemon slices, extra lemon zest and/or crushed vanilla wafers

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl cream the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Add the heavy cream and continue to mix until medium peaks form (about 3ish minutes).
  2. Fold the lemon zest into the cream cheese mixture.
  3. Spread a very small amount of the cream cheese mixture at the bottom of a 9 by 13 casserole dish, Top with a layer of vanilla wafers. Next, evenly spread one-third of the cream cheese mixture over the cookies.
  4. Spread one-half of the lemon curd over the cream cheese mixture, this will be a very thin layer.
  5. Top the lemon curd layer with another layer of cookies then another layer of the cream cheese mixture and another layer of the lemon curd. Finish with a final layer of the cream cheese mixture.
  6. Cover the lemon cake with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight.
  7.  When ready to serve, garnish with lemon slices, extra lemon curd, or crushed vanilla wafers.

Enjoy!



Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/12 of recipe
  • Calories: 434
  • Fat: 34
  • Carbohydrates: 31
  • Protein: 4

Keywords: lemon icebox cake

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