Grandma’s Icebox Cake
My grandma’s staple summer dessert – icebox cake with simple layers of graham crackers and vanilla pudding, topped with Cool Whip and graham cracker crumbs.
A couple of weekends ago, I was doing some cleaning up in the kitchen when all of a sudden I started craving my grandma’s icebox cake. The thought came crashing into my head like Super Grover flies into a scene on Sesame Street (this is life right now), and I couldn’t shake it, so I made it a few days later for our Sunday dinner and it totally tasted like I was sitting at my grandma’s house.
This icebox cake was one of her specialties for as long as I can remember, and from what I understand, something she had been making since my mom was a little girl. It’s a very simple dessert with simple ingredients, but it’s one of those feel-good dishes that excites you when you see it sitting on the table. It really epitomizes the notion that food doesn’t always have to be fancy or made to impress, but it should make people feel comfortable.
This is a straight-up old-fashioned, classic icebox cake. I’ve made a ton of icebox cakes in the past, but this one is a total throwback to a simple graham cracker + pudding icebox cake. No crazy flavors, no fancy layers, nothing but graham crackers, vanilla pudding, and Cool Whip.
One of the best things about this dessert is that you can make it with any flavors that tickle your fancy (or that you currently have in your pantry). We usually had it either with all vanilla pudding or with one layer of chocolate and one layer of vanilla. With all of the new flavors abounding for instant pudding (as well graham crackers!), you could go crazy with a lot of different options.
When I served this on Sunday and heard more than one person say, “it tastes just like Grandma’s,” my heart was full of joy.
One year ago: Copycat Pizza Hut Breadsticks
Four years ago: Frozen Brownie Sundae
Five years ago: Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes
Grandma's Icebox Cake
- 10.2 ounce (289.17 g) box instant vanilla pudding mix
- 6 cups (1.46 l) milk
- 14.4 ounce (408.23 g) box graham crackers (approximately)
- 8 ounce (226.8 g) container Cool Whip
- In a large bowl, whisk together the pudding mix with the milk for 2 minutes. Set aside for 5 minutes to thicken.
- Line the bottom of a 9x13-inch pan with graham crackers (you may need to use halves or quarters to fill in spots).
- Spread half of the pudding over the layer of graham crackers. Add another layer of graham crackers on top of the pudding, then spread with the remaining pudding. Top with a final layer of graham crackers and spread the Cool Whip evenly over top. Crush 1 graham cracker into crumbs and sprinkle over the Cool Whip.
- Cover and refrigerate until cold and set, about 3 hours, or overnight. Leftovers should be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- You may not use all of the graham crackers in the box, that's okay.
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
This recipe was originally published on February 10, 2010.
Hi we don’t hv vanilla pudding do u hv a recipe for it pls
i love this and so easy to make
so easy to make and so good
I made this recipe but it didn’t set. Maybe too much milk?
I would crush graham crackers and mix with melted butter for the bottom layer
This looks awesome dude, I’m dying to eat this one.
Thank you for making me a foodie again.
This sounds great. If I wanted to make in an 8×8 in pan how could I adjust it?
Hi Betty, Just cut the ingredients in half, OR just halve the graham crackers and use the same amount of pudding and Cool Whip for thicker layers.
I always wanted to try and make a rolled cake and it turned out perfectly. A lot easier than I thought. thanks for a great recipe!
There is another icebox cake. This was passed onto me by my mom from the back of a cook and serve pudding box. You will need a large baking pan9x13 was what we used. A box of graham crackers and 1 each vanilla and chocolate cook and serve pudding mix. Make both as per box instructions. Take both off heat. Quickly spread a layer of Graham’s on the bottom. Pour over a thin pudding layer until covered. Add another layer of grahams. Pour the next layer of the other pudding gently over the grahams until just covered. Repeat until you have a final pudding covered graham layer. You can supersize this to larger pans or taller or other shaped pans. Let your imagination go! The cook and serve does amazing things to the graham crackers the instant doesn’t. You can experiment away. Lemon and chocolate is amazing too!
If I use cooked pudding do I cool it before putting it on the graham crackers? I’m afraid the hot pudding would make the graham crackers soggy.
Yes, I would cool the pudding first, then layer.
I’m not a Cool Whip fan. Can I use whipped cream?
Hi Sally, Yes absolutely, just know leftovers won’t hold up quite as long (I would plan on eating it within 24 hours).
Icebox pudding cake is my all time favorite desert. Our family recipe, handed down from my grandmother to my mom to me uses three different cooked puddings vanilla, butterscotch and chocolate with graham crackers between the layers and on top. So, happy to see the use of cooked pudding
I prefer Cooked pudding. I do not like instant pudding. Those who use cooked pudding…do you cool the pudding or pour it onto Graham crackers while hot?
Always poured the hot pudding on the graham crackers. If the previous pudding has not set up some it can cause the crackers to lift.
I use to make this recipe years ago but I added banana slices on top of the pudding.
My mom used to make this all the time with different puddings, but she made it in a graham cracker pie. So yummy! Brings back a lot of memories! Thank you
I’m going to make this for my friend who needs a pick me up. He loves chocolate. I think the 2 flavors will be delicious.
Can you use another flavor of pudding besides vanilla? Marilyn
Hi Marilyn, Yes you can use any flavor you’d like!
I made this for Thanksgiving and it was so good! But…I forgot to put it out until after most people already had dessert. Do you know if it freezes well?
Hi Lisa, Unfortunately I don’t think this would freeze well; I’ve found most pudding-based desserts don’t do well thawing.
This is soooooo good! Had Sunday lunch with friends after church and served this yummy dessert!
Hello, Your directions say to use 2 5.1 oz. boxes of pudding but in the comments below you answered a question by Joni and noted to use 3.4 oz. boxes. Can you clarify for me which it is for certain. Thank you.
Hi Michelle, I had originally not even included a size, but after making the recipe multiple times, I finalized it in a 9×13 pan with the 5.1 ounce boxes.
Oh I’ve used this recipe and yes it’s really good. I did some experimenting with the recipe and I found that it could be made in individual glasses or cups – depending on how many you’re expecting for dinner. Also for just the two of us I was able to make a couple of extra cups – cover with saranwrap and have the next day. Each to his or her own take – what works for one may not work for the other – just experiement.
Thankyou it brought back going to grams house. I now made it with my grandson. In stead of cool whip on top I put hot fudge topping. .it was sooooooooo good.
It looks so good and the instruction is simple. Thank you for sharing the recipe! Gonna try it! Find this recipe right when I’m craving for some pudding.
These look wonderful! I can’t wait to make it.
Hi Michelle! This looks so summery and delicious. I’m going to make it this weekend for my moms Memorial Day picnic. How far in advance do you personally make it before serving? That same day or the night before? Thanks so much!
Definitely make it the day before to give the crackers time to soften. Otherwise, the crackers will be too hard. It gets better the longer it sits, so it’s definitely something you can make ahead.
Hi Shannon, I always make it the day before. I hope you enjoy it! :)
I’ve been making a similar version for years and it’s always a huge hit. Sometimes the simplest desserts are the best. I almost feel guilty making it because it’s so easy, but it’s one of those things people actually request me to make. So it’s a win-win for everybody! I use French Vanilla pudding and mix it right in with the Cool Whip. Then I alternate layers of the pudding/Cool Whip mixture and graham crackers, ending with crackers. Then I spread a tub of chocolate frosting on top. So good!!
Ha! Ha! I was going to reply the same, SBAKES. Although the version with chocolate on top is called chocolate eclair. I make it this way all the time and I DO freeze it. I slice it after frozen with a hot knife and serve as requested. It takes only a few moments of sitting to get soft again.
We also like this with vanilla wafers instead of the graham crackers. Give it a try. My kids call it cookie pudding
It’s funny, when I saw the title on this email today, I immediately thought of the icebox cake my memere (French-Canadian grandmother) always made and was expecting a completely different recipe!! Hers was chocolate cookies, layered in long rows with whipped cream and then frosted with whipped cream. Had to be made a day ahead to be just right. So delicious. This looks super good too though. Looks like I will have TWO Grandma’s icebox cakes to make now.
Love, love, love icebox cakes. Super easy, feeds a crowd, easily adaptable. I made several last year to give with a meal train. People were always so excited to receive them. I even used leftover cannoli filling for one and you should’ve seen the vultures in my family!
This dessert reminds me of family picnics when I Hubby and I first married. Old fashioned and oh so satisfying!! I’ll have to make it for my grandsons — I don’t think they’ve ever tasted it. Thank you for the reminder.
I want to try these as I am always looking for easy deserts for my family.
Your grandma sounds a lot like my Noni. She’s 91 and she made us a lot of the same things when we were growing up. Seriously, it was the same all the way down to giving us Klondike bars. I never really liked sweets, but I LOVED (and still love) Icebox cake. Pistachio and vanilla was my favorite. I haven’t made it since I was in college. Reading this was like a blast from the past. I think I need to make some now. And try your rum cake recipe… Thank you for sharing!
My Granparents made this, my mother made this and I have been making this for my children for many, many years. I actually just made it last week for my 35 year old son. One of our favorite traditions!
this is a great recipe to use for my diabetic friends: instead of the regular pudding and cookies i will use sugarfree cookies and puddingmix.. no topping is needed, if you use the thicker version of a matching pudding. love the idea, and i think my friends will love me too for finally having something they can have too..
I’ve never heard it called “Icebox Cake,” but my mother made something similar often when I was little, and I make it now as a dessert to take to pot-lucks and so on. Somebody else mentioned an “Eclair” version above; my mother’s take on this is Eclair Squares on steroids. She made it into a proper torte, with at least 5 layers each of graham crackers and vanilla pudding with whipped cream folded in (to make the consistency more like pastry creme). To top it off, she nukes chocolate frosting just a little to make it very easy to spread, then applies liberally to the top layer of graham crackers. So good!
I’ve just recently discovered your bog and love it!! This recipe brings back great memories of my grandma. Icebox cake was always served during the summer months at our house – grandma lived with us.
What size boxes of instant pudding do you use for this recipe?
Thank you…can’t wait to make it!
Hi Joni, The pudding boxes are 3.4 ounces each. Enjoy!
Hi. In this comment you say that the pudding boxes are 3.4 ounces each. But in the recipe you say “2 (5.1-ounce) boxes instant vanilla pudding mix.” Which one is correct? I look forward to making it. Thank you.
Hi Jenn, It’s 5.1-ounces, sorry this comment is super old and I’ve since re-worked the recipe.
awe, thanks for the memory. my mom and favorite aunt made this icebox cake all the time.
Happy belated BDay, nonni
My fave is Anna’s Ginger Thins with a blend of homemade custard and whipped cream. Yeah, homemade custard kinda belies the “modern convenience” of an icebox cake. But, the flavor can’t be beat. XD
My Grandma always makes icebox cake too! Usually chocolate and vanilla, and once and a while she would do a layer of bananas in it as well :)
Made this on the weekend and we loved it. So easy! thanks!
Oh…that would be BANANA, not BABAna….tee hee….
Wow, this remminds me of Southern babana pudding (minus the bananas). What a neat idea, and an easy dessert to make when you are rushed. Bookmarked!
I actually just use a sharp sandwich knife (short chef’s knife). The key is just to make sure it has set in the fridge for a few hours and it will cut nice and clean. Enjoy! :)
happy birthday to your grandma!
Happy Birthday to your Grandma!!! I’ve never heard of this cake! So simple and pretty!!! Thanks for sharing it!
holy moly, that looks amazing!
what an awesome recipe (thanks grandma). i love you one can get really creative with the flavors.
Looks delish. How do you cut the cake without making a mess? Serrated knife?
Happy birthday to your Grandma! I love how specific dishes can bring back so many memories.
What a flash back! I hadn’t had this in years. My family used chocolate and lemon layers with graham crackers between them. So simple, yet wonderful.
Happy Grandma,wish I could say it again to mine!! You Ladies are the reason we are here!! Super Icebox cake,you could add fruit in the first layer(banana,strawberry,cherry,or a cream cheese layer).Very wonderful,and easy to change up!! To me a recipe is a idea,what you can do with it,is really,how far your mind can go.I see 1500 choc chip cookies recipes,but this is “SUPER”!!
Happy B-day to your grams. You’re pictures are great, that looks so decadent, I was expecting a much more intricate recipe.
Happy 90th Birthday to your Grandmother! :) The Icebox cake looks soooo delicious and the Pepperoni Rolls even more so! :)
Happy birthday to your grandmother! I know she’s a good woman because she is an Aquarius…like me! hahaha What a great looking cake!
I’ve made a cake similar to this called chocolate eclair cake.
layer of vanilla pudding
more graham crackers
another layer of vanilla pudding
then a layer of chocolate pudding made with about half the milk it usually calls for. it turns out thicker, more like a frosting.
SO easy, but SO yummy!
I’ve also used chocolate graham crackers. YUM!
Growing up, my family made a version of this called Eclair Cake: use French Vanilla pudding, make three layers [with the top being a cracker layer], and frost the top layer of graham crackers with chocolate frosting. Sooooo yummy. :)
Happy Bday to your Grandma! I hope she was able to celebrate in a way that helped her remember all of the wonderful times of her life. this cake looks so simple and so delicious. i don’t think i’ve ever had icebox cake before, but i will definitely be making this the next time i need a simple, yet delicious dessert.
Icebox cake is an all time favorite in our house and we make it with chocolate pudding, but usually each slice is so covered in whipped cream that you can’t even see it :)
Well, happy birthday to Grandma! I wish I had some of this yummy cake right now!
oh and chocolate pudding!
we put bananas in our ice box cake.
Wow, I can’t believe how simple this is! I thought it was going to be complicated just by looking at the photo. I will be trying this-I love easy food that seems like a lot of work…
Genius, plain & simple.
I have a Weight Watchers recipe similar to this but it’s make with unsalted saltine crackers. It sounds even better with graham crackers!
Happy Birthday to your grandmother!
what a sweet homage to your gran! not only have you recognized what a lovely lady she is, but you’ve also shared a simple, versatile, and undoubtedly scrumptious recipe–thanks!
Aw! Happy Birthday to your grandma! Mine turns 90 in a few months! Your grandmother knows a good cake to make, that is for sure! :)
Yum!! This looks incredibly delicious!!
Happy Birthday to your Grandma! Yummy-looking cake.
This looks wonderful! happy birthday grandma! :)
Awww! How sweet! My mom always made this with chocolate. It never looked as pretty as yours! I never would have thought this was an icebox cake!
Happy 90th birthday to your grandma! :)
The cake looks simple and yummy!
Its so nice that you are highlighting such a simple and classic recipe that has been in your family for many years. It is very easy to get caught up in searching for the newest, most extreme types of dessert these days, so its like a breath of fresh air to remember recipes of days gone by.
I hope your grandmother has a great birthday! Thank you for sharing this moment and this recipe with us.
Happy Birthday to your grandma!!! I love how easy this dessert is to make; pudding and graham crackers are great together. You’ve made it look so elegant :)
Thanks for this simple and easy to prepare dessert with ingredients we have in the pantry. Wish Grandma a happy 90th, and many more to come. My grandmother is 99, and we’re hoping to celebrate her 100th this fall. They have seen and experienced so much in their lifetime!
It looks so simple and delish! Happy birthday to your grandma. :)
Happy Birthday Grandma!!!!!!!!!!!! your ice box cake looks so delicious. I am going to try this with my kids. They will love it.