With cream cheese, lots of zesty lemon, whipped topping, and softly sweet vanilla wafer cookies, this easy no-bake lemon icebox cake recipe is a creamy citrus dream that tastes like sunshine and joy with every bite.
No-bake lemon icebox cake gets its name from the fact refrigerators were called iceboxes back in the day. While this cake recipe might be old-fashioned, lemon icebox cake is anything but. It’s creamy, dreamy, citrusy, and fresh. This cool dessert is perfect at the end of any day and a great weekend treat. I just love lemon desserts because they taste like sunshine and joy.
Fortunately, this cake is super easy to whip together. You only need 6 ingredients: cream cheese, vanilla pudding, milk, lemon, whipping cream, and vanilla wafer cookies. The instructions are simple and include a little mixing and a little layering to make the most delicious cake.
The best part is, there’s no baking required. Simply pop it in the fridge to cool and enjoy! With layers of lemon-flavored cream cheese, whipped topping, and vanilla wafer cookies, your friends and family will love this summer dessert. It’s also a great dessert to make ahead of time. Make it a day or two before your event and let that zesty lemon flavor soak into the wafers.
This old-fashioned lemon icebox cake recipe is similar to our Elvis Presley cake, so when you get a chance check out the Rock n Roll King’s favorite cake.
So if you need a little extra joy today, I hope you’ll print this one off to try.
- Cream cheese (here’s our easy homemade cream cheese recipe)
- Instant vanilla pudding
- Lemon (the lemon juice and lemon zest)
- Whipped topping like Cool Whip or homemade whipped cream
- Vanilla wafer cookies
How to Make Lemon Icebox Cake
Place the cream cheese in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy (a minute or so). Add in the pudding mix, milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest and beat until well combined (about two minutes).
Add in 1/2 cup of whipped topping and beat again until incorporated.
Place a layer of cookies in the bottom of a standard-sized loaf pan (about 10 or so).
Spread half of the cream cheese mixture on top of this and spread the remaining lemon cream cheese mixture on top of the second layer of cookies.
Top with remaining whipped topping and sprinkle with lemon zest. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight to allow the cookies to soften. Enjoy!
- Store lemon cake leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- You can also freeze leftovers for up to a month. Thaw overnight in the fridge before serving.
- Substitute the Nilla wafers for graham crackers or shortbread cookies.
- You can also substitute the vanilla pudding for instant lemon pudding mix for even more lemon flavor.
- Another way to enhance the lemon flavor is to add two layers of microwave lemon curd.
- Garnish your lemon icebox cake with lemon wedges, curled lemon zest, or raspberries, or decadent caramel sauce.
You might enjoy these other delicious recipes:
Vanilla Wafer Pudding Recipe With Pineapple
How To Make Homemade Banana Pudding From Scratch
Lemon Angel Food Cake Roll (A Heavenly Dessert)
Vanilla Wafer Cake Recipe From Mama Reed
- 1 package cream cheese 8-ounce
- 3.4 ounces instant vanilla pudding mix
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 lemon: lemon juice and lemon zest save a little zest to sprinkle on top
- 1.5 cups whipped topping or homemade whipped cream
- 25 vanilla wafer cookies approximate number
- Place the cream cheese in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy (a minute or so). Add in the pudding mix, milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest and beat until well combined (about two minutes).1 package cream cheese, 3.4 ounces instant vanilla pudding mix, ¾ cup milk, 1 lemon: lemon juice and lemon zest
- Add in 1/2 cup of whipped topping and beat again until incorporated.1.5 cups whipped topping or homemade whipped cream
- Place a layer of cookies in the bottom of a standard-sized loaf pan (about 10 or so).25 vanilla wafer cookies
- Spread half of the cream cheese mixture on top of this and spread the remaining cream cheese mixture on top of the second layer of cookies.
- Top with remaining whipped topping and sprinkle with lemon zest. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight to allow the cookies to soften. Enjoy!
My brother just had surgery. I am taking him a meal tonight and this will be the perfect dessert for it. Thank you for posting.
Send my well wishes for a speedy recovery Mary, and I hope he knows just what a wonderful sister he has!!
Christy….If I wanted to make a larger portion of this recipe (say in a 9×13 pan) would you recommend doubling the recipe and go two-and-a-half times the amount?
That is exactly what I would do! You read my mind!
Thanks for posting this, Tony ! I was thinking about making this for my guys at work but needed a bigger serving size. It’s already getting in the 90’s here in Dallas, so not having to light the oven would be a big plus for me!
Christy, thank you for pointing out in the recipe that you can use homemade whipped cream instead of whipped topping. I shy away from the storebought whipped topping (even though I have eaten several dishes that had it that were very good) because I don’t know exactly what’s in it and wonder sometimes if it is even food! It is good to know that I can substitute the same amount of whipped cream. Whipped cream is high in fat, but it is a natural food.
This is funny because you are using the exact same terminology we’ve been using in our Bible studies about what to eat and what not to eat. Some things God says are food and other things are designated as “not food”. 🙂 I LOVE me some homemade whipped cream! Like you, I also enjoy the deliciousness of cool whip but I’m trying to go a little more with whipped cream these days. I’m kinda glad Cool whip wasn’t around during the time of the Messiah, though, since it missed out on an official declaration of “not food”. 😉
Thank you, Christy, this lemon icebox cake looks delicious. I’ve also requested to join the Front Porch Fellowship Group on FB because you are a kindred spirit and your posts, your humor and faith always uplift my spirit. Blessings
Thank you so much Sunny, blessings to you as well!!!
Christy, I have loved all your recipes, until now. I made the lemon icebox cake last night. We had it for lunch today and nobody could taste any lemon in it. I actually added the juice of 2 lemons. Do you think lemon instant pudding would jack up the lemon taste?
I wondered about that myself! I think I will try it with lemon pudding mix in addition to the lemon juice.
This looks amazing!
Thank you Annette!!!
Oh Christy, that looks so good. Cool and refreshing. But I can’t make it. My husband was just diagnosed with diabetes. And he is a big sweet lover. He has been doing really good on the diet, but I know he craves something good. In all of your wonderful recipes, would you have some thing good I could make for him. I have looked in a lot of books, but I would love to have something tried and true.
Trixie, I too battle diabetes. It would help some to use sugar free pudding mix and sugar free vanilla wafers. Where I live there’s a company named Murray that makes the wafers. Still does not make it carb free so just a tiny serving for him. Hope that helps.
Thank you Helen. I’m trying so hard to keep him on the straight and narrow. But for someone that always ate any thing and everything he wanted, especially sweets it’s been really hard. I am forever reading the back of the bags and boxes. lol And I have bought the sugar free things for him.
Sorry I don’t know the Murray Brand. But I will look around. I could always make him a pretzel crust. lol
Hi Trixie!! There are several good sugar-free and low-sugar recipes on Southern Plate. You can search Southern Plate Sugar Free or start here: https://www.southernplate.com/2010/01/sixteen-low-and-no-sugar-recipes-from-southern-plate.html