Grandma’s Butterscotch Icebox Cake

Jump to Recipe
5 from 3 votes

An impressive no-bake dessert that can be made-ahead and still knock your socks off? Sold! Enjoy the magic of Grandma Memere’s icebox cake with layers of butterscotch pudding and homemade whipped cream.

You know when a smell or taste brings you right back to a particular moment in time? This icebox cake does just that for me. One whiff of this cake and I’m transported back to my childhood kitchen eagerly watching my dad boil butterscotch pudding on the stove to then help layer the graham crackers in between. What I love most is that this is a generational dessert for our family. My grandmother, Memere, created this icebox cake recipe and it’s always been my dad’s favorite! It’s a real treat in every sense of the word. 

This classic icebox cake combines layers of graham crackers with layers of easy cook & serve butterscotch pudding, and topped with homemade whipped cream and toasted almonds. The graham crackers absorb the moisture from the pudding layers to create a cake-like texture without any baking required! It’s the perfect make-ahead dessert for BBQs, birthday celebrations, and picnics during the summer. This icebox cake is truly one of my favorite desserts when I’m wanting something that looks and tastes incredible. Bonus points for its nostalgia! 

Are you craving cake but looking for something more portable? Try my Cake Pops that are a tried and true Starbucks copycat recipe! They are the best bite-size treat to celebrate any occasion. 

My Recipe Video

What Is An Icebox Cake?

An icebox cake, or refrigerator cake, is a no-bake dessert made by layering cookies or graham crackers with creamy fillings like whipped cream, pudding, or custard. You can even add extra layers of fruit or nuts if you’re craving it! After the layering, the cake then rests at room temp or in the fridge in order to set and allow the layers to meld together and soften the graham crackers into a cake-like consistency. In the end, you’ll have a fuss-free indulgent dessert that is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. 

This icebox cake is made with layers of butterscotch pudding, graham crackers, and homemade whipped cream! It’s not only easy and bake-free, but it’s fabulously delicious and a real stunner!

Icebox Cake Ingredients

  • Cook & serve butterscotch pudding mix – cook and serve butterscotch pudding mix helps hold the layers together and adds moisture while also bringing a rich, buttery, and caramel-like taste with hints of brown sugar. Do not use instant pudding mix. 
  • Milk – milk is the primary liquid used to hydrate the pudding mix and help create a creamy, smooth texture when heated together. I use nonfat or 1% milk. I have not tried to use dairy-free milk for this recipe, so use at your own risk! 
  • Original graham crackers – original graham crackers are mildly sweet and often infused with hints of cinnamon and honey. When they are layered between the pudding and whipped cream layers, they soften and create cake-like layers.
  • Heavy whipping cream – heavy whipping cream is the key ingredient to making the homemade whipping cream. 
  • Almonds – you can buy pre-sliced almonds at your local grocery store to toast. If unavailable, substitute with pre-chopped almonds from the grocery store or make your own at home. Don’t want nuts? Don’t use them!
  • Real vanilla extract – real vanilla extract elevates the homemade whipped cream topping. 

How To Make An Icebox Cake

Learn how to make this icebox cake recipe! Full instructions in the recipe card; this is an outline!

  1. Toast.

    Toast almonds in an 375℉ oven for 3-4 minutes until golden. Set aside.

  2. Mix.

    Make pudding according to box instructions. For the Jell-O brand, mix 4 cups of cold milk into the pudding mix in a saucepan.

  3. Boil.

    Over medium heat, bring to a boil and stir often. Be careful not to heat too quickly to avoid burning. Once boiling, the pudding is ready.

  4. Cover.

    Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent skin from forming when cooling.

  5. Place.

    Place pudding directly in the fridge for 20 minutes with a potholder underneath it.

  6. Add.

    Add a single layer of graham cracker to a 5”x9” loaf pan.

  7. Add more. 

    Add a layer of warm pudding that’s about 2x as thick as the layer of graham cracker.

  8. Alternate.

    Continue alternating layers of graham cracker and pudding until there’s about a ½ inch left in the pan or you run out of pudding.

  9. Layer.

    Finish with a layer of graham cracker.

  10. Whip.

    Whip the cream and vanilla for about 2 minutes on high speed until stiff peaks form.

  11. Top.

    Use a spatula to add a generous layer of whipped cream to the top of the final graham cracker layer.

  12. Sprinkle.

    Sprinkle it with toasted almonds.

  13. Set.

    Let layers set for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or for two hours in the fridge, depending on if you’d like to serve the icebox cake room temp or chilled.

Serving Suggestions

Serve icebox cake on its own or dress it up with one of these fun ideas!

  • Add an extra dollop of whipped cream when served
  • Top with sprinkles, chocolate shavings, or crumbled chocolate cookies
  • Drizzle with homemade Hot Fudge or a caramel drizzle
  • Garnish with fresh fruit like sliced strawberries, peaches, or bananas
  • For Independence Day, use blueberries and strawberries to make a red, white, and blue flag design
  • Use leftover icebox cake as a dessert dip for Biscoff cookies or fruit

Tips And Tricks

  • Toast almonds ahead of time. Avoid heating up the house in summer by toasting the sliced almonds ahead of time, especially when you have guests coming over!  After toasting, let the almonds cool completely and place in an airtight container in the pantry for up to 2 weeks. 
  • Avoid instant pudding mix. I tried using instant pudding mix and it did not turn out well! The cook and serve pudding mix holds up better in layers while also maintaining a thicker texture compared to instant pudding. You don’t want your cake falling apart when you slice into it! 
  • Use an offset spatula. If you have one, use a small, offset spatula to spread the homemade whipped cream. It will help you achieve a more even, smooth, and polished layer that will make it look as good as it tastes. 
  • Allow plenty of time for the cake to set. Letting the icebox cake fully set before slicing into it helps prevent any of the layers from collapsing. Plus during the setting time, the flavors from the fillings begin to meld into the graham crackers making it a more cohesive and flavorful cake!

Variations

  • Try a different cookie. You can be creative! Swap out the original graham crackers with vanilla wafers or shortbread cookies.
  • Use Cool Whip. I definitely prefer homemade whipped cream as it only requires a few extra minutes and is much creamier, however, you can also use Cool Whip in a pinch. You’ll need about 2 total cups. 
  • Make it a chocolate explosion. Swap out the original graham crackers for chocolate graham crackers or wafers and use a chocolate cook & serve pudding mix instead of butterscotch. It will be rich, decadent and a full chocolate explosion! 
  • Add fruit. Add fruit to the layers of your icebox cake like sliced bananas. It will add a refreshing, fruity twist!

Storage

  • Store: store icebox cake, in the loaf pan, in the fridge for 2-3 days. 
  • Freeze: I don’t recommend freezing this icebox cake. The whipped cream and the pudding do not hold up well when thawed.

More Cake Recipes You’ll Love!

Grandma’s Butterscotch Icebox Cake

An impressive no-bake dessert that can be made-ahead and still knock your socks off? Sold! Enjoy the magic of Grandma Memere’s icebox cake with layers of butterscotch pudding and homemade whipped cream.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Refrigeration: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, New England
Keyword: spring, summer
Servings: 9 slices
Calories: 314kcal
Author: Tastefully Grace

Equipment

  • 5"x9" loaf pan
  • Stand or hand mixer (for whipped cream)

Ingredients

  • 2 cook & serve butterscotch pudding mixes Jell-O brand is the best (this is not an ad)
  • 4 cups nonfat or 1% milk
  • 1 box original graham crackers
  • cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Toast almonds at 375℉ for 3-4 minutes until golden. Set aside.
  • Make pudding according to box instructions. The Jell-O brand will require 4 cups of cold milk mixed into the pudding mix in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Don’t crank the heat up too high or the pudding will burn! Once the pudding is boiling, it’s done.
  • Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent skin from forming as it cools. Place pot directly in the fridge for 20 minutes. Make sure to put a hot pad (potholder) underneath your pot before placing it in the fridge!
  • Pudding will be loose and creamy. In a 5”x9” loaf pan, add a single layer of graham cracker. You can break pieces to fit the bottom of the pan! Now add a layer of warm pudding that’s about twice as thick as the layer of graham cracker.
  • Continue alternating layers of graham cracker and pudding (like you are layering a lasagna!) until you have about a ½ inch left in the pan or you run out of pudding. End with a layer of graham cracker!
  • Whip cream and vanilla extract in a mixer for about 2 minutes on high speed until stiff peaks form.
  • Use a spatula to add a generous layer of whipped cream to the top of your final graham cracker layer. Sprinkle with toasted nuts.
  • Let layers set for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, or two hours in the fridge, depending on if you want to serve the cake room temp or chilled!

Video

Notes

  • Do not use instant pudding.
  • You can use store-bought whipped cream or Cool Whip if desired.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 314kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 25mg | Sodium: 346mg | Potassium: 283mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 465IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 187mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
picture of grace eating

Never Miss A Recipe?

FREE SUBSCRIPTION: SIGN UP TO RECEIVE THE LATEST RECIPES FROM GRACE, PLUS SOME EXCLUSIVE UPDATES ONLY SHARED WITH SUBSCRIBERS!

We don’t spam! Read our Privacy Policy for more info.

Follow:
Share:
5 from 3 votes (3 ratings without comment)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Featured On:


Looking for Something?