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Strawberry Icebox Cake is a layered, fruity, no bake delight that only needs 5 ingredients to make! It’s a summertime favorite with layers of creamy whipped topping, cream cheese, fresh strawberries, and honey graham crackers.
Strawberry Icebox Cake – Easy No Bake Dessert
Fresh, juicy, bright red strawberries just can’t be beat during the summer months. This layered strawberry icebox cake with cream cheese is the perfect summertime dessert for a hot day and it’s a very popular potluck or gathering dish as well.
Simple to make with only 5 ingredients – cream cheese, sugar, Cool Whip, graham crackers, and sliced strawberries.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Cream Cheese – For the best taste and thicker texture I highly recombine using full-fat cream cheese instead of the reduced-fat cream cheese. Of course, the reduced fat can be used just fine, but the flavor won’t be as rich and the texture not as thick and creamy.
- Granulated Sugar – This is the sweetener for the cream cheese. The only substitution would be powdered sugar, but you will need more of it because it’s not as sweet as using granulated sugar, maybe start with 1 cup + 1/4 cup and go from there.
- Cool Whip – This recipe calls for store-bought, ready to use Cool Whip. If you are totally against using it, that’s ok, simply make your own. See below for how to substitute with homemade whipped cream.
- Graham Crackers – 21 whole graham cracker sheets is what you will need to make a strawberry ice box cake.
- Strawberries – A 1 pound package (16 oz) of strawberries that have been rinsed, hulled, and thinly sliced.
How To Make a Strawberry Icebox Cake with Cream Cheese (Step-by-Step Directions)
- Beat Cream Cheese : Add the softened cream cheese and sugar into a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer. Use an electric hand mixer, or the paddle attachment, to beat until it’s creamy and combined well.
- Cool Whip : Add in the Cool Whip and continue beating on low speed until smooth and combined. Set aside.
- Assemble The Icebox Cake : Lay out 7 of the whole graham cracker sheets into the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan. You may need to break some to get an even layer on the bottom. Spoon 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture over top and smooth it out with a spatula. Spread 1/3 of the sliced strawberries in an even layer over the cream cheese. Repeat for two more times, but do not not add the top layer of strawberries until before serving.
- Chill Time : Cover the icebox cake pan with plastic wrap or a lid and let it refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or up to 24 hours.
- Serve : Before serving, top with the final layer of sliced strawberries and cut into squares.
How To Substitute 16 oz of Cool Whip with Homemade Whipped Cream
If you prefer not to use Cool Whip then simply make your own homemade whipped cream. It will make the prep time longer, but it will definitely taste delicious, and without any of the added ingredients.
Add 4 cups heavy whipping cream + 1 cup powdered sugar into a mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment). Use an electric hand mixer to beat for several minutes until stiff peaks form. Start on low speed to avoid splashing and increase speed as needed and as it gets thicker.
For a chocolate strawberry icebox cake use chocolate graham crackers. Melt some chocolate chips and drizzle it over the finished icebox cake. It reminds me of this Chocolate Strawberry Cream Pie. So yummy!
Storage Instructions For Icebox Cake
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. The longer it sits in the fridge, the softer the graham crackers will become, and the strawberries may end up bleeding some of their red juice into the cream cheese layer. It will still taste delicious but may be not look as appetizing as when it’s first served.
Cover the pan with plastic wrap or foil, or use a lid.
To freeze an icebox cake you will want to cover the pan with plastic wrap and then again in tin foil. Freeze for up to 2 months. Let thaw in the fridge overnight before serving. I don’t love freezing this icebox cake because once thawed, the texture of the graham crackers not as good to me.
- Low Speed For Cool Whip : Once you add the Cool Whip (or homemade whipped cream) you want to make sure that you mix it only on LOW speed and nothing higher. If you mix it too aggressively or to high of speed, you run the risk of deflating the whipped topping.
- Chill Time : Don’t rush this! This is where the magic happens. As the icebox cake sits in the fridge, the layers have time to thicken and set, and all the flavors just kind of meld together and create magic. You need at least 6 hours of fridge time but I tend to leave it in the fridge for closer to 12 hours (I refrigerate it overnight).
- Taste Notes : The flavor of this strawberry icebox cake reminds me of strawberry cheesecake. The tangy notes of cream cheese paired with the sweet Cool Whip and sweet berries is so good. The graham crackers gets softer and crumbly and pair perfectly with the creamy and light texture of the other layers.
Strawberry Icebox Cake
- 2 bars (8 oz each) cream cheese softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 16 ounces Cool Whip thawed
- 21 whole graham crackers
- 16 ounces fresh strawberries (rinsed, hulled, thinly sliced)
- Prep : Get a 9×13 baking pan out so it's ready to go. No need to spray it. Strawberry Prep : Rinse the strawberries, hull them (slice the green leafy part off), and slice them thinly.16 ounces fresh strawberries
- Using a mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer, or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar together until it's creamy and combined.2 bars (8 oz each) cream cheese, 1 cup granulated sugar
- Add in the Cool Whip and blend on LOW speed until combined. * Don't increase the speed at all, as that can deflate the fluffy whipped topping texture.16 ounces Cool Whip
Assemble The Icebox Cake
- Layer 7 whole graham cracker sheets into the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan, breaking apart the graham crackers as necessary.
- Spoon 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture over top and smooth it out into an even layer with a spatula.
- Spread 1/3 of the thinly sliced strawberries in an even layer over the cream cheese layer.
- Repeat the above steps 2 more times – Do not add the final top layer of sliced strawberries (save those in an airtight container, in the fridge, for later).
- Cover the pan with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or up to overnight is even better because it allows time for the graham crackers to soften. * I make this the night before so mine usually refrigerated for closer to 18 hours before serving it.
- Add the final layer of sliced strawberries and cut into 15 slices! This is best served chilled from the fridge.