Classic Icebox Cake Recipe

A chocolate and whipped cream retro dessert that keeps the kitchen cool.

A whipped cream and chocolate wafer cookie ice box cake, sliced to show the cookies inside.

Serious Eats / Alexandra Penfold

Why This Recipe Works

  • Use either Nabisco's chocolate wafer cookies, or make your own.
  • Customize the cake by adding mint extract to the whipped cream and decorating the outside with crumbled cookies
  • Putting the cake together in a loaf pan makes assembly simple, and a prettier cake.

With summertime upon us, I find myself looking for no-bake desserts that still satisfy. Just because the weather's hot doesn't mean I don't want cake—I'd just prefer not to have to heat up my apartment to get my fix. Enter the icebox cake. A chance discovery of chocolate wafer cookies at my local grocery store inspired me to attempt Nabisco's "Famous Chocolate Refrigerator Roll," a simple log-like icebox cake consisting of cookies and whipped cream.

When I think of icebox cakes, I think retro. I think of my convenience cooking-loving grandma. But as much as icebox cakes may seem like a product of the 1950s, flipping through old cookbooks I found recipes for "ice-box cakes" as far back as the 1915 edition of The Settlement Cookbook, compiled by Mrs. Simon Kander. These early versions of icebox cakes were made with ladyfingers, sort of like an all-American tiramisu.

Nabisco didn't invent the icebox cake but they sure did make it famous by featuring it on the front of their chocolate wafer packages. The front-of-package-photo alone does an admirable job of making you want to take a box of cookies home. The chocolate cake looks like the epitome of gracious summer entertaining, with not a dollop of cream out of place. Flavor-wise, it exudes a cookies and cream vibe all the way (actually the cream moistened cookies, a.k.a cake, remind me of the taste and texture of Good Humor chocolate ice cream sandwich cookies—in the very best way.) You can either stick with the traditional whipped cream filling or easily dress it up with a little mint extract, either way it's a win.

The instructions for Nabisco's "Famous Chocolate Refrigerator Roll" seem simple enough: make a tower of cookie and whipped cream sandwiches, lay said tower on its edge, and cover with whipped cream. Yet in practice, few homemade versions I've encountered online match the perfection of the product shot from the wafer package. The Cooking Channel blog inspired me to try putting the cake together in a loaf pan and that worked like a charm. Decorate this cake anyway you want: you can cover the outside with crumbled pieces of extra cookies or go a totally traditional route.

This recipe is adapted from the recipe off the back of boxes of Nabisco's Famous Chocolate Wafers. If you can't get chocolate wafers in your area, the Smitten Kitchen has a chocolate wafer cookie recipe that's a good approximation, though in my experience the homemade cookies didn't quite get as soft from the cream as the store-bought kind.

June 2012

Recipe Details

Classic Icebox Cake Recipe

Active 15 mins
Total 4 hrs 30 mins
Serves 12 servings

A chocolate and whipped cream retro dessert that keeps the kitchen cool.


  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 (9-ounce) package chocolate wafer cookies


  1. Place whisk attachment and the bowl of a stand mixer in the freezer for 10 minutes. Remove from freezer. Add cream, sugar, and vanilla extract and whip until soft peaks form. (Or make whipped cream using your favorite method.)

  2. Cover inside of loaf pan with plastic wrap. Spread a thin layer of whipped cream on bottom.

    A loaf pan lined with plastic wrap, with whipped cream on the bottom.

    Serious Eats / Alexandra Penfold

  3. Stand up a cookie on each of the short sides of the pan. Stand up 3 cookies, evenly spaced, on the long sides of the pan. Spread the cookies with whipped cream then create three rows of cookies. You'll need at least 9 to 11 cookies per row.

    A loaf pan lined with plastic wrap, with whipped cream and three rows of cookies to make up the inside of the icebox cake.

    Serious Eats / Alexandra Penfold

  4. Cover cookies with whipped cream and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Cover and reserve remaining cream in bowl.

    An assembled ice box cake in a plastic wrap-lined loaf pan, with whipped cream layered over the top.

    Serious Eats / Alexandra Penfold

  5. Turn cake out onto a platter, remove plastic wrap and cover with remaining whipped cream. Place in freezer for 30 minutes or until solid.

    Completed ice box cake on a platter, covered in whipped cream.

    Serious Eats / Alexandra Penfold

  6. Slice while frozen and serve at room temperature. Store leftovers wrapped in the freezer or refrigerator.

    Photo of a slice of chocolate wafer ice box cake, showing the layered cookies within.

    Serious Eats / Alexandra Penfold

Special Equipment

Hand mixer, stand mixer, or whisk to whip cream, loaf pan.

Read More

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
340 Calories
25g Fat
27g Carbs
3g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 340
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 25g 32%
Saturated Fat 15g 74%
Cholesterol 68mg 23%
Sodium 147mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 19g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 47mg 4%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 106mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)