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This Lemon Icebox Cake has layers of cool, creamy lemon filling, graham crackers, and sweetened whipped cream. It’s an easy, refreshing no-bake dessert that is perfect for summer!

This post was created as in partnership with Imperial Sugar. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

An image of a slice of lemon icebox cake.

Lemon Icebox Cake

I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but temperatures have been climbing here, and my desire to heat up my kitchen by baking has been spiraling steadily downward.

Enter no-bake icebox desserts, which let me make yummy treats without breaking a sweat! These creamy, layered desserts are so delightful that I always wonder why I wait until summer to make them.

The first icebox cake I ever remember having was an eclair cake, made with layers of vanilla pudding, graham crackers, and a chocolate glaze on top. If you’ve never had it, it’s such a delicious and easy “cake” to make during the summer.

But I find myself drawn to lemon desserts when the sun is shining and the days are long. I love the bright, crisp, sweet-tart flavor of lemon desserts, especially in the summertime. Which is why I also have a no-bake sour cream lemon pie recipe on my site as well!

This recipe is even easier than the pie because there is no need to crush graham crackers and make a crust. Instead, we are just using whole graham crackers and letting the moisture from the filling soften them into cake-like layers! The fridge does all the work!

But if lemony treats aren’t your thing, maybe make these these chocolate peanut butter no-bake cookies instead!

An image of of a lemon icebox cake, sliced into squares and served on dessert plates.

What is an icebox cake?

If you have never had an icebox cake before, it’s a dead simple matter of layering graham crackers and a creamy filling, then letting it sit in the fridge. The graham crackers soften up to a wonderful, cake-like texture just like magic.

The name “icebox” derives from the fact that when this type of dessert was first invented, people were literally using iceboxes (the precursors to the modern fridge where blocks of ice kept things cool) to make this cake-ish thingy.

Some lemon icebox cakes use lemon pudding for the filling, but my preference is to go with a cream cheese and whipped cream concoction that makes it almost cheesecake-ish.

You don’t have to use graham crackers, either. Nilla Wafers, shortbread cookies, anything along those lines that will soften up when in contact with a creamy filling would work for this type of cake, so feel free to play around. 

I sampled some coconut wafer cookies in Costco the other day that were absolutely amazing and I think I might have to go back and get some just to use in my next icebox cake.

An image of a piece of lemon icebox cake with a lemon slice on top for decoration and a bite taken out of the cake.

How to make Lemon Icebox Cake

There really isn’t a whole lot to making this easy lemon icebox cake, but I thought a step-by-step visual approach might be helpful. You can click HERE to get the full recipe.

1. First, combine softened cream cheese and powdered sugar in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until the cream cheese is smooth. This step is important because we don’t want lumpy chunks of cream cheese in the creamy layers of this lemon icebox cake.

An image of cream cheese and powdered sugar in a bowl.

2. Mix in lemon juice and lemon zest.  The lemon zest gives the most lemony flavor impact, so don’t skip this step by just using bottled lemon juice from the store and not bothering with the zest.

An image of lemon juice and lemon zest being added to a bowl of cream cheese filling for an icebox cake.

3. Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla, then fold most of it in to the lemon cream cheese mixture.

An image of whipped cream being folded into a lemon cream cheese mixture to make the filling for a no-bake dessert.

4. Cover the bottom of a 9×13-inch dish with a layer of graham crackers. You will probably need to break some of them up a bit to fit.

An image of graham cracker squares arranged in the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish.

5. Spread half of the lemon filling over the graham cracker layer.

An image of a lemon filling spread in an even layer of graham crackers in a 9x13-inch baking dish.

6. Arrange more graham crackers to cover the lemon filling layer, then repeat with another layer of lemon filling and a third and final layer of graham crackers on top.

An image of graham cracker squares arranged on top of a creamy lemon layer for a no-bake lemon icebox cake.

7. Spread the last of the whipped cream over the top layer of graham crackers, then place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. Then slice into squares and serve!

An image of a lemon icebox cake topped with whipped cream and decorated with lemon slices for garnish. An image of a lemon icebox cake that has been sliced into squares and served on dessert plates.

That’s it! Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Love Lemon Desserts? Here are some more of my favorites!

I made this Lemon Icebox Cake for Imperial Sugar. You can get the FULL RECIPE on their site.

An image of a slice of lemon icebox cake on a pewter plate.  

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