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Strawberry Icebox Cake Mini Desserts

Light and dreamy no bake strawberries and cream mini desserts (served in mason jars) are always a big hit at Summer picnics and potluck dinners!

Juicy strawberries and graham crackers layered in a cloud of sweetened homemade whipped cream in my easy old-fashioned Strawberry Icebox Cake is a luscious way to enjoy fresh berries!

Besides being delicious, the best part about this “cake” is that you never even turn on the oven. As the icebox cake chills out in the fridge, the graham cracker layers soften — but don’t get soggy — for the cake part of this easy dessert.

Individual mason jar desserts are fun, self-serve treats you can pack in a cooler and transport to outdoor events — like Memorial Day barbecues or Fourth of July picnics — and I’ve come up with a few I think you’ll enjoy. Both my blueberry cheesecake and my no-bake banana pudding get rave reviews!

Prefer one big cake? This icebox cake recipe can just as easily be made in a 9 x 13 inch pan instead.

strawberry icebox cake in a mason jar on a white plate with a spoon and sprig of mint.

Why you’re going to love it!

  • Versatile recipe. Make individual desserts or one big cake.
  • Simple, fresh ingredients. Just a few ingredients needed.
  • Always popular. Everyone loves the light and creamy filling!
strawberry icebox cake in a mason jar on a white plate with a spoon and sprig of mint.

Strawberry Icebox Cake: behind the recipe

Growing up, my Dad grew the best strawberries in our backyard garden, and we were lucky enough to enjoy them all Summer long. My grandmother made jars and jars of jam for biscuits, strawberry shortcakes for Sunday dinner, and would serve us a big bowl of strawberries and Cool Whip for afternoon snacks.

Today’s dessert reminds me of those tasty Summer days. The whipped cream filling in my Strawberry icebox cake is not overly sweet so that the fresh strawberries’ natural flavor shines though — just like the treats grandma used to make!

a box of strawberries on a kitchen counter with powdered sugar, graham crackers, and whipping cream in the background.

Key ingredients and substitutions

  • Strawberries — Choose ripe, red berries to ensure they are the sweetest, but make sure they are not overly soft so they don’t turn to mush.
  • Graham crackers — Either original or chocolate graham crackers may be used. You could also substitute vanilla wafers, Oreos, or lady fingers — all tasty options!
  • Heavy cream — Homemade whipped cream takes less than 5 minutes to whip up and gives this dessert a delicious fresh taste. (A whipped topping, like Cool Whip, may be substituted.)
  • Cream cheese — Adding cream cheese gives the filling a fluffier texture and a slight tang without being tart. Many icebox cakes only use whipped cream, so you may omit the cream cheese to save calories if you wish.

How to make refrigerator cake

process steps for preparing strawberry ice box cake: 1) combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and flavorings; 2) whip whipping cream; 3) pipe mixture into jars; 4) layer graham crackers on top of cream.

STEP 1 | Slice strawberries

  • Remove the strawberry hulls and slice the berries, trying to keep slices somewhat uniform in thickness.
  • Some recipes call for adding sugar to macerate the berries, but they will hold up in the dessert better with no sugar.

STEP 2 | Make whipped cream

  • You’ll need a very large bowl since the cream will increase in volume as it is whipped. For the best results, start with a mixing bowl and beaters that have chilled in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or so.
  • Start mixing on low speed to avoid splatters and increase the speed to medium as the cream begins to thicken.
  • You’ll know it’s ready when stiff peaks form and hold as you lift the beater out of bowl.

STEP 3 | Combine the filling

  • Use an electric mixer to beat softened cream cheese until it is creamy, then sweeten with powdered sugar.
  • Mix in a bit of lemon juice and vanilla extract, then fold in the freshly whipped cream until smooth.

tip

  • Cream cheese may be left on the counter for up to an hour to let it soften to room temperature. To speed up the process, cut the cream cheese into cubes first. That way it should soften up in about 10 minutes.

spooning strawberries into jars for strawberry icebox cake.

STEP 4 | Assemble

  • Spread just enough of the filling to cover bottom of each jar (or a 9×13-inch cake pan).
  • Top with a layer of graham crackers, breaking into pieces if needed to cover the entire surface, then add another layer of the whipped cream and half the strawberries. Repeat layers, ending with strawberries on top.
  • Screw on the lids (or cover the cake pan with plastic wrap) and refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours, or preferably overnight.

tip

  • Use a large disposable piping bag or a gallon size resealable bag with the corner snipped off to squeeze the filling into the jars. It’s quicker and less messy!

multiple mason jars with layered strawberry ice box cake sitting on a tray.

Frequently asked questions

Why is it called icebox cake?

The first icebox cake recipes started appearing on the back of Nabisco wafer boxes in the 1930s to promote the non-mechanical icebox as a kitchen appliance. The easy dessert was quickly adopted by American housewives and is still popular today.

Can you make icebox cake in advance?

Icebox cakes are best when made at least a day in advance to allow the cookies to soak up the whipped cream and soften. If you are using fresh fruit or berries in an icebox cake, it is best consumed within 3 days.

Can you make this recipe in a 9×9 inch pan?

To make this recipe in a 9 x 9 inch pan, cut the filling ingredients in half and layer the ingredients as instructed in the recipe card.

a spoonful of strawberry icebox cake resting on the container.

More strawberry recipes

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Yield: 16 servings

Strawberry Icebox Cake

strawberry icebox cake in a mason jar on a white plate with a spoon and sprig of mint.

Light and dreamy no bake strawberries and cream mini desserts (served in mason jars) are always a big hit at Summer picnics and potluck dinners!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. strawberries, sliced
  • 1 qt. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 sleeves graham crackers

Instructions

  1. Remove strawberry hulls and slice berries, trying to keep slices somewhat uniform in thickness.
  2. Use an electric mixer with a wire whip attachment to beat heavy cream in a large chilled mixing bowl until stiff peaks form.
  3. In another large bowl, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until soft. Add the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla and continue whipping until combined.
  4. Scrape the cream cheese mixture into the bowl with the whipped cream and mix just until smooth.

For 9x13-inch cake:

  1. Spread just enough whipped cream mixture to cover bottom of a 9 x 13-inch cake pan.
  2. Top with a layer of graham crackers, breaking into pieces if needed to cover the entire surface, then half the whipped cream and half the strawberries. Repeat layers, ending with strawberries on top.
  3. Cover cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours, or preferably overnight. Cut into squares and serve.

For individual dessert jars:

  1. Place the filling mixture in a large piping bag or a gallon-size resealable bag with the corner snipped off. Pipe a thin layer of the filling into the bottom of each jar. Top with a layer of broken graham crackers, then pipe another layer of the filling to cover the graham crackers completely.
  2. Spoon strawberries on top of the filling, then repeat the layers (graham crackers, filling, and strawberries). Screw on the lids and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

Notes

  • This recipe may be assembled in 16 individual 8-ounce jars or in a single 9x13-inch cake pan.
  • Cream cheese may be left on the counter for up to an hour to let it soften to room temperature. To speed up the process, cut the cream cheese into cubes first. That way it should soften up in about 10 minutes.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 65Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 13mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 1gSugar: 11gProtein: 0g

Did you make this recipe?

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sheila thigpen in her kitchen

Sheila @ Life, Love & Good Food

Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Home Cook, Wife, Mom, Nana

Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

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