Lemon Icebox Cake (4 Ingredients!)

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Lemon Icebox Cake with sweet lemon pudding and buttery shortbread cookies is a delicious, easy-to-make treat for any occasion.

Other favorite Icebox Cakes: S’mores Icebox CakePistachio Icebox Cake, or Oreo Icebox Cake.

Image of a slice of Lemon Icebox Cake

Lemon Icebox Cake Breakdown:

  • Why They’re Great: Icebox cakes are easy, no-bake desserts that look and taste like you’ve spent hours making them.
  • How They Work: Cookies or crackers are layered with pudding and/or cream. The cake is chilled which then creates soft, cake-like layers.
  • The BEST Flavor: This cake combines shortbread cookies with lemon pudding for a delicious flavor.
  • Fun Fact: Lorna Doone cookies were named after an 1869 novel, leveraging its popularity for branding.

Ingredient shot-- image of all the ingredients used in this recipe

Lemon Icebox Cake Ingredients

  • Lorna Doone® Shortbread Cookies: Serve as the cake base, providing a sweet, buttery flavor that softens into a cake-like texture.
  • Lemon Pudding: Two small 3.4-ounce boxes of regular instant pudding (not sugar-free or low-fat). Use Jell-o® brand for best flavor.
  • Whole Milk: Recommended for a thick, creamy custard with rich flavor.
  • Frozen Whipped Topping: Adds lightness and a creamy contrast; use regular Cool Whip® for best results.

QUICK TIP

For a budget-friendly alternative to Loorna Doone cookies, consider using graham crackers.

Process shots of Lemon Icebox Cake-- process shots of the pudding mixes and milk being combined and then whipped topping being mixed into it

Whipped Topping Options for Lemon Icebox Cake:

  • Default: Use one 8-ounce container of Cool Whip.
  • Alternative: Try TruWhip®.
  • Homemade: Mix 1 cup heavy cream, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract in a stand mixer until firm peaks form, about 2-4 minutes. 

Process shots-- images of the cookies being unwrapped and layered in the pan and then the lemon spread being spread in

How To Make Lemon Icebox Cake:

  • Chill: Let it chill overnight for best texture.
  • Fit Cookies: Break cookies as needed to fit the pan.
  • Add Zest: Grate lemon zest on top before serving for some color.
  • Customize: Try different pudding flavors or add fresh fruit between layers.
  • Slice: Use a warm, dry sharp knife for clean slices.

Process shots of Lemon Icebox Cake-- images of the remaining layers being added in with a whipped topping being added on top

STORAGE

Leftovers?

  • Lemon Icebox Cake is best eaten on days 2-4; tends to get watery after.
  • Serve from the fridge and promptly return leftovers.
  • Freezing not recommended due to dairy content causing graininess and wateriness upon thawing.

Image of a slice of the dessert with a bite out of it

QUICK TIP

Here’s our favorite 8×8-inch pan to make this cake in. These parchment paper sheets are a game changer for lining the pan and these binder clips hold the parchment paper in nicely!

More Lemon Desserts:

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Lemon Icebox Cake

5 from 4 votes
Lemon Icebox Cake with sweet lemon pudding and buttery shortbread cookies is a delicious, easy-to-make treat for any occasion.
Print Recipe

Lemon Icebox Cake

5 from 4 votes
Lemon Icebox Cake with sweet lemon pudding and buttery shortbread cookies is a delicious, easy-to-make treat for any occasion.
Course Dessert, treat
Cuisine American, Vegetarian
Keyword Lemon Icebox Cake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Chilling Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 20 minutes
Servings 16 servings
Chelsea Lords
Calories 187kcal
Cost $7.98

Equipment

  • 8x8-inch pan and parchment paper

Ingredients

  • 2 pkgs. (10 oz. EACH) Loorna Doone cookies (Note 1)
  • 2 pkgs. (3.4 oz. EACH) Instant lemon pudding (Note 2)
  • cups milk (we use whole milk)
  • 1 container (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping (like Cool Whip), thawed, separated (Note 3)
  • Optional topping: grated lemon zest

Instructions

  • PREP: Line an 8x8-inch pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang for easy removal. Set aside for now. Remove 1 heaping cup of whipped topping and set it aside.
  • PUDDING: In a large bowl, combine both pudding mixes and milk and briskly whisk together for about 1 minute or until smooth. Take the remaining whipped topping and gently fold it into the pudding mixture until completely incorporated.
  • LAYER THE CAKE: Place cookies in the prepared pan, breaking them apart as needed to create an even layer. Top with half of the pudding mixture and use the back of a large spoon to gently spread into an even layer. Top with more cookies. Add the rest of the pudding, again spreading it into an even layer. Add the last layer of cookies. Finally, spread the reserved whipped topping in an even layer. Cover the cake and refrigerate for 24 hours. (This cake takes a little longer than most icebox cakes for the cookies to soften because they're so thick!)
  • SERVE: When ready to serve, cut the cake into squares (see Note 4) and, if desired, use a microplane to grate a bit of lemon zest on top. Alternatively, crumble any leftover cookies on top. Enjoy slices cold, straight out of the fridge.
  • STORAGE: We recommend eating the cake on days 2 or 3. It can become watery after that. To store the cake, serve it directly from the fridge. Any leftovers should be returned to the fridge promptly. We do not recommend freezing.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Loorna Doone Shortbread Cookies: These cookies are used as the base of the cake and provide a sweet, buttery flavor. They soften when layered with the pudding mixture, turning to become a cake-like consistency. While we highly recommend using two boxes of them for this recipe, graham crackers or vanilla wafers can be used as a substitute.
Note 2: Instant lemon pudding: Use two boxes of regular instant pudding mix (not sugar-free, not low-fat) of instant pudding mix–not the cook-and-serve type. Also, keep an eye out for the pudding box size. Get the small 3.4-ounce boxes. When using the pudding mix, follow my specific recipe directions — don’t prepare it according to package instructions. 
Note 3: Frozen whipped topping: Cool Whip is a common brand of frozen whipped topping that we use in our test kitchen. Be sure to use regular, not sugar-free/reduced-fat which can become watery. Or make your own; our recipe for homemade whipped cream is in the blog post!
Note 4: Make clean cuts: When cutting the cake, use a sharp chef’s knife and make decisive cuts. Run the knife under warm water, dry it on a kitchen towel, and repeat for each cut.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 187kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 147mg | Potassium: 82mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 81IU | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 1mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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