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Gluten Free Icebox Cake (Dairy Free)

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Make a beautiful cake without the oven with our gluten free icebox cake! This is a perfect dessert to make in the summer, and we decorated ours with fruit for the 4th of July. Our version of this vintage dessert is gluten free and dairy free.

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If you want to make an easy and fun dessert for summer parties without having to turn on your oven, you’ve got to try our gluten free and dairy free icebox cake!

This dessert is inspired by a vintage classic (kind of like a trifle) and it’s a fun dessert you can make with your kids as well since it’s super simple and only takes a few minutes to put together.

We decorated our icebox cake in a red, white, and blue theme for the fourth of July, but you can decorate this “cake” any way that you like to fit different holidays or themes!

Allergy notes:

  • Gluten free
  • Dairy free
  • Contains eggs
  • Peanut free
  • Soy free (depending on the whipped cream you choose)
close up photo of gluten free icebox cake with fresh fruit in a glass pan.

What is an icebox cake?

An icebox cake is a little bit like a trifle (or a charlotte) that has layers of cream and cake. Instead of using pieces of cake, an icebox cake uses cookies or wafers layered with cream (and sometimes fruit and nuts) and chilled. The cookies absorb moisture and they soften a bit to create a layered “cake”.

Icebox cakes were created in the 1930’s in America as part of marketing efforts for companies selling the icebox as a home appliance. Companies whose products were often used in icebox cakes (like wafer cookies) started adding recipes for them on the back of their product packaging and the recipe quickly became popular.

You’ll see these vintage cake-inspired desserts around the world with different names and flavor variations, like Mango Float in the Philippines, biscuit cake in the UK, and Chocolate Ripple Cake in Australia.

overhead photo of strawberries and blueberries arranged over whipped cream.

I really had never heard of an icebox cake before until just recently. I think I may have seen it before in old cookbooks as a kid, but never paid attention to it as a something that would be fun to make for our website until a few weeks ago. I saw it online and knew I had to make a version our family could have!

How to make gluten free icebox cake

Making an icebox cake is super easy and you don’t have to turn on your oven. Our version only uses 4 ingredients.

Here are the steps to make a gluten free and dairy free icebox cake. This is just an overview of the steps, the full recipe is at the end of the post!

  1. Spread a thin layer of dairy free whipped cream over the bottom of an 8×8-inch glass pan.
  2. Place the gluten free vanilla wafer cookies over the whipped cream in a single layer.
  3. Spread half the remaining whipped cream over the cookies, covering them completely.
  4. Arrange another single layer of cookies on top of the whipped cream.
  5. Spread the remaining whipped cream on top of the cookies.
  6. Slice your strawberries and arrange the strawberries and blueberries on top of the whipped cream. We created stripes for a 4th of July type design, but you can arrange them however you prefer!
  7. Cover and chill in the fridge overnight.
  8. Serve chilled.
overhead photo of ingredients to make an allergy friendly icebox cake.

The cookies in our cake don’t soften a ton, so they are still firm and the cookies won’t get soggy!

Variations for our dairy free icebox cake

One of the ways we made our icebox cake was by putting the fruit inside the layers vs. just adding them on top at the end. Both ways are great! If you want to have more fruit inside, you can add a layer of fruit between the cookie layers, but you might need a little more dairy free whipped cream between layers.

We created an American flag style for our icebox cake, but you can use just about any kind of fruit if you want (or not fruit at all) to create different colors and patterns!

Sliced mango or peaches and raspberries would also be a beautiful way to decorate your wafer cake.

Ingredient notes

Dairy free whipped cream

For our dairy free whipped cream, we used the So Delicious CocoWhip which is our favorite dairy free whipped cream because it’s so yummy and it’s also soy free.

You can use other brands of dairy free whipped cream in this recipe though. We also made this recipe using the Silk heavy cream that we whipped up with some vanilla and powdered sugar and it was great.

I would avoid using the canned whipped cream (like the dairy free Reddi-wip) since there isn’t much in the can compared to the container and it tends to deflate pretty quickly after you spray it.

overhead photo of cake covered with strawberries and blueberries.

Gluten free vanilla wafer cookies

At the time of writing this, I only know of one brand of gluten free cookie that’s a close alternative to Nilla Wafers, the Kinnikinnick vanilla wafer cookies. These are a pretty good alternative to Nilla Wafers and they are also dairy free and nut free, but they do contain eggs.

Some brands make gluten free and vegan vanilla cookies, but they are a bit thicker than Nilla Wafers and may not absorb the moisture as well.

If you can’t find these Kinnikinnick cookies, you can try making our allergy friendly sugar cookies and make them into small 1.5 inch circles. They won’t be quite as crisp and airy as the Kinnikinnick ones, but should still work great in this recipe.

Check out our other no bake desserts!

Gluten Free Icebox Cake (Dairy Free)

Make a beautiful cake without the oven with our gluten free icebox cake! This is a perfect dessert to make in the summer, and we decorated ours with fruit for the 4th of July. Our version of this vintage dessert is gluten free and dairy free.
Gluten free, dairy free, contains eggs; Free of: soy, peanuts
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Course: Desserts
Cuisine: American
Keyword: gluten free icebox cake, icebox cake
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Chill time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 194kcal

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Spread a thin layer of dairy free whipped cream on the bottom of a glass 8×8-inch baking dish.
  • Place a single layer of gluten free wafer cookies on the whipped cream until it's mostly covered. Depending on your pan and the size of your cookies, this might be 12 to 16 cookies.
  • Spread half the remaining whipped cream over the cookie layer, completely covering them.
  • Arrange another single layer of cookies on the whipped cream.
  • Spread the rest of the whipped cream on top of the cookies.
  • Arrange sliced strawberries and blueberries in a pattern on top as you like. We did a stripe pattern, but you can arrange them how you like!
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight to soften the cookies.
  • Serve chilled.

Notes

*The Kinnikinnick vanilla wafer cookies contain eggs.
One variation of this dessert is adding fruit to the layers between the cookie layers. We’ve made it this way and it’s delicious! You’ll need to have more fruit if you do this and probably additional dairy free whipped cream as well.

Nutrition

Calories: 194kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.04g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 82mg | Potassium: 35mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 7IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 0.1mg
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