Making Mealtime Meaningful: Discover how we're giving back with the 12T Cares program →

Key Lime Icebox Cake

Basically a no-bake kitchen magic trick.

I would say that most of my family is completely cuckoo for Key Lime Pie. And I get it — the cool and creamy bite followed by zing of citrus — yum. But it’s not something I make at home much, or well, ever; it’s just something we order at restaurants. But I think this Key Lime Icebox Cake changes all that. See, it has the impossibly easy and almost magic quality of icebox cakes (where graham crackers soften into something indistinguishable from cake) and all the flavor you love from Key Lime Pie. Refreshing, creamy, and light, this is a dream of a summer treat but works just as well any other time of year. (Judging by how my family gobbled this up, I doubt anyone will be complaining about when you serve it.)

If you haven’t made an icebox cake before, you’re in for a real treat. The first time I made one I was seriously amazed! You basically are using graham crackers for your cake layer and as they sit with the filling and topping overnight, they soften into something that is truly so cake-like that you won’t be able to tell the difference. For this particular icebox cake, you’re going to need a box of graham crackers, some heavy cream, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and some key lime juice and zest.

Can’t find key limes? It’s okay, they can be hard to find. Just substitute lemon juice and lime juice in equal portions.

You’ll start by whisking together the sweetened condensed milk with the key lime juice and lime zest…

… and then folding in some whipped cream (which you beat in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form).

Then you’ll lay down a layer of graham crackers in a baking dish and top it with the key lime/sweetened condensed milk/whipped cream mixture and repeat those layers again.

Whip up the rest of that whipped cream (this time with the powdered sugar) and spread that over the final layer of graham crackers, and set the whole thing to chill in the fridge overnight.

When you pull it out the next day and slice into it, you won’t have crunchy graham crackers anymore. They’ll have absorbed some of the moisture from the rest of the components and softened into layers that are incredibly cake-like. It’s thin cake, but still soft and chewy and supportive of all the creaminess above and below them.

I love a simple-to-make dessert that’s still delicious and this certainly fits the bill. It’s easy, but if you’re looking to save a little extra time, you can absolutely substitute some frozen (and thawed!) whipped topping for the whipped cream. Sometimes it’s nice when things are even easier, after all.

Serves 12

15m prep time

8h inactive

Rated 5 out of 5
Rated by 5 reviewers
  • 2 (14 oz each) cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup key lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime zest
  • 4 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled and divided
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • 1 (14 oz) box graham crackers
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  1. Add the sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and lime zest to a large bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat half of the whipping cream and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla with an electric mixer on medium-high until soft peaks form.
  3. Fold 1/3 of the whipped cream mixture into the sweetened condensed milk mixture until combined. Fold in remaining whipped cream mixture in two additions.
  4. Layer bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish with graham crackers, breaking some apart as needed to create a single layer.
  5. Spread half of the sweetened condensed milk/cream mixture over the graham crackers. Cover with another layer of graham crackers, followed by the remaining cream mixture. Top with remaining graham crackers and place in the fridge to chill while you work on the topping.
  6. In a large bowl, beat the remaining whipped cream, powdered sugar, and remaining vanilla on high with an electric mixer until medium peaks form.
  7. Spread over final layer of graham crackers and cover dish with plastic wrap. Place in fridge and chill overnight.
  8. When ready to serve, garnish with lime slices or zest, if desired. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from 5 Boys Baker.

Subscribe to 12 Tomatoes