Chia Icebox Cake

Last summer, right around this time, I made an icebox cake. It’s icebox cake season!

Chia Icebox Cake // The Pancake Princess

Along with stovetop recipes, cakes that you can assemble and stick in the freezer are popular in my kitchen right now. Last year, I adapted this funfetti one—it was totally delicious. I used two cans of those aerosol whipped cream cans. Also cake mix, cornstarch and sugar. I think I thought it was healthy because the pudding was mostly milk, with not a ton of sugar.

Chia Icebox Cake // The Pancake PrincessChia Icebox Cake // The Pancake Princess

I don’t think I knew what an icebox cake was before before I saw this. It’s traditionally a cake made with whipped cream and chocolate wafers, stacked and left overnight to soften the wafers to a cake-like consistency. This version layers chocolate pudding and graham crackers, frosted with Greek yogurt. It’s not traditional, but I am a big fan.

Chia Icebox Cake // The Pancake Princess

First, there’s the pudding, adapted from this deliciousness. It uses chia seeds as a thickener instead of cornstarch or funky thickeners. Chia seeds, which greatly resemble poppyseeds, are (1) way more nutritious (great source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and protein) and (2) often used as an egg substitute in vegan baking since they have this wild ability to absorb water and create a gel-like texture (I use one tablespoon to every three tablespoons of water, but ratios can differ). So once you create that gel texture and blend it up, you have an amazingly healthy pudding!

Chia Icebox Cake // The Pancake Princess

Then, there’s the easiest frosting you’ll ever make: maple-sweetened Greek yogurt. The kind folks at Chobani sent me some yogurt to play around with–to the tune of a heavy box the size of two of my torsos containing SIX TUBS of yogurt. SIX TUBS! I used some of the lusciously thick 2% plain tub to make this heavenly, healthy frosting. Seriously delicious.

The only thorn in my side is the graham crackers. Baking some type of healthy wafer would totally defeat the purpose of a no-bake cake, and I couldn’t exactly send Erik on a mission to find a healthy, minimally processed wafer/cracker at Kroger while I was up to my elbows in chia pudding. If you have any ideas for a better cracker, let me know in the comments!

If all goes well, by the time you read my next post (about pie and pancakes, but not IN pancakes), I’ll be sun-basking on an LA beach.

Chia Icebox Cake // The Pancake Princess

Vacation! Eep. Let’s get down to cake!

PS. I just dragged Erik to a concert by these guys. Swooooon. #dorkalert

Boyfriend rating: 8
Comments: “Very good! [In response to my query:] Yes, it tastes healthy, but in a good way. Great combination of everything–I can’t believe how good the frosting is, since it’s mostly yogurt.”

Chia Icebox Cake

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours

Total Time: 3 hours, 20 minutes

Yield: 16 squares

Serving Size: 1 square

Calories per serving: approximately 115

Fat per serving: 4.5

This no-bake icebox cake layers protein and fiber-packed chocolate chia pudding with graham crackers, topped with Greek yogurt for a healthy and delicious summer treat!


  • For the pudding:
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder or raw cacao powder, if you have it

  • For assembling the cake:
  • 1 box graham crackers (you will need about 2/3 of the box)

  • For the frosting:
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (I used Chobani plain 2%)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


Whisk together chia seeds through cocoa powder until smooth. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.

Line an 8x8 pan with one sheet of plastic wrap large enough so that the ends can be folded over the top of the pan (smooth out as many wrinkles as possible so they don’t get stuck in between cake layers).

Cover the bottom with one layer of graham cracker sheets, breaking the sheets if necessary to get a flat layer. Spread a thin layer of pudding over the sheets—about ½ to ¾ cup. Repeat layering until pudding is gone, ending with a layer of graham crackers. Freeze for at least two hours.

Once frozen, unmold the cake by gently overturning the pan over a cutting board or serving plate and removing the plastic wrap.

Combine the Greek yogurt with vanilla and maple syrup--consistency will be pourable. I sort of poured most of it on top and let it drape over the sides, using a spatula to spread it around more evenly. Top with fresh cut fruit, sprinkles, shaved chocolate, etc. and freeze for an additional 25-40 minutes, or until yogurt hardens.

Slice and serve!

Store in the freezer (yogurt may get soft in the fridge). Thaw at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before serving.


I originally used 1.5 cups of almond milk in the chia pudding, but I would suggest using 2 cups (as written) purely for more volume since I think thicker layers of pudding could only benefit this cake.

I also found myself wishing for more frosting. Next time around, I might try doubling the "frosting" recipe and layering that inside the cake alongside the chia pudding.

Adapted from here

Chia Icebox Cake // The Pancake Princess

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45 thoughts on “Chia Icebox Cake

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  4. Richard

    Dear Princess Pancake,
    May we call you that? After a long separation, my best friend and I are reunited over your cake. More than over your cake, the need for more icing, as you agree with per the notes following your story. We wish that there had been more icing in between the layers and on the side for supplement. We’d also like to bathe in it. WHY DIDNT YOU WRITE THIS IN THE RECIPE? WHY DIDNT YOU AMMEND THE RECIPE TO INCLUDE THESE FINDINGS? We are deeply upset. Thanks for something but not everything. You’re not all that and chocolate chip pancakes.


    1. erika Post author

      This comment might be the strangest, and most wonderful one to ever grace my blog. I’m happy I at least delivered something on some level…thanks, truly, for stopping by, Richard!

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  8. Alex @ Brain, Body, Because

    Um, are you an angel? I have been totally craving a sweet cake, but baking in Saipan is IMPOSSIBLE. It’s super freaking hot/humid and electricity is super expensive.

    ICEBOX CAKE, I NEED YOU. I have actually never eaten one, but I’m already so, so in love with this. Dairy is pretty expensive here, so I might have to get a little creative with the pudding and frosting. Maybe I’ll make a tofu based one? And maybe just cut some fruit to put on top? I’ll report back asap because this looks SO AMAZING.

    Plus, it’s COLD and I pretty much only eat cold foods anymore. yum, yum, yum! I have missed you so much, Erika! 😀

    1. erika Post author

      Haha I love you!!! Oh no, that sounds like Houston…but maybe slightly worse since electricity isn’t terrible here :/

      But yay! I think a tofu-based pudding is a great idea! I used a tofu-based peanut butter pudding and an avocado chocolate “mousse” in this post and I think either or both would be great in or on this!

      Hmm also if they have coconut milk in Saipan, you could also do a coconut cream whipped cream type deal on top (a la: butttt it may be a mess in the heat if you take it out of the fridge for longer than like 2 minutes and you need a hand mixer.

      I MISSED YOU TOO!! So glad you’re back online!!

  9. Brandi

    So behind on blog reading Erika, but this looks beautiful! Never heard of an icebox cake, but it looks really delicious and healthy!! Love the icing too…it’s just like my molasses cream frosting I made for my banana molasses cake. Who says icing has to be full of butter and powdered sugar, right?! Looks so good girl!! Love! :)

    1. erika Post author

      Ahh thanks so much Kiersten!! Huge compliment coming from you! And yes–I’ve made your chia pudding three times now! I’m on a detox of sorts so I added banana to the last one instead of maple syrup, but it was still super tasty! :)

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  11. Yvonne @ bitter baker

    Aaaa, this is like THE perfect dessert! I love healthy desserts, especially cold ones now that it’s like over 80 here (I don’t know how hot it is where you’re at, but 80 for Seattle is veryyy warm) . Definitely making this!

  12. Irina Wang

    Beautiful photos, Erika. I’m glad you dropped those lovely comments on my blog so I could find you.
    I actually have a jar full of chia seeds that I got bored with after making one too many bland puddings with… this recipe seems to solve the problem!

    1. erika Post author

      Aww well thanks for visiting back! I really do adore your blog–I enjoy your writing and photos so much!

      And perfect! This recipe is ideal for people who have a good amount of excess chia seeds on their hands :)

  13. laurasmess

    Erika, this looks delicious! You’re right though, I’ve never heard of an icebox cake 😉 Seems like it’d be great for hot days… delicious layered cakey goodness, nice and cold from the freezer (without even having to turn on the oven!). Thanks for the lovely recipe. It does seem pretty healthy, despite the graham crackers! xxx

    1. erika Post author

      Yay! Yes, I think you’d like this based on your delicious looking cinnamon date buns–I’m excited to see more of your healthy recipes!

      PS. I’m trying to leave a comment on your cinnamon roll post but it’s not letting me. Basically, I loved your feedback on the recipe–I thought the amount of dates seemed really high in the original recipe when I first bookmarked it so I will definitely cut back when I make them! And I love the floss tip!

    1. erika Post author

      Ugh yes! I’ve never thought about it like that, but that is totally gross to think that most icebox cakes really are just a big slab of cream!

  14. Kelly

    Love ice box cakes and yours looks fantastic Erika! Wouldn’t be able to tell that there were so many healthy ingredients especially that Greek yogurt frosting – it looks so delicious and sounds wonderful! :)

    1. erika Post author

      Thanks Kelly! Yes, I’m such a huge fan of Greek yogurt frosting and you can hardly tell the difference from normal frosting from a distance 😉

  15. Nancy @ gottagetbaked

    Girl, you have this magical ability to transform fatty delicious foods into super healthy, still-delicious foods. I need to learn from you! Just like how I need to learn your amazing photography skills. Your photos are just gorgeous. Yay for free yogurt and vacation and chia seeds! I’ve been seeing so many chia seed recipes around, it makes me want to run out right now and buy a giant bag so that I can be all healthy. I can’t wait to read about your vacay – I hope you’re going somewhere incredible. Relax, have fun and eat – you deserve it!

    1. erika Post author

      Oh Nancy–too many compliments! You are so, so sweet. Go out and buy some chia seeds! They are great. You can use them in so many things!!

      And thank you–so excited for vacation!!!!!!

    1. erika Post author

      Thanks Susan! I was sort of trying for different looks and I was worried that the styles might be jarring in the same post, but thanks for the nice feedback :)


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