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This No Bake Chocolate Éclair Cake recipe is an icebox cake featuring creamy vanilla pudding layered with graham crackers and topped with a decadent chocolate ganache. It’s an easy, yet impressive looking dessert that everyone goes crazy for!

easy graham cracker pudding icebox cake slice on plate

An Éclair Cake is meant to be a quick and easy no bake dessert. With layers of graham cracker and pudding and a chocolate topping, it’s really just a matter of assembling it and letting it do its thing in the fridge!

Its name comes from the fact that people say it tastes like an Éclair, the classic French pastry made from pâte à choux and filled with crème pâtissière (aka pastry cream). I’m not going to spoil the surprise; make it for yourself and see what you think! (And also, if you want to make this cake with choux pastry, check out the recipe in my Karpatka Cake post and bake the choux in a 9 by 13-inch pan.)

top view of partially eaten slice of no bake eclair cake

Why You’ll Want This Recipe on Repeat

  • You don’t need to turn on the oven and heat up the kitchen to have a gorgeous cake. This icebox cake is proof of that! During hot summer months, this is a great dessert option.
  • If you’re looking for a crowd-pleasing dessert, you found it. This is the perfect choice for potlucks, picnics, barbecues, and parties of all kinds. Watch peoples’ eyes light up when they see it!
  • No one will guess this decadent treat is so quick and easy to make. It comes together with just 20 minutes of hands-on prep time, and even less than that if you use a can of frosting instead of making homemade chocolate ganache!
  • It’s also a budget-friendly dessert. Instead of ordering a cake at a fancy bakery for your next party, whip up this beauty!
  • This recipe makes a big cake; it generously serves 12! Feel free to slice the cake into smaller pieces if you’re bringing it to a potluck or party where there’ll be other desserts. Also, it’s easy to cut the recipe in half and make it in an 8 by 8-inch or 9 by 9-inch pan.
front view of piece of chocolate eclair cake with fork

Ingredients

Ingredients Explained

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas where applicable. For the full recipe (including the ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

graham cracker and pudding icebox cake ingredients

Pudding and Graham Cracker Ingredients

  • Vanilla instant pudding – You’ll need two 3.4-ounce instant vanilla pudding packets for this recipe. If desired, you can use sugar free instant vanilla pudding mix.
  • Milk – You can use any type of milk you like; I prefer whole milk for the richness.
  • Cool Whip – Cool Whip is a classic time-saving ingredient here. If you want, you can whip 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream and omit the Cool Whip.
  • Graham crackers – Graham crackers form the “cake” layers of this icebox cake. They need to soften before serving, which is why this cake is chilled for a minimum of 6 hours.

Chocolate Ganache Topping Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter – Butter adds richness to the chocolate topping, and it helps the chocolate layer set. You can use salted butter and omit the added salt.
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder – Instead of making ganache with chopped chocolate or chocolate chips and heavy cream, here we’re making a simple cocoa powder chocolate ganache! This gives you another alternative if you don’t want to use canned frosting. (And personally, I love the deep, rich chocolate flavor that cocoa powder lends here.)
  • Powdered sugar – This sweetens our chocolate ganache and helps it set.
  • Water – We add a little bit of water to achieve the perfect consistency.
  • Vanilla extract – Vanilla pulls out the natural flavor nuances of chocolate.
  • Salt – Salt enhances the flavor of everything else. A little bit of salt makes the chocolate taste more like chocolate!

Instructions

Assemble the Icebox Cake

how to make an easy eclair cake
  1. Add the vanilla instant pudding mixes and the milk to a large bowl. Whisk or beat until it starts to thicken.
  2. Fold the Cool Whip into the pudding 1/3 at a time.
  3. Line the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with a layer of graham crackers, breaking the crackers if necessary so they fit in an even layer.
  4. Evenly spread 1/3 of the pudding mixture onto the graham cracker layer. Top the pudding with another layer of graham crackers and spread on 1/3 of the pudding, and repeat the graham cracker and pudding layers. Top the cake with a final layer of graham crackers. When you’re finished, you should have 4 layers of graham crackers and 3 layers of pudding, ending with a graham cracker layer on top.

Pop it in the fridge to chill while you make the ganache. (Or if you’re using canned frosting, see the Notes in the recipe card below for instructions.)

Make the Chocolate Ganache

how to add chocolate ganache to icebox cake

After the cake is chilled, add all ingredients to a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat the mixture (stirring constantly) until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Let the ganache cool until it’s still pourable but not hot, about 10 minutes. Gently whisk it again so it’s smooth.

Pour the ganache on the cake and spread it out evenly.

Chill the Cake

Cover the dish with plastic wrap and chill for 6 to 8 hours (or overnight).

Storage

Eclair Cake will stay good for up to 5 days wrapped in the fridge. Note that the longer the cake sits, the more the graham crackers soften. (I like this cake best after it’s been in the fridge for 2 to 3 days!)

front view of slice of easy eclair cake on plate

Cook’s Tips

  • Instead of graham crackers, you can use puff pastry for the “cake” layers. Look for it in the frozen aisle at the grocery store, bake it according to the package directions, and let it cool before assembling this cake. After baking, you’ll likely need to cut the puff pastry so you can arrange it in even layers in the pan.
  • If you want to make homemade pudding instead of using boxed pudding mix, by all means! You’ll need about 3 cups of chilled pudding for this recipe.
  • You can use real whipped cream in place of the Cool Whip. Just whip 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream to stiff peaks before folding it into the pudding.
  • You have options when it comes to the chocolate topping. I love the rich, complex flavor of cocoa powder ganache (and bonus, it uses pantry stapes that you probably already have on hand!). However, you can also use 1 (16-ounce) can of frosting; just warm it briefly in the microwave so it spreads easily, and stir it well. And another option is to make chocolate ganache with 8 ounces of chopped chocolate (or chocolate chips) and 1 cup of heavy whipping cream. To do so, put the chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until it’s steaming hot and starting to bubble along the outside. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 5 minutes without stirring. After that, gently stir to combine.
close up front view of no bake chocolate eclair cake showing layers

Éclair Cake Recipe FAQs

What is an Icebox Cake?


An icebox cake is a no-bake cake made of layers of cookies and whipped cream that sets in the fridge. The old-fashioned term “icebox cake” comes from the fact that refrigerators used to be chilled with a large block of ice. You’ll also sometimes find this type of cake called a refrigerator cake.

How Long Does Eclair Cake Have to Sit?


This cake needs to chill for a minimum of 6 hours in the fridge before serving (overnight is even better). This allows the graham crackers to soften as they absorb the pudding, and it lets you get nice clean slices.

Can You Freeze Eclair Cake?


Yes! But just know that the cake’s texture changes after freezing and thawing.

To freeze it, keep it in its pan. First wrap the pan tightly with plastic wrap, and then with aluminum foil. Label the outside with the date and contents, and freeze it for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the fridge for about 24 hours before serving.

More No-Bake Desserts to Try

partially icebox cake slice on plate

Let’s Connect

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No Bake Chocolate Eclair Cake Recipe

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Other Time8 hours
Yields: 12 servings
This no bake Chocolate Éclair Cake recipe is an icebox cake with layers of vanilla pudding and graham crackers topped with rich chocolate ganache. It’s an easy dessert to whip up for a potluck or party, and it’s a good option for summertime when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen.

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Ingredients
 

Pudding and Graham Cracker Layers:

Chocolate Ganache Topping:

Instructions
 

Assemble the Cake:

  • Add the vanilla instant pudding mixes and the milk to a large bowl. Whisk or beat until it starts to thicken.
  • Fold the Cool Whip into the pudding 1/3 at a time.
  • Line the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with a layer of graham crackers, breaking the crackers if necessary so they fit in an even layer. Evenly spread 1/3 of the pudding mixture onto the graham cracker layer. Top the pudding with another layer of graham crackers and spread on 1/3 of the pudding, and repeat the graham cracker and pudding layers. Top the cake with a final layer of graham crackers. (You should have 4 layers of graham crackers and 3 layers of pudding, ending with a graham cracker layer on top.)
  • Pop it in the fridge to chill while you make the ganache. (See Notes below if you’re using canned frosting.)

Make the Chocolate Ganache:

  • After the cake is chilled, add all ingredients to a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat the mixture (stirring constantly) until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Let the ganache cool until it’s still pourable but not hot, about 10 minutes. Gently whisk it again so it’s smooth.
  • Pour the ganache on the cake and spread it out evenly.

Chill:

  • Cover the dish with plastic wrap and chill for 6 to 8 hours (or overnight).

Notes

  • Canned Frosting: Instead of making ganache, you can use 1 (16-ounce) can of frosting; just warm it briefly in the microwave so it spreads easily, and stir it well.
  • Storage: Eclair Cake will stay good for up to 5 days wrapped in the fridge. Note that the longer the cake sits, the more the graham crackers soften. (I like this cake best after it’s been in the fridge for 2 to 3 days!)

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chocolate Éclair Cake, Easy Eclair Cake, Eclair Cake, Eclair Cake Recipe, No Bake Chocolate Éclair Cake, No Bake Eclair Cake, No Bake Eclair Cake Recipe

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Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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