Make-Ahead Cranberry Icebox Cake Recipe

In this post: A cranberry icebox cake recipe that is the perfect, make-ahead dessert for the holiday season. Easy to serve, festive, and pretty!

piece of cranberry icebox cake cranberry and mint garnish

Ready or not, Christmas is coming! I can’t believe this year has gone so quickly, but here we are almost at the end. I had a couple of reader requests for a Christmas icebox cake, so this Cranberry Icebox Cake is what I came up with. It’s quite delicious and the cranberry layer has a fresh, tangy taste. My only disappointment was that I was hoping it would be a darker red. That slight issue can be remedied with a drop or two of red food coloring added to the cranberry layer. 

cranberry icebox cake recipe pieces with cranberry garnish

The basic recipe for icebox cake filling is the combination of cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, and Cool Whip. I normally use Cool Whip Lite, but any kind will work. The fourth ingredient adds the “flavor.” I have found that juice concentrate and pudding works the best, but anything that adds flavor can be used.

Dressing up an icebox cake is easy and adds a little whimsy. For this cranberry icebox cake, cranberries and mint add a pretty, more formal look. On each piece of cake before serving, place three cranberries like flower petals and use the mint for the leaves. For a fun and more casual presentation, simply garnish with Christmas sprinkles. The sprinkles would be a popular choice if there are going to be kids around!

The best thing about icebox cakes is that you can make them ahead of time. In fact, they really need to sit in the refrigerator overnight to set up and cut well. 

cranberry icebox cake fi

Cranberry Ice Box Cake Recipe

A cranberry icebox cake recipe that is the perfect, make-ahead dessert for the holiday season. Easy to serve, festive, and pretty!
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Servings: 9 servings
Author: Ann Drake
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 21 minutes


  • 8 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate thawed
  • 16 oz. container Cool Whip or Cool Whip Lite
  • 1 box graham crackers
  • sprinkles/fresh cranberries and mint for garnish


  • In a large mixing bowl combine the cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk. Beat for 1 to 2 minutes until very smooth.
  • Add the cranberry juice concentrate and mix again.
  • Fold in almost the whole container of Cool Whip. Mix until all combined.
  • In a 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 pan, spoon a thin layer of the Cool Whip mixture.
  • Top with a layer of graham crackers.
  • Repeat this process until you have 4 or 5 layers of graham crackers, ending with the Cool Whip mixture.
  • Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight is best.
  • Run a sharp knife under very hot water for easier cutting.
  • Garnish with holiday sprinkles or mint with fresh cranberries.


Using an 8 x 8 pan, I got five layers of graham crackers with a little bit of filling left over. For a 9 x 9 inch pan, plan on getting four layers. 
Like this recipe?Follow me at @onsuttonplace

Cranberry Icebox Cake Recipe Tips:

  • Before cutting, run your knife under very hot water. The warm knife will cut the icebox cake much easier and there won’t be any ragged edges. The first piece is sometimes hard to get out of the pan. Save that one for yourself!
  • I’ve been asked many times if real whipped cream can be substituted for the Cool Whip. If you are planning on making and eating your cake within hours of each other, I think the whipped cream will work. However, it won’t hold up overnight. 

cranberry icebox cake pieces christmas plates and forks

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For other icebox cake recipes click the image below!

Easy no bake icebox cake recipes from On Sutton Place


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  1. Peggy Schroeder says:

    Can this cake be frozen? I was thinking of baking a white cake and baking it on a cookie sheet pan so it would be thin, then I can cut it and make layers. My family is not real fond of graham crackers. But I wonder if I do it all ahead and put it in the freezer, as I am traveling for Thanksgiving, and want to take it with me, do you think it will work? I enjoy your blog and recipes. Thank you so much for all your insight.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Peggy…honestly, I don’t know. I’m not sure how the filling would hold up in the freezer, or if it would become runny when it thawed. I wish I could be more help!

  2. You mentioned concentrate and pudding make
    The best flavor. I don’t see pudding mentioned in the recipe. When and how much would you add?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Lisa…there is no pudding in this recipe. I have used pudding in other icebox cakes, and just mentioned it as a little added information. Enjoy!

  3. Teddee Grace says:

    This sounds good. Do you crush the graham crackers?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Teddee…no, the graham crackers are used whole. Enjoy!

  4. Pingback: Home Style Saturdays 117 | A Place for Inspiration for Styling Your Home
  5. Carol@BlueskyatHome says:

    Ann, Love any dessert that can be made ahead. The cranberry garnish adds the right touch of color and holiday feel. I have the Lenox Holiday China too and just love it. One tip: anytime I make a dessert in a pan, including brownies or lemon bars, I always line the pan with foil with a few inches of overhang. Then you can just lift it out of the pan for easier slicing.

  6. It looks yummy, and very festive for the holidays! Thanks for the recipe, Ann:)

  7. This will be the perfect Christmas dessert! Thank you for sharing- it looks yummy!

  8. I just bought fresh cranberries yesterday. This will be perfect for company this weekend. Thank you.

  9. Marlene Stephenson says:

    Cranberries are a favorite around this time of year,so this will be a good desert to try. You always give us the best recipes,thanks Ann.

  10. I just love this recipe. I printed it out and left right away to go get the ingredients. My sister is here visiting and I don’t drive so I took advantage of the opportunity to go to the store. We are going to make it in the morning. I do appreciate you sharing such wonderful printables and delicious recipes with your Internet friends.
    I adore your site and know you have put your heart and soul into this site.



  11. Debbie Burton says:

    Thank you so much for the gift of sharing your ideas with me. I Wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

    I look forward to seeing the new ideas in 2016.

  12. Shirley@housepitality designs says:

    This looks amazing….just copied the recipe!!!

  13. Like Nancy below, I am #1 caregiver to my mom who is 95, halfway to 96! She always used to provide multiple baked goods for the holidays, but now it is all on me. So thanks+++ for this, the grandchildren are not fond of Christmas pudding, but I suspect will really like this one!

  14. Ann, once again you provided just what I need just when I need it! Thank you so much. My 91 year old mother is not able to bake this year for the first time ever. As you understand, my own time is greatly diminished doiing for andd being with her. I thought it was going to have to be a bakery dessert Christmas Eve but this recipe saves the day. Just one of many reasons I treasure you!

  15. debbiedoos says:

    YUMMY!~ Ann you make the best desserts. I would love a piece of this right this second with my coffee.

  16. Nan, Odessa, DE says:

    I was a reader that requested a Christmas icebox cake.
    So enjoy these cakes!!!!!
    YOU are the best.