Make-Ahead Cranberry Icebox Cake Recipe

A cranberry icebox cake recipe that is the perfect, make-ahead dessert for the holiday season. Easy to serve, festive, and so 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. 

Basic Icebox Cake Filling

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.

How To Make

  • 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.
cranberry icebox cake recipe pieces with cranberry garnish

How To Garnish

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!

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 in an icebox cake recipe. Although I have never tried it, I believe it will work. Make sure to use a whipped cream stabilizer.
  • 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 pieces christmas plates and forks

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cranberry icebox cake recipe

Cranberry Icebox 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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5 from 1 vote
Servings: 9 servings
Author: Ann Drake
Prep Time 25 minutes
Refrigeration time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

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. 

Nutrition

Calories: 426kcal | Carbohydrates: 86g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 569mg | Potassium: 378mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 59g | Vitamin A: 177IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 288mg | Iron: 2mg
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8 Comments

  1. 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.

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

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

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

    Hugs,

    Beverly

  7. debbiedoos says:

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

  8. Nan, Odessa, DE says:

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