Strawberry Parfait Recipe with Cream Cheese Filling

Easy, quick, and very pretty, this make-ahead strawberry parfait recipe includes a versatile cream cheese filling, and is perfect for family gatherings or holiday dinners.

layered strawberry parfaits with mint garnish

This strawberry parfait recipe is, without a doubt, one of the prettiest desserts I’ve ever made. It’s easy and quick to put together. There’s a delicious made-from-scratch graham cracker layer, but no baking is required, so that’s a plus too!

What is a parfait?

There are actually two types of parfaits. The first originated in France, sometime around 1890. This parfait version is traditionally frozen, and consists of cream, egg, sugar, and syrup. The American version, which is what I’m sharing today, is basically a layered dessert served in clear bowls or glasses. The layers are what make parfaits so beautiful, so attention to detail is important! In French, the word parfait means “perfect,” and nothing could be more true!

strawberry parfait recipe ingredients

Ingredient Notes + Variations

  • Frozen strawberries can be used in place of the fresh strawberries. Let them thaw and drain completely before adding to the parfaits.
  • Substitutes for the strawberry slices: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or peaches.
  • Strawberry jam or strawberry sauce can also be substituted for the strawberries. Just add a tablespoon or two to the top of the cream cheese layer.
  • Any kind of whipped topping can be used in the cream cheese filling. Regular, Lite, or Fat Free. Regular whipped cream is also an option.
  • Hard shortbread biscuits or cookies can be used in place of the graham crackers.
  • Make a breakfast parfait: use a layer of granola in place of the graham cracker crust, substitute plain greek yogurt or vanilla yogurt for the cream cheese filling, and top these layers with the strawberry mixture.
graham crackers in mini food processor

How to Make

  • In a small bowl, mix strawberries and 2 teaspoons sugar. Set aside.
  • Place graham crackers in a food processor and blend until they are fine crumbs.
  • Dump the graham cracker crumbs into another bowl. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and mix together with a fork.
  • Add the melted butter to the graham crackers. Stir with a fork until well combined. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer place cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, and vanilla. Whip for 2 minutes.
  • Fold in Cool Whip by hand, just until combined.
  • Divide the graham cracker mixture between 4 parfait dishes.
  • With a large spoon, press the crumbs down until they are firm and the top is even.
  • Divide the cream cheese mixture between the 4 parfait glasses or wine glasses. Spread to the sides of the dishes.
  • Top with strawberries, dividing evenly between 4 servings.
  • Add a bit of whipped topping to the top right before serving. Garnish with fresh mint.
  • Note: if you don’t have a food processor, place the graham crackers in a resealable plastic bag, and crush them with a rolling pin.
parfait dishes with graham cracker crust

Tips for Perfect Parfaits

  • After the refrigeration time, the graham cracker crust becomes hard. It’s helpful to let the parfaits sit out for 15 minutes before serving, so the crust has a chance to soften.
  • It’s super helpful to use a cookie scoop to place the cream cheese filling on the top of the graham cracker crust.
parfait dishes with cream cheese

Alternate Serving Methods

  • To make one big strawberry cheesecake parfait, double the recipe. Press the graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of an 8 x 8 baking dish, or small trifle bowl. Top with the cream cheese filling. Add strawberries. Refrigerate two hours. Scoop out servings into small bowls or parfait dishes. Garnish with whipped topping and fresh mint.
  • Another great way to serve this strawberry parfait recipe is to use 8 oz. wide mouth mason jars, or 12 oz. wide mouth mason jars. The crust, cheesecake filling, and strawberries will layer beautifully in the jars. The lids will keep each parfait fresh. This is definitely a make-ahead recipe, and it’s so easy to serve for gatherings with families and friends. 
strawberry parfait recipe in clear dishes with mint garnish

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layered strawberry parfait recipe in clear dish with mint garnish

Strawberry Parfait Recipe with Cream Cheese Filling

Easy, quick and very pretty, this make-ahead strawberry parfait recipe includes a versatile cream cheese filling, and is perfect for family gatherings or holiday dinners.
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4.72 from 7 votes
Servings: 4 parfaits
Author: Ann Drake
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Refrigeration time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
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Ingredients

Strawberry Topping

  • 2 cups strawberries (cleaned and diced)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Graham Cracker Bottom

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (10 whole graham crackers)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter (melted)

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 4 oz. cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 oz. Cool Whip whipped topping (half an 8 oz. container)

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, mix strawberries and 2 teaspoons sugar. Set aside.
  • Place graham crackers in a food processor and blend until they are fine crumbs.
  • Dump the graham cracker crumbs into another bowl. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and mix together with a fork.
  • Add the melted butter to the graham crackers. Stir with a fork until well combined. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer place cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, and vanilla. Whip for 2 minutes.
  • Fold in Cool Whip by hand, just until combined.
  • Divide the graham cracker mixture between 4 parfait dishes.
  • With a large spoon, press the crumbs down until they are firm and the top is even.
  • Divide the cream cheese mixture between the 4 parfait dishes. Spread to the sides of the dishes.
  • Top with strawberries, dividing evenly between 4 servings.
  • Refrigerate for two hours.
  • Add a bit of whipped topping to the top right before serving. Garnish with fresh mint.

Notes

To make ahead: assemble the parfait dishes with the graham cracker crust and cream cheese filling. Refrigerate up to 8 hours. Top with strawberries and garnish right before serving. 

Nutrition

Calories: 411kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 471mg | Potassium: 260mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 37g | Vitamin A: 482IU | Vitamin C: 42mg | Calcium: 152mg | Iron: 1mg
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2 Comments

  1. Traci Landon says:

    Ann,
    Do you think some or all of this recipe could be made using a sugar alternative? Could you add Honey instead? Swerve, Stevia, date surgar? I would love to see some recipes exploring options that reduce white sugar in desserts.
    I think I will give it a try with sugar free granola and zero sugar! Thanks!

    1. Hi Traci…I’m not familiar with the substitution ratios, but you could absolutely substitute Stevia for the sugar. If you try it, let us know how it tastes!