Filed under: Cakes / Layer cakes
March 24, 2023

Lemon Strawberry Icebox Cake

The perfect spring or summer treat: strawberry icebox cake. This layered no-bake dessert has two layers of shortbread, silky lemon curd, fresh strawberries, three layers of cream cheese whipped cream and a layer of toasted meringue on top. It’s the ultimate lemon meringue/strawberry icebox cake mash up. 

5 from 2 votes
Yield: 1 tall 8" cake
Jump to recipe


If you’re a fan of ice box cakes, lemon desserts or strawberry shortcake (and who isn’t?) you’re going to love this recipe. It’s part no bake cheesecake, part strawberry shortcake/strawberry icebox cake and then I had to go in and throw a ton of lemon in there and, of course, add a toasted meringue on top… the result is, *ahem* ten layers of pure deliciousness. 

The shortbread hydrates and softens, the strawberries get pliable and release juices into the cream cheese, and all ten layers meld into a wonderful summer dessert, the perfect make ahead, no bake cake that everyone will ooh and ahh over. 

(As you know, I make a lot of desserts. There’s always something waiting, either in the cookie jar, under the glass cloche or in the fridge/freezer and my husband is quite accustomed to this so he rarely make requests. However, a few days after we finished the first, he requested I make the entire thing again – a full cake, just for him ????)


What’s an icebox cake? Isn’t it just a trifle? 

Kind of! The ingredients tend to be very similar but it seems the official difference is in how it’s all put together; one is built (ice box) and one is piled (trifle). They both tend to have layers of fruit (usually berries), some kind of cookie (often graham crackers) and whipped cream. 

We’re more or less sticking to the basics: we’ve got a berry, a cookie (fancy buttery shortbread!), and whipped cream. The difference is for this strawberry icebox cake we’re making a cream cheese whipped cream which gives it that no bake cheesecake flavor and we’re adding in lemon curd which breaks up the sweet layers with an added sharpness and nuanced flavor. 


Recipe Ingredients 

Cream Cheese: Full fat makes for a more firm whipped cream layer. Allow the cream cheese to soften at room temperature before starting, this will make it easier to make the cream. 

Sugars: Powdered sugar and granulated. Powdered helps stabilize the whipped cream. 

Heavy cream: or heavy whipping cream. Light cream or half & half cannot be used as there’s not enough fat in them to thicken the cream. 

Lemon Curd: Use my best lemon curd recipe. It’s sharp, easy, and silky smooth. Also, you won’t have any leftover egg whites. It can be made and kept, sealed, in the fridge for two weeks. 

Shortbread: I used Walker’s Vanilla Shortbread. Any shortbread shape will do, just be sure it’s not too thick – we want it to soften in the fridge. 

Lemon: Just a bit of lemon zest that goes into the whipped cream portion of the dish and helps flavor it. The zest plays a role in giving the cake its no-bake cheesecake flavor. 


Food Processor Stabilized Whipped Cream 

If you don’t have a food processor, don’t fret – you can still make this either with a stand mixer or a hand mixer. But if you do, let’s talk about why using the food processor is best for whipped cream. 

Without the addition of gelatin or cream of tartar (common ingredients used to stabilize whipped cream) we’re able to get a thick cream that lasts longer and doesn’t separate or weep in the fridge. 

This is because when you pulse or process whipped cream in a food processor, it thickens the cream without beating as much air into it. 

To make this cream cheese whipped cream we’ll first process the cream cheese with the sugars and flavorings, to both mix them but also remove any lumps from the cream cheese. Then we’ll add the cold heavy cream and process on high for about 30-60 seconds until it’s thick. It might not look like it at first glance, but swipe a spoon or finger in there and you’ll see it holds shape. 

You can over process whipped cream into butter, so keep a careful watch on the food processor as it’s working and stop whenever you think it might be thick enough. 

Building the Icebox Cake 


Three layers of whipped cream and two of each: shortbread, lemon curd and strawberries for a total of nine. Plus – the meringue! If you want it that is. It’s really just a fancy finishing, there’s enough layers and cream going on in the cake that you don’t need it, but it adds a nice little toasted mallow touch and between it, the shortbread and the lemon curd it evokes that lemon meringue pie flavor. 

Here’s the breakdown of the layers, in the order which they are built: 

  1. Whipped Cream
  2. Shortbread 
  3. Lemon Curd 
  4. Strawberries 
  5. Whipped Cream 
  6. Shortbread 
  7. Lemon Curd 
  8. Strawberries 
  9. Whipped Cream 

Don’t worry too much if while spreading the curd for example, musses up some of the shortbread or when piling on the whipped cream it moves the strawberries. This isn’t the kind of dessert to fuss over, simply build layer by layer and then let the fridge do it’s magic. 

Storing Strawberry Icebox Cake 

Fridge: Icebox cakes need to sit in the fridge for about 4 hours before they’re eaten. The time allows for the layers to meld together, for the flavors to disperse and come together to make something new. If it hasn’t had enough time for the cookies to soak up the lemon and whipped cream (and strawberry juice!) you will have crispy cookies that won’t slice. Fridge time transforms this into a cake. 

It’ll keep in the fridge for about 2 days without the meringue. The meringue should always be made the day of serving. 

Freezer: If you wanted to make this a week or several days in advance you can make it, without the meringue, leave it in the fridge for a few hours for the cookies to hydrate then freeze it. Cover the top so that it doesn’t get freezer burnt. Set it in the fridge a few hours before serving so it can soften. Top with meringue before serving. 


Do I need the meringue? 

Nope, absolutely not. There’s quite a lot of ‘cream’ in this so it’s not necessary. I just like a beautiful cake topper! 


Lemon Strawberry Icebox Cake

Layered ice box cake with fresh strawberries, shortbread, lemon curd and cream cheese whipped cream.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 minute
Chill Time: 4 hours
Yields: 1 tall 8" cake
5 from 2 votes


Lemon Cream Cheese Whipped Cream

  • 226g or 1 brick cream cheese at room temperature
  • 50g or ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 30g or ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • 600g or 2 ½ cups heavy whipping cream cold straight from the fridge
  • Lemon Curd half of this recipe
  • Fresh Strawberries 0.5-1 lbs
  • Shortbread Cookies about 12

Optional: Meringue

  • 3 egg whites
  • 155g or ¾ cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch fine sea salt


Prep work:

  • Have your lemon curd made ahead, ready and chilled overnight before beginning.
  • 1-2 hours before beginning, take the cream cheese out of the fridge and leave it on the counter to soften.
  • Right before beginning, slice strawberries very thin.
  • Lay a sheet of parchment paper at the bottom of a springform pan and clip the ring around it.

Make the cream cheese whipped cream

  • In a food processor place everything except the heavy cream. Process until well blended, about 30 seconds, scraping down as needed.
  • Pour in the heavy cream, scrape the bowl again and process on high for about 60 seconds, watching as it thickens. Once you can run a finger or spoon through it and it holds shape, it’s done.

Build the icebox cake

  • Spread ⅓ of the whipped cream on the bottom of the pan into an even layer.
  • Lay six of the shortbread cookies on top, keeping them as close together. It’s ok if you need to break some of them to fit in the empty spots.
  • On top of the cookies spread about ⅓ cup lemon curd.
  • Layer some sliced strawberries on top of the curd, leaving little space between them and keeping them in one even layer.
  • Repeat all these steps. The last layer is the last third of the whipped cream.
  • Set the cake in the fridge for about 4 hours, enough time for the cookies to soften. You can also leave it overnight in the fridge.

The day of serving, make the meringue (if using)

  • Bring a pan filled one third of the way with water to a simmer.
  • In a heatproof bowl (that will fit nicely on the pan), add the sugar and egg whites. Whisk well then place over the simmering water.
  • Whisk as it cooks, switching to a rubber spatula to scrape up the edges. Keep stirring as it warms, and the sugar granules dissolve.
  • Once you can pinch the mix and can’t detect any sugar granules, transfer to a stand mixer affixed with the whisk attachment.
  • Begin whisking on low, then working up to medium (speed 6 on a kitchenaid). As it thickens, add the salt and vanilla. Whisk for about 6 minutes, or until you can turn the whisk upside down and the meringue holds shape.
  • Spread the meringue on the chilled cake. Use a kitchen torch to toast it all over.
  • The icebox cake can be served immediately or can sit in the fridge for a few hours (but not overnight as the meringue will separate).

Did you make this recipe?

Share & tag me on instagram @buttermilkbysam


Rate + Review

What do you think of this recipe?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Reviews

  1. Edit – I forgot to add that my only issue with the recipe was the amount of sugar for the whipped cream – as 50g did not equal 1/2 cup. Wondering if the weight or the volume is the correct amount? I ended up using an amount in between (about 1/3 cup or so) and it still tasted good to me!

  2. 5 stars
    I love lemon curd and I much prefer creamy desserts over cake, so I knew this recipe would be right up my alley! Finally had an occasion to make it last weekend for my MIL’s bday and it was just as good as I hoped. I used the microwave lemon curd recipe you posted recently and it was the perfect amount with none leftover. I wasn’t sure the best kind of shortbread cookies to use so I ended up with two different types (sticks, which I sliced in half to make thinner; and round cookies). The sticks still seemed a bit too firm/thick and didn’t quite soften fully when we ate it after about 8 hours in the fridge. We thought the leftovers were even better the next night after more time to soften up, so next time I would plan in advance and make the whole thing the night before serving.