This Pineapple Icebox Cake is the ultimate retro dessert! This no-bake dessert is a cool and creamy combination of pineapple, nuts, and whipped cream on a vanilla wafer crust.
Grandmother Campbell’s Pineapple Icebox Cake
My Grandmother Campbell was known for her baked goods—especially her homemade rolls that we feature on this site.
When I was a young child, Grandmother would bring her clover-leaf rolls to holiday dinners, and they were eagerly anticipated and enjoyed. These rolls are still the stars of our holiday meals and everyone requests them every holiday.
I didn’t get to know my grandmother very well though as she was already in poor health when I came along. But she was always kind and gracious.
One thing I do remember, is that she always wore a dress. As far as I know, she never wore pants. I also remember her amazing collection of hats.
When she died, I ended up with her small recipe box of dessert recipes. I’m pretty sure when she was raising her two fast-growing twin boys, she made dessert for every meal.
I love going through the box and looking at her recipe cards. Some are handwritten, some are typed, and some are magazine clippings glued to a card.
The recipes often have little notes on them or her own rating system. Some have “Very Good” handwritten on them. Some have “Good” written on them. Occasionally, I like to go through and find a new one to try and share with my family.
My grandmother died almost forty years ago, and my dad died seven years ago. Even though they are both gone, I love making a recipe that maybe they both shared many years ago. The recipes we pass down from generation to generation help keep our memories alive.
I recently found this recipe for Pineapple Ice Box Dessert. I could immediately tell that it was going to be delicious! And it was!
This dessert doesn’t require any cooking or baking. It does benefit from a few hours in the refrigerator. It tastes light and not overly sweet. The perfect ending to any meal!
What is an Icebox Cake?
Icebox cakes are a quintessential vintage recipe, first invented around 100 years ago when refrigerators became accessible to the middle class. The name “icebox” comes from the preparation of the cake: simple ingredients are layered in a baking or trifle dish, which is then placed in the fridge or icebox to chill and set.
Icebox or refrigerator cakes were especially popular in the mid-20th century. In the 1950s and 1960s, dinner was always followed by something sweet, and what better than an easy no-bake cake that could be prepared earlier in the day and pulled out of the fridge at dinner time?
These no bake desserts are also perfect for potlucks and gatherings because they are big enough to feed a crowd!
This pineapple dessert is an authentic mid-century icebox cake recipe, straight from my Grandmother’s recipe box! It features a single layer of cookies to make the crust, sweet pineapple, and whipped cream. Chopped pecans and a dusting of cookie crumbs on top of the cake give it a bit of texture. It is delightfully unique and perfect if you’re looking for a vintage dessert experience!
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- Box of vanilla wafers, crushed
- 1 can of crushed pineapple, drained
- ½ cup of unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ cup of powdered sugar
- ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- 2 cups whipped cream
Kitchen Supplies Used
- 9×13″ glass casserole pan
- Stand Mixer or Electric Hand Mixer
- Large mixing bowl
- Drain crushed pineapple and set aside. You won’t need the pineapple juice for this recipe.
- Using an electric mixer, whip two cups of whipped cream with 2 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar. Set aside.
- In a separate mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar, and eggs until soft and spreadable.
- Crush one box of vanilla wafer cookies. Reserve about ¼ cup to sprinkle on top of dish. An easy way to do this is to put the cookies in a large plastic zipper bag and squeeze out all the air. Use a rolling pin to crush the cookies. You can also use a food processor, but take care not to chop too finely; you don’t want them to be dust, just what you might describe as “crumbles.”
- Spread the crushed vanilla wafer cookies on the bottom of a dessert dish, about 9”X14”
- Spread drained pineapple evenly over the crushed cookies.
- Layer the butter/sugar mixture on top of the pineapple. Cover with the chopped nuts.
- Spread whipped cream over top of everything and sprinkle with the crushed cookies that you saved.
Refrigerate for several hours until set.
When serving, garnish each piece with a maraschino cherry. (This was noted on the original recipe card!)
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does Icebox Cake Stay Good?
When kept in the refrigerator, a homemade icebox cake should stay good for 2-3 days. Keep any leftovers covered, or in an airtight container, in the fridge. If you notice that the layers start to separate, it’s probably past its prime.
Are Raw Eggs Safe to Use?
You may notice that there are eggs in the ingredients list, and since this is a no-bake recipe, they do not get cooked.
The USDA recommends using pasteurized eggs when a recipe calls for raw eggs. Pasteurized eggs are carefully heated while still in their shell, just enough to kill bacteria but not cook the eggs.
You can also use liquid pasteurized eggs in this recipe. Simply follow the measurements on the packaging in place of two regular eggs.
Pineapple Icebox Cake Recipe (Printable Copy)
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Old-Fashioned Pineapple Icebox Cake
- 2 large mixing bowls
- Hand mixer
- 9X13" dessert dish
- 1 Box Vanilla wafer cookies Crushed
- 1 can Crushed pineapple Drained
- 1/2 cup Butter (1 stick)
- 2 Eggs
- 1 1/2 cups Confectioner’s sugar
- 1/2 cup Pecans Chopped
- 2 cups Whipped cream
- Drain crushed pineapple and set aside until ready to use.
- Whip two cups of whipped cream with 2 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar. Set aside.
- Beat the butter, sugar, and eggs together until creamy and spreadable.
- Crush one box of vanilla wafer cookies. Reserve about ¼ cup to sprinkle on top of dish.
To Assemble the Dessert:
- Spread the crushed vanilla wafer cookies on the bottom of a 9x13" dessert dish.
- Spread drained pineapple evenly over the crushed cookies
- Next, add the layer of butter/sugar mixture. Sprinkle chopped nuts on top of this layer.
- Spread the whipped cream over top of everything and sprinkle with the reserved cookie crumbles.
- Refrigerate for several hours until set.
- Put a Maraschino cherry on top of each serving.
- Crushed vanilla wafer cookies
- Drained pineapple
- Butter, sugar, eggs mixture
- Chopped nuts
- Whipped cream
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My mother also made this Icebox Dessert. It was my favorite as a child. Her version has a couple of variations. The butter mixture included 1/2 teaspoon of almond flavoring (I think it “makes” it.) Also, her version had the pineapple folded into the whipped cream. I tried this tonight. I like the idea of the pineapple on top of the cookies so I used half the can on top of the cookies and the other half in the whipped cream. I don’t completely drain the pineapple as I like the flavor to really soak into the cookies. I also decided to use a substitute for the eggs this time around. I used 1/2 can of sweetened condensed milk and it works fine. This is one dessert that is definitely better the 2nd or even the 3rd day. Thanks for the memories.