Recipe: Easy Rainbow Icebox Cake

updated May 28, 2019
Easy Rainbow Icebox Cake
How to make a rainbow cake without turning on the oven and using just four ingredients with a classic back-of-the box recipe.

Serves8 to 10

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(Image credit: Meghan Splawn)

I think we can all agree that the rainbow trend reached peak unicorn when Starbucks made a drink based on the popularity of multi-hued foods, but you try explaining this to my 5-year-old.

Looking for a rainy-day baking project, I had a lightbulb recipe moment: We could make a rainbow cake without turning on the oven and using just four ingredients with a classic back-of-the box recipe. And so on this rainy day, a rainbow icebox cake was born.

All the flavors you know and love from icebox cake — soft, chocolatey wafers and cool, lightly sweetened whipped cream — are made more magical with a little food coloring and sprinkles. Here’s how to be a rainbow cake hero using just four ingredients.

(Image credit: Meghan Splawn)

Back-of-the-Box Icebox Cake, Updated

Famous Chocolate Wafers are most often used for making the iconic icebox cake. Their recipe resides on the back of the box and calls for just two ingredients: whipped cream and chocolate wafers. You simply stack these crisp chocolate wafers with Cool Whip (or whipped cream) and refrigerate the log until the cookies are soft and pliable.

Riffing on that simple concept, we lightly sweetened a whipped cream and divided it into six bowls: five for coloring in a rainbow of hues, and one for covering the cookies.

(Image credit: Meghan Splawn)

How Kids Can Help

Kids can do everything from helping with the whipped cream to scooping the whipped cream onto the wafers. This recipe is excellent for practicing colors and pattern repetition for younger kids. This is also a nice entry-level recipe for tweens interested in baking and learning to read a recipe.

(Image credit: Meghan Splawn)

The Shortcut Cake Chronicles

Despite having a baking and pastry degree, I still struggle to find fast and fun cake recipes to make with my daughter. In this series, we try thoughtful twists on shortcut cake concepts using supermarket ingredients. The goal is to find fun and delicious recipes that you can make with your children without too much planning or fuss.

Easy Rainbow Icebox Cake

How to make a rainbow cake without turning on the oven and using just four ingredients with a classic back-of-the box recipe.

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info


  • 3 cups

    cold heavy cream

  • 1/4 cup

    powdered sugar

  • Liquid food coloring

  • 1

    (9-ounce) package thin chocolate wafer cookies, such as Nabisco Famous

  • Sprinkles (optional)


  1. Place the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and a large bowl.) Beat on medium speed until barely thickened, then add the powdered sugar and continue whipping to soft peaks. The cream will be further whipped with the food coloring, so do not whip the cream to medium peaks.

  2. Place 5 small bowls on a work surface, then transfer 3/4 cup of the whipped cream into each one; set the remaining whipped cream aside. Color each small bowl with a drop of liquid food coloring and whip with a whisk to medium peaks. Whisk the uncolored whipped cream until thickened to medium peaks.

  3. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of a colored whipped cream onto a cookie. Top with another cookie and another 1 tablespoon of a different-colored whipped cream. Continue layering cookies and colored whipped cream, alternating colors. Once you have a stack of 5 to 6 filled cookies, lay the stack on its side on a serving platter. Continue alternating the colored whipped cream with the cookies until all of the cookies are used, placing the stacks in one long row.

  4. Cover the cookie log with the reserved uncolored whipped cream. If you've got any rainbow whipped cream leftover, feel free to swirl it into the top layer of whipped cream. Refrigerate the cake for at least 4 hours before slicing. Decorate the cake with sprinkles just before serving. Slice on the diagonal to reveal all of the colored layers inside.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The cake keeps well for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. For longer storage, freeze until solid, then cover and freeze for up to 1 week. Thaw in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.