No-Bake Pumpkin Icebox Cake
This No-Bake Pumpkin Icebox Cake is perfect for serving a crowd! With layers of ginger cookies and pumpkin ice cream folded with warm spices and crunchy pecans, it’s a fall-inspired spin on a classic no-bake dessert.
An Easy Frozen Pumpkin Dessert
A traditional icebox cake is made of layers of wafer cookies and whipped cream – but if you use that recipe as a template, the possibilities are endless. That’s exactly the case with this No-Bake Pumpkin Icebox Cake. This dessert combines the ease of an icebox cake with the favorite flavors of fall!
We’re grateful to friends who brought this dessert to our Friendsgiving dinner last year. Blake had smoked a turkey the weekend before, so we could enjoy turkey wild rice soup for our main course – I like to serve a “non-Thanksgiving dinner” kind of Friendsgiving, so as to not dampen the anticipation of the traditional meal on Thanksgiving day. The dinner is always casual, yet festive, everyone looking forward to immersing themselves in the holidays.
If you’re looking for something other than the regular pumpkin and pecan pies for Thanksgiving, this pumpkin icebox cake is the perfect way to elevate ice cream into a special dessert that’s fit for a holiday celebration. Not only does this taste better than pumpkin pie—I mean, hello, pumpkin ice cream!—it also looks impressive. Every slice shows the layers of deliciousness!
What You’ll Need
The fabulous thing about this No-Bake Pumpkin Icebox Cake is its versatility! Because you’re not baking it, you have more freedom to switch things up. I’ve got some ideas for variations below, or come up with your own!
- Vanilla ice cream – You want to use a quality ice cream for best results. I like to use one that’s extra creamy and has vanilla beans!
- Ginger cookies – If you want layers of crunchy cookies, with the ease of a store-bought cookie, I recommend Archway or Nabisco brands (find more info and links in the recipe card). For layers of thick and chewy cookies, use my homemade Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies, absolutely delightful!
- Pumpkin puree – Look for a can of 100% pumpkin. (Not pumpkin pie mix, which is pre-sweetened and spiced.)
- Roasted and salted pecans – I recommend the ones from Trader Joe’s.
- Kosher salt
- Spices – Ground ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg add all that pumpkin pie flavored warmth!
Here are some other ideas for add-ins and toppings:
- Swap the ginger cookies for your favorite granola.
- Pour caramel sauce or dulce de leche between the ice cream layers, or use as a garnish over individual pieces.
- Use candied pepitas, walnuts, or pecans instead of roasted and salted pecans.
Can I Use Store-Bought Pumpkin Ice Cream?
If you can find pumpkin ice cream at the grocery store, you can use that, but it will change the recipe quite a bit; you’ll need more ice cream, you’ll have to omit the pumpkin puree, and you may or may not need the spices and sugar, depending on the way the ice cream tastes. I recommend either sticking to the original recipe or giving your icebox cake a test run to make sure you work out any kinks with the pumpkin ice cream before making it for a crowd.
How to Make No-Bake Pumpkin Icebox Cake
Everything about this icebox cake is easy, easy, easy. Here’s what you’ll need to do, step-by-step.
Prepare. Take the ice cream out of the freezer to let it soften while you gather the rest of the ingredients.
Make the base. Line a 9″ x 13″ pan with a layer of ginger snaps. This is the base!
Make the pumpkin ice cream. Combine the pumpkin puree, sugar, pecans, salt, and spices. Place the ice cream and pumpkin mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low speed until the pumpkin is incorporated into the ice cream.
Create the layers. Spread half of the pumpkin ice cream over the ginger snaps, then place another layer of ginger snaps over the ice cream. Spread the remaining pumpkin ice cream over the top.
Freeze. Cover the pan and place it in freezer for at least 5 hours, until the ice cream is frozen through.
Serve. Cut the icebox cake into individual pieces and finish with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and chopped pecans, if desired.
Tips for Success
This Pumpkin Icebox Cake recipe is so simple, you can’t go wrong! Here are a few tips to make sure it turns out perfect.
- Use a cookie that you like. Ginger cookies vary from thin to thick, soft to hard (when hard, they’re called a ginger snap). Use a cookie that you like to ensure a flavor and texture that you like in this dessert. I share a few recommendations in the recipe card.
- Use roasted nuts. Whatever nuts you choose, be sure to use ones that are roasted. This will give you the best flavor and texture. I also recommend that the nuts be salted, as the salt plays well with the sweetness of this dessert.
- Be patient. Make sure that it’s thoroughly frozen. If you cut into the icebox cake too soon, it won’t hold up well and you won’t have those nice, clean slices that look so impressive.
How Do You Freeze an Icebox Cake?
After your Pumpkin Icebox Cake has frozen through, wrap the covered container in two layers of aluminum foil and keep it in the freezer for up to a month. If you’re making this up to a few days prior to serving, there’s no need to wrap the container in foil – that step is for longer term storage.
More Pumpkin Desserts
- Pumpkin Layer Cake with Creamy Cinnamon Whip
- Perfectly Perfect Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Layered Pumpkin Pie in a Jar
- Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Cookies
- Pumpkin Pie Cream Puffs
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- 1.5 quarts good quality vanilla ice cream - I like to use a good French vanilla or "Old Fashioned" vanilla ice cream
- 1 package ginger snaps - I use a 12 oz. package of Archway for a thicker cookie OR 16 oz. package of Nabisco for a thinner cookie with a sharply crisp bite (see links at the end of the recipe card). Or try with my favorite Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies for a soft & chewy bite, absolutely delightful!
- 1 can (15 to 16 ounces) pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling that is already pre-spiced)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup chopped roasted & salted pecans - I use the ones from Trader Joe's!
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- Set the ice cream out to soften as you gather the rest of the ingredients.
- Line the bottom of a 9" x 13" pan with a single layer of ginger snaps. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine pumpkin puree, sugar, pecans, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- Place ice cream and pumpkin mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low speed until evenly combined.
- Spread half the pumpkin ice cream mixture over the ginger snaps layer. Top with another layer of ginger snaps. Finish by spreading the remaining pumpkin ice cream mixture over the top.
- Cover and place in freezer for at least 5 hours. To serve, cut into individual pieces and garnish with dollops of sweetened whipped cream. Add a sprinkling of cinnamon or chopped pecans, if desired.
from the recipe box of friend Jennifer Reinhard and her mom, Kay Becken
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 122Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 95mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 0gSugar: 18gProtein: 1g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.