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Here’s the deal: I’m a trained chef, professional recipe developer and avid home cook—but even I don’t feel like cooking elaborate, time-consuming recipes all the time, and I’m guessing some of you are in a similar boat. Just because you can spend six hours smoking brisket—or an entire afternoon piping, baking, filling, sculpting and adorning the perfect croquembouche—doesn’t mean you want to. That’s why one of my go-to recipes during the summer (and kind of during any season) is a three-ingredient, no-bake cake that’s pretty much impossible to mess up. All you’ll need is Cool Whip, Oreos and some cocoa powder—oh yeah, and a freezer.
This magical dessert I’m talking about is an icebox cake, which falls somewhere between an ice cream cake and a pudding. It’s essentially just cookie-filled Cool Whip layered with more cookies, and it’s an absolute crowdpleaser.
If you’re turning up your nose at the idea of Cool Whip, I feel you. I used to be a total Cool Whip snob—refusing to use it in favor of hand-whipped cream instead. But I’ve since realized that it’s much easier to work with than freshly whipped cream, since it holds its volume and texture even after getting mixed with other ingredients. And Oreos? Well, they make everything better.
To make this super easy Oreo Icebox Cake, you’ll need: two 8-ounce tubs of Cool Whip, a 14-ounce box of Oreos, and about ¼ cup of cocoa powder. If you want, you can leave the cocoa powder out. I think it makes the icebox cake look and taste more interesting, though.
1. Mix Cool Whip with crushed Oreos in two separate bowls.
—Crush two-thirds of the Oreos, and leave one-third intact.
—Set aside a handful of crushed Oreos to use as topping.
—In one bowl, mix half of the remaining crushed Oreos with 1 tub of cool whip.
—In a second bowl, mix the remaining crushed Oreos, 1 tub of cool whip, and the cocoa powder. (The cocoa powder is what sets the two bowls apart!)
2. Spread the Cool Whip/Oreo/cocoa powder mixture onto a freezer-safe plate, baking dish, or tupperware container.
3. Arrange the uncrushed Oreos in a single layer on top of that.
4. Then, spread the Cool Whip/Oreo mixture on top of the cookie layer, and garnish your icebox cake with the crushed Oreos you set aside earlier.
5. After about 3 hours in the freezer, the icebox cake will be ready to slice…
…and totally devour.
The beauty of this icebox cake is that you can sub in any cookie you want, or add other mix-ins. Once, I used Nutter Butters instead of Oreos, and stirred natural peanut butter into half of the Cool Whip, instead of cocoa powder. Chocolate chip cookies and espresso powder would also make a great combination.
Although you could probably throw together this no-bake cake from memory, here’s a recipe to read over, if you need it.
3-Ingredient Cookies and Cream Icebox Cake
Total time: 3 hours
Active time: 15 minutes
1 14-ounce box Oreos
2 8-ounce tubs Cool Whip
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1. In a large mixing bowl, use a fork or your fingers to crush 2/3 of the Oreos, as finely or coarsely as you like. Set aside a handful of the crushed Oreos to use as a final garnish.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, fold together half the crushed Oreos, 1 tub of Cool Whip, and the cocoa powder.
3. In another medium mixing bowl, fold together half the crushed Oreos and 1 tub of Cool Whip.
4. On a freezer-safe plate, baking dish, sheet pan, or shallow tupperware, spread the Oreo-Cool Whip-cocoa powder mixture in an even layer.
5. Arrange the uncrushed Oreos in an even layer over the Oreo-Cool Whip-cocoa powder mixture.
6. Spread the Oreo-Cool Whip mixture over the Oreo layer.
7. Top with the crushed Oreos you set aside at the beginning.
8. Freeze at least 3 hours, to set.
9. Slice and serve immediately.
A version of this article was published in 2018.