Easy No Bake Chocolate Eclair Cake Recipe

This no bake chocolate eclair cake recipe combines chocolate ganache, graham crackers, and vanilla pudding for an easy and classic dessert! Great for a summer potluck.

piece of chocolate eclair cake on a plate with a fork.

A few years ago, we had a church potluck, and one of my friends brought one of the absolute best desserts I've ever had. Seriously. It tastes just like chocolate éclairs, just in cake form!

Afterward, I told her I had to have the recipe. This one was definitely going on my potluck rotation! After she described it to me quickly, I took what she told me and modified the recipe to make it my own.

And y'all. You are going to go nuts over this super easy recipe.

Why You'll Love Chocolate Eclair Cake

The graham cracker layers get soft as they set with the vanilla pudding. This will give you a cakey texture in between layers of rich filling. The chocolate ganache topping gets just a little bit firm when it sets, giving the a great richness and texture.

It's incredible. And so super easy! If your climate is anything like mine, it's way too hot to be cranking up an oven right now. This is a no-bake dessert that's cool and refreshing, but rich and creamy at the same time. It's perfect for a summer potluck dessert.

If you're a fan of no-bake desserts, try these Fluffernutter Cookies and Banana Split Cake recipes too!

Ingredients & Variations

ingredients for chocolate eclair cake.

(See recipe card at the bottom of this post for ingredient quantities.)

For Eclair Cake Base

  • instant vanilla pudding mix - It's very important that you use an Instant mix for this recipe; standard mixes won't set correctly.
  • powdered sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • half and half - This gives the vanilla filling a nice creaminess without making it too heavy. Want an even more luscious filling? Use heavy cream instead.
  • cold whole milk - I prefer using whole milk for this recipe to keep everything nice and creamy. You could lower the fat content a little bit using 2% or skim milk. Make sure both the half and half & milk are cold though - you need cold milk for the pudding to set!
  • Cool Whip - If you'd like to use homemade whipped cream instead, you absolutely can! You'll need about 3 cups of whipped cream to equal one tub of Cool Whip.
  • graham crackers - I used honey grahams (plain graham crackers) for mine, but the kind that have a dusting of cinnamon sugar would add even more texture and flavor. Or, make it a super chocolatey dessert with chocolate graham crackers!

For Chocolate Ganache Topping

  • semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • butter
  • vanilla extract
  • half and half
  • pinch of salt
  • cocoa powder
  • powdered sugar

Additions & Variations

To be honest, there aren't a ton of extra additions to this recipe that would add to the quality. However, there are a couple of fun ideas you might want to try...

  • Stir 1 cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips into the vanilla pudding mixture before assembling the cake.
  • Change the chocolate ganache to chocolate frosting for a lighter, creamier topping. One standard container of store-bought frosting would cover the cake. Tip: microwave your frosting for 30 seconds or so to make it super easy to spread.
  • If you'd like to change the flavor of the pudding, go for it! A banana pudding, chocolate pudding, or white chocolate pudding mix would be great with this recipe.
  • Looking to cut calories? You can use sugar-free pudding mix, skim milk, and fat-free whipped topping to lighten this cake up without sacrificing a ton of flavor.

Step-By-Step Recipe Instructions

How to Make Icebox Cake Base

whisking pudding mix in a glass bowl.

Step 1: In a large bowl, use a hand mixer or whisk to mix together pudding mix, ½ cup powdered sugar, 2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1.5 cups cold milk, and 1 cup half and half. Stir well and let set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Once the vanilla pudding mixture is set, gently fold in whipped topping until well-incorporated.

placing graham crackers over pudding mix in a square baking dish.
placing graham crackers over pudding mix in a square baking dish.

Step 2: Place a layer of graham crackers on the bottom of an 8x8" square baking dish. Layer half of the pudding mixture over the graham crackers. Repeat a layer of graham crackers, the remaining pudding mixture, and one final layer of graham crackers.

How to Make Chocolate Ganache Topping

chocolate ganache ingredients in a measuring cup before warming.

Step 3: In a microwave-safe medium bowl (or glass measuring cup), combine semi-sweet chocolate chips, ⅓ cup half and half, butter, a pinch of salt, and 2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Microwave in 30-second increments until contents are completely melted, stirring well in between. Once the chocolate mixture is completely melted, add 1 ½ cups powdered sugar and ⅓ cup cocoa powder.

pouring chocolate ganache over eclair cake base.

Step 4: Pour chocolate ganache mixture over the top layer of graham crackers; spread to cover the entire cake. Let the chocolate eclair cake chill in the fridge overnight before serving.

Storage & Leftovers

This cake stores wonderfully in the refrigerator for up to 4 days after preparation. Make sure to cover it with plastic wrap or seal in an airtight container. I would wait to slice your cake until just before serving.

This is not a recipe for freezing. You want to keep those great textures in the graham crackers & chocolate ganache - the freezer isn't the place for those!

And, for those wondering, this is a perfect recipe to make in advance. Prepare up to 24 hours before you're planning on serving the cake.

pieces of no bake chocolate eclair cake removed from a baking dish.

Other Recipe Tips

  • My chocolate eclair cake is prepared in a glass 8x8" Pyrex dish. If you're planning on putting a lid on the cake before serving, I'd recommend using a 9x13" dish instead so you don't crush the ganache.
  • You can plan on this cake feeding roughly 12-16 people, depending on the size of the slices. If you need to stretch the recipe servings even further, try putting your cake in a 9 x 13-inch pan. The cake slices will be flatter (& less pretty), but you'll be able to make 16-20 servings.
  • If you want clean slices of cake that show the layers, make sure your cake is nice and chilled before cutting.

No Bake Chocolate Eclair Cake FAQs

Yes, this is a great recipe to make the night before a potluck or party! You can make this cake up to 24 hours before serving.

Can you? Yes. Should you? I'd say no. There are hints of texture in the cake that just wouldn't freeze and thaw well.

If you'd prefer to use homemade whipped cream instead of Cool Whip, that's absolutely ok. You'll need 3 cups of homemade whipped cream to equal 1 tub of Cool Whip.

I want to see this recipe in action! 🍫 Tag me on social media with your recipe pictures @lambertslately. Or, leave a comment/review ⭐️ below letting me know how it turned out!

xo, Leslie - signature at the end of blog post.
piece of chocolate eclair cake on a plate with a fork.

No Bake Chocolate Eclair Cake

This no bake chocolate eclair cake recipe combines chocolate ganache, graham crackers, and vanilla pudding for an easy and classic dessert! Great for a summer potluck.
4.90 from 39 votes

Affiliate links used.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Refrigeration Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 16
Calories 395 kcal

Ingredients
  

Chocolate Ganache Topping

Instructions
 

  • In a large bowl, whisk together pudding mix, ½ cup powdered sugar, 2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1.5 cups cold milk, and 1 cup half and half. Whisk well and let set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  • Once the vanilla pudding mixture is set, gently fold in whipped topping until well-incorporated.
  • Place a layer of graham crackers on the bottom of an 8x8" square baking dish. Layer half of the pudding mixture over the graham crackers. Repeat a layer of graham crackers, the remaining pudding mixture, and one more layer of graham crackers.

For Chocolate Ganache Topping

  • Combine semi-sweet chocolate chips, ⅓ cup half and half, butter, a pinch of salt, and 2 teaspoon vanilla extract in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments until contents are completely melted, stirring well in between. Once chocolate mixture is completely melted, add 1 ½ cups powdered sugar and ⅓ cup cocoa powder.
  • Pour chocolate ganache mixture over the top layer of graham crackers; spread to cover entire cake.
  • Let the chocolate eclair cake set in the fridge overnight before serving.

Notes

  • If you want clean slices of cake that show the layers, make sure your cake is nice and chilled before cutting.
  • My chocolate eclair cake is prepared in a glass 8x8" Pyrex dish. If you're planning on putting a lid on the cake before serving, I'd recommend using a 9x13" dish instead so you don't crush the ganache.
  • If you need to stretch the recipe servings even further, try putting your cake in a 9x13" pan. The cake slices will be flatter (& less pretty), but you'll be able to make 16-20 servings.
  • This cake stores wonderfully in the refrigerator for up to 4 days after preparation. Make sure to cover it with plastic wrap or seal in an airtight container. I would wait to slice your cake until just before serving.
  • This is not a recipe for freezing. You want to keep those great textures in the graham crackers & chocolate ganache - the freezer isn't the place for those!
 
Variations & Additions:
    • Stir 1 cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips into the vanilla pudding mixture before assembling the cake.
    • Change the chocolate ganache to chocolate frosting for a lighter, creamier topping. One standard container of store-bought frosting would cover the cake. Tip: microwave your frosting for 30 seconds or so to make it super easy to spread.
    • If you'd like to change the flavor of the pudding, go for it! A banana pudding, chocolate pudding, or white chocolate pudding mix would be great with this recipe.
    • Looking to cut calories? You can use sugar-free pudding mix, skim milk, and fat-free whipped topping to lighten this cake up without sacrificing a ton of flavor.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 395kcalCarbohydrates: 58gProtein: 5gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 307mgPotassium: 230mgFiber: 3gSugar: 40gVitamin A: 249IUVitamin C: 0.3mgCalcium: 102mgIron: 2mg
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9 Comments

  1. This is one of my go to potluck desserts. However, I live out in the country and was planning to make this one day and didn’t have vanilla pudding. I did have banana pudding, so I substituted banana for vanilla, then added a layer of bananas! It was delicious and gave a twist to this recipe.

    1. I bet it's amazing with banana flavors. I love chocolate and banana together!

  2. 5 stars
    I have made this for years for my kids. They all like it. One thing I did do differently tho was to use a can of Chocolate Icing instead of making my own. Either way it is a keeper and sure to delight.

    1. That sounds like a great alternative to the topping I used!

  3. 5 stars
    The Chocolate Eclair Icebox Cake looks delicious, but it's not diabetic friendly. I would love to see a sugar-free version of it.

    1. Definitely something to consider in the future, Sharon!

    2. Maybe use sugar free vanilla pudding, sugar free chocolate pudding and a low/no fat gram cracker. I believe there is also a sugar free whipped topping or make your own with your choice of sugar alternative.
      If you can’t find crackers try Nile wafer cookies or sugar free wafer cookie bars. (There are several flavors of those, vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, banana &orange,.)

  4. Marie A. Sager says:

    I make this with unsalted saltine crackers and it's more like a Napoleon pastry

    1. Leslie Lambert says:

      That's a fun idea!