Best No-Bake Cake Recipe Everyone Should Know, According to Chef

  • I’ve been a chef for 15 years, and I love this recipe for caramelized-banana pudding icebox cake.
  • This dessert calls for store-bought cookies and doesn’t require any baking.
  • You can individually portion the cake in advance to make serving it much easier.

I’ve been a chef for over 15 years, and icebox cakes are one of my favorite easy, decadent desserts to throw together.

Icebox cakes are made using premade ingredients, like whipped cream and premade cookies, and they must be chilled.

One of my favorite icebox-cake recipes is a mix between tiramisu and banana pudding, which are traditionally made as layered casseroles.

My recipe pulls from the best parts of tiramisu

The ingredients for the caramelized banana pudding cake laid out on wood counter

The ingredients for the caramelized-banana pudding icebox cake

Alissa Fitzgerald

The beauty of icebox cakes is that they’re assembled the day before and simply rest overnight in the fridge, which makes prep a dream.

There’s no baking needed, and the cookies soften overnight from the residual moisture in the pudding and cream.

I use ladyfingers, a common ingredient in tiramisu. I recommend choosing high-quality ones since they’re the base of the cake.

Whisk mixing a bowl of masrcapone mix for caramelized banana pudding

The mascarpone adds a slight hint of silky cheese.

Alissa Fitzgerald

Tiramisu also traditionally calls for mascarpone, a rich and soft cream cheese. In this case, adding the ingredient to the instant pudding mix layers the tang of silky cheese into the banana flavor.

Opt for slightly green bananas

caramelized banana rounds and halves in pan

Caramelize the bananas with butter, brown sugar, and a little salt.

Alissa Fitzgerald

Slightly green bananas better retain their shape when browned in a pan.

By adding the butter, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt, you enhance the caramelized flavors that give this crowd-pleasing dessert an extra wow factor.

Feel free to experiment with adding a tablespoon of rum or bourbon to the pan for a boozy kick.

You can individually portion this tasty dessert to make it easier to serve

Individual servings of caramelized banana pudding cake

You can portion out the cake before refrigerating it.

Alissa Fitzgerald

Everyone loves a big slice from a casserole dish, but portioning the puddings in advance allows your guests to serve themselves, plus you can better control the presentation.

You can use stemmed or stemless wine glasses, little ramekins, or tiny Mason jars.


  • 3.4-ounce package of banana-pudding mix
  • 2 cups milk or substitute
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 3 slightly green bananas
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus a little extra for garnish)
  • A 7-ounce package of ladyfingers


  1. Whisk the banana-pudding mix in a large bowl with the milk or substitute until fully combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, add the mascarpone cheese and 4 tablespoons of pudding mix. Break it up with your whisk or hand mixer and incorporate any lumps until smooth and creamy. Add this into the pudding bowl and combine. The mix should slightly thicken while sitting.
  3. Place sliced ​​banana rounds or halves facedown onto a dry pan over medium-high heat. The bottoms should start to brown after a few minutes.
  4. Turn the heat down to medium. Break the butter up into pieces and scatter it around the pan. Let the butter melt completely, then sprinkle brown sugar over the top. Add a pinch of salt and move the pan around to distribute the liquid. Cook until the butter and sugar combine into a rich, bubbling brown color. Turn the heat off and let the contents rest.
  5. Fill your serving container halfway with the mixture of mascarpone and banana pudding. Then tightly pack a layer of ladyfingers, breaking them into halves or thirds when necessary.
  6. Spoon some caramelized bananas into the center of the ladyfinger ring, reserving a few of the nice-looking pieces for garnish. Add more of the pudding mix to the middle. Place a browned banana on top and finish with a pinch of salt.
  7. Place in the refrigerator overnight or for at least two to three hours. Serve cold or at room temperature.

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