A no bake chocolate eclair cake made with graham crackers, whipped vanilla pudding and covered in chocolate ganache. So easy, and it tastes just like an eclair!
Scroll down for a how-to video. Just push ▶️ play!
No Bake Goodness
No bake desserts are perfect for summertime, or anytime you want to whip up something sweet without pulling out all the stops. Most often, no bake means using some version of crispy, crunchy cookies (like our graham crackers). Either we crush them to use for a pie crust or let them sit in the refrigerator for with something smooth, creamy and delicious for an icebox cake.
It's not exactly the same instant gratification as a microwave mug cake, but this chocolate eclair cake can be as much or as little work as you please. Here, I've made my own “instant” homemade vanilla pudding, but you can use the boxed kind.
Part of the reason I love making my own “instant” pudding is that I can control the amount of sugar. That, and it's just so easy. Ditto making my own stabilized whipped cream instead of using Cool Whip in this simple recipe.
It also doesn't help that Cool Whip is filled with tons of chemicals. Delicious chemicals, though, aren't they? You don't have to add the gelatin to the whipped cream if you don't want, but you'll just have to serve the cake nearly frozen as it won't set up properly otherwise.
As the cake sits in the refrigerator, the graham crackers soften into the filling and all of the flavors mix and mingle perfectly. By the time you're ready to serve this crowd-favorite no-bake cake, it tastes just like a chocolate eclair—but there's enough for everyone without any fuss.
And no-fuss? That's what summer is for.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Dairy: Dairy is a tough one to substitute in this recipe. The graham crackers are essentially naturally gluten free (just use nondairy milk), so you're good there. The vanilla pudding is a bit tougher, as it uses nonfat dry milk as a base. You can try using blanched almond flour in its place, but I'm not entirely sure how well it will work.
Coconut cream might work in place of the heavy whipping cream in the stabilized whipped cream, but I would absolutely use the gelatin. Coconut cream would be fine in place of the cream for the chocolate ganache. Cool Whip is considered “non-dairy” but it does have some milk protein in it. I don't really get that, but there it is.
How To Video For Chocolate Eclair Cake
Push play ▶️ to watch me make this cake. Then it's your turn!
No Bake Chocolate Eclair Cake
1 1/2 recipes “Instant”Gluten Free Vanilla Pudding (or 1 3.4 ounce package Jell-O Vanilla Instant Pudding)
Stabilized Whipped Cream
2 tablespoons water*
1 1/2 teaspoons (3 g) unflavored gelatin*
1 cup (8 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream, chilled
2 tablespoons (24 g) granulated sugar
1 recipe Gluten Free “Nabisco” Graham Crackers (or 1 pound store-bought gluten free graham crackers)
2/3 cup (5 1/3 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
*If you would like to make the whipped cream without the gelatin to stabilize it, simply omit the gelatin and water, and the related instructions. You will have to freeze the cake and serve it frozen, rather than refrigerated, as it will not set up properly otherwise.
Line an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and set it aside. Be sure to let the paper overhang all 4 sides of the pan.
Make the instant vanilla pudding according to the recipe (or box) instructions, transfer it to a large bowl, place plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 1 hour or until cool to the touch.
Make the stabilized whipped cream. Bloom the gelatin by placing it and the water in a small, heat-safe bowl, and stirring it gently to combine. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature until the gelatin swells. Place the gelatin mixture in the microwave and melt at 60% power for 20 seconds until melted. Set the gelatin aside to cool briefly. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or a large bowl with a hand mixer, place the chilled cream and sugar, and whisk on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the cooled gelatin, and beat until thickened, about 2 minutes.
Remove the cooled pudding from the refrigerator and peel off the plastic wrap. Whisk the pudding until smooth and loose with a handheld whisk. Add the stabilized whipped cream to the pudding and fold in the cream until it is fully incorporated. Set the filling mixture aside.
Assemble the cake. Cover the bottom of the prepared pan with graham crackers, breaking them as necessary to evenly cover the surface. Top with half of the pudding and whipped cream mixture and spread it into an even layer. Place another layer of graham crackers on top of the pudding, top with the remaining pudding mixture and once again spread it into an even layer. Finish with a final layer of graham crackers.
Make the ganache and refrigerate the cake. In a small, heavy-bottom saucepan, heat the heavy whipping cream until it just begins to simmer. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium-size bowl, and pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Allow the cream to sit on the chocolate for about a minute, until the chocolate begins to melt, and mix until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Pour the warm ganache over the top of the assembled cake, and gently spread it toward the edges of the pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours to allow the filling to set and the graham crackers to soften. Place the cake in the freezer for 15 minutes before removing the entire cake from the pan by pulling up on the parchment paper and setting it on a cutting board. That will make the cake a lot easier to slice. Using a large, sharp knife, slice the cake into 9 or 12 equal pieces and serve chilled or frozen.
Adapted from Cook’s Country. Recipe first published in 2015. Video, almost all photos, and most text new; recipe tweaked slightly.
If you want to substitute store bought Cool Whip for the whipped cream, how many ounces of it would be an accurate substitition?
Nicole Hunn says
I haven’t tried the recipe with Cool Whip, Lori, but I would guess that a full 8-ounce tub of Cool Whip would be an appropriate substitute for the 8 ounces of stablizied whipped cream in this recipe.
Michelle Stephenson says
It must be me but there does not seem to be any video. I scrolled down to “How To Video …” which appears above the actual recipe, but there is nothing to click on.
Nicole Hunn says
There is a ▶️ play button on top of the horizontal photo above the recipe. Just click on that to view the how-to video, Michelle!
Sherry Johnston says
Has anyone had trouble with store-bought instant pudding mixes? They contain “food starch”. I used a pack in a GF cake I made for my husband who has celiac disease, and it made him sick. We are suspicious food starch either has some wheat or is comprised of ingredients which have been cross contaminated with wheat. Anyway, I will use your recipe for instant pudding. Thank you! This looks delicious!
Jennifer S. says
Could it be a dairy issue with him? Nicole is super careful about posting mixes and boxed things. She ensures that they are gluten free by calling the company.
Nicole Hunn says
Jello is made by Kraft, and Kraft practices “truth in labeling,” where they call out any of the top 8 allergens on all of their labels, and they never “hide” any of them in an ambiguous ingredient, like modified food starch. If there is gluten in anything, it will be obvious from the label. But of course, there’s no reason you have to buy the boxed mix when you can use my DIY mix, as you said! :)
this just looks so delicious… your pictures are so good i can literally taste this. have yet to make your graham crackers, have been waiting for it to stop raining so we can do outdoor s’mores. maybe the time has come to make your s’more pies!
Will chilled coconut cream work in place of heavy cream to be dairy free ?
I have wanted to make it but I was afraid that the store bought crackers would be grainy/sandy when everything started to soften. I will probably buy all the other ingredients though as I am remarkably lazy, um, I mean time limited/busy. :-P
Nicole Hunn says
I can’t promise that the store-bought crackers will be good, I’m afraid, Dana, but I don’t think they’ll be grainy since even the most coarse rice flour will soften in this instance!
I think I’ll make your crackers and buy the whipped cream. :-)
Wow, looks so yummy and inviting :)
Yesterday, I got busy in the kitchen and baked two banana loafs…
Also your sponge cake and used our first crop ever peaches from our newly planted orchard. Wonderful! Thanks for the recipe :)
Nicole Hunn says
Oh my, Lucy, that looks absolutely amazing! You already know how jealous I am of your peach trees, so I won’t bother telling you again. Thanks for the photo!!
Your recipes look divine, shame I cannot get the ingredients here in France. By the way, what is “Stabilised whipped cream” I’ve never heard of it here or in England, where I am originally from?
Nicole Hunn says
Please see the recipe instructions, Dronerg. I explain how to make it.
Faith B says
Stabilized whipped cream has an ingredient-in this case the gelatin-to keep it from melting down quickly like a plain whipped cream would from the air in it. It makes it more like “stable”, similar to a whipped frosting so you can slather it in stuff and not worry about it running out of your yummy dessert!
Lauren Morra says
Wow I want to reach through my computer screen and grab this. I can taste it your pictures are so inviting! Hmm perhaps a trip to the store is needed ;)
Nicole Hunn says