Easy Chocolate Eclair Cake Recipe

This no-bake easy chocolate eclair cake is the recipe my mom used to make, and one of my family’s favorites. Inspired by the chocolate eclair cake Portillo’s serves, it comes together in about ten minutes—all you have to do is make it the day before you need it, put it down on the table with some forks, and get out of the way.

This cake used to be one of the most popular desserts at the potlucks of my childhood, so I thought it deserved a revisit.

You don’t have to be a baker to layer graham crackers with pudding and whipped topping, and then slather everything in rich chocolate frosting.

Overnight, the refrigerator does all the hard work for you, softening those layers into a perfectly sweet, creamy, chocolatey cake that tastes like you worked much harder than you did.

A piece of chocolate eclair cake on a plate.

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Need to make a double or triple batch for a wild party? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.

What is Chocolate Eclair Cake?

It’s an old fashioned sheet cake that requires no baking and is reminiscent of a chocolate coated, creamy eclair. Made for generations, it uses graham crackers, pudding, whipped topping, and your favorite chocolate frosting.

How do you make Chocolate Eclair Cake?

This is just a guide to how you assemble it. The full recipe is at the bottom of the post.

  1. In a bowl, mix the pudding and milk together until smooth.
  2. Then, gently fold in the whipped topping.
  3. Alternate layers of graham crackers and pudding mixture in a baking dish.
  4. Top with chocolate frosting. Chill.

Unfrosted chocolate eclair cake in a glass pan.

Can you make Chocolate Eclair Cake without cool whip?

This recipe is definitely not from scratch, but if you would rather use whipped cream folded in to the pudding instead of the topping, that is absolutely fine. It may be a little softer than the whipped topping, but a few minutes in the freezer to firm it up before cutting is all it takes.

Can you make Chocolate Eclair Cake with canned frosting?

Yes, you can. Really, store bought chocolate frosting really works for this cake! I warm my tub of prepared frosting in the microwave for 20 seconds, stir, then spread. It spreads much easier.

A pan of chocolate eclair cake with a piece removed.

Can you make Chocolate Eclair Cake with ganache?

I can’t think of anything more delicious than making your own thick ganache to pour over this graham crackers.

If you prefer chocolate ganache instead of store-bought chocolate frosting, you’re in luck. You only need 3 ingredients to make a rich, silky-smooth ganache (recipe courtesy of Ina Garten).

  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules (I found this at Target)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a double-boiler and whisk until smooth.
  2. Pour while still warm over final layer and allow to cool.

Chocolate eclair cake slices on white plates.

What are some Chocolate Eclair Cake variations?

The beauty of this recipe and so many other refrigerator no-bake sheet cakes is that it’s easy to tweak them into something different and downright fabulous for the people you love. Here are some great twists on the classic:

  • Sugar-free, low-fat Chocolate Eclair Cake: use low-fat graham crackers, sugar-free pudding with skim milk and fat-free cool whip.
  • Chocolate Eclair Cake with peanut butter: Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter to the pudding and milk, and top the frosting with chopped roasted peanuts.
  • Pistachio Chocolate Eclair Cake: Substitute pistachio pudding (who can resist that light green color?) and top the frosting with chopped pistachios.
  • Chocolate Vanilla Eclair Cake: Substitute 1 box chocolate pudding and 1 box vanilla pudding. Prepare the two flavors separately and make the bottom layer chocolate pudding.
  • Chocolate Eclair Cake with bananas: Substitute banana pudding and top the frosting with chopped banana chips or toasted walnuts.
  • Gluten-free Chocolate Eclair Cake: Substitute gluten-free graham crackers for an easy gluten-free dessert everyone will adore.
  • Chocolate Eclair Cake with saltines: Love that sweet/salty combo? Make this cake with Club crackers, saltines, or some other crispy, salty cracker.
  • Chocolate Eclair Cake with vanilla wafers: Vanilla wafers stand in for graham crackers any day of the week.

A person holding a piece of eclair cake on a table

How far in advance do you make Chocolate Eclair Cake?

Give this cake at least 8 hours, but those who have infinite amounts of patience make it 24 hours in advance. Good luck waiting!

Can Chocolate Eclair Cake be frozen?

If you’re aiming for picture-perfect cut squares of cake, it helps to freeze the cake before cutting. But if you need to freeze this cake, wrap it tightly in foil and store in a zip-top plastic bag to store in the freezer. It should keep well up to two months. Thaw the cake overnight in the refrigerator.

A slice of chocolate eclair cake on a white round plate with a fork.

Easy Chocolate Eclair Cake Recipe

This no-bake easy chocolate eclair cake is the recipe my mom used to make, and one of my family’s favorites. Inspired by the chocolate eclair cake Portillo’s serves, it comes together in about ten minutes—all you have to do is make it the day before you need it, put it down on the table with some forks, and get out of the way.
4.94 from 16 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Chilling time: 8 hours
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 20 servings
Calories: 188kcal
Author: Meggan Hill


  • 2 (3.4 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 (8 ounce) container whipped topping thawed
  • 1 box graham crackers
  • 1 can purchased dark chocolate frosting


  • In a medium bowl, whisk together pudding mix and milk until smooth. Fold in whipped topping.
  • Line bottom of a 9-inch x 13-inch pan with a single layer of graham crackers, breaking some if necessary to fill the layer. Pour half the pudding mixture over the crackers and spread evenly.
  • Top with another layer of crackers. Pour the remaining pudding mixture over the second layer of crackers and top with a third layer of crackers.
  • Carefully spread the frosting over the top layer of graham crackers. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight. Serve chilled and store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator.



Calories: 188kcal
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  1. Janey

    Hi! My older daughter ,Soni, brought this back from Fort Bragg. Those army wives know how to cook. She would use ready malk low fat puddin cups. They just a $1 at dollar tree. She would buy 2 sets of 4 vanilla. And 3 cups of 4 chocolate. She poured chocolate pudding first on the graham crackers then a layer of crackers covered in the frosting Vanilla pudding with cool whip then layer of frosted crackers and cool whip mixture. She bought 2 boxes of graham crackers and loved to put crumbs on top. She also found that if she held the crackers in her hand to put frosting on. It went much faster than pouring frosting on. Plus this way she controlled the frosting to get two layers of the frosted crackers. Her kids love this! I’ll have to share one of my no bake no cook desserts!5 stars

  2. Jen

    My mom made this all the time when I was growing up. I honestly thought this WAS an eclair. I didn’t realize eclairs were fancy French pastries until I was an adult. This brings back so many memories. I’m making for a July 4th gathering. I can’t wait! 😋5 stars

  3. David G

    I’m a single dad of 9 year old twin girls and I’m just now learning how to cook (god help me). My mom used to make this for my birthday every single year, even as an adult. She died 11 years ago and I never asked for the recipe. I thought I would never taste it again. She called it “pudding cake” so I was never able to find it by that name. This is definitely it. I made it for my daughters’ birthday and they both went back for seconds. I even caught one of them sneaking a piece from the fridge later that night. I told them it was their grandma’s signature dessert. So simple and basic but it brought back so many memories. Not to mention I was relieved when I realized I didn’t actually have to cook anything. There’s no way anyone could screw this up. Now I know why my mom made it so often, because it’s fast, easy and cheap. Thank you so much for this recipe, I’m so glad I finally found it.5 stars

    1. Rose

      Good job on learning how to cook.
      I enjoy making sweets.
      Can’t wait to try this recipe.
      Best wishes from Canada

  4. Martha LaFreda

    Hi! Do you know if it will work if I make homemade whipped cream and don’t have cool whip?

    1. meggan

      Hi Martha, yes. I haven’t made it that way myself, but I’ve seen many people over the years use homemade whipped cream as a substitute for cool whip. So I think it will work fine, and it’s probably better tasting too. I need to test it out myself so I know! -Meggan

  5. Teresa

    My family loves this dessert. I am getting ready to make it now for tomorrow. My daughter wants this instead of a birthday cake.5 stars

  6. Neelloc

    How would this be with banana pudding instead of vanilla? :) has anyone tried this?

    1. Goodie

      Love this with Lemon pudding. Love it5 stars

    2. meggan

      I haven’t tried it, but I really want to! That sounds amazing!! I have this rule that if there is a banana dessert on the menu at a restaurant, I order it. :) So yes, I’m adding this to my next test kitchen day. I have to know! -Meggan

  7. Wendy Motkowicz

    This is a great recipe, although I tweak mine a bit, I add 4-6 ounces of cream cheese to my filling as well.. I like it both ways, but prefer it with cream cheese… Wendy M.5 stars

  8. Pam C

    Hi! Do you leave it uncovered while it is softening? Even overnight ? Thanks!

    1. meggan

      Hi Pam, you don’t need to leave it uncovered. Don’t leave it uncovered! That won’t have any bearing on the softening process. So it should be covered and in the refrigerator. If you need anything else, please let me know! Thanks! -Meggan

  9. Laura

    What is the least amount of time for chilling I just made it and want some Soo bad right now lol Thanks!!

  10. Lisa Viti

    The best dessert ever5 stars

  11. Eva

    May be it is just a graham crackers cake, but it definitely is NOT an eclair cake. You know, eclair is something completely different my dear. ma be just ganache is common with this creation. Google in , and read at least basic definition about eclairs

    1. Dixie

      I’m from the south and we call it the same – my grandma used to make this all the time ! Thanks for the recipe to jog my memory of it and inspire me to make one myself.

    2. dave roberts

      Pretty sure megan knows what shes doing 😁

    3. meggan

      Hi Eva, sorry for the confusion! “Eclair Cake” is a THING in the Midwest, something everyone knows and loves, and it’s obviously not truly eclairs made into a cake (I’m well aware, having gone to culinary school, what an eclair is). I have to call it by this name so people on the internet, who are searching for chocolate eclair cake, find what they want. If I called it Graham Cracker Cake, no one in the Midwest would have any idea what I was talking about. It’s just a regional cake that I guess you have never heard of. Sorry about that.

  12. Taylor

    I have never wanted anything as badly as this cake. I had one at my cousin’s birthday party in 1997 and I’ve been dreaming of it ever since. In fact it is the only thing I can remember from 1997. Thanks for sharing it. 5 stars

  13. Jill

    I zap the frostingt for few seconds, easier to spread.5 stars

  14. Rita R.

    this was so good! i made it twice in the same weekend! thank you!5 stars

  15. Your parents are amazing!  Two of you having the same bday?  That’s nuts!  I love the simplicity behind this cake!!!! AHH YUM!  My mom used to make a Russian version of this but she made it with pastry cream she made from scratch that I got to eat with a spoon :)  Ahhh it was always so good…I can just taste it now :)  YUMMERS5 stars

    1. meggan

      Thanks lady! I always thought it was so cool sharing my birthday, but now that I’ve gone through the whole trying-to-conceive/pregnancy/birth situation and know how CRAZY it is, the odds of sharing a birthday seem even more bizarre. :)

  16. My goodness, Meggan, this is genius! The photos really do make it look like something you’ve slaved over, not pulled together in 10 minutes.

    This is most definitely up my alley!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Thank you, Helen! You just can’t go wrong with these Midwestern classics, and it’s my job to tell you all about them. :) As you can see, we get lazy with our desserts at times…. ;)

  17. Desserts you make the night before are the best! This reminds me so much of growing up. So yummy and easy!5 stars

  18. Thank you, it tastes WAY better than it looks! I hope you enjoy it.

    1. Morgan

      How come my filling (the pudding, milk, and whipped cream) is soupy as I pour onto my graham crackers?? I followed the directions. Help!

    2. meggan

      Hi Morgan!!! It firms up as it sits. So chances are, you are just fine, just give it time. It needs to chill for a while! You can’t eat it immediately. Provided you followed the directions (and didn’t leave out one of the boxes of pudding, for example, since it calls for two), you will be FINE! Don’t worry!!! Sorry for the confusion. thanks! -Meggan

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