Easy, No-Bake Desserts You Should Make This Summer
Come summer, nobody really wants to turn on their oven. (OK, maybe for pie. Pie gets a pass.) Hot ovens and hotter kitchens make for sticky and unhappy cooks and sweltering guests. And anyway, why overheat your whole party for the sake of a cake when you know everyone would be just as happy as eating ice cream pie?
For those looking to stay cool this summer while serving up sweets that feel exciting and impressive, there are a number of no-bake desserts to choose from—whether you’ve got a surplus of fruit, a carton of ice cream, or a boxful of cookies.
Ice Cream Pie
Easy as—yep, you guessed it. This is one of the few exceptions to the pie-requires-oven rule. First form a simple graham cracker crust by crushing graham crackers in a plastic bag using a rolling pin. When you’ve got about 1.5 cups worth of crumbs, mix the crumbs with 7 tablespoons of melted butter and a pinch of salt, then form a crust in your pie dish.
Let that chill in the freezer for at least an hour, then start mixing your favorite flavor of ice cream with heavy cream. (We used vanilla bean and threw in some fresh strawberries.) Pour this creamy filling into your semi-frozen pie crust, top with sliced fruits, then freeze the whole thing for at least 5 hours. Make this pie the night before and guests will be wowed when you whip it out of the freezer.
This is what happens when you layer cookies and whipped cream and let them sit until the cream turns the cookies soft. Go classic with chocolate, or get creative with berries and cream or biscoff and coffee. Layer them horizontally in a glass baking dish so you can see all the pretty layers.
A trifle is like an icebox cake that took a trip to the mall and got one of those movie-montage makeovers. Swap out your cookies for cake, and layer them with whipped cream, plus pastry cream, plus fruit, plus whatever toppings your heart desires. And yes, store-bought cake is totally fine! Here’s a basic template for how to make one, but feel free to go crazy.
Ice Cream Sandwiches
DIY some funky ice cream flavors, or splurge on your favorite fancy brand from the store. Buy some cookies you like. Scoop and smoosh them ahead of time, or lay out all the components for your guests to make their own.
Mousse, Glorious Mousse!
Mousse—particularly served in miniature cups and bowls—feels fancy, even though it’s not so hard to make. Serve chocolate mousse with a dollop of whipped cream, or keep things light with a lemon version. And yes, you can make this one ahead of time too. Win!
Sautéed or Grilled Fruit
Perfectly ripe fruit is one of summer’s favorite gifts—turn it even sweeter by lightly cooking it. Try sautéeing peaches to bring out softness and caramel-y flavors, or grill watermelon slices and serve them with lime wedges to squeeze on top.
Originally published June 2016. Updated July 5, 2018.