Chocolate Eclair Cake
Chocolate Eclair Cake is made with layering graham crackers, a delicious vanilla pudding mixture and topping everything with a silky smooth chocolate eclair cake frosting! This is the perfect dessert because it is super easy to make, requires simple ingredients and yet looks oh so fancy!
Why This Recipe Works
- Secret ingredient! The secret to getting the perfect no bake chocolate eclair cake is graham crackers! That’s the secret! They soften as the cake chills overnight and you have the most amazing cake that tastes just like a chocolate eclair — minus all the hard work and in cake form!
- Delicious chocolate frosting. This homemade chocolate eclair cake frosting is like a smooth chocolate ganache that will set in the fridge as the cake chills.
- Vanilla instant pudding filling. Using vanilla instant pudding and cool whip, you get the perfect chocolate eclair filling for this no bake eclair cake!
- Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix: These are the dry mixes. The pudding layers need to be thick, so be sure to get instant vanilla pudding!! Cook and serve will NOT thicken for this recipe.
- Cool Whip: This is the frozen whipped topping you can buy at your local grocery store. They are in the freezer section. You’ll want the cool whip thawed before using.
- Graham Crackers: I would use Honey Maid graham crackers (this is the name brand). Off-brands will not give you the same flavor.
- Butter: The butter is used to make the chocolate frosting topping. This topping is the perfect consistency that will set in the fridge but will be soft when you bit into it. So yummy!
- Cocoa Powder: Unsweetened cocoa powder is what you’ll need. It will give you the delicious chocolate coating like you get on chocolate eclairs!
- Powdered Sugar: Sift the powdered sugar and the cocoa powder together. This will give you a smooth texture. Since this chocolate coating sets, you won’t want any clumps from the cocoa powder or powdered sugar.
- Make the vanilla pudding. Add two 3.4 oz packages of dry vanilla instant pudding mix and 3 1/3 cups milk to a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until thickened (about 2 minutes). Fold in 12 oz of thawed cool whip.
- Layer the chocolate eclair layers. Place a single layer of graham crackers on the bottom of a 9×13-inch pan to fill the entire bottom of the pan. Spoon half of the pudding mixture over the graham cracker layer. Use an offset spatula to spread into an even layer. Place a second layer of graham crackers on top. Spread the remaining pudding mixture on top and layer again with a final layer of graham crackers (flat side of the crackers facing up).
- Make the chocolate frosting. Sift 6 T cocoa powder and 2 cups of powdered sugar together into a medium sized bowl. Add 6 T butter and 5 T milk to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until melted. Whisk in the cocoa powder and powdered sugar mixture until smooth.
- Pour the chocolate topping onto the eclair cake. Pour the rich chocolate frosting on top and spread to cover the entire top layer of graham crackers. Chill in the fridge overnight or for 8 hours. Slice and serve. Enjoy!
Cut and break apart the graham cracker sheets so there is a full layer to fit the pan.
I use Honey Maid graham crackers brand. I haven’t tried it with off-brands before. I don’t know if the off-brand graham crackers will soften as nicely as the Honey Maid’s do. Similarly in my Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding recipe I advise the use of the name brand Nilla Wafers.
Place the cake in the freezer 20 minutes prior to serving if you want clean cut sides like you see in the photographs.
Mix the vanilla pudding for 2 minutes (using a hand mixer, stand mixer, or a whisk). You’ll notice that around 90 seconds the mixture starts to thicken up nicely.
Eclair Cake Variations:
- Gluten-free chocolate eclair cake —> use gluten-free graham crackers for an easy gluten-free dessert
- Sugar-free, low fat chocolate eclair cake —> use fat-free Cool Whip, low-fat graham crackers, low-fat milk, and sugar free vanilla pudding for a low calorie no-bake dessert
- Chocolate eclair cake with Nilla Wafers —> use Nilla Wafers instead of graham crackers
- Chocolate filling —> use a chocolate instant pudding mix instead of a vanilla one
- Chocolate peanut butter eclair cake —> add 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter to the vanilla pudding mixture, then fold in the cool whip. Sprinkle chopped peanuts on top of the chocolate topping
Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing
This is a make ahead dessert! You need it to chill overnight in the fridge in order to let the layers set and to soften the graham cracker layers especially. If it doesn’t chill overnight, the graham cracker layer will be crunchy and you won’t get that eclair texture.
Once the cake has been sliced into, be sure to cover the cake with plastic wrap and continue to store it in the fridge. It will keep for 3-4 days, covered and refrigerated.
To freeze, cover and place in the freezer for up to 2 months. Remove and let thaw in the fridge overnight. Slice and serve.
This chocolate eclair cake recipe has layers of graham crackers, a vanilla pudding and whipped topping mixture, and then is topped with a smooth and delicious chocolate eclair cake frosting.
Yes. You can use freshly whipped cream, but the cake will be a softer. But not to worry, you can place it in the freezer for a few minutes prior to serving to help it firm up. Cool whip is a bit more stable so that’s why I use it.
Yes. I would warm up the frosting in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to loosen it up so that it spreads easier.
Yes! The vanilla pudding layer requires the cake to be refrigerated. Store in the fridge!
Easy Dessert Recipes
Chocolate Eclair Cake
- 2 3.4 oz packages vanilla instant pudding mix - dry
- 3 1/3 cups milk
- 12 oz cool whip - thawed
- 1 14.4 oz package graham crackers
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 5 tablespoons milk
- 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- In a large bowl beat the vanilla pudding and milk together for 2 minutes. Fold in the whipped cream.
- In a 9”x13” inch pan layer graham cracker sheets to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Spoon half of the pudding mixture over the graham crackers. Use an offset spatula to level the pudding into an even layer.
- Place another layer of graham crackers over the pudding (cutting and shape crackers so that the pudding is fully covered).
- Spoon the remaining pudding mixture over the graham crackers.
- Place the final layer of graham crackers over the pudding, flat side of the crackers facing up.
- In a medium bowl sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder.
- In medium microwave safe bowl add the butter and milk. Microwave until the butter has melted.
- Whisk in the cocoa powder and powdered sugar until smooth.
- Pour the topping over the last layer of graham crackers, spread into a smooth layer.
- Refrigerate overnight or for 8 hours (so the graham crackers can soften).