Vintage Cold Desserts That Never Disappoint

Including chilled icebox pies, fruity gelatin-infused creations, and layered pudding "delights."

Strawberry-Pretzel Jello Salad
Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Sometimes, the best recipes aren't the newest or the most intricate, but the simple and tried-and-true. That's why no matter how many new cookbooks come out, Southerners always tend to revisit the old recipe box, especially when looking for a crowd-pleaser. Just like the retro cold salads that we fondly keep around, there are many old-school cold desserts that are as beloved as they are grandma-approved. For showers, luncheons, cookouts, and holidays, a refreshing cold dessert is always welcome, especially during warmer months.

These are the vintage cold desserts we'll never stop making, including chilled icebox pies, layered pudding "delights," fruity gelatin-infused creations, and other no-bake classics.

01 of 18

Strawberry-Pretzel Icebox Pie

Strawberry-Pretzel Icebox Pie
Jennifer Davick

Sweet and just a little salty, this all-star duo makes up a bevy of favorite fruity desserts in the South, especially during spring and summer. No baking necessary!

02 of 18

Chocolate Delight

Chocolate Delight

Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Christine Keely

With layers of vanilla and chocolate pudding, this dessert comes together with just a few hours in the fridge. It's host-friendly and always a crowd-favorite.

03 of 18

Millionaire Pie

Southern Living Millionaire Pie cut and ready to serve

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

If you've heard of this niche pie, you're definitely from the South. Pineapple bits and chewy coconut are suspended throughout this creamy creation along with crunchy pecans.

04 of 18

No-Bake Lemon Icebox Pie

No-Bake Lemon Icebox Pie
Photography: Caitlin Bensel, Food Styling: Margaret Monroe Dickey, Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hilegas

There's no warm day that a tart lemon dessert can't remedy. Instead of an old-school graham cracker crust, this no-bake pie calls for a gingersnap exterior, which adds tons of flavor. 

05 of 18

Cranberry Fluff Salad

Cranberry Fluff Salad
Photographer: Greg DuPree, Food Stylist: Emily Neighbors Hall Prop Stylist: Christine Keely

One of those Southern salads that doesn't include a single bit of lettuce, this cranberry-studded gelatin dessert is also welcome as a side dish, particularly during the holidays.

06 of 18

Luscious Lemon Bars

Luscious Lemon Bars
Southern Living

There are many occasions—showers, luncheons, summertime cookouts—that call for serving these classic lemon bars. It's a staple recipe in old-school Southern cookbooks.

07 of 18

Atlantic Beach Pie

atlantic beach pie in a blue pie plate


If you're a fan of lemon pie or Key lime pie, you'll love this lesser-known version that highlights both. It features a Saltine cracker crust, which can easily be switched out for a graham cracker crust if desired.

08 of 18

Death by Chocolate

Death by Chocolate Recipe
Micah A. Leal

This decadent dessert is one of the throw-together recipes that people know by many names and variations. It typically always includes chocolate pudding and whipped cream.

09 of 18

Watermelon Pie

Watermelon Pie

Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

The filling of this retro chilled dessert is made with fresh watermelon—not watermelon-flavored gelatin—so it makes the most of the beloved summer fruit that can be found abundantly at the farmers' market.

10 of 18

Strawberry-Pretzel Jello Salad

Strawberry-Pretzel Jello Salad


For many, this creation brings back memories of church potlucks and family reunions. It's made with strawberry gelatin, cream cheese, whipped topping, and pretzels.

11 of 18

Old-Fashioned Banana Pudding

a container of banana pudding with a scoop out
Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

The toasted meringue on this traditional banana pudding is the perfect finishing touch. While you can serve this dish while it's fresh and somewhat warm, many prefer to chill it before serving.

12 of 18

Cherries-and-Cream Icebox Cake

Cherries-and-Cream Icebox Cake

Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner

Layers of graham cracker, a cool whipped filling, and cherry preserves make up this beautiful no-bake dessert. There's always something charmingly vintage about a cherry garnish.

13 of 18

Rebecca's Black Bottom Icebox Pie

Rebecca's Black Bottom Icebox Pie

Beth Dreiling Hontzas

Get ready for a creamy, fluffy, decadent finish to your evening. This cold pie is for the chocolate lovers out there.

14 of 18

Charlotte Russe Cake

Charlotte Russe Cake
Micah Leal

For around 300 years, the Charlotte Russe cake has been a relief for those who want to avoid the labor of baking a cake. It calls for a custard filling that is set with gelatin and flavored with blackberries, lemon, and thyme.

15 of 18

Heavenly Key Lime Pie

Heavenly Key Lime Pie

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

We kept the ingredient list short and sweet for this recipe, so it's ultimately an easy tangy dessert to make anytime the craving strikes. Key limes can be hard to find when they're not in season, but you can usually find bottled juice at the grocery store.

16 of 18

Kool Aid Pie

Kool Aid Pie
Micah A. Leal

The nostalgia around this fruity drink mix once inspired a fluffy pie, which we recreated using just five ingredients.

17 of 18

Chocolate Chip Cookie Delight

Chocolate Chip Cookie Delight

Fred Hardy II; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Christine Keely

If "delight" is in the name, odds are it's in a community cookbook somewhere. This recipe is super easy to whip up using mostly pre-made, store-bought ingredients such as packaged cookie dough and pudding mix. 

18 of 18

Lemon Lush

Two slices of Lemon Lush dessert on plates with forks with a glass of lemonade and a napkin.

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Lydia Pursell

The secret to this vintage dessert is box pudding mix, which lends a vibrant yellow color and lemon flavor for the right balance of sweet and tart.

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