Lemon Lush is a retro dessert and potluck classic, with layers of creamy cheesecake, lemon pudding and Cool Whip atop a buttery shortbread crust.
When I was growing up, my mom would often make this dessert called Lemon Lush. If it looks familiar, it is the sister recipe to our Chocolate Delight recipe on here.
Lemon Lush is always a family and crowd favorite and I always loved it when Granny made it. She says it always gets rave reviews.
This is one of those fabulous vintage desserts that you might remember from your childhood too, and you may remember it by a different name. Lemon Delight, Lemon Lasagna, Lemon Lush…but even though there are different names, the dessert itself usually has the same basic structure. It is a layered dessert where everything melts together in one sweet, creamy, fruity bite. It’s truly heavenly!
This Lemon Lush Dessert is made up of four layers:
- The first layer is a pecan, butter, and flour layer that is baked until it is golden. It provides a crunchy nutty taste that is the perfect complement to the next three layers.
- Next is the cream cheese sugar layer which gives this dessert a little cheesecake taste.
- This is followed by the lemon pudding layer, which gives this dish its signature citrus flavor and name.
- Finally the whole thing is topped with a fluffy layer of Cool Whip.
While this dessert is not difficult to make, you will need to plan on at least two hours for preparation. There is either a cooling time or setting up time for each layer before you add the next one. So it is a really easy recipe to make and most of the total time is simply waiting for each layer to chill.
And trust me, this one is worth the effort! I made this again recently for my grandkids and it was a major hit!
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup of unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 container original Cool Whip (divided)
- 2 small packages of lemon instant pudding mix (3.4oz boxes)
- 3 cups of milk
Helpful Kitchen Tools
For your convenience in re-creating this recipe, we’ve included shop-able ad links to some of the products and supplies used. Read our disclosure policy here.
- 9×13 inch baking dish – I recommend using a clear baking dish so you can see all the beautiful layers!
- Mixing Bowls
- Electric mixer
Layer 1: Nut Crust
- Mix flour, melted butter, and chopped nuts.
- Spread this mixture in an even layer on the bottom of 9X14 baking dish and press down to form the crust.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove baking pan from oven and allow to cool completely to room temperature before adding the next layer.
Layer 2: Whipped Cream Cheese
- Using an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until well combined.
- Add the Cool Whip and mix well.
- Scoop the cream cheese mixture on top of the first layer and spread slowly and gently. The pecan layer is delicate so take care with the spreading. Allow this layer to set in the refrigerator to firm up for about 15 minutes.
Layer 3: Lemon Pudding
- Whisk together the pudding mixes and three cups of milk until well combined and smooth. Note the use of three cups of milk. The directions on the back of boxes call for more total milk. Using less milk makes this layer firmer.
- Pour the lemon pudding over the cream cheese layer. Spread gently if needed until all of the cream cheese is covered.
- Place in fridge until the pudding is set.
Layer 4: Whipped Topping
- Gently spread the remaining whipped topping on top of the pudding.
- Chill the completed pudding dessert in the fridge until fully set, before adding any toppings or garnishes.
- Crust – The pecan crust is delicate after baking. Let it cool completely. Make sure the cream cheese mixture is as spreadable as possible. Then spread it gently over the pecan crust.
- Pudding – The pudding layer calls for less milk than the directions on the pudding boxes calls for. Using less milk creates a lemon layer that is firm and can be sliced and hold its shape.
- Toppings – We added some crumbs from the crust mixture on top before we sliced and served the finished dessert. It added such a nice contrast of flavors and textures! You could also top with lemon zest for a little more lemon flavor. You could also garnish with chopped nuts such as candied pecans or walnuts for a bit of crunch.
- Timing – This is a fantastic make-ahead dessert because it keeps well for a couple days. It’s not difficult but each layer has to set before you add the next one. There is a short baking time for the crust, followed by a period of cooling. The whole thing takes about two hours. I used the time between layers to clean up utensils and bowls or get the next layer ready. The only layer you can’t prepare ahead of time is the pudding layer. It sets up fast and you want to be able to pour it.
- Serving – For easier slicing, place the layered lemon dessert in the freezer for 30 minutes before serving. Run your knife under hot water and rinse between each slice to prevent smearing the layers.
- Storage – Keep refrigerated until it’s time to serve. Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
More Classic Layered Desserts
- 7-UP Jello Salad
- Blueberry Jello Salad
- Chocolate Delight
- Pineapple Icebox Dessert
- Rainbow Jello Ribbo Salad
- Ooey Gooey Butter Cake
Lemon Lush Recipe (Printable Recipe Card)
If you tried this recipe and liked it, please rate it!
Lemon Lush Dessert
- 3 Mixing bowls
- Electric Hand mixer
- Baking safe pan 9x13"
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup butter melted
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts pecan or walnuts
Cream Cheese Layer
- 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 container Cool Whip or similar whipped topping
- 2 boxes INSTANT lemon pudding small boxes (3.4oz)
- 3 cups milk
- 1/2 container Cool Whip
- Mix flour, melted butter, and chopped nuts until combined.
- Spread on bottom of 9X13 baking dish and press down to make the crust.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool, about 30-60 minutes.
Cream Cheese Layer
- Using an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese and powdered sugar.
- Add the Cool Whip and mix well.
- Gently spread cheesecake layer on top of the cooled crust. Allow to set.
- Whisk together the pudding mixes and milk.
- Pour over the cream cheese mixture and spread gently. Allow to set.
- Spoon the remainder of Cool Whip on top of the chocolate and spread.
- You can also garnish with crumbs of the crust mixture, lemon zest, or chopped nuts.
Pin our Lemon Lasagna Recipe on Pinterest:
You might also like: