Enjoy the refreshing charm of Lemon Lush Dessert! A buttery pecan shortbread crust, tangy cream cheese, and zesty lemon layers crowned with luscious Cool Whip. A time-saving make-ahead miracle and flavor-packed sensation that never fails to impress!

Craving more citrus-infused delights? Don’t miss our tangy Raspberry Lemon Bars, satisfying Lemon Blueberry Muffins, coveted Key Lime Sheet cake, and my newest hit, Easy Orange Marmalade Muffins! If you feel a little frisky and festive, explore my adult-only Frozen Margarita Pie!

serving of lemon lush dessert with a fork on a plate

What Is A “Lush” Dessert?

A ‘lush’ dessert typically refers to a rich and indulgent treat that is creamy, luscious, and decadent. Lush desserts feature layered ingredients such as cream cheese (or no-bake cheesecake), whipped cream, cookie or shortbread crust, and pudding or custard, resulting in a luxurious and velvety texture. Chilled or frozen, lush desserts create a delightful contrast between cool, creamy layers and a crunchy crumb crust.

Other names for lemon lush include dessert lasagna, icebox dessert, and layered pudding dessert. This make-ahead dessert name comes from the word “lush,” which means “very rich and providing great sensory pleasure.” You’ll agree this is the perfect description once you try a lemon lush dessert recipe!

Flat lay of a serving on lemon lush dessert on a white plate with fresh lemon slice for garnish

Why You’ll Love Lemon Lush Dessert With Cool Whip

A lemon lush recipe will brighten your cache of easy citrus desserts with its simple prep and refreshing, ‘luscious’ lemon flavors.

  • Creamy and zesty lemon filling that’s bursting with flavor.
  • Irresistible combination of smooth Cool Whip topping and crunchy pecan shortbread crust.
  • Easy to make with simple ingredients, perfect for any occasion.
  • Refreshing dessert option that’s light and satisfying.
  • The perfect balance of sweet and tangy flavors in every bite.
Lemon lasagna with fresh lemon slices on top
Lemon lush ingredients on a counter

Ingredients Needed

For specific amounts, please refer to the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  • All-Purpose Flour – use the fluff, spoon, and level method to avoid overpacking and achieve a light crust.
  • Butter – softened, not melted.
  • Pecans – finely chopped.
  • Cream Cheese – needs to be softened to room temp before blending to ensure a smooth and creamy bottom layer.
  • Powdered Sugar 
  • Cool Whip –  a structured, pre-made whipped topping that’s light, fluffy, incredibly convenient, and adds a touch of vanilla flavor and volume to the lush cream cheese layer. It will be thawed and divided.
  • Instant Lemon Pudding Mix – is the base of the second layer and gives a lush lemon dessert its tangy citrus contrast. 
  • Cold Milk – is used to prepare the lemon pudding mix and helps it set up more quickly.

How To Measure Flour Properly

Did you know THE WAY you measure flour matters? The most precise way to measure your flour is by weight using a digital kitchen scale. 1 cup of flour weighs 125 to 130 grams. If you don’t have a scale measure your flour by scooping flour with a spoon into the cup. Don’t use your measuring cup as a scoop, as it packs the flour down and gives a different measure.

When you are making this recipe, you’ll want to use the full recipe at the bottom of the page.

Bite of lemon lush dessert on a fork

Recipe Notes + Tips

  • To achieve a perfectly crumbly crust, distribute softened butter evenly into the flour and pecans until the mixture resembles crumbs. This process ensures a crunchy, buttery, shortbread crust.
  • Using a food processor to pulse and combine the shortbread crust ingredients can save time and effort. Avoid overprocessing (pulsing), as this can result in a paste-like consistency.
  • Prepare the lemon pudding in a glass or stainless steel bowl chilled in the freezer. Patiently whisk the pudding mixture for 4-5 minutes or until it thickens to ensure a properly set and luscious lemon layer.
  • If you would like to use homemade whipped cream in place of the Cool Whip, just note I don’t recommend freezing the lush dessert. Homemade whipped cream tends to break down and become watery when frozen and then thawed.
  • Before serving, consider garnishing the lemon lush with some fresh lemon zest or a sugared lemon wheel. These simple touches can elevate the presentation and add an extra burst of flavor to each serving.
  • For cleaner slices and easier serving, chill the lush lemon dessert for at least an hour before cutting it into squares. Freezing it overnight makes firmer, well-defined pieces.

Lemon Lush Serving Suggestions

Serve creamy chilled lemon lush squares as a tea-time treat, or finish a great meal with this light and tangy dessert.

  • Classic Presentation: Garnish each serving with a sugared lemon twist, lemon zest, or sprinkle with toasted pecan pieces for an elegant touch.
  • Party Parfait: Create a visually appealing and delectable party treat by alternating lemon lush layers in individual stemmed glasses or mason jars for a charming parfait similar to these Chocolate and Cherry Cheesecake Parfaits
  • Interactive Dessert Station: Add a fun and creative element to any occasion by offering an array of toppings like fresh berries, toasted coconut flakes, crushed shortbread cookies, or a drizzle of raspberry sauce.
lemon lush dessert with pecan shortbread crust
serving of lemon lush dessert with a fork on a plate

Creamy Lemon Lush Dessert

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Minimum Chill Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

A Southern favorite, Creamy Lemon Lush, also known as dessert lasagna! Quick shortbread crust topped with layers of no-bake cheesecake, pudding, and Cool Whip. Perfect for any occasion!


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temp
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) carton Cool Whip, thawed
  • 2 (3.4 ounce) boxes of instant lemon pudding mix
  • 2 cups cold milk
  • Optional Garnish: Fresh lemon zest and lemon slices


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F
  2. Using a food processor, pastry cutter, fork or your hands combine flour, butter, and pecans. The mixture should resemble crumbs. Pat into a 9x13-inch baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely.
  3. Using an electric mixer, cream together cream cheese and powdered sugar. Fold in one cup of Cool Whip and spread over cooled crust.
  4. Whisk together pudding mixes and milk until thickened (4-5 minutes) and spread over cream cheese layer.
  5. Spread the remaining Cool Whip on top.  Chill at least one hour before serving or freeze overnight for more defined pieces when cut.
  6. Garnish with fresh lemon zest and slices when serving, if desired.


You can make lemon lush 1-2 days in advance. Prepare and assemble the dessert as directed, cover tightly, and refrigerate or freeze. If preparing more than one day in advance, I recommend adding the final whipped topping layer a couple of hours before serving. This ensures it keeps its fluffy texture and appearance when it's time to enjoy lemon lush.


Cover any remaining portions tightly with plastic wrap or in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator. A perfect make-ahead dessert, lemon lush can be kept fresh for 3-4 days when properly refrigerated.

To Freeze - tightly wrap individual portions or the entire dessert with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. When ready to enjoy, allow the frozen lush to thaw in the refrigerator (it should thaw fairly quickly).

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 395Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 64mgSodium: 234mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 1gSugar: 12gProtein: 6g

Nutrition information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, and freshness of ingredients used and are just estimates. We encourage, especially if these numbers are important to you, to calculate these on your own for most accurate results.

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