Lemon Lush

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Lemon Lush is a cool, light, creamy dessert perfect for summer entertaining. Four layers give this dessert plenty of sweet and tart yumminess.

Lemon Lush - 4 delicious layers. This cool and creamy dessert is perfect for summer entertaining.

The bottom is a buttery shortbread layer flavored with chopped pecans. Next is a sweetened cream cheese layer followed by an easy lemon pudding layer made from instant pudding mix. A layer of whipped topping on top gives a light, dreamy finish to this summer dessert.

Lemon Lush - 4 delicious layers. This cool and cramy dessert is perfect for summer entertaining.

Once the warm, sunny weather has set in, one or two lemon desserts are always mandatory. Lemon Pudding Cakes and Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake are always favorites, but I am especially fond of layered desserts that can be made in a 9X13-inch pan. They can really feed a crowd – even a houseful of hungry teenagers.

Lemon Lush - 4 delicious layers. This cool and creamy dessert is perfect for summer entertaining!

The oven is needed briefly for the shortbread crust, but the rest of this delicious Lemon Lush is no bake.

It’s so cool and refreshing and makes a wonderful dessert for a potluck or picnic.

Lemon Lush - 4 delicious layers. This cool and creamy dessert is perfect for summer entertaining.

For more delicious recipes follow Spicy Southern Kitchen on Pinterest and Instagram.

Watch the short video below to see how easy it is to make this Lemon Lush.

Lemon Lush - 4 delicious layers. This cool and creamy dessert is perfect for summer entertaining.

Lemon Lush

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 623kcal
Author: Christin Mahrlig
Lemon Lush with four light and creamy layers makes a cool and refreshing summer dessert. Perfect for potlucks and picnics.
Print Recipe


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 (3.4-ounce) packages instant lemon pudding mix
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 (16-ounce) container whipped topping, thawed


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together flour, softened butter, pecans, and 1/4 cup sugar until evenly mixed. Press into the bottom of a 9X13-inch pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice until smooth. Spread on top of the cooled shortbread crust.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together pudding mix and milk until it thickens some, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour on top of cream cheese layer. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour is good.
  • Spread whipped topping over top. Cut into squares.


If you want pretty slices, you must partially freeze the lemon lush. It will defrost fairly quickly.


Calories: 623kcal

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

60 thoughts on “Lemon Lush

  1. just OK. I added four times the lemon juice called for and the rind of two lemons. Still just sort of tart. Cool Whip on top is way too overpowering…won’t be making again. BUT, the crust is delicious! Find something to spread on top of that!

  2. This is one of my favorite desserts. It’s also good with chocolate pudding, too, instead of the lemon pudding.

  3. I made this for Christmas desert. I used betty crockers lemon bar mix .(I used 2 boxes to double and used a 9×12 glass baking pan); followed the recipe found on the back. Cooled it overnight in the fridge. Next morning I mixed 2 boxes of lemon pudding with 1/2 a tub of cool whip extra creamy6. And topped the bars. Easy and a quick desert. Make sure to cool down b4 serving. It was delicious. However next time will use a Graham cracker crust.

    1. add lemon zest to your pudding mix, heat will bring out a stronger tartness in the zest so you might want to opt for a cooked pudding instead.

  4. I love this recipe. I have a very large catering event coming up and very, very hot outside. Trying to find desserts that can withstand the heat. Do you think this would serve ok?

  5. I haven’t made this recipe but I make something almost similar. The crust and cream cheese layer is the same but I make a homemade lemon curd that is perfect and so much better than pudding. I also top it with real whipped cream instead of cool whip. It’s so perfect and I’m always asked for the recipe. It’s a little time consuming but if you have the times, I recommend trying it.

    1. Kari, would you mind sharing your recipe? I’ve been looking for one with real lemon filling and whipped cream! 🙂 Thanks!

  6. I have made Lemon Lush for years and decided to try your recipe as mine called for powered sugar which to me always has an odd taste to it. The problem with both recipes is the crust.. It comes out hard as a rock and is so difficult to cut afterward. Any idea what to do about this? Thanks..

    1. I haven’t tried this Dot, but you can try adding 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to the crust. Cornstarch works well as a tenderizer and I have seen it as an ingredient in shortbread crust recipes.

    2. When you put the crust in the pan, don’t press it very hard, just a light fingertip pressure will help. Be sure to use room temperature butter and not melted butter.

      1. I use more nuts than what the recipe calls for…that helps the crust be more manageable. I also add a few black walnuts.

  7. I made this today at my Daddy’s request for Father’s day. Mom passed away in 2008 and my Daddy said he wanted to honor her today with the dessert that she made and he liked best. My Mom had her Lemon Lush recipe memorized. I couldn’t find her recipe so I searched the Internet and found this one. Its almost identical to my Mom’s! Looks Lucious!! Haven’t had a chance to taste it yet but… I am certain it will measure up to her’s! Thanks for sharing this!!! Can’t wait for Daddy to taste it!

      1. It was such a Hit I have been elected to make it again today!! There were several family members that didn’t make it last Sunday sooo… well, they almost demanded that I make it so they can enjoy it also! Thanks again for posting this! You’ve made quite a Large family Very Happy!! ?

    1. Daddy did have a wonderful Father’s day & thoroughly enjoyed the Lemon Lush!! My Momma would have been delighted, as it was as good as her recipe !! It took my family down memory lane & we were all reminded of what a fabulous cook my Momma was! ?

  8. Sounds yummy!! I’m always looking for new desserts because everyone tells me to bring dessert to our family functions. One problem, we have one member in the family who is allergic to nuts. Can I leave the nuts out? Is there a substitute I can use for the nuts?

  9. I made this last night and the crust was so hard I could hardly cut it. the pudding didn’t se up either..I have made this dessert for many years and never had this problem…Been going over the recipe all morning and know I made it right..any ideas?

  10. I have to use sugar free puddings but the ounces are different weights How do I make up the differences

    1. Just get the boxes that are the same in size and keep the amount of milk the same. I don’t use the sugar-free often but I think they are designed to make the same quantity as the regular kind. They just weigh less since much less artificial sweetener is needed to get the same sweetness as sugar.

  11. I use to make something like this a long time ago and after I make it I would put in the freezer then when we wanted something sweet it was there and it wasn’t running. But it was made with vanilla pudding. I’d make it also for my aunt’s card party’s they love it.

  12. I’m going to try and make this this weekend it is like a dessert we call stripe delight. But I’m going to try something different with this one I’m going to buy pecan sandies and grind them up like for a graham cracker crust and use that for the bottom. I’ll let you know how that turns out!!

      1. Christin did you ever hear how the Pecan Sandies worked out? I was think crush them and mix in a little melted butter. Not sure whether to bake or not. I used to make it with a graham cracker crust. Thanks!

    1. OMG!!! My two favorite things—Pecan Sandies AND lemon anything!! I’m going to try this plus I will make my own lemon curd for the pudding. The pudding has, to me, an off flavor and I hate it….

  13. A wonderful lemon dessert! This is one great recipe! I love lemons that’s why I fell in love with this lemon lush when I saw it. This is a dessert that’s smooth, creamy, light and not too sweet. It’s very amazing!

  14. Whoa! This lemon lush will surely be the next favorite of my kids. It is also perfect since next Sunday, my sister give me an invitation to visit her place. I’ll prepare this one and will just order drinks from mott32 hong kong! Thanks for sharing this recipe, it is so helpful!

  15. This dessert can be made with any instant pudding filling! Chocolate is always a favourite at our house! Also called “Sex in a pan”

    1. Been making it for years. I have also used chocolate. Everyone loves the chocolate. Trying the lemon for the first time. Also heard it called Preachers Pie.

  16. My mouth is watering over this luscious lemon dessert! I’ve never had it before but anything lemon is my absolute favorite so I can’t wait to try this! I love that the filling is no bake! It looks delicious!

  17. I’ve made this dessert before and it was delicious. I had such a hard time getting it out of the pan! Do you have any tricks to get it out of the pan nicely so it doesn’t look like a pile of goop in the end? 🙂

    1. I make this all the time but my crust is just flour and butter, no sugar or nuts. If I use a glass pan I use margarine instead of butter because the crust sticks really badly with the combination of butter and glass pan. No problem with aluminum pans.

      1. I have tried making the crust with butter and it is very hard to cut though. I now make it with margarine and it’s perfect !

  18. Gosh, Christin, this looks so good! I love lemon desserts. Can you believe I’ve lived in the South my entire life and I’ve never had lush? Gonna have to fix that soon.

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