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Lemon Lush

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

Slice of Lemon Lush on a blue plate.

Four Delicious Layers

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 slice on a small plate with fresh lemons in background.

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.

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-flavored lush in 9x13-inch pan.

Lemon Lush Recipe Tip

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

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

Spoon cutting into Lemon Lush bar.

More Layer Desserts

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

Lemon Lush

Lemon Lush with four light and creamy layers makes a cool and refreshing summer dessert. Perfect for potlucks and picnics.
PREP: 1 hour 10 minutes
COOK: 20 minutes
TOTAL: 1 hour 30 minutes


  • 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
Author: Christin Mahrlig
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: layer dessert, lemon

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Originally published May 9, 2015.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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61 thoughts on “Lemon Lush”

  1. For the Lemon Lush i used lemon oreo cookies. I also use heavy whipping cream and sour cream in the peanut butter layer with less sugar. I like that layer to have a little bit of tang since all the other layers are sweet enough.

  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. Martha Thomasson

    Can you use canned lemon pie filling instead of lemon pudding?
    Just trying to take a short cut. Thanks,

  6. Frances Meadows

    I also make this with fresh strawberries in place of lemon pudding. It is delicious!

  7. 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. Marilyn Zimmerman

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

      1. Tried this recipe today for Easter and the pudding layer never firmed up. What did I do wrong? Thanks.

    2. Hi Kari, Would you mind sharing your recipe I have been looking for one like you described for months now!

    3. Diane Barrett

      I would love your homemade lemon lush recipe Kari. I know you posted this in 2017 but hoping you are still around to share.

  8. 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. Christin
      Christin Mahrlig

      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.

  9. 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. Christin
      Christin Mahrlig

      Happy Father’s Day to your dad Alice. I hope he enjoyed the Lemon Lush and that it tasted like the one your mom used to make.

      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!! ?

    2. 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! ?

      1. Christin
        Christin Mahrlig

        So glad your Father had a wonderful Father’s Day and enjoyed the Lemon Lush Alice. I love how food can bring back memories of loved ones who have passed!

  10. Sylvia Luetteke

    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?

    1. Christin
      Christin Mahrlig

      You can absolutely leave the nuts out. Just add a little more flour to the dough if it seems like it is too greasy from all the butter.

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