Lemon Delight

Lemon Delight is a creamy, DREAMY layered lemon dessert with a sweet cream cheese layer, lemon pudding, and buttery walnut crust. Also known as Lemon Lush, this recipe makes a pan-full and is perfect for sharing. Light and refreshing, this classic recipe is a great complement to summer grilling and chilling.

This right here ya’ll is my all-time favorite dessert, Lemon Delight. AKA Cool Lemon Dessert, AKA Lemon Lush, AKA Lemon Layered Dessert. This was my mom’s go-to recipe whenever she needed to make a dessert. And then I’ll go years without making it, make it, and wonder why I don’t make this more often! It is SO good, and not hard to make at all. An easy crowd-pleaser and just super super tasty.

This is completely hokey, but I used to say that Lemon Delight is my childhood wrapped in Cool Whip. Some recipes elicit strong feelings of youth, family, and roots. This dessert is one of those for me.

portion of Lemon Delight on floral dish; rest of dessert in dish in the background

Why this recipe works

I kind of struggle to explain exactly why lemon delight or lemon lush or whatever you want to call it (my mother called “cool lemon dessert”) – why this recipe is so dang good. Which layer? Or is it just all together?

The walnut crust is absolutely clutch. I use the same crust in my Walnut Lime Tart. It is so simple – just flour, butter, and walnuts – but it is just perfect.

The cream cheese layer is oh-Lort-I-can-eat-this-with-a-spoon good. Like, insanely good. Layered between the walnut crust and lemon pudding, it is the luxurious Mmmmm in every bite and why Lemon Delight is so delicious.

So, Lemon Delight is classic, sooooo tasty, easy to make, and can be made a day ahead. What is not to love?

lemon delight in Pyrex bake dish, cross section to show layers

Ingredients

All the ingredients for this recipe are approachable, affordable, and easy to find. This is also a great recipe to scale up to feed more people as well.

For the walnut crust

  • All-purpose flour.
  • Unsalted butter. Always be sure to use UNsalted butter, aka sweet cream butter.
  • Chopped walnuts. Three-quarters will go in the crust, then the rest will be sprinkled on top at the end. Pecans may be substituted.
collage of 2 photos showing walnut crust before and after baking

For the cream cheese layer

  • Cream cheese. Let the cream cheese come to room temperature so it combines smoothly with the sugar and Cool Whip.
  • Powdered sugar. Also known as confectioners sugar.
  • Cool Whip. One container – we use half in this cream cheese layer, then the rest goes on top as the last layer.
white spatula in glass bowl with cream cheese layer mixture

For the pudding layer

  • Two small packages instant lemon pudding.
  • Milk. Reduced fat milk is fine. I do not recommend using skim milk.

Again, not all the walnuts go in the crust and not all the Cool Whip goes in the cream cheese layer. The LAST layer is the rest of the Cool Whip, and a final sprinkling of walnuts.

collage of 2 photos showing the cream cheese and lemon pudding layers

How to make Lemon Delight

Lemon Delight has 4 layers: walnut crust, cream cheese layer, lemon pudding layer, and final Cool Whip layer with a sprinkling of nuts.

To make each layer, simply combine the ingredients for that layer. Let ingredients (especially butter and cream cheese) come to room temperature so they are soft and will mix with the other ingredients.

The other key is to let the crust cool completely before proceeding with the other layers. Other than that, we just mix and layer, mix and layer.

white pie server holding up portion of lemon delight

FAQs

Can this dessert be made a day in advance?

Absolutely yes. Lemon Delight can be made a day or even 2 days in advance.

I am not a fan of lemon, can I use a different pudding?

Yes. I would even recommend chocolate or pistachio puddings as alternates. Just be sure to use instant pudding.

Can leftovers be frozen?

Yes, though I would cut into serving sized squares before freezing.

Is there a nut-free alternative for the crust?

Yes, just replace the crust with sugar cookie dough for a nut-free option. Then top with chopped sugar cookie to finish instead of walnuts.

Can real whipped cream or Reddi-Wip be substituted for the Cool Whip?

Nope. Neither whipped cream nor Reddi-Wip has the staying power needed for this dessert.

portion of Lemon Lush on floral dish
portion of Lemon Delight on floral dish; rest of dessert in dish in the background

Cool Lemon Dessert

Erica
Lemon Delight is a creamy, dreamy layered lemon dessert with a sweet cream cheese layer, lemon pudding, and buttery walnut crust. Also known as Lemon Lush, this recipe makes a pan-full, perfect for sharing. Light and refreshing, this classic recipe is a great complement to summer grilling and chilling.
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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Refrigerate 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 40 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 people
Calories 325 kcal

Ingredients
  

For the walnut crust

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts divided

For the cream cheese layer

  • 8 oz cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 (8 oz) container Cool Whip divided

For the pudding layer

  • 2 (3.4 oz) pkgs instant lemon pudding
  • 3 ½ cups milk

Instructions
 

  • Heat oven to 350°F.
  • Combine the flour, butter, and ¾ cup chopped walnuts. Press into a 13×9-in baking dish. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes. Cool.
  • Use an electric mixer to combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and 1 cup Cool Whip until smooth. Spread over the cooled crust. (*see Notes*)
  • Whisk together the pudding and milk. Pour over the cheese layer.
  • Top with remaining Cool Whip and chopped nuts. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Notes

The delicate walnut crust can lift up from the pan, so the best way to spread the cream cheese layer is to work, little by little, using a butter knife. Using a rubber spatula sounds like it should be the way to go, but pushing around too much cream cheese mixture will mess up the crust. Use a butter knife, work it gently, do not worry about it being perfect – it won’t be – and the layer will spread fine.

Nutrition

Calories: 325kcal (16%) | Carbohydrates: 38g (13%) | Fat: 17g (26%) | Saturated Fat: 8g (50%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 25mg (8%) | Sodium: 407mg (18%) | Potassium: 185mg (5%) | Fiber: 1g (4%) | Sugar: 15g (17%)

Calorie count is purely an estimate calculated using an online application to serve as a guide and not to be taken as accurate nutritional information. Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Keyword layered lemon dessert, lemon delight, lemon lush
Tried this recipe?Leave a comment below and let me know!

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