LEMON DELIGHT is one of those classic desserts that everyone loves. This lemon delight recipe is made with instant lemon pudding and Cool Whip and has a pecan crust. Don’t let the 4 layers intimidate you! This dessert is super-easy to make, and perfect for all occasions!
Everyone LOVES this easy, layered lemon dessert. I think one of the reasons it’s so popular is because it’s one of those classic desserts that’s easy to make, but takes you right back to your childhood. Kind of like my no-bake blueberry cheesecake.
Lemon Delight has been a favourite in my family for years. It often makes an appearance at family get-togethers and holiday gatherings, and it always goes fast.
It’s a light and refreshing dessert which is always nice after a big meal. And it’s so pretty.
Don’t let all those layers fool you. It’s super-easy to make!
Mmmm…. My mouth is watering. I’m such a sucker for anything with lemon and cream cheese!
Ingredients for Lemon Delight
Get the printable recipe at the bottom of this post.
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup ground or very finely chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
Lemon Delight Layers:
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- 2½ cups thawed Cool Whip (or homemade Cool Whip – see note below)
- 2 small pkgs instant lemon pudding (roughly 99 grams each)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice (optional, but I like the tartness it provides)
- 3 cups milk
- 1 cup icing sugar (also known as powdered sugar or confectioners sugar)
- 3 tbsp finely chopped pecans (to sprinkle on top)
Note: A thoughtful reader passed along this recipe for homemade Cool Whip for those of you who can’t find the name brand in your grocery stores, or for those of you who prefer to use a less processed whipped topping in your recipes.
How to Make Lemon Delight
Make your Crust:
Combine flour, chopped pecans and melted butter.
Make sure your pecans are either ground or chopped very finely. This will produce a crust that holds together nicely.
Stir these three ingredients until well-blended and crumbly.
Press this mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish.
Bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes.
Make your Layers
First Layer – Cream Cheese & Cool Whip
With electric beaters, mix the cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth and creamy.
Fold in 1 cup of Cool Whip or homemade Cool Whip, and spread over crust.
Note: If the crust for your lemon delight crust crumbles and separates when you’re spreading the cream cheese and cool whip layer over it, don’t panic! Your pecans were likely a bit too course (ask me how I know this).
Just work slowly (you may have to get your fingers in there) to spread the cream cheese layer as best as you can.
Second Layer – Lemon Pudding:
Whisk together the pudding packets and milk.
Add lemon juice and continue to stir until thick.
Spread pudding mixture over cream cheese layer.
Top Layer – Cool Whip and Pecans:
Spoon remaining Cool Whip over the lemon pudding layer.
Sprinkle finely chopped pecans over the Cool Whip.
Refrigerate for 4 hours before serving.
Even Better the Next Day!
I find that this recipe is even better the next day, so I like to make it a day or two in advance.
I hope your family enjoys this classic lemony dessert as much as mine does!
Luscious Lemon Delight
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup ground or finely chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup butter melted
Lemon Delight Layers:
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- 2½ Cups thawed Cool Whip link to homemade Cool Whip recipe below
- 2 small pkgs instant lemon pudding approx 99 grams each
- 1 tbsp lemon juice optional for extra tartness
- 3 cups milk
- 1 cup icing sugar aka powdered sugar or confectioners sugar
- 3 tbsp finely chopped pecans for topping
- Combine flour, chopped pecans and melted butter.
- Make sure your pecans are either ground or chopped very finely so crust holds together nicely.
- Stir together until well-blended and crumbly.
- Press into a 9 x 13 baking dish.
- Bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes and let cool completely
Cream Cheese and Layer:
- With electric beaters, mix the cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth and creamy.
- Fold in 1 cup of Cool Whip and spread this mixture over crust, working slowly if crust crumbles easily.
Lemon Pudding Layer:
- Whisk together the pudding packets and milk.
- Add lemon juice and continue to stir until thick.
- Spread pudding mixture over cream cheese layer.
- Cool Whip Layer:
- Spoon remaining Cool Whip over the pudding layer
- Sprinkle a with finely chopped pecans.
- Refrigerate for 4 hours before serving.
If you’re looking for another lemon recipe that your family will love, try these zippy lemon scones from Meaningful Mama!
More Easy Recipes You’ll Love:
Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.
Just wondering what a good alternative for Cool Whip is? I don’t think it’s available here in New Zealand.
Yes! A thoughtful reader passed this along to me over the weekend: http://www.somethingswanky.com/homemade-cool-whip/. I’ll add the link to my post. 🙂
How about using a natural ingredient! Real whipping cream, dream whip etc is a bunch of chemicals. Why do people not know this and eat this crap. Totally dumbfounded on such ignorance on health.
Hi Kary! Looks like you’re looking for some healthy recipes. If you click the “RECIPES” tab at the top of my page, you’ll find lots of them. Healthy, homemade soups, muffins, dips, salads, and even desserts made with wholesome ingredients.
This is amazing! Family LOVED it!! The homemade cool whip was easy and so much better than store bought. I added the extra 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to the lemon pudding mix– wonderful tart taste! The store didn’t have instant pudding so I bought 2 big boxes of cook and serve kind and it was just perfect.
Hi Karen, Can you purchase Dream Whip in New Zealand or Whipping cream from the dairy fridge at your local supermarket. Good Luck!!
Couldn’t you just use real whipping cream and whip it yourself. I do that instead of cool whip when Imake recipes that use cool whip in cream cheese pies, etc.
Yes, i do the same….whipped HEAVY CREAM..
I make several kinds of these delights and I use 1 envelope of Dream Whip per 8 oz. of cream cheese. The Dream Whip has to be mixed with milk before adding the cream cheese it works great and fewer calories.
Just buy whipping cream in the dairy department and whip with a mixer. I add a couple tablespoons of sugar to mine. Better than cool whip hands down.
I have made this dessert many times although I make it on a cookie sheet instead of the 9×13 pan. I will try that next time. This recipe also works very well with chocolate pudding instead of the lemon for all you chocaholics.
I also make this with chocolate for my chocolate lovers. When I make the lemon, I use Cook and Serve because I don’t care for the instant lemon and neither does my family.
What is icing sugar? Confectioners (powdered) sugar? Something else?
Yes. Sorry, I mention that in the written part of the article, but not on the actual recipe card part. It is powdered or confectioner’s sugar.
This excellent with pistachio pudding as well (minus lemon juice). I usually substitute low fat or no fat cream cheese, Cool Whip, pudding and decrease the amount of sugar. Sooooo yummy!! I definitely want to try the Lemon!!
I have been making this recipe since the early 1960’s in all kinds of flavors……dark chocolate is fantastic. I add chocolate curls on top.
Whatever flavor of pudding you use, always add a similar flavor topping (like butterscotch chips if you use butterscotch pudding…toasted coconut flakes if using coconut pudding).
I is a wonderful dessert to take to pot lucks or any party…or just to have after dinner.
Oh yum! Love the idea of trying different flavours, and topping it with a similar flavour! Thank you!
I love lemon and not trying to change recipe but I make this exact thing except I use the lemon pudding you cook. If you really like lemon flavor, it is so much better. You have to take it off the heat when it’s done and place plastic wrap on top of the pudding to keep it from getting a skim on it and let it cool before adding the layer.
I change the crust when I make different flavors. When I do the Chocolate Delight, I mix up brownie batter from the 8×8 pan package. When you bake it in a 9×13 pan, it comes out thin enough to be the crust. I also use the brownie crust for a no bake Chocolate Cheesecake.
Oh yum! a brownie crust would be amazing!
Oh, BTW, I forgot to tell you what it was called back in the 60’s……….4-Layer Delight
My aunt makes this exact recipe using pistachio pudding mix instead. It is My FAORITE thing in the world. She mainly makes it at Christmas for a “green” dessert. 🙂
I LOVE pistachio! I need to try that!
I would love to make this for a party but my nephew has a nut allergy. Any suggestions for a different crust? Do you think a pretzel crust like the one for strawberry jello salad would work?
I’m sure it would, Laurie. You could also try a graham cracker crust.
I have made this for years and I use crushed vanilla wafers instead of the nuts. It comes out yummy!!
HAS ANYONE TRIED THIS RECIPE WITH A MILK SUBSTITUTE LIKE SOY OR ALMOND MILK? WITH CREAM CHEESE ALTERNATIVE? SEVERE MILK ALLERGY HERE!
Yes. That works too.
I love this dessert and have been making it for about 30 years now. Tho I do mix it up from time to time with the flavors. Sometimes for the lemon layer, I use coconut pudding instead of the lemon and then sprinkle toasted coconut on the top and sometimes I use chocolate pudding and sprinkle the top with shredded chocolate and sometimes I use pistaschio pudding and sprinkle the top with ground pistaschio nuts … it has all kinds of possibilities and everyone always loves all of them!!
Can you use the pudding that not instead? I bright the wrong kind
I’m not sure if you can use the non-instant pudding, Joanne. I’m sorry. I really don’t know.
I love Cool Whip and baking with it. I now live in Australia and that is one of my things I miss the most at the grocery store!
Looking for banana bars I saw on face book but can’t find now please help
I’m afraid I don’t know about the banana bars. I just have the crazy banana cake, Angie. Sorry!
what type of flour do you use , SR or AP ?
All purpose, Ree.
I use self rising flour. It makes the crust come out not as dense. Also, the little bit of salt in the flour adds a little more flavor and enhances the taste of the lemon. I also add lemon juice to the cream cheese mixture instead of the pudding laying. I don’t know why, but when I add it to the pudding layer, my pudding won’t set up.
RE Luscious Lemon Delight…. what is the nutritional info on this recipe… It looks sooooo delicious…
I’m not sure, Roxi. You could google the information for each individual ingredient. That might give you a rough idea.
Yes, you can use cooked pudding…just use the directions for pudding. Not pie which is less milk. And be sure to COOL first with plastic wrap on surface, before adding. Has a richer flavor. Either way Great!
I’m a fan of the lemon. I’m definitely going to try this one.
I use Keebler Pecan Sandies cookies for crusts! All I use are the cookies, melted butter and sugar and put in fridge to firm up! It’s so much easier and cheaper then buying Pecans 🙂
What a great alternative! Thanks for sharing, Sue!
Great idea. Gonna try as alt. Ty Sue happy holidays
I need to provide a gluten free dessert for dinner in a week or so. Would the crust turn out well if I substitute rice flour for All Purpose flour? If not, do you have any other suggestions? Thank yo u!
Eek. I really don’t know, Karen. I know some people have used crushed pecan cookies as the base (kind of like a graham cracker crust), so if you know of a gluten-free cookie that’s tasty, you might give that a try.
Hi Karen, you could try using a combination of crushed Pamela’s Graham Crackers (gluten-free), crushed pecans and butter, or sub the AP flour for a gluten-free flour blend (I recommend Bob’s Red Mill). If you prefer a simple-ingredient based homemade pudding, here is a great recipe (Just double the recipe to equal 2 instant boxed mixes!): http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/my-favorite-lemon-pudding-recipe.html
Has anyone ever used lemon extract instead of lemon juice? Would extract work in this recipe? I imagine it has a more pronounced flavor. I have never used lemon extract, but have been interested in trying it. Can anyone give me some tips? Thanks!
I know I would love this recipe, but unfortunately my husband has found out he has a reaction to dairy. Have you ever come across a non dairy alternative to cream cheese?
I have a friend who makes cheesecake with goat cheese. I’m not sure if that would work as an alternative in this recipe, but it’s a thought.
Luscious lemon delight was amazing!! I want to make one today with pistachio pudding & pistachio crust, would I still use lemon juice for flavouring (as it is not a lemon dessert now)? What do you suggest?
Hmm. That’s a good question, Colleen. I love pistachio, but I’m not sure what flavouring you’d use. Maybe do some googling, and see what flavouring other pistachio desserts call for?
Do you make the pudding mix up as per the box instructions or simply as the mix to milk and mix it up?
Ignore the box instructions, and just follow the instructions in the post, Tanya.
We tried it this way first. It was good but couldn’t taste each layer. Tonight we subbed the cool whip for unsweetened heavy cream and used the cook and serve pudding. Way better you can taste all layers.
But do you just make the cook pudding with the 3 cups of milk? When do you put the pudding layer on? After the pudding cools?
You don’t cook the pudding, Viktoria. Simply whisk together pudding packets and milk. Add lemon juice, and continue to stir until thick.
Spread pudding over cream cheese layer.
I’m working on this now and my crust is very very pale. It didn’t brown up at all during the 15 minutes in the oven. Is that how yours turns out?
That sounds right. The crust doesn’t really brown.
I would like to serve this at a gathering but need a dessert that will serve 12. Will this stretch that far?
Absolutely! It will feed 12 no problem. Enjoy!
Wow. This recipe is awesome. So easy, and yet you fool everyone with all of the layers. I have made this five times. This most recent time I made it, it was for a church gathering, with fifty or so people. Over half of them were asking each other who made it, have you had any of this lemon stuff, or where can I find this girl who made it! I am 14yrs and everybody said it was one of the best desserts ever!!! This is our go to dessert when we need to take something to a potluck, and it gets raving comments every time.
The only changes I made were instead of using “Jello” for the lemon layer, I bought canned lemon pie filling. So much easier and so much better!!! It takes about 30oz for a 9 x 13″ pan. Also, I thought it needed more cream cheese, so I used about another half package. It was excellently perfect!! Thanks so much Happy Hooligans!!! We will definitely make this for a LONG time!!! 🙂
I’m so glad the recipe is such a hit at your house, Daniella! It sounds like you’re quite the budding chef! Keep on cookin’ sister! xx
Thank you so much~ DEELISH~ i didnt have any instant pudding.,just the kind my grandma always used to make her lemon pie with.,, u have to cook and cool it., Purfect!! the brand is My*T*Fine and if u are a lemon person as myself,.u must try..its VERY tart, and why we love it so much..Thank you so much again.,God Bless
Has anyone tried freezing it? I’m the only one in the house who likes lemon deserts and this recipe makes too much for me alone. Thanks
I’ve made this recipe quite a few times and everyone loves it! But I change one thing, I like the jello pudding mix that you have to cook, over the instant mix, just tastes better to me. So glad to have found such a great dessert here, thank you!
Hi Kelly! So glad it’s a hit at your house too. I’ve heard people say they prefer the pudding that you cook but I’ve only ever tried the instant pudding. I’ll have to give the cooked kind a try. I may end up adding it to the blog post if it’s that good!
Recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups of cool whip. Is that the 8oz size tub of Cool Whip or the 16oz size?
Hi Rose, I just found this information on the Kraft website: Size of Tub/Yield: 8 oz = 3c, 12 oz = 4 1/2c, 16 ounce = 6.5c
Hello, Is this recipe suitable to freeze?
I haven’t tried freezing it, Annalise, so I really can’t say. I’m sorry I’m not much help!
I tried this recipe for a potluck at work recently. Everybody loved it! Several ask for the recipe. When I was shopping for the supplies I wondered about making a chocolate one. It is nice to know that you can do so many different flavors with this crust. I see that they now have an instant caramel pudding. I am thinking that would be good too! Interested in trying the butterscotch, banana and pistachio desserts. So many varieties for different occasions.!
Great thinking, Cindy! I need to try it with new flavours too! The pistachio would be amazing!
I make the chocolate all the time and my family request it every christmas or I can’t come. I am going to a 4th of July party and I think I am going to make this. Also you can refreeze cool whip so I don’t see why you can’t freeze the whole thing. Cream cheese is mixed with powder and it changes it.. IF I freeze it I will let you know.
Do you grease the pan before pressing and baking the crust?!
No need to grease the baking dish, Jen.
If I’m using chocolate pudding instead of lemon, do I still need to put lemon juice in the recipe or omit it? Any suggestions!
No, the purpose of the lemon juice is to add an extra zip of lemony flavour to the lemon delight, Vineeta. You can leave it out if you’re making a chocolate version of the dessert.
Wanting to make it ahead for a camping potluck. Wondering if I could freeze this dessert ? Thanks .
I haven’t tried freezing it, Cindy. I’m not sure how well instant pudding freezes. Sorry I can’t tell you!
I don’t know if you’ll still see questions this long after posting. Wondering about adding lemon juice to the pudding when there’s been milk added. Lemon juice and milk make buttermilk. Has this ever been a problem?
Not a problem at all, Tonya. Lemon juice and milk don’t make true buttermilk but a tart milk substitute for buttermilk. And that tartness is exactly what you’d want in a lemon dessert. 🙂
I’m not a pecan fan. I wonder if pretzels would go with lemon as well they go with strawberries.?
Give it a try, Sharon! I’ll bet it would taste great!
How many servings?
It all depends on how large your servings are, Jennifer. It’s 9×13 baking dish, which is quite a good size. You could likely serve anywhere from 18 to 24 people.
I can’t believe no one has come up with a recipe for gluten free crust using flour..I used to make these for years but being gluten free can’t.i loved them,,I use domata flour..does anybody have a recipe.,and would you please share the recipe., thank you.
Hi Ada. No-one in my family is gluten-free. Because I only write about what I cook and bake for my family, none of my recipes are gluten-free. I did just “google” gluten-free crust, and there are a ton of recipes out there. I also googled gluten-free lemon delight and there is, indeed, a recipe out there that uses almond flour for the crust. Could you not just substitute your domata flour (I’m not sure what that is) for the AP flour that’s suggested in my recipe?
Can you freeze this after making it?
I haven’t tried, so I really can’t say, LaDonna. I’m sorry!
I love this dessert…Luscious Lemon Delight but have a really hard time putting the cream cheese mixture on the crust. I have tried grounding the pecans but the crust still is too crumbling and gets all over the cream mixture. takes me forever to get it on.
When I first started making this pie I had the same problem. Now I let the crust cool then place in the freezer for a few minutes just till set firm. Works great now!
My momma made “Lucious Lemon Dessert” . I have that recipe somewhere but was very happy to find yours when I googled. This looks exactly like it. Cannot wait to try for Easter. Is it ok to make the day before- still fresh?
Yay! I’m glad you found mine, Brenda! Yes, I’ve made it a day in advance before, and it’s been totally fine. 🙂
Thanks so much for sharing my recipe. This one looks awesome too. I say yes to anything lemon. I’m a sucker for it.
You’re welcome, Jodi! Cheers from one lemon sucker to another. Haha!
Hi! I know this sounds kind of dumb but the crust calls for “1/2 cup pecans finely ground or chopped.” Does that mean measuring out 1/2 cup of pecans and then grinding/chopping them or does it mean 1/2 cup of the ground/chopped pecans? Thanks!
Hi Linda! It’s actually an excellent question, and I’m so glad you asked because in the post, I said “1/2 cup finely ground pecans”, which would mean grind until you have a 1/2 cup, but in the recipe card I said “1/2 cup pecans, finely ground”, which would mean measure 1/2 cup of pecans and grind them. My bad! I’ve edited the recipe card so it matches what I say in the post, which is “1/2 cup finely ground/chopped pecans”, so chop/grind them until you have a 1/2 cup. 🙂
Made this for a camping group and it was a huge hit in the South’s heat! So refreshing. In included the zest of the lemon in the lemon filling for extra flavor!
My grandmother makes this every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I lost the recipe, but thanks to you I can make it again! We use a graham cracker crust instead of pecan though. Still, just as delicious!
Yay! I’m so glad you found it here, Chelse! I’ve thought about using graham crumbs for the base myself! Enjoy!
We are nut allergic here so would a graham crust do for the bottom ok do you think? Am planning to try with it.
I’m sure it would!
I have made this for years and I love it. I havr made recently and it has been sticking to the glass dish and is very hard to serve .Anyone else have this happen ?
May be your baking crust to long. If over baked it’ll do that. It happened to me when it got a little overly golden.. But dug it out for this recipe is one of our favorites in all flavors!! Been making variety of this since early 70’s.
My great aunt gave me this recipe, minus the lemon juice and using walnuts versus pecans, when I got married 34 years ago. My family loves this so much! Im going to follow your recipe this Christmas because it sounds better with the pecans. Thank you!
I made this recipe today with no alterations. The pudding came out very runny and even after 8 hours in refrigerator it was still runny. If I make again I would definitely decrease the amount of milk.by 1/2 to 1 cup
Perhaps you used a different type of pudding mix? If you scroll through the comments, you’ll see the recipe has worked for many others.
My husbands favorite desert that I’ve been making 40+years. I put WALNUTS in the crust in place of pecans and reverse the flour and nut ratio. Turns out great!!!
I love this
Can someone tell me what it means by “frosting sugar” please? Thanks
can i use graham crust instead of flour crust
I would think so, Donna!
Made few times already. It’s my husband’s favorite dessert. Very easy to make and very delicious. Today I made with cups lemon puddings, because Store was out of instant lemon pudding. We did try it yet, but I am sure, it will be soppp good. Than you very much for this recipe.
Sooooooo gooooood. My husband’s favorite desert. I love it too. Easy to make, very elegant and sooo delicious.