Layers of whipped cream, tart lemon curd, cream cheese and a pecan shortbread crust combine to create a lush, silky lemon dessert. Perfect for potlucks and large gatherings, this low carb lemon lush is large enough to feed a crowd.
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I’ve told you all before that I love a good lemony dessert, the bright citrus flavors really wake-up my tastebuds. And lemon desserts, like this low carb lemon lush, are the perfect refreshing finish to warm weather days.
What is Lemon Lush? (Hint: it’s delicious)
Lemon lush is a layered dessert, a citrus version if you will, of Chocolate Lasagna. Traditionally, its made with a buttery flour and pecan shortbread crust. A sweet layer of cream cheese lays in between the shortbread and tangy lemon pudding. A layer of whipped topping sits on top of the lemon pudding layer, completing the dessert.
While the traditional version of a lemon lush is delicious, it is definitely not low carb and loaded. My low carb lemon lush is sugar-free and allows you to enjoy all the bright flavors and luscious textures of the traditional version without all the carbs!
Instead of using sugar-laden processed ingredients, my low carb version uses predominately whole foods. The low carb shortbread crust is prepared from almond flour and pecans instead of flour and butter. I replace the packaged lemon pudding with a deliciously tangy homemade lemon curd. And who wants Cool Whip when homemade whipped cream is so easy to make?
NOTE: Preparing the lemon lush isn’t difficult but it does take a bit of time. Fortunately, it’s easy to prepare some steps ahead of time. I often prepare the lemon curd and the shortbread crust in advance. Then, assembly is very quick.
Making Low Carb Lemon Lush is Easy!
So, I’m going to be honest. Making a lemon lush is easy, but it does take time. Most of the time is waiting for things to cool/chill. It can be made in one day, but you should start early. I prefer doing the lemon curd and crust the night before.
The first step to making this lemon dessert is preparing my favorite low carb lemon curd. It’s the same recipe I use in my low carb lemon curd pie and between cake layers. It’s refreshing and so delicious that I jump at the chance to use it in different recipes.
A lemon curd is an egg based custard. My recipe is sweetened with erythritol and stevia instead of sugar. Making the curd is as easy as stirring ingredients together over low heat until thickened. It’s best to make the recipe ahead of time to give the lemon curd a chance to set and cool completely – at least 4 hours.
A pecan shortbread crust is traditional. To assemble the crust, chop the pecans very finely. Then combine the finely chopped pecans with the protein powder, almond flour, and sweetener in a small bowl. Next, pour melted butter over the ingredients and mix with a fork to form a moist crumbly mixture. Pour the crust mixture into a 9×13 pyrex dish, pressing firmly. Then bake and let it cool – about 30 minutes.
Once the crust is cool, make the whipped cream and cream cheese layers. To make the whipped cream, combine the whipped cream, vanilla, and sweetener and beat with a hand mixer until stiff. Whip the cream cheese with a hand mixer until lightened. Then, whip 1/4 c of whipping cream into the cream cheese until light and fluffy. When the cream cheese is nice and fluffy, fold in 1 and 1/2 cups of the whipped cream and set the rest aside.
All that’s left is assembling the dessert:
With all the parts ready to go, this dreamy citrus treat comes together in a few minutes. The shortbread crust makes the bottom layer of the lush and is ready to go in the baking dish. Spread the cream cheese layer evenly on top of the shortbread crust, making sure to cover the whole crust layer. Next, whisk the lemon curd layer to loosen it up a bit, then spoon it over the cream cheese layer. Lastly, top the lemon lush with a layer of light fluffy whipped cream.
You can serve the dessert right away, but it’s best when allowed to chill for several hours. I always suggest making in the morning to serve at night or prepare the day before. It holds beautifully in the refrigerator. For smaller occasions, halve the recipe and make in an 8×8 inch baking dish. Any leftover dessert freezes well.
Low Carb Lemon Lush Dessert
Lemon Curd (time: 20 minutes) (must be chilled at least 4 hours)
- 1 recipe Lemon Curd (chilled at least 4 hours)
Shortbread Crust (time: 30 minutes) (cool completely)
- 2 cups almond flour
- 3/4 cup pecans, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup whey protein powder
- 1/3 cup powdered sweetener (Sukrin, Swerve or Lakanto)
- 7 tbsp salted butter, melted
Cream Cheese Layer (time: 10 minutes)
- 16 oz cream cheese, softened (2 packages)
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (2 fl oz)
- 1/4 cup powdered sweetener (Sukrin, Swerve or Lakanto)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Heavy whipping cream (divided use) (time: 10 minutes)
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 tbsp powdered sweetener
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/8 tsp xanthan gum (optional – stabilizes the whipped cream)
Assembly (about 10 minutes)
- NOTES: Although this recipe is not difficult to make, it does take some time. I prefer making the lemon curd the night before and chilling overnight. I often make the crust the night before, too. This makes assembly very fast the next day. The recipe keeps well in the refrigerator and can be made a few days in advance of serving. It also freezes well.
- Prepare the lemon curd and let it cool completely before assembling the dessert, about 4 hours. This can be made several days in advance. The shortbread crust is also great to make ahead.
Pecan Shortbread Crust
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Chop the pecans very finely and combine with the rest of the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk together to combine. Melt the butter pour over the ingredients. Mix with a fork to form a moist crumbly mixture.
- Dump the ingredients into a 13×9 inch glass pyrex baking dish and lay a sheet of waxed paper over the mixture. Using your hands, then a flat bottomed glass or measuring cup, firmly press into the bottom of the pan. Remove the waxed paper and bake until lightly golden, about 15 minutes depending on your oven. Cool completely.
Whipped Cream (divided use)
- Whip the cream with the vanilla and sweeteners until stiff. (To stabilize the whipped cream, sprinkle the xanthan gum over the cream when it is light and fluffy. Continue to beat until stiff.)
Cream Cheese Layer
- Whip the cream cheese with 1/4 heavy cream and sweetener until nice and light. Adding 1/2 cup of whipped cream at a time, fold 1 1/2 cups of whipped cream into the cream cheese. Spread evenly over the shortbread crust.
Lemon Curd Layer
- Whisk the lemon curd until loosened and gently spread over the cream cheese layer. Carefully, spread the remaining whipped cream over the lemon curd. Although you can serve immediately, it's best to refrigerate several hours to overnight.
- Serves 16 at 4.5 Net Carbs per serving.