Fresh, sweet, and ridiculously easy to make, this 6-ingredient no-bake cheesecake lemon dessert can be served in a glass or as a frozen cake. Either way, it can be made year-round and is the perfect lazy dessert for lemon lovers!
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Let me present you with a super easy dessert recipe, full of lemon flavor and similar to a no-bake lemon cheesecake.
Icebox cakes and anything lemon are crowd-pleasers, and I firmly believe one can never have too many recipes for either.
So if you need to build up your selection of no-bake lemon desserts, this easy recipe is a perfect addition.
What makes this dessert work
- Easy to make: this recipe is a matter of opening cans packages and mixing. There's not much science here, and no oven, so it's perfect for hot summer days!
- Flavor: lemon and it's berry season, so if a lemon icebox dessert was good on its own, with raspberries (or any berry you like, they all go very well with lemon) it just goes up a few steps.
- Freezing: this no-bake lemon dessert is even better almost frozen, taken 20 minutes before you want to serve it. So you can make it and leave it in the freezer until you need it. It also works if you want to serve it in cups or glasses, as I did. Just remember to take it out half an hour to 45 minutes to let it soften enough to put it into the glasses, but not so much that it loses that icy quality.
- Serves a crowd: this is the perfect dessert for a large party. The lemon cream comes together quickly, and you can use any cookie flavor. It doubles and triples easily. Use raspberries (or strawberries) and blueberries for a 4th of July party.
- Lemons: use fresh lemon juice and freshly grated lemon zest.
- Condensed milk: the regular type, don't use low fat.
- Cream cheese: the regular type, full-fat cream cheese is needed for consistency and creaminess. I always use Philadelphia original cream cheese, but other premium brands work fine.
- Heavy cream: full-fat, regular. Don't use light or low-fat cream.
- Cookie layer: I use plain ones like graham crackers or vanilla wafers. Golden Oreos also work but might be too sweet for some people.
- Vanilla: I use pure vanilla extract or pure vanilla paste when available, but a good vanilla essence (artificially flavored) also works.
Two ways of serving this dessert:
Glasses or bowls
Use individual goblets, bowls, or wine glasses to serve it trifle-style. Layers of berries, broken cookies, and lemon cream (images below). I like to use berries at the bottom and top.
Layer this dessert in a nice ceramic dish you like to place on the table.
Layer cookies, berries, and cheesecake mixture (images below).
I like to scatter the berries on top, so they don't turn mushy. But you can add a layer of fresh berries in between.
It works better with fresh fruit than frozen.
- Organization: always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
- Flavor combinations: you can use whatever cookie flavor and fruit you like with lemon (like with fruit crumbles). Today I used vanilla cookies and raspberries. Sometimes I use coconut cookies and blueberries. For a 4th of July party, use raspberries or strawberries and blueberries. And a combination that I like a lot is chocolate cookies, lemon cream, and strawberries. It's surprisingly good.
- Refrigeration: either way you serve it, this dessert needs refrigeration to set and moisten the cookies. Pretty much like no-bake cheesecakes. Even if you're going to freeze it, refrigerate it for 6-8 hours before to achieve a creamier consistency.
- Freezing it: this is a wonderful dessert to have frozen at all times. I personally like to eat it half-frozen, but even if you like it to thaw more, having a frozen icebox cake can save you from any dessert emergency.
- Make-ahead: you can have the lemon cream waiting in the fridge, well covered in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days before assembling the dessert.
- Topping: if you want a creamier dessert, you can top it with fresh whipped cream, or a purchased whipped topping like cool whip.
Related recipes you might like:
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- 1 pound (450g) of cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 14oz. can (400g) regular condensed milk (sweetened)
- ¾ cup heavy cream, cold
- 3 tablespoons lemon zest (about 3-4 lemons)
- ⅔ cup fresh lemon juice, at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
- 3 cups (about) fresh or frozen raspberries or other berries (use blue and red berries for the 4th of July)
- 7-oz (200g) graham crackers or plain vanilla cookies or wafers (this amount can vary depending on how you decide to serve it and your personal ratio preference with the cream cheese layer)
For the lemon cream:
- Beat the cold heavy cream in a large bowl until medium peaks form.
- Beat the room temperature cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth.
- Add the condensed milk and beat until well incorporated and creamy. Make sure there are no lumps of cream cheese.
- Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, and mix until well integrated but don't overbeat.
- Fold in the whipped cream and mix until uniform in color and smooth. Don't beat! Stir until it's all well incorporated.
- If using individual glasses, put a few berries in the bottom and a layer of vanilla wafer or graham cracker crumbs.
- Spoon the lemon cream cheese mixture on top.
- Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
- Serve cold and top with additional berries right before serving.
- If using a ceramic dish (the one I use is 9x13 inches), alternate layers of cookies side by side with the lemon cream, like you would in a lasagna. You will have two layers of each.
- You can put a layer of berries in between or add them when serving the dessert.
- It needs to refrigerate for at least 8 hours, covered.
- It can be frozen, well wrapped, for 1 month. Defrost in the refrigerator and serve cold.
Flavor combinations: you can use whatever cookie flavor and fruit you like with lemon (it reminds me of fruit crumbles). Today I used coconut cookies and raspberries. A combination that I like a lot is chocolate cookies, lemon cream, and strawberries. It's surprisingly good.
Refrigeration: either way you serve it, this dessert needs refrigeration to set and to moisten the cookies. Pretty much like no-bake cheesecakes. Even if you're going to freeze it, refrigerate it for 6-8 hours before.
Freezing it: this is a wonderful dessert to have frozen at all times. I, personally, like to eat it half frozen, but even if you like it to thaw more, having a frozen icebox cake can save you from any dessert emergency.
Make-ahead: you can have the lemon cream waiting in the fridge up to 3 days before assembling the dessert.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Refrigeration time: 120 minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Refrigeration
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1/12
- Calories: 336
- Sugar: 26.6 g
- Sodium: 228.5 mg
- Fat: 19.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 37.2 g
- Fiber: 2.3 g
- Protein: 6.1 g
- Cholesterol: 49.7 mg
Keywords: lemon no bake dessert