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Lemon Bar Trifle

When I was a new bride almost 50 years ago, my husband gave me a mixer for my birthday. The lemon filling recipe was in the small book that came with it. The tangy flavor always takes me back to those days of trying out recipes on my husband. —Alyce McCrary, Leighton, Alabama
  • Total Time
    Prep: 35 min. + chilling
  • Makes
    9 servings


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 cups cold water
  • 3 large egg yolks, beaten
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed


  • In a small bowl, combine flour and pecans; stir in butter. Press into an ungreased 13x9-in. baking dish. Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
  • In a small heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and flour. Stir in water until smooth. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; cook and stir 2 minutes longer.
  • Remove from the heat. Stir a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Gently stir in the lemon juice, butter and lemon zest.
  • Transfer to a large bowl. Cool to room temperature without stirring. Cover surface with waxed paper; refrigerate until chilled.
  • In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Crumble the baked pecan mixture; set aside 1/2 cup for topping.
  • Just before serving, in a 3-qt. trifle bowl, layer 1 cup each pecan mixture, lemon mixture and cream cheese mixture. Repeat layers twice. Sprinkle with reserved pecan mixture. Refrigerate leftovers.
Nutrition Facts
1 cup: 885 calories, 47g fat (26g saturated fat), 156mg cholesterol, 240mg sodium, 110g carbohydrate (75g sugars, 2g fiber), 8g protein.

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Average Rating:
  • dschultz01
    Jun 3, 2019

    Everyone loved this! I also cut the powdered sugar down to 2 cups instead of 3 after reading other reviews.

  • contrarywife
    Jul 19, 2016

    This is fantastic! I also cut the sugar in the cream cheese layer to 1.5 cups. I made this for a family gathering and assembled just before serving.

  • Mrs_T
    Apr 12, 2016

    Absolutely delicious! I made it for my daughter's birthday. I did cut the confectioners' sugar in the cream cheese layer to 1 or 1.5 cups. 3 cups would have been way too much. I also used real whipped cream in that layer rather than whipped topping. The other change I made was to beat the egg yolks and water together for the lemon filling, enabling me to skip the step of combining the hot mixture with the egg yolks. It all worked out well and was a hit with the family.

  • LuT
    Apr 8, 2016

    I have made this 3 times . It is fantastic, even the time I didn't get the lemon layer cooked long enough. I just kept it refrigerated then. I don't have a trifle bowl, so I used a large oblong plastic container to assemble it. I did two layers of each. Any left overs I have frozen in individual portions or enough for two. It freezes so well. Love the lemon flavor. Only change I made was to use 1-1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar with the cream cheese.

  • JADunn
    Nov 23, 2015

    Really good, nice lemon flavor and beautiful presentation. Took it to a party and everyone loved it. It makes up nicely in individual portions as well.

  • KY_Cook
    Jan 28, 2014

    My entire family ADORES this recipe, as does my work family :)

  • jetluvs2cook
    Oct 6, 2013

    very good and a pretty dessert to make for company!

  • brownma
    Sep 2, 2013

    This is a wonderful recipe, very rich. A little time consuming, but I will make again. It makes a pretty dish and a lot of people asked for the recipe.

  • Iski2013
    Mar 31, 2013

    I gave this recipe 3 stars because it was WAY too sweet. My guests all enjoyed the shortbread layer and the lemon layer, but the cream cheese layer with 3 cups of confectioners sugar overwhelmed the recipe. I would make this recipe again, but would decrease the sugar to 1 cup. That would make all the difference. I also added some sliced strawberries to the layers and found that to be a wonderful addition.

  • LoriVainik
    Mar 24, 2013

    Sounds wonderful - if using cans of lemon pie fill - what size are the cans?