The No-Bake “Lemon Fluff” Dessert My Friends Ask Me to Make Every Spring

angled shot of a slice of lemon fluff on a small flat pink plate.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Brett Regot Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Do you go wild for lemon bars? Are mile-high lemon meringue pies your absolute favorite? Would you choose lemon cloud cookies over chocolate chip any day of the week? If the answer is yes, we’ve got a new dessert for you.

These melt in-your-mouth lemon fluff bars are light and oh-so airy. The bars start with a buttery graham cracker crumb crust and are layered with a fluffy filling made from fresh lemon, lemon-flavored gelatin, and creamy whipped topping. You definitely don’t want to miss these.

Why You’ll Love It

The lemony layer magically melts in your mouth like a fluffy citrus cloud. It’s all thanks to the perfect proportions of lemon gelatin and whipped topping.
It’s so simple to make! If you can stir, then you can make these lemon fluff bars easily with the help of some smart buys from the grocery store (plus there’s no oven required).

Key Ingredients in Lemon Fluff Bars

Lemon: Squeeze fresh lemon juice (this is my favorite citrus juicer) into the filling to boost the citrus flavor.
Lemon gelatin dessert mix: A box of lemon powdered gelatin provides a puckery punch and gives the filling structure so that you can slice this dessert into neat squares. Chill the gelatin until thickened, but not set, before adding the whipped topping.
Frozen whipped topping: This is the secret ingredient that turns this lemony gelatin into light and airy fluff. Homemade whipped cream can be substituted for the store-bought topping.
Graham crackers: A classic, no-bake graham cracker crumb crust is the perfect base for these cloud-like bars.

angled shot of a bunch of slices on parchment paper, topped with whipped cream
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Brett Regot Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Helpful Swaps

Substitute the lemon and lemon gelatin dessert mix for your favorite flavors. Try it with lime or pair fresh lime with strawberry gelatin.
Swap the graham cracker crust for your favorite cookie like vanilla wafer cookies or classic shortbread. If you use a buttery cookie, like shortbread, you may need as little as 4 tablespoons unsalted butter.

Lemon Fluff Bars Recipe
These light and fluffy lemon bars live up to their name.Prep time 15 minutesCook time 2 minutesServes 9Ingredients
1 (8-ounce) container thawed frozen whipped topping, such as Cool Whip, divided
1 medium lemon
1 cup boiling water
1 (3-ounce) box powdered lemon gelatin dessert mix
3/4 cup cold water
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
12 full-size graham crackers (about 6 1/2 ounces), or 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Thaw 1 (8-ounce) container frozen whipped topping if needed. Juice 1 medium lemon into a large bowl until you have 2 tablespoons. Add 1 cup boiling water and 1 (3-ounce) box powdered lemon gelatin dessert mix, and whisk until dissolved. Add 3/4 cup cold water and whisk until combined. Cover and refrigerate until thickened but not set, 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with 2 sheets of parchment paper, positioning them perpendicular to each other, so that the parchment hangs about 2 inches over all 4 sides of the pan to form a sling.
Melt 1 stick unsalted butter in a small microwave-safe bowl in 20-second bursts until mostly melted, 40 to 60 seconds total (it will melt completely as it sits). (Alternatively, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.) Set aside to cool slightly.
Break 12 whole graham cracker sheets into rough pieces and place in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Add 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Process until the crackers are the texture of sand, about 15 seconds. Add the butter and pulse to combine, 6 to 8 (1-second) pulses. (If using graham cracker crumbs, just stir 1 1/2 cups crumbs and the sugar, salt, and butter together in a medium bowl.)
Transfer the mixture into the baking pan. Use the bottom of a measuring cup or your fingers to press the crumbs into an even layer, making sure to reach the edges and fill the corners.
Reserve and refrigerate 1/2 cup of the frozen whipped topping for serving. Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups whipped topping into the lemon mixture and gently whisk until no white streaks remain. Pour over the crust and spread into an even layer. Refrigerate until set, 2 to 3 hours.
When ready to serve, grasp the excess parchment and transfer the slab onto a cutting board. Cut the slab into 9 squares, dipping the knife in hot water and drying it between each cut for the cleanest-looking pieces. Top each square with a dollop of the reserved whipped topping.Recipe Notes
Ingredient substitutions: 3 cups whipped cream can be used in place of the Cool Whip.Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.