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Lemon Parfait

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Prep Time: 15 mins    Cook Time: 0 mins

5 from 12 votes

With only 3 ingredients needed, this lemon parfait is a wonderful choice. This creamy dessert is quick and easy, and you don’t even have to cook anything. Add the fact that lemon parfait is really delicious and you’re going to want to make this soon.

A glass of lemon parfait up close.
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This lemon parfait is a creamy, dreamy confection of shortbread cookies, lemon pie filling, and whipped topping that makes this the perfect summer dessert. Is it any wonder the French word for perfect is parfait?

These individual lemon parfait desserts look so elegant. Nobody would believe you only used 3 ingredients and made them in 5 minutes flat, and you don’t have to tell them either!

My strawberry banana milkshake and this coconut sorbet are two other great options to easily cool off with if you want to switch things up a bit!

Main Ingredients

The ingredients needed to make lemon parfait spread out on a table.

Considering there are only three ingredients in the entire lemon parfait recipe, you could say all of them are the main ingredients! Some parfait recipes are for breakfast, especially those with yogurt and fresh fruit. This one is cookie and whipped cream-based, so better for dessert. Here is what you need to make a heavenly lemon parfait:

  • Shortbread cookies: For crunch. These are crumbled and layered in with the other ingredients. Save some whole cookies to decorate. Do you prefer a different type of cookie? No problem, because in this recipe just about anything goes. Try Nilla wafers, butter cookies, white choc chip cookies, or your favorite kind. I can’t think of a cookie that wouldn’t be great in this!
  • Lemon pie filling: For a sweet, citrusy zing. Rather than having to make a lemon layer, you can simply pop open a couple cans of filling! The texture is perfect for layering with the cookies and whipped topping and it tastes spot-on without you having to add anything. If you don’t have this ingredient on hand, you might have lemon curd, which is similar but more intense and rich, so if you’re subbing that, use about half the amount for thinner layers.
  • Whipped topping: Adds contrasting creamy layers. The ingredient ‘whipped topping’ is deliberately vague because you can use your favorite. Whether you prefer whipped cream from an aerosol can, Cool Whip, or even whipping your own cream and adding in a few drops of vanilla, anything goes!

Instructions Overview

This lemon parfait recipe is so quick and easy - it’ll take longer to read this than to make it. If you have your cookies, whipped topping, and filling ready, find 4 of your biggest matching glasses. Crumble all but 4 of the cookies. Divide the crumbles into 4 equal piles.

Now add a third of each cookie crumb pile to each glass. Add ¼ cup of filling on top of each one then ¼ cup of whipped topping on top of that.

Repeat these layers until you’ve used all the crumbled cookies, all the filling, and all the whipped topping. Use the remaining 4 cookies to decorate these desserts and refrigerate them until serving.

An overhead shot showing the topping.

Common Questions

What is the difference between yogurt and parfait?

A French parfait, also known as parfait glacé, is made with sugar, cream, fruit (often but not always), liqueur (sometimes), and egg yolks. Yogurt is a milk-based item thickened by curdling. It might or might not contain fruit and/or other flavorings.

Some of the confusion comes from the way some yogurt products are labeled as being parfaits. Also bear in mind some classic parfait recipes include yogurt as an ingredient! But they aren't the same thing at all. Oh, and the difference between ice cream and parfait is that ice cream is whipped during freezing while parfait I whipped beforehand!

Is canned lemon pie filling the same as lemon curd?

Although the flavor is very similar, lemon curd is more intense since it's thickened with eggs rather than the flour that's usually the thickener of choice in lemon pie fillings. You can still use lemon curd to make lemon parfait if you want but I'd recommend using less than if you were using pie filling because it is richer.

Is sweetened whipped cream the same as Cool Whip?

These are similar in texture and flavor but the ingredients aren't the same. Sweetened whipped cream is made with heavy whipping cream and sugar (or a sweetener) while Cool Whip contains milk, cream, vegetable oil, and high fructose corn syrup.

What should I serve with these?

The beauty of this dessert is that it doesn’t need anything with it. You already have the perfect trio of cookies, fruit, and cream in one glass. You don’t need to add ice cream or find anything else at the last minute. Just serve these as they are and they’ll be perfect. If you want to serve a tipple alongside, consider a shot of Limoncello, a wonderful Italian lemon liqueur!

How should I store parfait?

Because they are made with dairy, they should be kept covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated. Use them up within 2 days or 3 if you don’t mind the cookies a bit soggy!

Can I freeze them?

You could, but the cookies will get soggy and the other layers might collapse when thawing. Considering these take just 5 minutes to make, they’re better made fresh.

Can I make lemon parfait ahead?

This is a great dessert if you’re having a dinner party. You can throw them together in a few minutes and pop them in the refrigerator and forget about them! Make this parfait a few hours ahead and you can focus on cooking the main dish. They can be served straight from the refrigerator, making dessert super-easy.

What can I use instead of lemon?

Not a lemon lover? You can use literally any other kind of sweet pie filling you choose for this parfait. How about strawberry pie filling? That would go well with shortbread cookies or maybe some white choc chip cookies.

Lemon parfait garnished with a lemon slice and graham cracker crumbles.

Chopnotch Tips

  • You aren’t making a pie crust, so you don’t want fine cookie crumbs. Just break the cookies up roughly to make pieces that are about ½-inch across.
  • The beautiful layers set this apart from other desserts. Take your time to get nice clean layers.
  • Use large, wide glasses to make them. If your glasses are narrow, it’s probably easier to use a piping bag (or a Ziploc bag with the corner cut off) so you can add the layers neatly.
  • For a fruity twist, you might like to add a layer of banana slices halfway down. Toss the slices with lemon juice first so they don’t turn brown.
Finished parfait in a glass with a spoon.

Lemon parfait is not only beautiful to look at but quick and easy to prepare. "Wow!" your dinner guests with these elegant desserts.

Let us know what you think! Give this recipe a rating in the comments section below.

Recipe

How to Make

Lemon Parfait

Using just 3 ingredients, this 5-minute recipe couldn’t be simpler. Zesty lemon combines with crunchy cookies and decadent cream.
SCALE THIS RECIPE
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 0 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 15 ounces shortbread cookies, about 60 cookies, crumbled
  • 40 ounces lemon pie filling, about 2 large cans
  • 16 ounces whipped topping
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Instructions

  • Crumble 5 cookies into a glass (16 oz. stemless wine glass preferably), then spread ¼ cup lemon pie filling on top of the cookies, and then spread ¼ cup whipped topping on top of that. Repeat this process two more times so that you have a total of 3 layers.
  • Now repeat step #1 in 3 more glasses so you have a total of 4 full glasses.
  • Top with a whole cookie and serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!
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Notes

  • You aren’t making a pie crust so you don’t want fine cookie crumbs. Just break the cookies up roughly to make pieces that are about ½-inch across.
  • The beautiful layers set this apart from other desserts. Take your time to get nice clean layers.
  • Use large, wide glasses to make them. If your glasses are narrow, it’s probably easier to use a piping bag (or a Ziploc bag with the corner cut off) so you can add the layers neatly.
  • For a fruity twist, you might like to add a layer of banana slices halfway down. Toss the slices with lemon juice first so they don’t turn brown.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 1170kcal (59%), Carbohydrates: 188g (63%), Protein: 10g (20%), Fat: 42g (65%), Saturated Fat: 19g (119%), Cholesterol: 72mg (24%), Sodium: 1339mg (58%), Potassium: 221mg (6%), Fiber: 2g (8%), Sugar: 122g (136%), Vitamin A: 175IU (4%), Calcium: 118mg (12%), Iron: 3mg (17%)
Print Recipe
course:
Dessert
cuisine:
American

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