Pumpkin Delight

Pumpkin Delight (also known as Pumpkin Lush) is a luxuriously creamy, layered, almost no-bake dessert that’s impressive, feeds a crowd, and will be hit all season long! 

Pumpkin Delight is the fluffy, creamy alternative to pumpkin pie! It’s splendidly cool, crazy creamy, full of pumpkin flavor, rich yet light at the same time and will have all your guests coming back for more.  This Pumpkin Lush is made with a pecan Graham cracker crust layered with creamy cheesecake, silky pumpkin fluff (pumpkin, pudding + whipped cream) and HOMEMADE whipped topping all showered with toffee bits. This pumpkin dessert is easy to make, make-ahead friendly and freezer friendly for a stress-free dessert homerun!

Fall is synonymous with everything pumpkin! More pumpkin desserts not to miss include Pumpkin Dump Cake, Pumpkin Oatmeal CookiesPumpkin BarsPumpkin CheesecakePumpkin Pound CakePumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread and Pumpkin Snickerdoodles. 

How to Make This Pumpkin Dessert Video

pumpkin delight with a bite taken out of it showing how cream it is
serving a slice of pumpkin delight showing the different layers

INGREDIENTS in Pumpkin Delight Dessert 

This nearly no-bake pumpkin dessert is splendidly creamy and glides down so easily! The ingredients list looks lengthy, but that’s because I wanted to give you the option to make everything from scratch.  Also, many of the same ingredients are used multiple times in different layers. Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need (full measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

For the pecan crust: 

  • Pecans: Chopped pecans offer a subtle yet sublime flavor and texture without making the Pumpkin Delight taste “nutty.” 
  • Graham crackers: You’ll need 9 full sheets of graham crackers to make the crust. 
  • Butter: Use unsalted butter so we can control the amount of salt in the recipe. 
  • Sugar: A little sugar sweetens the crust without making it too sweet. 

For the homemade whipped topping: 

  • Heavy cream: Also known as heavy whipping cream. This is whipped with gelatin and powdered sugar to create the homemade whipped topping. You must use heavy cream – no other substitutions, like half and half, will work. Take care that your heavy cream is very cold, remove it from the refrigerator just when ready to use.
  • Gelatin: This can be found in the baking aisle of your local grocery store or next to the Jell-O. Make sure to buy unflavored! You’re welcome to use a vegetarian gelatin if that’s important to you. 
  • Powdered sugar: This sweetens the homemade whipped topping without overpowering it. Don’t use granulated sugar because it can result in a grainy texture.
  • Vanilla extract: Use quality extract to really boost the flavor of the whipped topping. 
pumpkin delight in a 9x13 baking dish

For the cheesecake layer: 

  • Cream cheese: Use full-fat cream cheese that comes in a brick. Don’t use the whipped variety that comes in a tub. 
  • Powdered sugar: Likewise, granulated sugar won’t work here or else the cheesecake layer will be grainy. 
  • Milk: Any kind of milk will work here. 

For the pumpkin fluff: 

  • Pumpkin puree: The most important part of this recipe is to use the right pumpkin! You will need pure pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling.  Pumpkin puree is 100% pure pumpkin (check the label) that has been cooked and pureed without any added sugar or spices. Libby’s brand is my favorite and what I have used in this recipe. Libby’s is concentrated and tightly packed without excess water. You can use another brand but they tend to be looser so take extra care to remove excess moisture. 
  • Instant vanilla pudding + milk: You must use instant pudding mix. Cook and serve pudding won’t work for this recipe. Pair it with COLD milk (regular dairy milk) to make the pudding.  We will add less milk than the box calls for to help it firm up the pumpkin puree.
  • Spices: The pumpkin fluff is flavored with ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Or, use your favorite pumpkin spice blend. 
  • Homemade whipped topping: You will fold in some of our homemade topping discussed above to create a lighter layer.
a slice of pumpkin delight (pumpkin lush) with a bite taken out

For the topping: 

  • Toffee bits: You will need one 8 oz. bag toffee bits.  I use Heath Bits O’ Brickle Toffee Bits WITH CHOCOLATE found in the baking aisle next to the chocolate chips.  (There is plain and there is chocolate covered.) If someone has a nut allergy, you will want to eliminate the toffee bits and possibly use mini chocolate chips. 

HOW TO MAKE Pumpkin Delight

There are just a few layers in this Pumpkin Delight recipe which create a mountain of layered YUM. Remember that you can begin working on the next layer while one sets in the freezer or bakes. In this way, the recipe prep flies by! 

Step 1: Make the pecan crust

  • In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the pecans and graham crackers until coarsely ground. 
  • Add the sugar and butter. Process until finely ground. 
  • Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. 
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes. 
  • While the crust cools, move onto the next step, or complete multiple layers and wait to layer until the crust cools.
a collage showing how to make pumpkin delight by adding pecans and Graham crackers to a food processor with butter and sugar, processing, then pressing into a 9x13 pan

Step 2: Make the whipped topping 

  • Combine the water and unflavored gelatin in a bowl. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then microwave for 20 seconds. You’re looking for the gelatin to be completely dissolved. 
  • In a large bowl, whip the powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla to soft peaks. 
  • Turn the mixer to low, then add the gelatin mixture to the whipped cream. 
  • Keep mixing until stiff peaks form.
showing how to make chocolate lasagna by making homemade whipped topping with heavy cream and sugar in a mixing bowl

Step 3: Make the cheesecake filling 

  • In another bowl, beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and milk just until smooth. 
  • Fold in part of the whipped topping you just made. Don’t overmix it! 
  • Spread the cheesecake over the completely cooled crust. 
  • Place the pan in the freezer for about 5 minutes. 
a collage showing how to make chocolate lasagna recipe by adding whipped topping to the beaten cream cheese and folding together until smooth and creamy in a glass bowl

Step 4: Make the pumpkin fluff

  • While the cheesecake layer is in the freezer, beat the pumpkin pudding for 2 minutes. 
  • Add the pumpkin puree and spices. 
  • Gently fold in 1 cup of the homemade whipped topping. Again, don’t overmix it so it will stay fluffy.
  • Spread the pumpkin fluff over the cheesecake layer. 
  • Return the pan to the freezer for 10-20 minutes.  The layer doesn’t need to be completely set before adding the final whipped topping layer, but the firmer it is, the more your layers will be.
a collage showing how to make pumpkin delight (pumpkin lush) by beating pudding, adding pumpkin puree, adding whipped topping, then folding in
showing how to make pumpkin delight (pumpkin lush) by spreading a layer of pumpkin fluff over the cream cheese

Step 5: Top the dessert

  • You’ll have some whipped topping left which you’ll spread evenly over the pumpkin fluff for the final layer.
  • Sprinkle the top evenly with toffee bits. 
a collage showing how to make pumpkin delight (pumpkin lush) by spreading a layer of whipped topping on and topping with toffee bits

Step 6: Chill before serving 

  • Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. 
  • Once the pumpkin delight is firm enough, slice and serve!  It’s okay if it gets messy, it will taste divine!
serving pumpkin delight (pumpkin lush) topped with toffee bits
  • Use a food processor: You want the finest graham cracker crumbs possible so they compact together and don’t fall apart. I recommend using your food processor to achieve this fine texture in seconds. 
  • Use homemade whipped topping: You cannot use plain homemade whipped cream without the gelatin or the dessert will deflate and melt. The other option is to use Cool Whip. 
  • Whip to stiff peaks. It’s important that the homemade whipped topping be pretty stiff so the pumpkin fluff layer will hold its shape.
  • Fix stiff whipped topping: If the whipped topping is extra stiff and not spreadable, it’s easy to fix by folding in additional heavy cream a couple tablespoons at a time until it’s spreadable.  
  • Freeze the lush between every layer: I highly recommend popping the pumpkin dessert into the freezer after each step for about 10 minutes. The longer you can freeze the dessert between the steps, the more distinct your layers will be. To that end, this dessert is best if you can make it while you’re doing something else around the house, so you don’t get frustrated about the waiting time. 
  • To cut clean slices: Fill a large glass with hot water. Dip the knife in the hot water before each cut, then wipe clean with a paper towel after each cut, then repeat. You can also run the knife under hot water in between cuts. HOWEVER, I would not stress it. It’s okay if the dessert gets messy, it will taste incredible either way.
  • For easiest slicing and cleanest cuts: Freeze the Pumpkin Delight for at least 2 hours (up to 24), slice, then transfer to the refrigerator to thaw. If you don’t have time to thaw the lush, then refrigerate, then pop in freeze for 30-60 minutes, slice and serve. 
  • Chill until ready to serve: Refrigerate the lush until it’s time to serve, otherwise, it will start to soften and will be impossible to slice. If that happens – just scoop it out!
a slice of pumpkin delight (pumpkin lush) on a plate with toffee bits topping
  • Use cinnamon graham crackers: They’ll infuse the crust with even more fall flavor! 
  • Make it gluten-free: Use a gluten-free graham cracker substitute and check that your pudding is gluten-free. 
  • Use Cool Whip: I prefer making homemade whipped topping, but you can replace it with a store-bought whipped topping, such as Cool Whip. 
  • Use a different crust: I LOVE the graham cracker pecan crust, but you can also try making a shortbread crust or swap the Graham crackers for Nilla wafers or a gingersnaps.
  • Add more toppings: Instead of (or in addition to!) toffee bits, try topping the Pumpkin Delight with mini M&M’s, mini chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, salted caramel sauce, nuts, or anything else that sounds good to you. 

Pumpkin Delight FAQS

Is this recipe the same as Pumpkin Lush or Pumpkin Lasagna?

Yes! This Pumpkin Delight recipe goes by many names including Pumpkin Lush, Pumpkin Dream, and Pumpkin Lasagna.

What are Lush Desserts?

Lush desserts are easy, chilled, no-bake desserts that are wonderfully creamy and fluffy. They are usually made with a Graham cracker crust, layered with any combination of pudding (any flavor, often combined with whipped topping), cream cheese combined with whipped topping, and finished off with whipped topping.

Can I Use Cool Whip in the Filling? 

Yes, replace the homemade version with prepared whipped topping such as thawed Cool Whip. Use it wherever the homemade whipped topping is used.

Can I use Homemade Pudding? 

Of course! If you have a favorite homemade vanilla pudding recipe, go ahead and use it. 

How Can I Prevent the Pecan Crust From Sticking to the Pan? 

Be sure to grease the bottom of the pan generously before adding the pecan crust.

Can I Make Pumpkin Delight the Night Before? 

Yep! This recipe tastes even better the next day as the layers have time to chill and set up. 

How Can I Achieve Clean, Distinct Layers? 

First, stick with Jell-O brand pudding.  Reduced-fat brands or “healthier” brands of pudding have a tendency to bleed into the next layer. Second, freeze the dessert for 10 minutes between each layer. Finally, chill the dessert sufficiently before slicing. Ideally, pop it in the freezer for a few hours, slice, then transfer to the refrigerator.

Can Fresh Pumpkin Be Used? 

You are welcome to use your own fresh pumpkin instead of canned pumpkin puree. My only caution is that you cannot use a carving pumpkin (like the pumpkin you carve for Halloween), but need to use a sugar pumpkin. Carving pumpkins are raised for their durability and not their taste and contain much more moisture than sugar pumpkins and also have less flavor.

How to make homemade pumpkin puree: 
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Cut the pumpkin in half from the stem to base.
3. Remove all the seeds and pulp.
4. Cover the cut side of each pumpkin half with foil.
5. Bake, foil side up for 1 hour OR until tender.
6. Scrape out pumpkin flesh and add to a blender
7. Strain puree through a fine mesh sieve to remove any stringy pieces
8. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
9. If your puree is extra moist, drain it on paper towels before using.

a fork taking a bite out of pumpkin delight (pumpkin lush)

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a slice of pumpkin delight (pumpkin lush) with a bite taken out

Pumpkin Delight

Pumpkin Delight is the fluffy, creamy alternative to pumpkin pie! It’s splendidly cool, crazy creamy, full of pumpkin flavor, rich yet light at the same time and will have all your guests coming back for more.  This Pumpkin Lush is made with a pecan Graham cracker crust layered with creamy cheesecake, silky pumpkin fluff (pumpkin, pudding + whipped cream) and HOMEMADE whipped topping all showered with toffee bits. This pumpkin dessert is easy to make, make-ahead friendly and freezer friendly for a stress-free dessert homerun!
Servings: 12 servings
Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins
Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 15 mins

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Ingredients

PECAN CRUST

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 9 whole rectangle graham cracker sheets
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

WHIPPED TOPPING

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

CHEESECAKE

  • 8 ounces block cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 ½ cups homemade whipped topping

PUMPKIN FLUFF

  • 5.1 ounce instant vanilla pudding
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp EACH ground nutmeg, ground cloves, ground ginger
  • 1 cup homemade whipped topping (in directions)

TOPPING

  • remaining homemade whipped topping
  • 8 oz. bag toffee bits (like Heath Bits of Brickle with chocolate)

Instructions

LAYER 1 – PECAN CRUST

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Add pecans and Graham crackers to a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Add sugar and butter and continue to process until finely ground and completely combined.
  • Pour into a lightly greased 9×13 pan and pat into an even layer using the bottom of a glass. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool completely before using. Meanwhile:

HOMEAMDE WHIPPED TOPPING

  • Stir the water and gelatin together in a small bowl; let sit 5 minutes. Microwave for 20 seconds, give it a stir then set aside.
  • Add ½ cup powdered sugar, 3 cups heavy cream, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract to a large mixing bowl. Whip using an electric handheld mixer just until soft peaks form (the peaks flop over when the beaters are lifted.) Turn the mixer to low and slowly pour in the gelatin mixture. Mix until combined then increase speed to medium and continue mixing until stiff peaks form (peaks stand straight up when the beaters are lifted). Set aside.

LAYER 2 – CHEESECAKE

  • In a separate large bowl, beat the cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons milk until smooth and creamy. Fold 1 ½ cups of the whipped topping into the cream cheese until smooth.
  • Spread cheesecake over the cooled crust. Place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes while you make the next layer. (If the crust isn't cool yet, set aside and make the pumpkin fluff below).

LAYER 3 – PUMPKIN FLUFF

  • Beat pudding and milk with a handheld mixer for 2 minutes (it will be thick). Beat in the canned pumpkin and spices, then fold in 1 cup homemade whipped topping. Spread over the cheesecake. Place in the freezer for 10-20 minutes to set.

LAYER 4 – WHIPPED TOPPING

  • Spread the remaining whipped topping over the pumpkin fluff in an even layer. If the whipped topping has become extra stiff and not spreadable, it’s easy to fix by folding in additional heavy cream a couple tablespoons at a time until it’s spreadable.

LAYER 5 – TOPPING

  • Immediately sprinkle toffee bits over the whipped topping.

CHILL

  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. For the cleanest cuts, I recommend freezing for a few hours, slicing, then transferring to the refrigerator to thaw before serving. HOWEVER, I would not stress it. It's okay if the dessert gets messy – just scoop it out!  It will taste incredible either way. 

Video

Notes

  • Unflavored gelatin:  This is a common baking ingredient and can be found next to the packages of Jell-O and pudding at your grocery store. You cannot make homemade whipped topping without it or the dessert will deflate and weep.  The other option is store-bought such as Cool Whip.
  • To cut clean slices: Fill a large glass with hot water. Dip the knife in the hot water before each cut, then wipe clean with a paper towel after each cut, then repeat.  You can also run the knife under hot water in between cuts.
  • Make Ahead:  The entire dessert can be assembled up 24 hours in advance and refrigerated or frozen for up to 3 months.  If making more than 24 hours in advance, freeze, then let thaw overnight.  
  • Storage:  Store the covered dessert in the fridge for up to a week.  The layers will begin to soften and may weep a bit; still so delicious, just maybe not company best after the first day.

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2 Comments

  1. Tina says

    I need to make the crust nut free. Do you think the cinnamon graham crackers crust from.your pumpkin Cheesecake bars would work for this recipe?

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