Lemon Trifle

Welcome in spring with this simply gorgeous Lemon Trifle. Layers of lemon cake with a whipped jello filling is perfect for serving a crowd.

It’s in the middle to late winter that I start craving everything strawberry and lemon. From cookies to cakes to breads, give me all of the citrus flavors!

This easy lemon trifle recipe comes just in time to satisfy those cravings. Whether you make this in a trifle dish to feed a crowd or in individual servings for an Easter dinner, you’ll love how quick this make ahead dessert is!

layered lemon trifle

❤️ Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • Uses store bought mixes in a new way.
  • Fresh & fruity light flavor.
  • Feeds a crowd.
  • Totally customizable. See our suggestions below!

What is a trifle?

A trifle is a traditional British dessert made with sponge cake, whipped cream, jelly, fruit and custard. These ingredients are layered and served in a beautiful glass trifle dish.

In America we make trifles of all kinds: with brownies, chocolate, candy and fruit. Pudding is often used as a filling for trifles.

layered lemon trifle in a trifle dish

🍋 How to Make a Lemon Trifle

This dessert recipe is 3 steps:

  1. Make the cake.
  2. Make the filling.
  3. Assemble the trifle.

Make the cake.

Choose your favorite brand of lemon cake mix and mix it according to the box directions, but add a tablespoon of fresh lemon zest. Other cake options are: homemade lemon cake, angel food cake, lemon chiffon cake or lemon pound cake. You could even use lemon brownies!

Allow the cake to cool then cut it in cubes.

Make the filling.

  • In a mixer bowl, combine Jello, boiling water and powdered sugar. Stir until completely dissolved.
  • Refrigerate the mixture for 1 hour or until syrupy.
  • Once syrupy, mix in cream. Beat until cream slightly mounds.
  • Mix in 8 ounces Cool Whip and then stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon zest.

Assemble the trifle.

Alternate layers of cake and cream, then top with the last bit of Cool Whip.

And if you don’t have a large trifle dish you can make individual servings!

individual lemon trifles

Can I make a trifle the day before?

A trifle is meant to be very soft and have flavors mingled, so making it in advance is a great idea. Trifles should not get too soggy if made a day in advance.

spoon in a lemon trifle

Recipe Variations:

  • Add a layer of lemon curd to the trifle.
  • Sprinkle fresh raspberries or sliced strawberries in between the layers.
  • Instead of Cool Whip, use stabilized whipped cream.
  • Use any flavor cake you’d like. Wouldn’t strawberry cake mix be amazing?
  • Use angel food cake for a light, spongy cake texture.
  • Lemon Trifle…lightened up: Use a sugar free cake mix, sugar free Jello and a light Cool Whip for less calories.
closeup of a lemon trifle
closeup of a lemon trifle

Lemon Trifle

5 from 1 vote
Welcome in spring with this simply gorgeous Lemon Trifle. Layers of lemon cake with a whipped jello filling is perfect for serving a crowd.
Servings 20
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 1 box lemon cake mix (plus additional ingredients on the box)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest (divided)
  • 1 package lemon Jello (3 ounces)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 12 ounces Cool Whip thawed
  • Optional lemon peel for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Prepare lemon cake according to box directions adding in 1 tablespoon lemon zest to cake batter. Bake and cool completely.
  • In a mixer bowl, combine Jello, boiling water and powdered sugar. Stir until completely dissolved.
  • Refrigerate the mixture for 1 hour or until syrupy.
  • Once syrupy, mix in cream. Beat until cream slightly mounds. Beat in 8 ounces Cool Whip and then stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon zest.
  • Cut the cake in small cubes before assembling the trifle. Start with adding a layer of cake cubes at the bottom of trifle dish. Next add a layer of lemon cream.
  • Continue layering cake and cream then top with with remaining Cool Whip. Top my lemon trifle with a twist of lemon peel.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes

The calories shown are based on the recipe serving 20, with 1 serving being 1/20 of the trifle. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information.**

Nutrition

Calories: 224kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 201mg | Potassium: 109mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 381IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 1mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 224
Keyword fruit dessert, lemon recipe, trifle recipe

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use sugar free Jello?

Yes! Sugar free Jello works well.

Can you use light cool whip?

Yes. Light or fat free works well.

Can you add cream cheese to the filling?

Yes. Make sure the cream cheese is softened and mix it into the syrup before adding the Cool Whip.

About Julie Clark

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