Gluten Free Strawberry Lush

Want an easy dessert you can bring to a cookout? This Gluten Free Strawberry Lush is it. A pecan crust, vanilla pudding, and lots of strawberries make for the perfect sweet bite!

slice of strawberry lush on on white plate

what in the world is strawberry lush?

Have you ever heard of those quick and easy layered desserts from the 70’s and maybe early 80’s that use simple ingredients, like instant pudding mix and Cool Whip? Sometimes they’re called “lush”, but my family made one in particular and it was called Better Than Robert Redford (at the time, Robert Redford was an A list actor who was very handsome).

I took the concept from our beloved family recipe and turned it into a strawberry version, but there was no way “Robert Redford” would fit in the name of this dessert. I couldn’t call it gluten free strawberry robert redford, or gluten free better than strawberry robert redford, haha! So I called it a gluten free strawberry lush, which is perfect because this is Lush—ous!

what you’ll need

  • Kim’s all purpose gluten free flour blend — a store bought blend may be substituted, but hasn’t been tested.
  • Pecans — I love, love, love the crust of this dessert, which is made with very finely chopped pecans. I could literally eat the crust by itself.
  • Instant vanilla pudding mix — you can use vanilla or try a different flavor of pudding mix. I’ve also made this with cheesecake pudding mix and it’s phenomenal!
  • Cool Whip — all you Cool Whip haters out there, this is the OG of easy and quick desserts.
  • Strawberries — the star of the show. I used fresh strawberries, but I’m sure frozen would work just as well.
all ingredients needed for making strawberry lush

how to make strawberry lush

  1. Mix together flour blend, finely chopped pecans, and melted butter until a dough forms. Press into bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until light golden brown. Cool completely.
  2. Beat together cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Add one cup of Cool Whip and blend until smooth. Spread onto cooled crust.
  3. Whisk milk and pudding mix for 3-5 minutes, or until mixture thickens. Spread over cream cheese layer.
  4. Spread the rest of the Cool Whip on top of pudding layer.
  5. Mix sugar, pureed strawberries, and a mixture of cornstarch and cold water in small saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens, 3-5 minutes. Cool and then add sliced fresh strawberries.
  6. Refrigerate for 3-6 hours, or until set.
fork full of strawberry lush

Strawberry Lush FAQs

Can I Use a Different Nut in the Crust?

Walnuts, almonds, or any other nut you’d like can be used instead of pecans. Be your own chef!

What About White Chocolate Flavored Pudding Instead of Vanilla?

I’m sure white chocolate flavored would be wonderful instead of vanilla. I’ve also used cheesecake. YUM!!!

I Want to Make the Strawberry Topping Easier. Can I Just Mix Strawberries with Jam?

You could definitely do that if you want to make it even easier than it already is. Add one cup of slightly heated strawberry jam or preserves to the sliced strawberries and allow to cool. Spoon over the top Cool Whip layer.

I Don’t Do Cool Whip. Can I Use Homemade Real Whipped Cream?

Yes, you can! You’ll need to whip 2 cups of heavy whipping cream with 1/3 cup of powdered sugar and 2 tsp of vanilla.

scooping a bite of gluten free strawberry lush onto a fork

Gluten Free Strawberry Lush is the perfect dessert for parties or cookouts, especially in the summer. It’s so easy to make and everyone will dive right in and want the recipe!

slice of strawberry lush on on white plate

Gluten Free Strawberry Lush

Want an easy dessert you can bring to a cookout? This Gluten Free Strawberry Lush is it. A pecan crust, pudding, and lots of strawberries make for the perfect sweet bite!
4 from 8 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 servings


  • 2 lbs (907 g) fresh or frozen strawberries thawed if frozen
  • ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) water
  • sticks (¾ cup or 169 g) butter, melted
  • cups (210 g) Kim's all purpose gluten free flour blend
  • cups (150 g) finely chopped pecans
  • 2 3.4 oz boxes (96 g each) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • cups (840 ml) cold milk
  • 8 oz (226 g) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup (125 g) powdered sugar
  • 12 oz (1½ small containers or 339 g) Cool Whip, thawed


  • Puree one pound (493g) of the strawberries (using an immersion blender or regular blender). Whisk the cornstarch and sugar in a small saucepan. Add the water and strawberry puree. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly to avoid scorching.
  • Once the mixture begins to boil, whisk constantly and boil for 1-2 minutes, or until it thickens well. Add the sliced strawberries. Cool completely while you bake the crust. (Tip: put it in the fridge to cool while making the rest of the dessert).
  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Mix the melted butter, flour, and pecans in a medium bowl and press into a greased 9 by 13-inch pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden brown. Refrigerate until cool.
  • Beat softened cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Add one cup (80g) of Cool Whip and beat until well incorporated. Spread over cooled crust.
  • In a large bowl, add the pudding mix to the cold milk and whisk until it begins to thicken, a few minutes. Spread this on top of the cream cheese layer.
  • Carefully dollop the rest of the Cool Whip over top of the pudding mixture and smooth to the edges.
  • Spoon the strawberry mixture over the Cool Whip layer. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until set. Keep refrigerated until serving. Dessert will keep for 4-5 days.
Keyword Gluten Free, strawberry lush
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