The Country Cook: Picnic Banana Pudding

Monday, February 3, 2014

Picnic Banana Pudding

I think Banana Pudding (Nanner Puddin' as we call it) is just one of those things that has to be homemade. And by homemade, I mean, not store-bought, already put together. My experience with purchased nanner puddin' is pretty dismal. I mean it's a fairly simple dessert to make but somehow it's one that restaurants can easily mess up. 

We went for a quick trip across the border last weekend to North Carolina. We stopped at a place that had delicious BBQ. I love me some North Carolina BBQ, but man, we were bummed about the "homemade" Banana Pudding. Nothing goes better together, for me, than BBQ and some Nanner Pudding. Now, everyone seems to have their own way of making  Banana Pudding (kinda like sweet tea) and are pretty devoted to that style of pudding. I have a cooked banana pudding recipe that I've shared already.  The only problem with cooked banana pudding is the bananas tend to brown pretty quickly. And if you are taking this to a potluck or a picnic, you kinda want to show up with pretty, non-brown bananas. Also, I'm not a huge fan of meringue on banana pudding, but if you are, you know that meringue doesn't always hold up to traveling well.  By the time you make it to the potluck, your meringue has started to come apart. So that is why this is called Picnic Banana Pudding. It's great for picnics or potlucks or just to make to eat at home. Shoot, I don't need a special occasion to make this bowl of goodness!
This stuff really is just so good. It'll make your tongue wanna slap your brains out. This recipe reminds me of Paula Deen's 'Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding', except this uses Nilla Wafers versus the Chessman Cookies and this has a bit more milk in it for a creamier texture. I prefer the traditional Nilla Wafer (plus they are less expensive than the Pepperidge Farm Chessman Cookies).  This particular version comes from Christy Jordan's latest cookbook, 'Come Home to Supper'.  I know you will love it and folks will be begging for the recipe!
1 (8 oz.) block cream cheese, softened to room temp.
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (5 oz.) package Instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups milk (2 % or higher)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 (16 oz) tub whipped topping, thawed
1 (11 oz.) box Nilla wafers
5-7 bananas, peeled and sliced
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and fluffy.  
Add in sweetened condensed milk, pudding mix, and milk.
And vanilla extract and stir well (see Cook's Note below).  
Cook's Note:  Keep your mixer on low speed at first so the milk doesn't fly everywhere. If you are using a stand mixer,  make sure you get in there with a rubber spatula and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is getting incorporated. That cream cheese likes to stay on the bottom of the bowl. AlsoI find that the pudding can sometimes become a bit lumpy (especially if my cream cheese isn't soft enough). If this happens to you, just keep mixing until most of the lumps are gone. The mixture will also begin to thicken too. After a few minutes of constant mixing, it will smooth out. Finally, stir in 1 cup of the whipped topping. 
Now, time to layer!  Place one-third of the vanilla wafers in a layer on the bottom of a trifle dish, large bowl or a 9x13 baking dish.  You will notice that as I add the wafers, I face some outwards and up the sides. This is not necessary but when you are using a clear dish like this, it sure does make it look pretty when it's done!
Next comes a layer of sliced bananas.  
Then pour one-third of the pudding mixture on top (enough to cover all the bananas).  
Continue with two more layers. A layer of wafers, followed by bananas, then pudding mixture. I like a lot of bananas in there. I want at least a piece of banana in every bite.
Your final layer will be pudding. Then you will top the pudding with the rest of your whipped topping.
 I always save about 3 cookies to put on top. Again, not necessary but it looks pretty. 
Also, you see how the sides of the bowl look since I turned some of those cookies outward and layered a few on the sides?
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.
Then grab a spoon and dig in!!

Want more Banana Pudding inspired recipes? Check these out!


  1. Just wanted to thank you for this wonderful website. Trying out the buffalo chicken pasta (slow cooker) today and can't wait to try it. The website definitely has inspired me to try out new recipes.

    1. Hi Chelsea! What a sweet comment! Thank you so very much!!

  2. Wondering if the bananas turn brown if pudding is made ahead, say day before serving. I've never made banana pudding and love the ease of this recipe. Thanks. Love your blog!!

    1. You can definitely make this the day before. Just make sure the pudding layer covers the bananas well. The pudding will act as a temporary seal over the bananas and it will keep them from turning brown so fast. Plus, it gives the cookies time to soften up a bit which a lot of folks like. :)

  3. I never really liked banana pudding personally but the way this is put together makes me want some. How long will this keep in the fridge?

    1. Drew, this really is SO delicious. I know you will love it. This doesn't last long in my house. It will keep for about 2 days in the fridge. Mainly because the bananas are gonna eventually brown. Hope that helps!

    2. I dip my bananas in lemon juice to keep them from turning dark....enriches the great taste of the pudding! The recipe I use is basically the same, except it doesn't call for the vanilla extract. Will have to try it in my next banana pudding!

  4. Just want to say I love you site the recipes are wonderful. Never had Banana Pudding with Cream Cheese but have all but the items except cookie, wait have animal cookies they will work. They are nice and large. :-)

  5. Hi Brandie, I LOVE your site and have made many of your recipes with COMPLETE SUCCESS; however, I made the Picnic Banana Pudding yesterday afternoon. Followed the directs precisely, was careful with my measurements, but the pudding didn't set. Even added a small box of banana creme pudding mix, and it helped, but end result was still slightly soupy. TASTED DELISH, just semi-soupy. Next time I might crank back the milk to 2 cups rather than 3 and see where that gets me.

  6. Hi Brandie,

    I just discovered your blog and am finding many recipes I want to try. Thank you. I made the Picnic Banana Pudding yesterday and it is wonderful!! If anyone is wondering about a slightly "lighter" version... I used sugar free instant pudding and reduced fat cream cheese. It was awesome!

  7. I don't think you will have to worry about how long it will last in the refrigerator. We eat it so fast that is NEVER an issue.

  8. Another great recipe on your blog! This pudding looks really good, I am going to make it for my Grandpa

  9. well i neglected to realize it says "Instant" pudding. so I grabbed the other kind, "Cook and Serve" well that turned out terribly wrong. it is just liquid it wont thicken. so i was spunky and decided to add another pudding (same kind) and that did no help. and oddly enough just to try, i decided to put it in the oven to see if that would thicken. its in there now, i dont think its going to work at all. but hey ill give it a shot. lol

  10. I have been making this for years. Made it for my boss once and she thought it was the best she'd ever had. I do like to make the occasional "real"homemade vanilla pudding from time to time, but this is my go to recipe for a easy desert that everyone loves.

  11. I always just use straight vanilla pudding, but I definitely want to try your add-ins!

  12. This banana pudding is a hit! ! To lower the calorie intake i used low fat where i could. .i love Nilla wafers and they are great in this recipe! ! Love all your recipes! !!

  13. I see that this calls for 5 ounce box of pudding but I only have two of the 3.4 oz boxes. Should I weigh out 5 ounces or is it okay to use both boxes


  14. Thank you for posting this recipe going to make this in the next few days but i was wondering what if you don't have or can not buy the Nilla wafers? what else can you do?

  15. Even better made with instant Banana pudding instead of vanilla. :) Yummy!!!

  16. How many servings does this recipe make? I'm thinking of making large pans of it for a party this weekend. We're anticipating 100 guests.


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