The Best Banana Pudding recipe is a no-cook recipe made with sweetened condensed milk, cream cheese, pudding, fresh bananas and Nilla wafers!
A FAVORITE SOUTHERN RECIPE
Banana pudding is a classic Southern dessert that has been loved for generations. This creamy and delicious dessert is made with layers of vanilla pudding, sliced bananas and Nilla wafers topped with whipped cream. It’s the perfect dessert to serve at any occasion, whether it’s a family gathering or a summer barbecue. So grab a spoon and let’s go!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Banana Pudding is a classic Southern dessert made with layers of vanilla pudding, sliced bananas, Cool Whip and Nilla wafers. It is served chilled and is a favorite at potlucks, picnics, barbecues and family gatherings.
I have a Cooked Southern Banana Pudding recipe that I’ve shared already on the site. The only issue with cooked pudding is the bananas tend to brown pretty quickly. If you are taking this to a potluck or a picnic, you want to show up with pretty, non-brown bananas. This no-cook version is great for picnics or potlucks, bananas stay fresher, longer and because it travels great and serves up easily.
Of course you can! Some folks don’t enjoy the artificial banana flavoring in the banana cream instant pudding but this is entirely a personal preference. You could also use banana extract instead of vanilla.
Yes you can. Just keep in mind that homemade whipped cream doesn’t stay stabilized as long as Cool Whip so it may break down into a more liquid state if not eaten right away.
Yes. However, the wafers add that traditional texture and flavor to the dessert, so it won’t be the same without them. A lot of people substitute other cookies though. A popular choice is the Pepperidge Farm Chessman Butter Cookies (paid affiliate link.)
You can sprinkle a little citric acid powder onto the sliced bananas. Just a little so as not to change the flavor. Or, you could lightly coat the sliced bananas in lemon or orange juice. Again, just coat lightly so as not to change the flavor.
Banana Pudding can last for up to three days in the refrigerator, as long as it is stored in an airtight container. Be sure to refrigerate it as soon as possible after preparing it. Note: Once you start digging into the banana pudding, the bananas will start turning brown so keep that in mind. I do not recommend freezing.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW FOR THE FULL RECIPE)
- cream cheese – this needs to be fully at room temperature. I cannot express this enough. If it’s not fully soft then you’ll end up with a lumpy banana pudding and no one wants that.
- sweetened condensed milk – Many times people confuse evaporated milk with sweetened condensed milk so you’ll want to play close attention to the labels. Evaporated milk doesn’t work here and it certainly isn’t sweet. I know they can be close to each other in the grocery store so just be careful.
- instant vanilla pudding – it needs to be INSTANT. Do not get cook and serve. That is a whole different animal of pudding. It will not set if you get cook and serve. It can be hard to notice on the packaging sometimes so look closely.
- milk – I haven’t tried this with any kind of milk substitute so I can’t tell you how that would go. I always just use 2% cows milk or whole milk.
- vanilla extract – you can use banana extract if you want to amp up the banana flavor. I know some people think it tastes fake but that’s your call.
- Cool Whip – if you’ve never bought Cool Whip (or whipped topping before) you are going to find it in the frozen dessert section of your grocery store. You’re gonna need to let it thaw before using it. But don’t thaw it on your counter. Pop it into your fridge and let it thaw overnight.
- Nilla wafers – it has to be name brand Nilla wafers for me. Y’all know I never have a problem with store brand stuff but this is the one thing I just cannot accept any substitutes.
- ripe bananas – when I say ripe bananas, I mean yellow bananas that have a speckling of brown here and there. You don’t want overripe super brown bananas or they’ll turn too soft on you too quickly. And you definitely don’t want any green bananas either because they aren’t ripe and sweet yet.
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST BANANA PUDDING:
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. Finally, add in vanilla extract and stir well.
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. Also, I 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 half of the whipped topping.
Time to layer. Place one-third of the vanilla wafers in a layer on the bottom of a trifle dish, large bowl or a 9×13 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. The final layer will be pudding. Then you will top the pudding with the rest of your whipped topping.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one to two hours before serving so it can thicken up and the wafers can soften.
Then dig in!
CRAVING MORE RECIPES?
Originally published: February 2014
Updated & Republished: April 2019
The Best Banana Pudding (+Video)
- 8 ounce block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 5 ounce package INSTANT vanilla pudding mix (larger box)
- 3 cups milk (2% or higher)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 8 ounce tub whipped topping (COOL WHIP), thawed (divided use)
- 11 ounce box Nilla wafers (divided use)
- 5-7 bananas, peeled and sliced (divided use)
- In a large bowl, beat cream ceese, with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and fluffy.
- Add in sweetened condensed milk, vanilla pudding mix, milk and vanilla extract. Mix until combined well.
- Finally, stir in half of the whipped topping.
- To layer: place one-third of the Nilla wafers in a layer on the bottom of a trifle dish, large bowl or a 9×13-inch baking dish.
- Add a single layer of the sliced bananas.
- Then pour one-third of the pudding mixture on top (enough to cover all the bananas).
- Continue with two more layers.
- Top with remaining whipped topping.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one to two hours before serving so it can thicken up and the wafers can soften.
- Please refer to my FAQ’s and ingredient list above for other substitutions or for the answers to the most common questions.
- Please pay attention to the pudding you’re buying. It needs to be INSTANT not ‘Cook and Serve’. They are near each other on store shelves. Cook and Serve WILL NOT WORK.
- To keep the bananas from turning brown too quickly, you can sprinkle a little citric acid powder onto the sliced bananas. Just a little so as not to change the flavor. Or, you could lightly coat the sliced bananas in lemon or orange juice. Again, just coat lightly so as not to change the flavor.
- Banana Cream Pudding flavor can be substituted for the vanilla pudding. Alternatively, banana extract can be substituted for the vanilla extract.
- It’s very important to make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature. If not, you won’t be able to get it super smooth and you’ll end up with lumps.
- Bananas obviously come in many sizes so I say 5-7 bananas depending on the size of the bananas you purchase. I like a lot of fresh banana in my banana pudding but you should bo by your personal preference.
“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.