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The Best Banana Pudding

The Best Banana Pudding recipe is a no-cook recipe made with sweetened condensed milk, cream cheese, pudding, fresh bananas and Nilla wafers!


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!

layers of banana pudding shown in a large glass serving bowl with a bunch of bananas in the background.


What is Banana Pudding?

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.

What is the difference between this pudding and a cooked banana pudding?

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.

Can I use banana flavored pudding instead of vanilla?

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.

Can I make my own homemade whipped cream?

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.

Can you make banana pudding without Nilla wafers?

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.)

How do I keep my bananas from turning brown?

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.

How long does banana pudding last?

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.

The Best Banana Pudding recipe from The Country Cook, serving of banana pudding on a small white plate with a spoon inserted into pudding.


  • 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. I have a tutorial on How to Soften Cream Cheese Fast if you need to speed up the process a bit.
  • 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.
Banana Pudding ingredients: cream cheese, sweetened condensed, milk, instant vanilla pudding, milk, vanilla extract, Cool Whip, Nilla wafers, ripe bananas.


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. 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. 

collage of two photos: cream cheese mixed in a bowl; pouring bowl into milk with pudding and cream cheese.

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! 

collage of two photos: whipped topping added to banana pudding; Nilla wafers layered into the bottom of a bowl.

Next comes a layer of sliced bananas. Then pour one-third of the pudding mixture on top (enough to cover all the bananas).

collage of two photos: sliced bananas layered on top of Nilla wafers; banana pudding layered on top of bananas in the bowl.

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.

side view of layers of finished pudding with Nilla wafers and pudding

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.

a serving of banana cream pudding on a white plate with a bunch of fresh bananas in the background

Then dig in!

spoon showing a serving of pudding, Nilla wafers, cool whipped a slice of banana


Originally published: February 2014
Updated & Republished: February 2024

The Best Banana Pudding recipe from The Country Cook

The Best Banana Pudding

This Banana Pudding is a no-cook pudding recipe made with sweetened condensed milk, cream cheese and pudding, fresh bananas and Nilla wafers!
4.95 from 433 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12


  • 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.
    cream cheese mixed in a bowl.
  • Add in sweetened condensed milk, vanilla pudding mix, milk and vanilla extract. Mix until combined well.
    adding milk along with instant pudding to bowl.
  • Finally, stir in half of the whipped topping.
    cool whip added to banana pudidng in a bowl.
  • 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.
    Nilla wafers layered in the bottom of a bowl.
  • Add a single layer of the sliced bananas.
    slices of banana layered onto Nilla wafers in a bowl.
  • Then pour one-third of the pudding mixture on top (enough to cover all the bananas).
    pudding layered on top of sliced bananas and Nilla wafers in a bowl.
  • Continue with two more layers.
  • Top with remaining whipped topping.
    whipped topping spread on top of banana pudding bowl.
  • 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.
    layers of banana pudding shown in a large glass serving bowl with a bunch of bananas in the background


YouTube video


  • 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. 
  • Also, be sure you are grabbing a can of sweetened condensed milk and not evaporated milk. This dessert will not set up and it won’t be as sweet. 
  • 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. 
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American


Calories: 458kcal | Carbohydrates: 72g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 14g | Sodium: 408mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 54g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“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.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This truly is “the best banana pudding”! I made it for my family that includes my son’s girlfriend who’s Brazilian and had never tasted banana pudding. They couldn’t stop raving about it! Such an easy recipe that delivers excellent results.

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve made this a few times, always delicious! This time someone else did the shopping for the Ingredients and got cook & serve and I didn’t notice, any ideas to save this and thicken it up?

  3. 5 stars
    This is SO SO good. I made it for Easter dessert and the family told me that I am required to bring it to every holiday going forward! It’s a hit and makes a very large amount!

  4. 5 stars
    Made this for Easter brunch! It was a HUGE hit!! I passed your website out to SO many people. They couldn’t stop raving how this was the best banana pudding they ever had. So I had to rush back here to let you know thank you!

  5. 5 stars
    This was a big hit at the family 2023 Christmas dinner! I even liked it and I’m not usually a fan of anything banana flavored. I had never made banana pudding before but this version made it super simple. Someone had given me two 3.4 oz packages banana cream pudding mix so I used that instead of buying vanilla flavored. The extra couple ounces of pudding mix didn’t seem to be a negative so I’ll be making that a permanent substitute the next time I make this.

    1. You have to use whole milk. Anything other milk won’t hold the consistency. I used 1% once and it was watery no matter how much I mixed it.

  6. 5 stars
    Best banana pudding EVER. Every time I make it for a party everyone raves about it and asks for the recipe! Thanks for sharing and 10/10 recommend!

  7. 5 stars
    FABULUS, FABULOUS, FABULOUS! Never making it any other way. I made it for a party for the holidays and it was the first thing gone! Everyone was mad I didn’t bring a second bowl LOL

  8. 5 stars
    Ok… I broke the rules.
    living in the south, our stores run out of the banana or vanilla instant pudding right away during the holidays. I went ahead and bought a couple small boxes of the ‘cook and serve’ banana pudding. I prepared that pudding using only three cups of milk rather than the four cups it called for (two cups per box). Other than that slight deviation, after letting the cooked pudding cool down I followed the rest of the instructions and measurements, and used all of the ingredients listed here. I have to tell you, I love the flavor of the cook and serve pudding much MUCH more than the instant puddings! The flavor is deeper, richer and much more ‘from scratch’ tasting than the instant versions. The rest of this recipe I absolutely love! it certainly beats the church ladies banana puddings that I’ve had!

    1. The cook and serve isn’t bad as long as you know that you bought the cook and serve and actually cook it. The problem is people accidentally buy it thinking they bought instant & mix it in & then wonder why it didn’t set. Thats why I mention no cook and serve if you want to make this recipe as I have it written 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it!

      1. 5 stars
        Definitely the best banana pudding. Everyone raved over this one! I’ve made a lot of banana pudding recipes over the years and this tops them all

    1. I am very familiar with Canada and a lot of the products since I travel all over Canada all the time. Usually when someone comments they can’t find something in Canada, we have other Canadians hop on here and tell them what to get. Half of my followers are Canadian so I’m sure they can help. The only brands I am familiar with in Canada are Mr. Christie’s Nilla wafers through Walmart and Kinnikinnick vanilla wafers. Canada is huge and I have no idea where you are so this is a very broad question unless I know exactly where you’re located. Have you tried Googling it? I’m not familiar with what products might be available to you, again because I don’t know where you are. What you can find in Vancouver is very different in what you can find in Quebec or Newfoundland. The only thing other thing I can think of are the Pepperidge Farm chessman cookies.

  9. 5 stars
    I have made this recipe about 5 times now and it gets RAVE reviews! I also use only about four bananas, based on my husband’s personal preference 🙂 This is such a great recipe to keep on hand!

    1. 5 stars
      Perfection! Seriously, even the banana pudding snobs who think pudding has to be cooked and topped with meringue all raved over this one. I think they’re converts! LOL

  10. 5 stars
    This pudding is OVER THE TOP FANTASTIC and a big hit with the family! The cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk takes it to another level of DELICIOUS! I used it for the banana pudding, but plan to also use it to make a trifle with chocolate cake and strawberries…so many things!

  11. 5 stars
    That banana pudding was literally sooooooo good. It was easy and simple to make absolutely delicious. I made it yesterday and it’s pretty much gone now. My siblings and I devoured it!!!

  12. 5 stars
    Made this again last night. When birthdays come around they want this pudding without fail. Absolutely delicious especially when made with love. Thanks so much!