Banana pudding is a classic Southern dessert featuring layers of bananas, creamy vanilla pudding, and crunchy vanilla wafer cookies for a no-bake dessert that is as delicious as it is easy to make. Made with instant pudding mix, this simple recipe is perfect for both novices and experts in the kitchen. You can’t have a cook-out or BBQ without it.

A bowl of banana pudding with a spoon in it next to two servings.

Ultra Creamy Banana Pudding 

The key to the perfect banana pudding? Perfectly ripe bananas, real whipped cream, sweetened condensed milk and a package of your favorite vanilla pudding mix. Oh, and your favorite brand of vanilla wafers.

That’s really all there is to it. Five ingredients and a little prep time (to make the instant pudding) are all you need to make a classic dessert that’ll wow everyone at the table. Best of all you don’t have to turn on the stove or the oven. Not as rich and custardy as rice pudding, but still a super creamy combination.

The beauty of banana pudding is in the layers, so I recommend using a trifle dish or other beautiful glass bowl to showcase the layers of vanilla pudding, bananas, and cookies. You can also serve these in individual glass dishes for a more personalized approach. This banana dessert is perfect for family dinners, barbecues, cook-outs, and any day you feel like making it! 

An individual serving of banana pudding with condensed milk.

When choosing bananas for this recipe, make sure they have no brown spots or are overly ripe, otherwise they will get mushy after being added to the pudding layer. This step-by-step recipe is foolproof, which is perfect for someone just starting their baking and desserts journey, but also simple and delicious enough for everyone to enjoy.

If you’re looking for a little more challenging of a recipe, try my banana pudding with cream cheese or from scratch banana pudding. (you’ll have to temper some eggs)

A bowl of banana pudding.

Did Banana Pudding Originate in the South 

It’s hard to say! This dessert has been around since the late 1800’s with mentions as early as 1878, but the first official recipe was released in Good Housekeeping in 1888, so we’ve been enjoying homemade banana pudding for over a century! That early version recommended using sponge cake and custard as the layers, while the vanilla wafers version we know and love today became popular in the 1920s. It’s so fun to see how recipes have changed over time! 

When you think of a truly Southern dessert, banana pudding is always at the top of the list. You can’t go to any gathering, church dinner, shrimp boil, or potluck without it being in the line up. My theory is it became so popular in the South because it goes so well with Southern barbeque.

Why You’ll Be Adding This Homemade Banana Pudding Recipe to Your Go-To Desserts

  • No Bake Dessert – Just pop this homemade pudding in the fridge until it’s fully chilled and set, add whipped cream and enjoy! No need to even turn on the oven.
  • Creamy Pudding – Heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, and instant pudding mix make each spoonful ultra decadent. 
  • Big Hit – This recipe has been around for over 100 years and is a must on every Southern dessert table. 

Only 5 Ingredients

The ingredients for banana pudding.
Gather your pudding ingredients.

Pudding Mix – I prefer the Jell-O instant vanilla pudding mix. Just make sure it says INSTANT on the box. This recipe won’t work with a regular pudding mix.

Liquids – Sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream, and water are all you need. 

Cookies – You can use any store-bought vanilla wafers, but Nilla wafers are the classic choice.  If you want to be fancy, try Pepperidge Farm Bordeaux cookies.

Bananas – Choose just ripe bananas, too ripe and they will get mushy.

Can I Use Something Other Than Vanilla Wafers? 

You can use Chessman cookies, Bordeaux cookies or even Biscoff cookies! The key is a crispy or crunchy cookie to hold up to the creamy pudding. 

Simple Steps

Step One: Make Instant Pudding

Using a stand mixer, mix condensed milk and cold water then add instant pudding mix and beat for two minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Water and sweetened condensed milk in a bowl.
Mix condensed milk and water.
Pudding mix added to condensed milk in a bowl.
Add pudding mix.
Pudding mix before it has thickened.
Stir and chill.

Step Two: Mix Pudding

With your stand or electric mixer, beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Combine heavy cream with the pudding mixture. 

Thickened vanilla pudding in a bowl with a spatula.
Let the pudding thicken.
Whipped cream in a mixing bowl.
Whip the heavy cream.
Whipped cream folded into pudding.
Fold the cream into the pudding.

Step Three: Assemble Layers

You’ll be making three layers! First, a layer of vanilla wafers, followed by a layer of bananas, and finally a layer of pudding. Repeat until you have three layers or have filled your trifle dish. 

Start layers.
Add pudding.
Continue layering until done!

Cover the dish with plastic wrap and chill for 4 to 8 hours. Any longer than 8 hours and your bananas will brown! To serve, garnish the top of the pudding with crushed cookies and whipped cream. 

Sweetened condensed and heavy cream creates the creamiest texture in this no-bake banana pudding recipe.

A Few Tips For Perfect Pudding

  • Always let your pudding fully set before serving. You’ll know it’s set when it lightly jiggles, any sloshing or watery texture means it needs more time. 
  • Let your pudding chill completely before adding whipped cream.
  • Use heavy cream. You can use cool whip but it will taste much better with real cream.

Storing Pudding

In The Fridge: Banana pudding is best served day of as the bananas can brown and the vanilla wafers will get soggy. Chill your covered pudding in the fridge until ready to serve. 

Banana Pudding in a glass bowl.

The Easiest Banana Pudding With Vanilla Wafers

Banana pudding is a classic Southern dessert featuring layers of bananas, creamy vanilla pudding, and crunchy vanilla wafer cookies for a no-bake dessert that is as delicious as it is easy to make. Made with instant pudding mix, this simple recipe is perfect for both novices and experts in the kitchen. You can't have a cook-out or BBQ without it.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Refrigerate: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 384kcal

Ingredients

  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 ½ cups cold water
  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding mix 3.4 ounces
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 box vanilla wafers
  • 4 cups sliced bananas

Instructions

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sweetened condensed milk and cold water and mix well for about a minute. Add the pudding mix and beat on medium-high for 2 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. 
  • Beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the cream into the pudding mixture and combine.
  • To assemble, place ⅓ of the vanilla wafers on the bottom of a clear glass bowl that will hold 4 quarts or layer in a 9 x 13 baking dish. The wafers can overlap. Add ⅓ of the sliced bananas and ⅓ of the pudding. Repeat with two more layers, ending with pudding. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours but up to 8. Longer than 8 hours and the bananas will start to brown. Garnish with a couple of crushed vanilla wafers

Notes

  • Make sure that you use INSTANT pudding.
  • It is important that the pudding refrigerate for at least 4 hours to thicken before adding the whipped cream. 
  • Don’t use over ripe bananas. Save those for banana bread. 

Nutrition

Calories: 384kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 78mg | Sodium: 110mg | Potassium: 360mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 995IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 136mg | Iron: 0.3mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @easy.southern.desserts or tag #easysoutherndesserts!

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