The BEST Banana Pudding Recipe

This easy Homemade Banana Pudding recipe is the best I’ve ever had! Creamy, rich and almost mousse-like banana pudding that tastes just like Grandma used to make. I know you’re going to love it!

Picture of a bowl filled with banana pudding

This Easy Homemade Banana Pudding Is My Go-To Dessert For Entertaining!

I have held out on you…and I feel awful about it. This recipe has been sitting in my Grandmother’s recipe index card holder for years. I don’t know why I haven’t ever shared it here with you. Well, maybe I do… You see, I don’t really love bananas. They’re just not my favorite. So banana pudding is never really front and center in the dessert vortex of my brain.

But my Grandma used to make Banana Pudding Pie when I was little and I really loved it. Which seems weird… like why do I like banana pudding, but not bananas? Maybe it’s the same idea as I hate onions, but love a White Castle Burger with onions.

Also, please forget I just said that I love White Castle. I am ashamed.

Anyhow, this pudding is probably a version of the same Banana Pudding you grew up eating. My Gram was a notorious recipe clipper. So many of her recipes are from 1980’s magazines, or ones that her friends would all share. But I have tried other Banana Pudding recipes and nothing comes close to this one. That is a promise. Whether you think you will like this recipe or not, I URGE you to try it. She made it in a pie crust sometimes and served it like pie, but for sure you could make it in a trifle dish as well. More times than not, we had it in a simple 9×13 pan, like i made it today.

The Best Banana Pudding is unassuming, innocent, old fashioned and completely perfect.

The BEST Banana Pudding you will ever have! So creamy , rich and thick. A classic recipe!

Tips for the Best Banana Pudding

The ingredients for this banana pudding recipe are indulgent and simple. All you do is mix some cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk together to start.

  • Make sure the cream cheese is room temperature. If it’s cold it won’t mix up smooth, and you’ll probably have little cream cheese lumps.
  • Use instant pudding. Next mix in vanilla pudding mix, milk, and vanilla extract. Make sure you buy INSTANT pudding, that way it will thicken up right on the spot and you don’t have to heat it. I have been asked if this recipe can be made with (non instant) pudding and the answer is no, unfortunately.
  • Take the time to beat your mixture well. Beat the pudding mixture on high speed for about 5 minutes using the whisk attachment on your mixer. You want the mixture to thicken up nicely.
  • Use Cool Whip or Whipped Cream. In my recipe I use Cool Whip. You fold that right in the cream cheese mixture to make the texture mousse-like. Now, if you don’t love Cool Whip, you can ABSOLUTELY use whipped cream in its place
How to Make the best banana pudding

How to Make Banana Pudding

Essentially all banana pudding is, is layers of cookies, bananas, and pudding!  Here are the steps:

  1. Make the quick pudding mixture, which consists of cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla pudding, milk, a little vanilla extract, and whipped topping, like Cool Whip!
  2. Once you have the pudding mixture made, you will layer cookies on the bottom of a 9×13 dish. Top those with banana slices, and then spread the pudding all over the top!
  3. I like to spread a little more Cool Whip or whipped cream on top, but that’s optional! Then if you have some extra cookies lying around, crumble some up and sprinkle the cookie dust on top. Or press some cookies into the pudding as decoration. Or do both like I did.
  4. Then LET IT CHILL! It will need at least 4 hours in the refrigerator. You want the cookies to soften, so I really recommend letting it chill overnight! It’s worth the wait!
The BEST Banana Pudding you will ever have! So creamy , rich and thick. A classic recipe!

Can You Make Banana Pudding Ahead?

Yes! That’s what’s so great about this recipe…it is PERFECT for entertaining because making it ahead not only is easier, but it TASTES better the longer it sits! The cookies get softer and the flavors just combine more.

You can make this up to 2 days in advance!

Can You Freeze Banana Pudding?

I actually don’t recommend freezing this, due to the delicate ingredients. The pudding will get a little mushy and thin out as it thaws.

The BEST Banana Pudding you will ever have! So creamy , rich and thick. A classic recipe!

Homemade Banana Pudding FAQs

Can I Use Nilla Wafers Instead of Shortbread?

Yes, you can ABSOLUTELY use Nilla Wafers. I just prefer shortbread. To assemble the dish, just line the bottom of a baking dish with shortbread cookies.

Also, don’t get too hung up on how many cookies you add. I just cover the bottom of the dish. You could really add as many, or as few cookies as you want.

Why Do You Use Vanilla Pudding in this Recipe?

My Grandma always used just vanilla, so that’s what I do. But if you are a real banana lover, you can absolutely use banana pudding mix in place of the vanilla…OR use a a combo of vanilla and banana.

The BEST Banana Pudding you will ever have! So creamy , rich and thick. A classic recipe!

Serving Suggestions

Of course you an serve this right in the 9×13 pan you made it in with a spoon. Little bowls work great to portion it out into, which is why it’s such a fantastic potluck option! But if you’re looking to get a little more creative, here are some ideas:

  • In individual ramekins, jars…or even shot glasses! You can make these ahead in individual portions to a grab and go dessert idea. The serving size might vary based upon the size of the jar you use, but it’s an adorable option!
  • In a trifle dish! This can be a great centerpiece dessert if you prepare this in a large trifle dish! You can add in a middle layer of cookies and bananas to give it that layered look!
  • I’ve even seen “Walking Banana Pudding” where you serve the pudding right in the individual little bag the cookies came in (if you use Nilla Wafers) just like a “Walking Taco”. That would be a great tailgating dessert idea!

ENJOY!!

Print

The BEST Banana Pudding Recipe

  • Author: Cookies & Cups
  • Prep Time Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield Yield: 12 1x
  • Category Category: Pudding
  • Method Method: No Bake
  • Cuisine Cuisine: Dessert

Description:

This easy Homemade Banana Pudding recipe is the best I’ve ever had! Creamy, rich and almost mousse-like banana pudding that tastes just like Grandma used to make. I know you’re going to love it!


Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 ounce) block cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding
  • 2 1/2 cups cold milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 (8 ounce) container Cool Whip, or 8 ounces heavy cream, whipped
  • 4 bananas, sliced
  • 10 ounces shortbread cookies or Nilla Wafers

Instructions

1. Make the cream cheese mixture. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment mix the cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk together until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary, about 2-3 minutes on medium speed.

2. Add in the dry pudding mix, milk and vanilla. Begin mixing on low for 30 seconds, slowly turning up the speed until you’re on high speed. Mix this for 4-5 minutes until thickened and smooth, again scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Fold 4 ounces (half) of the Cool Whip (or whipped cream) into the pudding until combined.

3. Assemble the pudding. Line the bottom of a 9×13 dish with as many shortbread cookies as you can fit. Evenly place the banana slices on top of the cookies. Spread the pudding on top of the bananas. Spread the remaining Cool Whip (or whipped cream) on top of the pudding.

4. Top with cookie crumbles. Crumble any remaining cookies on top of the Cool Whip and/or place more cookies around the edge of the pan for decoration.

5. Chill. Cover with Cling Wrap and chill at least 4-6 hours.


Notes:

You could use a small package of instant vanilla pudding and a small package of banana pudding in place of just the vanilla for a more banana flavored pudding.

You can serve this in any dish you prefer, like a trifle dish, individual dishes etc.

Store airtight for up to 3 days

Keywords:: best banana pudding, how to make banana pudding, homemade banana pudding, easy banana pudding, banana dessert

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Hi! I’m Shelly and I’m an addict. Of the buttercream sort. I started this site a few years ago as a way to justify my sugary, buttery obsession with desserts. It has worked out well for me so far, because as it turns out you guys all love sugary, buttery desserts too! It feels good to know you're not alone, doesn’t it?

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Rebecca
August 23, 2020 8:57 am

Made this a few times before and I love it. Today I am craving it but I just need a small one. Like maybe for a 9 inch pan. Do you have the measurements for a smaller one by any chance?

June 26, 2020 3:34 pm

I originally made this recipe using real whipped cream. I took it to a party where some friends from Vietnam were and they especially went crazy for it. Everyone loved it. I am making it again today, double batch, some for home and some to deliver to a friend’s family. I plan to use part Vanilla Wafers (Nilla) and half with Lotus Biscoff Cookies which have the amazing slightly caramel taste. They are the cookies that Delta Airlines used to (and may still) pass out.
This is a great crowd-pleasing Banana Pudding Recipe.

Samar
June 21, 2020 7:30 pm

Really good! This recipe tastes homemade and not like instant pudding mix that you use. I was concerned it would be too sweet but it was perfect and flavorful. My husband said it’s the best banana pudding he has ever had. Light and easy to make for summer!

Debra
May 26, 2020 10:58 pm

I am obsessed with this recipe! I just made it for the 3rd time, that’s how great it is! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

Isaiah
April 28, 2020 12:28 pm

Can we just stir the cool whip in the pudding, does it have be be folded; what’s the difference of folding it in the pudding.

Sonya Klein
April 27, 2020 8:18 am

Old fashioned banana pudding doesn’t have instant pudding in it

Jen
March 9, 2020 12:45 am

Just made this recipe and doubled it for a potluck. I thought I had a large box of vanilla pudding, but I only had a small box. I used the small box of vanilla pudding, a small box of cheesecake pudding that I had in the pantry, and a large box of banana pudding. Instead of cool whip, I used heavy whipping cream and beat it with 4 tbsp of granulated sugar. I also used Nilla wafers instead of the shortbread cookies. It turned out wonderful! People were taking it home in tubs! I will definitely make it again and… Read more »

T
December 7, 2019 11:27 am

Does it impact the texture or flavor if 2% milk is used vs whole milk? Since there is cream cheese and condensed milk, it would seem to make a material difference. your view??

Magdalena
November 3, 2019 1:11 pm

OMG so delicious love love love it??

October 21, 2019 11:03 am

This does look like the best banana pudding. We love banana pudding at my house and I’m always trying to find different recipes to try. This one looks like a winner. Cream cheese makes everything better.

Kae
November 3, 2019 11:52 am
Reply to  Alli Smith

Hi! It sure does sound like the best.
Question, for the pudding mix, it consists of cream cheese, sweet con. milk, dry pudding mix AND SOME cool whip? Right?

And the topping is cool whip alone, right?

Giana
May 23, 2019 7:33 pm

I made it today and it was super delish. Everyone loved it. Thanks for posting it. I think what makes the difference is the cream cheese in it. I loved it. I’ll make it for sure again.

Tamikcha
May 7, 2019 8:00 am

made this with and without whip cream liked better with out it tasted like the cooked kind almost whip cream made it to thick

Denise
December 30, 2018 2:03 am

Delicious recipe! Made this last night for an event today, and it was a huge hit! I mixed all of my Cool Whip into the pudding mixture (kind of by accident!), but it was really light and fluffy and delicious! I will definitely be making this again!

SD Shields
December 26, 2018 10:35 am

OMG! I made this recipe for Christmas dinner. It was very delicious! I loved the shortbread cookies over wafers! I will definitely use this recipe again and again! ??

Brandi
December 14, 2018 6:19 pm

So funny this is almost EXACTLY Paula deans recipe..maby that’s where grandma got it..very delicious . You talked me into making a batch

Narhan
March 25, 2019 10:47 pm
Reply to  Brandi

Say sounds like an amazing recipe and I will try it, but I wanted to know could this recipe be warm up, I grew up eating oven baked banana pudding,, if not I will have to try a new trend eating it chill.

Shelly Hi! I’m Shelly and I’m an addict. Of the buttercream sort. I started this site a few years ago as a way to justify my sugary, buttery obsession with desserts. It has worked out well for me so far, because as it turns out you guys all love sugary, buttery desserts too! It feels good to know you're not alone, doesn’t it?

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