The Best Banana Pudding Recipe

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

Banana pudding in a bowl with a spoon.

Old Fashioned Banana Pudding

Okay, so I’ve been holding out on you…and I feel awful about it. This Banana Pudding recipe has been sitting in my grandmother’s recipe index card holder for years, and it’s FABULOUS.

Usually I’m not a huge fan of bananas unless they’re baked into a bread and surrounded by chocolate chips. But, my Grandma used to make Banana Pudding Pie when I was little, and I really loved it. Weird, huh?

Anyhow, this recipe is a version of the same banana pudding you probably grew up eating. Thick, creamy vanilla pudding is layered on top of fresh banana slices, which sit on top of sweet shortbread cookies. Then, a layer of Cool Whip and crushed cookies is added as a final touch – it’s a no bake dessert like no other!

I love making old fashioned treats, like this one, that remind me of my Gram and her recipes. Sometimes she would make this homemade banana pudding in a pie crust and serve it like pie, but a trifle dish would work just as well. More times than not, we had it in a simple 9×13 pan, like the way I made it today.

However you decide to make it, I hope you love this banana pudding as much as I do!

Baking dish of shortbread cookies and pudding.

What Makes this Recipe So Good?

The Best Banana Pudding is unassuming, old fashioned, and completely perfect. How’s that for a sales pitch?

But, in case I haven’t convinced you yet, I’ve got a few more reasons as to why you should make this delicious banana pudding:

  • It’s No Bake: I love desserts that don’t require me to turn on the oven. It’s so nice to be able to whisk this pudding together, and then just shove it in the fridge until I’m ready to dig in!
  • It’s Simple: Sweet vanilla flavor mixed with ripe bananas? It’s not complicated, but it’s a combination that is out-of-this-world delicious. Add in those crunchy cookies, and nobody will turn down a serving of this pudding!
  • It’s Quick: Don’t get me wrong, there’s some extensive refrigeration time needed, but actually making this pudding only takes 15 minutes of prep work.
  • You Can Serve It Anywhere: This pudding is nice enough to serve as a somewhat elegant dessert (because it’s kind of like mousse!) but it’s also casual enough to serve at a potluck/backyard barbecue.
Bowl of vanilla pudding with bananas and cookies.

What You’ll Need

The ingredients for this banana pudding recipe are indulgent but simple. Here’s what you’ll need to gather up:

  • Cream Cheese: Let it come to room temperature before starting, and also be sure to use block cream cheese – not cream cheese spread.
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk: You’ll blend this in to thin out the cream cheese.
  • Instant Vanilla Pudding: My Grandma always used just vanilla, so that’s what I do. If you’re a real banana lover, though, you can absolutely use banana pudding mix in place of the vanilla… OR use a combo of vanilla and banana.
  • Milk: I would use 2% or whole milk for this recipe – whatever you use, just make sure it’s cold!
  • Vanilla: Offers extra sweet flavor.
  • Cool Whip: I like to use Cool Whip in this recipe – folding it right into the cream cheese mixture makes the pudding mousse-like. Now, if you don’t love Cool Whip, you can totally use whipped cream in its place.
  • Bananas: Slice these up before starting to save time.
  • Shortbread Cookies: I prefer shortbread, but you can definitely use Nilla Wafers if you like.
Cookies, banana slices, and pudding in a bowl.

How Ripe Should the Bananas Be?

You want the bananas to be pretty ripe – they should be a deep yellow, and speckled with brown spots. Don’t pick bananas that are overripe because they’ll brown faster or turn mushy. Save those ones for banana muffins or bread!

How to Make Banana Pudding

Banana pudding can be broken down into three main layers: a layer of cookies, another of bananas, and one of pudding! Of course, if you’ve got any topping ideas, feel free to add them.

Here are the steps to constructing your homemade pudding:

Beat Cream Cheese and Condensed Milk: In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk together until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary, about 2-3 minutes on medium speed.

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.

Add Cool Whip: Fold 4 ounces (half) of the Cool Whip, or whipped cream, into the pudding until combined.

Cool Whip added to an instant pudding mixture.

Construct the Layers: 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.

Add More Cookies: Crumble any remaining cookies on top of the Cool Whip and/or place more cookies around the edge of the pan for decoration. Cover with cling wrap and chill for at least 4-6 hours.

How Do I Keep the Bananas From Turning Brown?

Prevent the banana slices from turning brown by squeezing some lemon juice on them. Coating them in citric acid will keep them looking nice and fresh. Just be careful not to go overboard so that you don’t change the flavor of the pudding.

A baking dish filled with banana pudding.

Tips for Success

Okay, we’re almost there! I know this has been a lot of information, but banana pudding is so worth the reading.

Here are some quick tips to skim through before you get started:

  • Use Room Temp Cream Cheese: 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: 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.
  • How Many Cookies Should I Use? I wouldn’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.
  • Can I Make This Ahead? Yes! That’s what’s so great about this recipe. It’s PERFECT for entertaining because making it ahead is not only easier, but better taste-wise! The longer it sits, the more tasty it gets. The cookies get softer and the flavors just combine more. You can make this up to 2 days in advance!
Banana Pudding in a bowl with a bite and spoon taken out

How to Store Banana Pudding

I like to store any leftover banana pudding in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to 3 days. After that, the cookies will probably become soggy.

Two bowls of banana pudding.
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: Serves 12 1x
  • Category Category: Pudding
  • Method Method: No Bake
  • Cuisine Cuisine: Dessert

Description:

This Old Fashioned Banana Pudding recipe is the best I’ve ever had! Creamy, rich, and almost mousse-like, my homemade banana pudding tastes just the way Grandma used to make it. 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 1/4 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. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Fold 4 ounces (half) of the Cool Whip (or whipped cream) into the pudding until combined.
  5. 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.
  6. Crumble any remaining cookies on top of the Cool Whip and/or place more cookies around the edge of the pan for decoration.
  7. 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:: banana pudding recipe, easy banana pudding

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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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Virginia
April 5, 2021 8:48 am

This was delicious! Very big hit for our Easter dessert!

Maude
March 21, 2021 1:51 pm

Hi! I love this recipe, but whenever I make it it turns out watery…I’m following the directions to a T. I got it right once, but can’t seem to master it again. Any suggestions?

Lillian
July 6, 2021 4:59 pm
Reply to  Maude

I find that using whole milk is the trick. When I have used lower fat content, it’s watery.

Katherine
February 18, 2021 4:41 pm

Can you use canned banana pudding in place of instant vanilla pudding

Krystal Jeffery
November 25, 2020 7:04 pm

I’m using this recipe but I’m not sure why my mix is watery ,Can you help me out

Isaiah
November 25, 2020 3:42 pm

So Shelly, hi I’m making this again for like the 5th time for thanksgiving. This time I doubled the recipe, but I was wondering what it would taste like if I used either chocolate or strawberry milk? I use promise land milk and they only had chocolate in the store. Also would it drastically change the flavor if I used a little bit of pumpkin spice inst pudding in there in addition to the French vanilla? I probably will end up doing this anyway but I just wanted your input. happy thanksgiving!!

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.

Anna Sells Bananas
April 11, 2021 7:44 pm
Reply to  Lundy P Wilder

They still do….lol. And I did the same thing!!

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?

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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