This is the BEST Banana Pudding recipe and bonus: it’s made in 20 minutes! Crunchy cookies (vanilla wafers or Chessmen cookies) are layered with fresh banana slices and creamy pudding.
What is banana pudding?
Banana pudding is a layered dessert typically made up of cookies, sliced bananas, and a vanilla custard. Today, we’re boosting that banana flavor by using banana cream pudding instead of vanilla… and it takes banana pudding from good to GREAT.
I have two flavor boosters in today’s banana pudding recipe: banana flavored pudding and cream cheese!
- Instant Pudding Mix – use the banana cream flavor for extra banana flavor. Prepare according to package directions with 2% milk for silky smooth pudding.
- Cream Cheese – adds a tanginess to the filling.
- Cool Whip – lightens the mixture to create a super fluffy pudding!
- Sweetened Condensed Milk – helps create a custard-like texture and richness to the dessert.
- Vanilla Extract – adds warmth and sweetness.
- Cookies – Vanilla Wafers or Chessmen Cookies. They soften slightly between the banana and pudding layers to create an amazing texture. Crush a few on top right before serving for a crunchy texture, if desired!
- Bananas – fresh, sliced bananas add even more banana flavor and extra creamy texture.
- Whipped Cream – optional, for topping
How to make
This recipe couldn’t get easier — only 20 minutes to whip up!
- Make your pudding according to package directions and set aside.
- Using a hand-mixer, mix together cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract then beat in pudding. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the cool whip.
- Line a baking dish with one later of cookies then top each wafer with a banana slice.
- Spread half of the pudding mixture over the wafers/bananas then repeat the layers.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours then crush the remaining wafers over the top, serve, and enjoy!
How to layer banana pudding
Do each of the three layers two times through to create a six layer dessert.
- Place a layer of vanilla wafers or chessmen cookies into the bottom of your prepared dish.
- Top each wafer with one banana slice.
- Pour on half the pudding mixture, then use a spatula to smooth it out.
How do you keep bananas from turning brown in banana pudding?
Bananas naturally start to oxidize pretty quickly after they’re peeled. Although that doesn’t mean they’re bad, it doesn’t look quite as pretty. Here are a few ways to slow down that process.
- Work quickly. Have the wafers and pudding ready to go, THEN slice the bananas and assemble.
- Cover the banana completely with the custard, then cover the assembled pudding with saran wrap. The less contact with air the better.
- Use a different pudding. If you want a little less banana flavor, try vanilla or cheesecake pudding mix instead.
- Use a different cookie. Try a graham crackers or chessmen cookies for a little something different.
- Make it coconut. Layer in some toasted coconut or use coconut pudding for a tropical twist.
- Swirl in caramel. Either layer in some caramel sauce or use it to top off your dessert before serving!
- Add more fresh fruit. Switch it up by layering in other fresh fruit. Strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries would also be delicious.
- Add crushed candy. Sprinkle on some crushed toffee or your favorite candy.
How to store
Store leftover banana pudding in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Enjoy again straight from the fridge!
Can you freeze banana pudding?
I don’t recommend freezing this dessert because the texture will be affected. – Jennifer
Equipment for this recipe
- 2 (3.4 oz) packages instant banana cream pudding mix made according to package directions (I used 2% milk)
- 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese softened to room temperature
- 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 (8 oz) container frozen cool whip thawed in the fridge according to package directions
- 1 (11 oz) package vanilla wafers you can also use 2-3 (7.25oz) packages of Chessmen Butter Cookies
- 4-6 bananas cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
- Whipped cream optional for topping
- Make pudding according to package directions. Set aside for 5 minutes to thicken.
- Place cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract into a large bowl.
- Use a hand mixer to beat together until well combined.
- Beat in the thickened pudding.
- Use a rubber spatula to fold in the cool whip.
- Line a 9 x13 baking dish with one layer of vanilla wafers.
- Top each wafer with a banana slice.
- Spread half of the pudding mixture on top of the bananas.
- Repeat the layers (wafers, bananas, pudding).
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Crush the remaining vanilla wafers and sprinkle over the top.
- Serve with dollops of whipped cream, if desired and enjoy!
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*Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.