Banana Pudding

published Mar 19, 2024
Banana Pudding Recipe

The ultimate no-bake, make-ahead dessert.

Serves10 to 16

MakesMakes about 10 cups

Prep25 minutes

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head on shot of banana pudding in a trifle dish with laters of nilla wafers and banana slices
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Some people love cake, others prefer pie, but I am a pudding person through and through. I love all kinds — classic chocolate pudding, panna cotta, pastry cream, creme brûlée, the list goes on. Yet banana pudding is hands down my absolute favorite. The creamy pudding, sliced fresh bananas, and softened vanilla wafers come together to create something truly magical. And you don’t need to spend a single minute on baking!

The only real downside to banana pudding is that you have to let it sit in the fridge for a while before eating. But is that really so bad? Not in my book! This just means in addition to being delicious, it’s also the ultimate make-ahead dessert. This banana pudding recipe is inspired by one of my favorites from Magnolia Bakery.

Why You’ll Love It

  • Instant pudding mix makes this no-bake dessert as easy as it is delicious.
  • Sweetened condensed milk adds a concentrated creamy flavor that makes this the most decadent banana pudding. 

Key Ingredients in Banana Pudding

  • Milk. Use whole or 2% to make the pudding.
  • Instant vanilla pudding. It’s as easy as stirring in milk.
  • Sweetened condensed milk. The concentrated creamy flavor makes the pudding even better.
  • Salt. A pinch of salt goes a long way to balance the sweetness and amplify the flavors.
  • Heavy cream. For making whipped cream to lighten the pudding and spread on top.
  • Bananas. The pudding is plenty sweet, so opt for barely ripe bananas to keep it balanced.
  • Vanilla wafer cookies. You know the ones.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

How to Make Banana Pudding

  1. Make the pudding. Combine the milk, instant pudding, and sweetened condensed milk, and let it set in the fridge.
  2. Whip the cream. Whip chilled heavy cream until stiff peaks form, then fold some of it into the pudding (save the rest for the topping).
  3. Assemble the pudding. Spread layers of pudding in a trifle bowl with sliced bananas and vanilla wafer cookies. Then top with the remaining whipped cream.
  4. Rest the pudding. Cover and chill the pudding until the cookies soften and the pudding is chilled through.
  5. Finish and serve. Crumble a few vanilla wafer cookies on top of the pudding and serve.

Helpful Swaps

  • You can swap out homemade whipped cream for store-bought whipped topping. 
  • Use instant banana pudding in place of one vanilla pudding for extra banana flavor.
  • Layer banana pudding ingredients in a bunch of individual serving cups instead of one big serving dish.

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips

The banana pudding can be assembled (except for the crushed cookie topping) up to 12 hours before serving. Leftover banana pudding will last a few extra days. The bananas may brown a little once they’re exposed to air, but it will still be delicious.

How to Keep Bananas from Browning

To keep bananas as fresh looking as possible for as long as possible, you can toss them in a little lemon juice. Or you can just keep all of your banana layers covered. Sealing the banana slices between layers of pudding and cookies prevents them from oxidizing too quickly. Avoid adding sliced bananas on top and keep them inside the dessert!

More Banana Desserts to Try

Banana Pudding Recipe

The ultimate no-bake, make-ahead dessert.

Prep time 25 minutes

Makes Makes about 10 cups

Serves 10 to 16

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 cups

    cold whole or 2% milk

  • 2

    (3.4-ounce) boxes instant vanilla pudding

  • 1

    (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

  • A pinch of kosher salt

  • 2 cups

    cold heavy cream

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

  • 1 tablespoon

    powdered sugar

  • 4

    large barely ripe bananas

  • 1

    (about 11-ounce) box vanilla wafer cookies

Instructions

  1. Place 2 cups cold milk and 2 (3.4-ounce) boxes instant vanilla pudding in a large bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer on medium speed until completely smooth, about 15 seconds (or beat with the whisk attachment in a stand mixer on medium speed or whisk by hand). Add 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk and a pinch of kosher salt. Blend on medium speed until smooth. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding. Refrigerate until the pudding is firm, at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

  2. Once the pudding is set, make the whipped cream. Place 2 cups cold heavy cream in a large bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer on medium speed, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl about halfway through with a flexible spatula, until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes total. (Alternatively, beat with the whisk attachment in a stand mixer on medium speed or whisk by hand.)

  3. Remove the pudding from the refrigerator and stir to loosen. Add 2/3 of the whipped cream (about 2 1/2 cups) and gently fold together with a flexible spatula until no streaks remain. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon powdered sugar to the remaining whipped cream and gently fold to combine; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

  4. Peel 4 large barely ripe bananas and cut crosswise into 1/4-thick slices (about 4 cups). From an 11-ounce box of vanilla wafer cookies, set aside 5 for the topping. Spread 1/4 of the pudding (about 1 1/2 cups) in an even layer in a 4- to 5-quart trifle or glass serving bowl. Arrange 1/3 of the remaining vanilla wafer cookies (about 28) on top in an even layer, followed by 1/3 of the banana slices (about 1 1/3 cups).

  5. Repeat layering the pudding, vanilla wafer cookies, and banana slices two more times. Top with the remaining pudding. Dollop the whipped cream over the top and spread into an even layer. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 or up to 12 hours. Crush the 5 reserved cookies and sprinkle over the pudding just before serving.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: You can substitute 1 of the pudding boxes with instant banana pudding, if desired.

Make ahead: The banana pudding can be assembled (without the crushed cookie topping) up to 12 hours before serving. Top with the crushed cookies right before serving.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.