The $2 Boxed Mix You Should Always Have in Your Pantry (It’s My Favorite Birthday Treat)

published Apr 13, 2024
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Various brands of baking ingredients on store shelf in Village Grocer Store. Village Grocer is the coolest fresh premium supermarket in Malaysia.
Credit: TY Lim / Shutterstock

Spring has sprung (well, almost), and that can only mean one thing: Summer’s right around the corner. There’s something nostalgic about this time of year, and it’s hard to pick what I loved most about it when I was a kid: neighborhood bike rides, or swinging in the park, or lazy, sunburnt dinners of pasta salads, sandwiches, and snack boards, with the TV blaring in the background. In our household, though, warm weather meant it was time for a special treat: instant pudding. Specifically, Jell-O.

What’s So Great About Jell-O Oreo Cookies ‘n Creme Instant Pudding & Pie Filling Mix?

With absolutely no cooking time, this pudding is as close to instant as you’re likely to get, and it’s easy enough for even the littlest helpers to make (with supervision, of course). The assembly is simple: Stir the box of pudding mix with two cups of cold milk (any type works, but I’ve heard the non-dairy alternatives don’t always set the same), then chill it in the fridge for five minutes. Just like that, you’ve got the most luscious, refreshing pudding with very little mess or kitchen mishaps.

Credit: Lavanya Narayanan

The quality also never disappoints. While a surprising number of blogs will tell you that any ol’ instant pudding will do “just fine,” Jell-O seems to be the best (and creamiest) of all. It’s been around since the 1930s and remains a favorite among chefs and bakers across the country. I too can vouch for how good it is. 

As for my parents, the best part was probably that one box of pudding mix, which made four modest servings, cost us $1 in the 1990s. Score. It didn’t hurt that each flavor had a sugar-free, fat-free version that my diabetic dad could enjoy with us!

Credit: Lavanya Narayanan

What’s the Best Way to Use Jell-O Oreo Cookies ‘n Creme Instant Pudding & Pie Filling Mix?

Jell-O instant pudding comes in over a dozen flavors, including cheesecake, white chocolate, and, my personal favorite, Oreo Cookies ‘n Creme. Some don’t taste exactly like their namesakes (you get a hint of the flavor from the extracts), but Oreo Jell-O is the iconic sandwich cookies in crushed-up form. 

Any one of them can be eaten straight out of the bowl, and they’re also great blank canvases for all kinds of mix-ins — candy, cookie bits, pretzels, syrups, fudge topping, pretty much anything you’d add to ice cream.

Credit: Lavanya Narayanan

The best way to use Jell-O instant pudding, though, is in a pudding pie. It’s the only type of pie I’ll eat! Every year on my birthday, a close family friend made me my favorite type of dessert: Oreo pudding pie with Jell-O’s Oreo Cookies ‘n Creme Instant Pudding & Pie Filling Mix and an Oreo crust in place of graham crackers. (If you’re in a birthday cake rut, I highly recommend making this.)

Not only did it taste great back then (there’s still no better feeling than plunging your plastic spoon through an Oreo-crumbed surface into a creamy, smooth, chocolaty concoction), but it also still holds up today. After a decade-long hiatus, that family friend surprised me with the pudding pie for my 28th birthday two years ago. One plastic spoonful and I was right back to the dirt pudding afternoons I enjoyed so much as a kid. 

Buy: Jell-O Oreo Cookies ‘n Creme Instant Pudding & Pie Filling Mix, $1.87 for 4.2 ounces at Walmart

What boxed mix do you rely on? Tell us about it in the comments below.