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Easy Banana Pudding

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Banana pudding is a Southern classic that can always be found for dessert at a family gathering. Though it may appear complicated with its many layers, making banana pudding from scratch is a breeze. 

Layering the pudding, bananas, vanilla wafer cookies, and of course, cool whip makes for a great make ahead dessert, leaving your kitchen clean and orderly for company!! 



Our family thinks this is the best banana pudding recipe around. Its fresh taste goes great to finish off a picnic or after a cozy holiday meal. 

Not to mention, once you’re done it is quite beautiful! Take it along with you to a party and you’ll be sure to grab compliments from everyone who tries it. 

What makes this easy banana pudding with cool whip recipe so special is it isn’t made with artificial banana flavoring. This is a classic pudding that brings the familiar flavors of banana and vanilla wafers to a whole new level!

It is a wonderful treat that will please all ages. This creamy banana pudding recipe is fun for our family to share with everyone at our dinner table.



What you’ll need for this Banana Pudding Recipe:  

  • Cream Cheese: This recipe is much easier to make when the cream cheese is already at room temperature. Pro-tip! Take the cream cheese out of the fridge 20-30 minutes before you start preparing this dish. 
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk: Sweetened condensed milk adds a delicious honey flavor and is one of the key ingredients to thicken up the banana pudding 
  • Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix: Be sure to choose instant vanilla pudding and not cooked.  Our goal is fewer pans and fewer dishes!  This creamy banana pudding recipe will be ready to eat in no time when you make use of the instant pudding mix. 
  • Milk: I always prefer to make my desserts with whole milk, however, any percent will work. 
  • Vanilla Extract: It really doesn’t matter if you use real or imitation extract for this recipe. We’re trying to keep this easy, so whichever one you prefer will be just fine! 
  • Cool Whip, Thawed: I won’t lie, when cool whip is involved, it is always my favorite part of the dish. This thick banana pudding will call for cool whip in the pudding and on top of it! Including the cool whip instead of real whipped cream will help stabilize the pudding without the cream melting into a puddle. 
  • Sliced Bananas: Of course, you could not make banana pudding from scratch without bananas! Choose bananas that look fit for a photo shoot – no brown or green spots. 
  • Vanilla Wafer Cookies: I love preparing this dessert because I get to keep a box of Vanilla Wafer Cookies next to me the whole time. I always sneak a few while I’m preparing this recipe. 



How to make Banana Pudding: 

There are three easy steps to making the BEST banana pudding recipe!

  1.  Make your pudding.  This isn’t just a quick boxed recipe.  It’s a matter of taking a boxed pudding mix and elevating it to the most delicious pudding you’ve ever tasted!  That will require adding in a few extra ingredients.
  2. Layers!  Serve your banana pudding in a casserole dish or trifle dish.  Both will look pretty and make sure each guest gets a little bit of everything in each bite.    You’ll layer Nilla Wafers, bananas and pudding and then repeat again!
  3. Chill, serve and enjoy!  All that “easy work” needs to result in you putting your feet up and enjoying a nice bowl of creamy homemade banana pudding!  



What bananas are best for Banana Pudding?

When choosing bananas for this recipe, find ripe bananas with no brown or green spots. You’re looking for bananas that look ready to eat that day! This recipe calls for the freshest bananas because they provide the best texture and flavor!   

How to Keep Bananas from Turning Brown in Banana Pudding: 

You’ll want to toss the bananas in a little citrus juice before layering them with the pudding. A little lemon juice or orange juice works great to keep your bananas looking bright and yellow for longer! 

However, no matter how much citrus juice you use, eventually, your bananas WILL turn brown.  This might be that day or a few days later. However, don’t panic if they do start to turn brown on you.



Can I make Banana Pudding ahead of time? 

Yes! This easy banana pudding can be made up to three days in advance.  This means you’ll have a clean kitchen and a beautiful dessert all ready for your guests.  Keep in mind though, as mentioned above, bananas will eventually turn brown. So if you make this 3 days in advance, your bananas *may* brown.  



How long does Banana Pudding Last?

This depends on if I’m invited to your dinner or not.  If I am, you won’t have to worry about leftovers. However, if I’m not there, you can keep your banana pudding in the refrigerator for up to three days if made the same day as the party. 

Bananas at their best will only last about 3 days.  So if you make it 3 days in advance, hurry and eat it up. Or if you make it fresh for the party, you’ve got a few days to keep nibbling!



More Banana Inspired Desserts: 

Similar Desserts You’ll Love: 



This is hands down the best banana pudding recipe around. It is easy to make, and even easier to eat. If you were already a fan of banana pudding with cool whip, then this recipe is a great way to share this classic Southern dish with friends and family. 


Yield: 12 Servings

Thick & Creamy Banana Pudding

Easy Banana Pudding - spoon in pudding, ready to eat.

Banana pudding is a Southern classic that can always be found for dessert at a family gathering. Though it may appear complicated with its many layers, making banana pudding from scratch is a breeze.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Inactive Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes


  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (5 ounce) package INSTANT vanilla pudding mix
  • 3 cups cold milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (8 ounce) container frozen cool whip, thawed, divided.
  • 4 bananas, sliced
  • vanilla wafer cookies


  1. In a large bowl, with a hand mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth.
  2. Slowly beat in sweetened condensed milk until entire can has been mixed.
  3. Add instant pudding powder and mix until smooth.
  4. Slowly add milk 1/2 cup at a time until all milk has been added.
  5. Now add vanilla extract and blend.
  6. In a separate bowl, blend half tub of cool whip until smooth. Set other half aside.
  7. Add 1 cup of pudding mixture into cool whip and mix well.
  8. Pour cool whip mixture into pudding mixture and blend - this will help prevent chunks.
  9. In a trifle dish or casserole dish, layer vanilla cookies, sliced bananas and pudding. Repeat layer one or two more times, depending on your dish. Top with remaining cool whip.
  10. Chill in fridge for 2 hours to overnight to allow pudding to thicken up and set.
  11. Serve chilled.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 131Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 173mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 15gProtein: 3g
Recipe by All Recipes

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Monday 1st of April 2024

If I want to do 9x13 dish would I double this recipe? Thanks

Num's The Word

Tuesday 2nd of April 2024

Sounds about right to me!


Sunday 28th of May 2023

This was wonderful! I used crushed ginger snap’s instead of the vanilla wafers to give it a little more flavor, but the pudding with the addition of the condensed milk and the cream cheese really put this dessert over the top!!


Sunday 1st of October 2023

I love the idea of gingersnaps! Thanks for sharing KC!

Marie Mar

Wednesday 10th of May 2023

I haven't had this since I was a kid. My Mom and Grandmother made it quite a bit. They used cook and serve pudding as I don't think instant had been invented yet, and no cream cheese in theirs. Graham crackers can also be substituted for the Vanilla wafers. I will be making this one soon, as it is easier without having to cook the pudding first, and the cream cheese sounds yummy! Mom and Grandma also used real whipped cream as there was no Cool Whip then, either :) I'm old as dirt!


Sunday 1st of October 2023

I love old fashioned recipes! I'm so glad you have such lovely memories of banana pudding with your mother and grandmother! Makes my heart swell.


Friday 24th of March 2023

Is there any chance I could sub sugar free I stand jell-o vanilla pudding mix? The box only has 1.5 oz but the same amount of servings. Should I add more than one box? Thanks

Num's The Word

Tuesday 2nd of April 2024

I don't see why not.


Monday 20th of June 2022

I like banana pudding and I am going to make some thank you the recipe


Friday 1st of July 2022

I hope you enjoy it!

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