Every time I make this banana pudding recipe, people tell me it’s the best banana pudding they’ve ever tasted. And the recipe is so easy!

Scooping banana pudding.

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Banana pudding made from scratch involves heating egg yolks with milk and vanilla and getting everything to the right consistency without curdling. It can be a little tricky.

Good news! You don’t have to do any of that with this banana pudding and nilla wafers recipe. This is one of those easy recipes that you can whip up with just a few steps, using boxed pudding mix and cool whip.

What is banana pudding

Surprisingly, the base of classic banana pudding is actually vanilla pudding. It’s the layering in of freshly sliced bananas that gives it the banana flavor.

Well, I love bananas, so this recipe uses both vanilla pudding and banana pudding, plus sliced bananas.

This recipe is inspired by the world famous Magnolia Bakery recipe. They mix sweetened condensed milk and whipped cream into the pudding to make it rich, light and airy.

Scooping banana pudding.

Ingredients

banana pudding ingredients.
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk: Look for this in the baking aisle. It comes in cans. Be sure not to buy evaporated milk. That’s different.
  • Cold Water
  • Milk: For the richest flavor, use whole milk.
  • Vanilla: You can use vanilla extract or vanilla paste.
  • Instant Pudding Mixes: I like using one box of instant vanilla pudding mix and one box of instant banana pudding mix. This recipe calls for the smaller 3.4-ounce box.
  • Cool Whip: When I’m in a rush, I use thawed Cool Whip. If you have more time, you can whip up your own whipped cream.
  • Vanilla Wafers: An 11-ounce box is perfect. You’ll need about 30 cookies for the bottom layer, 30 for the middle layer and 15-20 crushed cookies for the top.
  • Bananas: You’ll need 4-5 large bananas or 6-8 medium bananas.
Substitutions: Instead of vanilla wafers, you can also use shortbread cookies, chessman cookies or graham crackers. 

See the full recipe card below for servings and a full list of ingredients.


How to make banana pudding

To start, get a really large mixing bowl. This is going to make a big batch of pudding, so you can serve up a crowd.

  1. STEP ONE: In a large bowl, whisk together a can of sweetened condensed milk, cold water, whole milk and vanilla. You want it to be nice and smooth.
Whisk milks and water.
  1. STEP TWO: Add the vanilla and banana pudding mix powder and whisk for about two minutes. It will start to thicken. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
whisk pudding mix into milk.
  1. STEP THREE: Using a rubber spatula, fold the thawed Cool Whip into the pudding, until it’s all one color. You don’t want to see any yellow streaks of pudding.
folding cool whip into pudding.
PRO TIP: You can do this part up to five days in advance. Then, move onto the next step the day you're ready to serve the pudding. 
  1. STEP FOUR: Place a single layer of vanilla wafers (around 30) on the bottom of a deep 9×13 aluminum pan. Then, add a single layer of banana slices. Next, spoon on half of the pudding mixture and spread it evenly in the pan.
  1. STEP FIVE: Add another single layer of cookies (around 30) on top of the pudding, followed by a layer of banana slices. Top with the rest of the pudding. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

You may have some pudding leftover. Just save that for yourself as a treat.

PRO TIP: As an alternative, you can layer the ingredients into cupcake liners to make banana pudding cups. These make for fun individual servings. 
Banana pudding cup.

How to serve banana pudding

Banana pudding and vanilla wafers are best served cold straight from the refrigerator. Simply remove the lid and then sprinkle with crushed vanilla wafer cookies.

Scooping banana pudding.

This recipe makes a huge pan full, which is great for potlucks or backyard BBQ parties. Just place the dish on the table with a serving spoon. People will scoop out their serving and will come back for more.

For even more fruitiness and color, you can make banana pudding with strawberries on top. Just slice fresh strawberries and layer them on the pudding. Then, sprinkle on the crushed cookies.

If you want to turn this into banana cream pie, just layer the bottom of a graham cracker pie crust or baked pastry crust with bananas. Then, scoop the pudding on top and chill. Garnish with whipped cream and banana slices when ready to serve.

Storage

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. After that, the bananas may start to brown and the cookies will become more soggy.

If you need to make this in advance, you can make the pudding portion up to five days early. Then, layer everything the day you plan to serve it.

GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips

  • Save time by using instant pudding and Cool Whip
  • Let the pudding set for at least four hours before folding in the whipped topping
  • Garnish with crushed vanilla wafers just before serving so they stay crispy

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make banana pudding with vanilla pudding?

Yes. Classic banana pudding is actually made with vanilla pudding. It’s the addition of sliced bananas that give the dessert the banana flavor.

Can you make banana pudding with instant pudding?

Absolutely. This banana pudding recipe uses two boxes of instant pudding mix. I like to use one small box of vanilla or French vanilla pudding and one small box of banana pudding.

How do you keep the bananas from turning brown?

When making banana pudding, it’s best to slice the bananas and layer in the pudding the day you plan to serve it. Bananas that are just barely ripe will stay fresh longer.

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5 from 1 vote

Banana Pudding

Every time I make this banana pudding recipe, people tell me it's the best banana pudding they've ever tasted. And the recipe is so easy!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 24

Ingredients 

  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk, 1 can
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 3.4 oz instant vanilla pudding, 1 box
  • 3.4 oz instant banana pudding, 1 box
  • 16 oz Cool Whip topping, thawed
  • 11 oz box vanilla wafers
  • 4 lg bananas , sliced

Instructions 

  • Mix: In a large bowl, whisk together the condensed milk, cold water, milk and vanilla until smooth. Whisk in the pudding mixes. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Fold: Take the pudding out of the refrigerator. Fold in the cool whip, until everything is mixed smoothly.
  • First Layer: Place a single layer of vanilla wafers (around 30) on the bottom of a deep 13×9 aluminum pan. Add a single layer of banana slices. Spoon on half of the pudding and spread it out.
  • Second Layer: Add another single layer of wafers on top of the pudding. Add another single layer of banana slices on top of that. Spread on the remaining pudding mix. You may have a little leftover.
  • Chill: For best results, refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.
  • Serve: Just before serving, sprinkle the top with some crushed vanilla wafers.

Video

Notes

To reduce the sugar content, you can use the 1-ounce boxes of zero sugar pudding mix. 
Instead of Cool Whip, you can use 6 cups of homemade whipped cream. Just whip 3 cups of heavy cream into stiff peaks and fold in 1/4 cup powdered sugar. 

Nutrition

Calories: 196kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 3gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.03gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 179mgPotassium: 117mgFiber: 0.2gSugar: 25gVitamin A: 83IUVitamin C: 0.4mgCalcium: 80mgIron: 0.1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Did you try this recipe?Be sure to rate it, leave a comment and save it so you can make it again. Show off your awesome results on social by tagging @girlscangrill

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Hey BBQ Family

I’m Christie, the head cook and award-winning competitive pitmaster for Team Girls Can Grill. I have won multiple grand championships and top 10 category finishes. I’m an expert grill reviewer for BBQ Guys, and I have appeared on the Food Network and Ninja Woodfire Grill infomercials. I established this website in 2015 to share my BBQ tips and recipes.

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