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This quick and easy banana pudding just might be the perfect dessert! The no-bake treat requires only 5 ingredients and 15 minutes of prep. With Nilla wafers, Jello instant pudding, ripe bananas, and Cool Whip, it’s ideal for those days when you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen!

Overhead shot of a semi homemade banana pudding recipe.

How to Make Banana Pudding | 1-Minute Video

Stirring together instant vanilla pudding.

Semi Homemade Banana Pudding Recipe

The quick, semi-homemade recipe originally comes from my friend Linda, who served it for a picnic when her grown son came back home to visit. She wanted a menu that she could prepare in advance (to avoid any last-minute kitchen stress while guests were around), so she offered country ham biscuits, potato salad, deviled eggs, and this no bake banana pudding for dessert. Sounds like the perfect menu for casual entertaining, right?!

Best of all, this semi homemade recipe takes advantage of plenty of shortcuts — from Jell-O instant pudding to Nabisco Nilla Wafer cookies and Cool Whip topping. You don’t have to make a custard from scratch or whip up your own meringue. Instead, the quick dessert comes together in about 15 minutes…and always disappears fast! It’s a classic Southern dessert that the whole family will love.

Arranging bananas in a glass dish.

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the simple ingredients that you’ll need to prepare the easy homemade banana pudding. As always, specific measurements and complete instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Vanilla wafer cookies: I always use Nabisco Nilla Wafer brand, but any similar version will work. Try graham crackers as an alternative!
  • Vanilla instant pudding mix: the small 4-serving box of Jell-O instant pudding is perfect, but you can use a larger box if you like thicker layers of pudding.
  • Milk: to prepare the instant pudding.
  • Bananas: you want them ripe and sweet, but not too ripe and mushy.
  • Frozen whipped topping: such as Cool Whip, thawed in the refrigerator overnight. You can certainly use your own homemade sweetened whipped cream with a touch of vanilla extract if you prefer!
Spreading cool whip on top of banana pudding.

How to Make Banana Pudding

I’m not kidding when I say that this no-bake recipe is one of the easiest Southern desserts you’ll ever make. Unlike classic Southern banana pudding recipes, there’s no need to use an electric mixer to beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form; no need to stress over made-from-scratch meringue; and no need to stir custard in a saucepan on the stovetop. Once your ingredients are ready, it’s just a matter of assembling the dessert and sticking it in the refrigerator!

  1. Whisk together the vanilla pudding mix and the milk in a large mixing bowl, according to the instructions on the box. Set aside in the fridge.
  2. Arrange vanilla wafers in a single layer in the bottom of an 11 x 7-inch (medium) casserole dish.
  3. Spread half of the prepared pudding mixture over the cookies.
  4. Top the pudding with a single layer of banana slices.
  5. Repeat the layers once more, starting with the cookies.
  6. Top the final layer of banana slices with the Cool Whip.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or overnight).
  8. Garnish with additional banana slices or Nilla wafers just before serving.
Side shot of two bowls of easy banana pudding.

How to Keep Banana Pudding from Getting Watery

Since you’re using Jell-O instant vanilla pudding mix and Cool Whip in this no-bake recipe (rather than a homemade custard and meringue), you’ll find that the dish holds up really well in the refrigerator and doesn’t get watery at all! The ingredients come together, the cookies soften, and the easy banana pudding just gets better with time.

Overhead shot of a serving spoon in a glass dish of banana pudding.

How to Keep Bananas from Turning Brown in Banana Pudding

If you make the dessert just a few hours in advance, you don’t need to worry about the fruit turning brown. However, if you prefer to assemble the banana pudding the day before, I would suggest treating the banana slices with citrus juice (such as lemon juice or orange juice) to prevent the oxidation that causes the unappealing brown tint.

Be careful not to use too much citrus juice, though. You don’t want your banana pudding to taste like lemon pudding. Instead, just brush the juice lightly onto the fruit or spritz them with a spray bottle. In other words — use as little juice as possible.

Also, be sure to wait until the last minute to garnish the top of your banana pudding. I like to add banana slices or extra vanilla wafers on top just before I bring it to the table.

Quick and easy banana pudding recipe on a wooden table.

Storage

Cover with plastic wrap and store the banana pudding in the refrigerator. Leftovers will last in an airtight container for up to 3 days. I do not recommend freezing the dessert, since the texture and quality of the whipped topping, bananas, and cookies will be “off” when thawed.

Vintage spoon in a glass dish full of the best banana pudding recipe.

Recipe Variations

  • Sugar-Free. While you can’t prepare an entirely sugar-free banana pudding (since the fruit and cookies will have sugar in them), you can cut down on some of the sugar by substituting with sugar-free instant pudding mix and sugar-free Cool Whip.
  • Pepperidge Farm Chessmen Cookies or graham crackers are a good substitute for the vanilla wafers.
  • Instead of the Cool Whip, feel free to use heavy cream to make your own homemade whipped cream for topping the pudding. It might require a stand mixer, but it’s often worth the effort!
  • Love even more banana flavors? Some readers have used banana cream flavored pudding mix (instead of vanilla) for even more banana taste.
  • Layer the same ingredients in larger quantities in a trifle dish, trifle bowl, or other large bowl. Alternatively, you can assemble individual banana puddings in small glass dishes or mason jars.
Close up side shot of easy banana pudding recipe served in two glass bowls.

Tips for the Best Banana Pudding Recipe

  • Use bananas that are ripe and sweet, but not overripe and mushy.
  • Remember to thaw the Cool Whip in the refrigerator overnight before layering the dessert. Do not thaw Cool Whip on the counter at room temperature, because it has a tendency to “melt” and lose its fluffy consistency when it gets too warm.
  • Make the banana pudding ahead so that it has at least 4 hours to chill in the refrigerator before serving. This will give the cookies time to soften and the layers will come together.
  • Use a larger (5.1 oz) box of vanilla instant pudding if you prefer thicker layers of pudding in your dish.
Overhead shot of a serving spoon in a glass dish of semi homemade banana pudding recipe.

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Quick and Easy Banana Pudding

4.90 from 28 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes
Chilling Time 4 hours
Total: 4 hours 15 minutes
Servings 9 servings
Calories 287 kcal
This simple, shortcut, easy banana pudding recipe is the ultimate prep-ahead, no-bake dessert!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 (11 ounce) box vanilla wafer cookies
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) small (4-serving) box vanilla instant pudding mix (plus the 2 cups of milk called for on the package to prepare the pudding)
  • 3-4 large ripe bananas, thinly sliced (plus extra for garnish)
  • 8 ounce container frozen whipped topping (such as Cool Whip), thawed

Instructions

  • Prepare the pudding according to the package instructions. Refrigerate and set aside.
    Stirring together instant vanilla pudding.
  • Arrange vanilla wafer cookies in a single layer on the bottom of an 11 x 7-inch baking dish. I used 24 cookies for each layer. Use a spatula to spread half of the prepared pudding (approximately 1 cup) over the cookies. Top the pudding with a single layer of banana slices. Repeat the layers, starting with cookies.
    Arranging bananas in a glass dish.
  • Top the final layer of banana slices with whipped topping. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or overnight). Just before serving, garnish with extra vanilla wafers and sliced banana, if desired.
    Spreading cool whip on top of banana pudding.

Video

Notes

  • Use bananas that are ripe and sweet, but not overripe and mushy.
  • Remember to thaw the Cool Whip in the refrigerator overnight before layering the dessert. Do not thaw Cool Whip on the counter at room temperature, because it has a tendency to “melt” and lose its fluffy consistency when it gets too warm.
  • Make the banana pudding ahead so that it has at least 4 hours to chill in the refrigerator before serving. This will give the cookies time to soften and the layers will come together.
  • Use a larger (5.1 ounce) box of vanilla instant pudding if you prefer thicker layers of pudding in your dish.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/9 of the recipeCalories: 287kcalCarbohydrates: 51gProtein: 4gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 240mgPotassium: 270mgFiber: 2gSugar: 30gVitamin A: 123IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 93mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: banana pudding, easy banana pudding, no bake, semi homemade banana pudding
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan

This post was originally published in June, 2013. The photos were updated in December, 2021.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. Christy says:

    Can you make the banana pudding without the cool whip?

    1. Blair says:

      Sure! It would just be the Nilla wafers, bananas, and vanilla pudding, but that would still taste good. 🙂

      1. Pat Stroud says:

        If I use cooked jello pudding mix, will,it be okay?

        1. Blair Lonergan says:

          Hi, Pat! Sure, you can use a cook and serve version of the pudding mix — just make sure that you prepare the pudding according to the instructions on the package. It takes a bit longer than the instant pudding mix, but the end result should be just as good. 🙂

      2. Lila says:

        5 stars
        I needed something quick and simple for a last minute decision to go to a pot luck. This was perfect.

        1. The Seasoned Mom says:

          We’re so happy to hear it, Lila!

  2. Blair says:

    Hi, Margaret! I just use the standard size (not the giant double-sized tub). Hope that helps!

  3. Tommie McCoy says:

    5 stars
    Thanks for the easy recipe my children are all smiles. I think I might be dad of the year!????

    1. Blair says:

      Awesome. Thank you!

  4. Hattie says:

    I spent a lot of time to locate something like this

  5. martha jo keller says:

    have you tried it with instant banana pudding

    1. Blair says:

      Hi, Martha Jo! I have not, but I’m sure it would be delicious!

    2. Trisha says:

      Have you? I wanted to make and got banana cream and now see all the recipes call for vanilla…

      1. Sara Rummel says:

        I like it better with banana pudding.

      2. Talon MacTavish says:

        5 stars
        I did the same thing. Got the Banana Cream and my daughters got onto me so I had to go get vanilla instead. lol

  6. Darlene Snyder says:

    5 stars
    Easy, quick, delicious !!!

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Darlene! So glad that you enjoyed it!

  7. Debra Collins says:

    It’s good but not the same as the old fashion banana pudding

    1. Blair says:

      True — it’s not going to be the same as a homemade custard and meringue, but I always appreciate the shortcut! 🙂

  8. Zay Smith says:

    5 stars
    I did graham crackers (crumbled for the base), layer of wafers, layer of bananas, layer of vanilla pudding. Then another layer of wafers, layer of bananas, layer of lemon pudding. Then layer of wafers, layer of bananas, layer of banana pudding & finally crumbled graham crackers to garnish. Try it, it’s delicious!!… Thx for the recipe by the way ????????

    1. Blair says:

      Sounds amazing, Zay! Thanks!

    2. Talon MacTavish says:

      5 stars
      OOOooo I bet the Keebler Graham Cracker pie crust would be amazing to make this into pies too.

      And then instead of bananas and vanilla pudding, you could use cherry pie filling!

      (you made a different dessert completely)

      1. Li says:

        lol

  9. Nillapuddi says:

    5 stars
    Thanks, all these other sites want 1,000 ingredients, like it’s just vanilla banana pudding! I like simple, it’s always the best taste, just like mom used to make.

    1. Blair says:

      Thank you! I totally agree! 🙂

      1. Kathy Lopez says:

        5 stars
        I make this quite a bit; it’s wonderful in the summertime! But I do believe that if I made it with Cool Whip instead of real whipped cream, some distant Doutgern female relative would rise up right out of her grave and SLAP the taste right out of my mouth!

        1. Blair says:

          Hey, real whipped cream is a great treat if you’re not looking for the Cool Whip shortcut. 🙂 Glad you enjoy it, Kathy!

  10. Dawn says:

    Can you use meringue on the top and brown in the oven with the instant pudding?

    1. Blair says:

      Hi, Dawn! I don’t know — I haven’t tried it, but I would be worried that the pudding would just “melt” in the oven since there are no eggs to make it stay stable when heated. That’s just my guess — it might work fine, I just haven’t ever tested it. 🙂

  11. Priscilla says:

    5 stars
    I make it today love it. i always use banana pudding. Taste just the same. Thanks for the new recipe

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Priscilla! So glad that you enjoyed it! 🙂

      1. DEVYANI PATEL says:

        I love that you responded to almost every post! That’s so awesome. It shows your work and opinions of your audience seriously. Thank you for this great recipe! God bless.

        1. Blair says:

          Of course! Thank you!

    2. Chyna's mom says:

      Thank you Claire I will be making banana pudding today for the 4th of July and you’re right it is so hot out a perfect dessert for today thank you

      1. Blair says:

        Awesome! Enjoy, and happy 4th!

  12. Amelia says:

    I made this recipe with sugar free pudding, sugar free cool whip, and vanilla almond milk. Only the vanilla wafers had sugar Very tasty. Couldn’t tell the difference.

    1. Blair says:

      That’s great, Amelia! I’m so glad that it worked for you. Such an easy dessert, right?!

  13. Brittany says:

    5 stars
    Thank you so much simple and easy making it tonight

    1. Blair says:

      Awesome! Enjoy, Brittany! Definitely one of our faves!

  14. Alex says:

    5 stars
    I just made this recipe and it was so good!! It was exactly what I was looking for with basic ingredients but that’s all you need for banana pudding. Thank you!

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Alex! 🙂

  15. Monica says:

    5 stars
    I made this recipe for my daughter because it boasted “Quick and Easy.” Not only was it quick and easy to make but it was delicious! We used mini Nilla wafers and added Whipped Cream to each serving as opposed to topping with Cool Whip. This also made it fun since my kids love Whipped Cream. We will definitely be eating this again!

    1. Blair says:

      Yay! Thanks for taking the time to let me know, Monica! So glad that it was a hit. 🙂

  16. Kate says:

    5 stars
    Hi Blair! Thanks for the recipe, I’m looking forward to making this tomorrow! I was just wondering if there’s a difference in mixing the pudding with water instead of milk? The box says water but I’ve heard some people use milk instead so I was just wondering if it would make a difference.

    1. Blair says:

      Hey, Kate! I’ve never tried it with water. The box of Jell-O pudding that I always use calls for milk. Are you using a different brand, maybe? As long as you’re following the instructions on your package, I suppose it would be fine. I just think the milk would make it creamier. Again, I’ve never tried a water version, though. Enjoy!!

      1. Kate says:

        5 stars
        Thanks for the quick response Blair! Sorry I meant to say it the other way around, that the box calls for milk instead of water but I heard some people use water. I assumed milk would be better since it’ll be creamier, just like you mentioned.

        1. Blair says:

          Oh, okay! Sorry if I misunderstood. 🙂 I haven’t ever tried it with the water, so I would stick to the milk as instructed on the box (unless you’re feeling brave). Hah!

      2. Katelyn says:

        Can this be made the night before and served for lunch the next day? We have a potluck at work tomorrow and I’m wondering if it would be ok to make tonight or if I should assemble it in the morning?

        1. Blair says:

          Absolutely! 🙂

  17. Claire says:

    How many ounces is the pudding box you used?

    1. Blair says:

      Hi, Claire! It’s the 4-serving size box (which is the smaller of the two sizes sold). The box is 3.4 ounces. If you’re using the sugar-free variety, however, the smaller box weighs less (but will also work). Hope that helps!

  18. Laurie Emerson says:

    5 stars
    Thank you so so much for sharing this. I have been trying to find a easy to make banana pudding for a long, long time!

    1. Blair says:

      Yay! Enjoy, Laurie!

  19. Corrina Blackwell says:

    5 stars
    Thank you for the recipe
    My gramps loved it. I used banana cream pudding instead but it was great. Thank you again for the easy recipe.

    1. Blair says:

      Wonderful! I’m so glad that it was a hit, Corrina. Thanks for your note!

  20. Kathryn Peters-Rodbell says:

    Is it overkill to use banana flavored pudding in this recipe. I’m from Central Virginia, myself!

    1. Blair says:

      Not at all — if you love banana flavored pudding. 🙂 I prefer the taste of vanilla, but that’s just my personal taste. Hope you enjoy! I always love hearing from other Virginians…especially neighbors!

  21. Savannah Tacy says:

    5 stars
    I made it today and used everything. But I hope it takes good. Right now it’s raining. But I hope it’s good. Thank you for the recipe 🙂

    1. Blair says:

      I’m sure it will be perfect! 🙂 Hope you enjoy!

  22. Donna says:

    4 stars
    I made this but had to use 2 boxes of pudding as one did not seem to be enough

  23. Richard says:

    Hi,
    I live in NS, CA and am a late comer to your interweb pages of deliciousness.
    I love to cook and experiment but not much of a baker with the exception of my moms homemade bread, which is one of the many things she taught us kids before we left the nest, albeit i think i need lessons on knitting again….
    I just wanted to say thank you for the recipes and inspiration over the past year.
    Happy safe holidays and new year to you and yours Ms. Blair.
    O

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Thanks, Richard! I think you’re doing well if you can make homemade bread. That’s such a treat!

      I appreciate your kind note. Have a great holiday season!

  24. Bennie says:

    So do I have to cook the vanilla pudding if I
    Only have the cooked version instead of instant to make banana pudding?

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Hi, Bennie! Yes, if you’re using the cook and serve version of the vanilla pudding, you need to prepare the pudding according to the package instructions. Enjoy!

  25. Tess says:

    5 stars
    I made this banana pudding last week and it was so yummy!! My hubby & I gobbled it up! I doubled it so we would have more… and we were really glad I did! So easy to make & definitely going into the “keeper” file! Thanks.

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Thank you, Tess! I’m so glad that you both liked it! 🙂

  26. Barbara says:

    5 stars
    My mother in law makes this and brings us some and I just love it. I wasnt real sure how to make it, so I followed your recipe and made it myself for the 1st time. Thanks so much for keeping things quick and easy. I’m going to have to try more of your recipes now.

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      We’re so happy to hear this, Barbara! Thanks for giving it a try.

  27. Madison says:

    4 stars
    I Love baking.

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      We definitely love our baked goods, too! However, we can never resist a good no-bake recipe as well.

    2. Mee says:

      5 stars
      I absolutely love this recipe AND love the fact that I can make it totally gluten free! I also substitute the milk for almond milk and no one’s ever complained Definitely a keeper! Thank you for sharing!

      1. The Seasoned Mom says:

        Thank you so much!

  28. Cathy says:

    Made this , this morning, made meatloaf also, can’t wait until dinner and dessert. My stomach is growling haha

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      We hope you enjoy it!

  29. Diane says:

    4 stars
    I used (instant) banana pudding instead of vanilla. It really helps with less-than-stellar-tasting bananas. 🙂 Also, if you spread a thin layer of pudding (or cool whip) on the bottom of the dish before laying the first round of cookies in, the cookies will stick to the pudding while you’re spreading the layer of pudding on top of those cookies. Have a great day! :o) (ps: you wrote “be sure to include a picture” but I don’t see a way to include my picture)

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      Thank you so much for sharing, Diane! We hope you enjoyed it.

  30. john says:

    5 stars
    Great. Simple to make but tastes delicious!

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      Thank you, John!

      1. Dot says:

        I found this recipe in 1979 in a Home Cooking magazine. I have been making it ever since. The recipe called for a large box of vanilla instant pudding and a 9×13” pan. Haven’t found anyone who doesn’t love it.

        1. Blair Lonergan says:

          That’s so funny, Dot! I received the recipe from my friend Linda about 10 years ago, but it’s very possible that she found the recipe in a magazine back in 1979, too (she’s closer to my mom’s age). I agree — it’s always a big hit! 🙂

  31. Meja says:

    Blair
    Blue Ridge Mountains! Gurl send us some fabulous pictures of the beautiful BR Mountains!