Jump to RecipeJump to VideoLeave a ReviewPin Recipe

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

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 for a cool, creamy, sweet treat that you can assemble in advance. With Nilla wafers, Jello instant pudding, ripe bananas, and Cool Whip, this semi homemade banana pudding recipe is ideal for those days when you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen!

Overhead image of easy homemade banana pudding in a glass dish.

How to Make Banana Pudding | 1-Minute Video

Stirring together vanilla instant pudding.

Semi Homemade Banana Pudding

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!

Arranging sliced bananas in a 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 quick and easy! 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) 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.
Close up side shot of semi homemade banana pudding recipe in glass dishes.

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 glass dish full of easy banana pudding recipe.

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.

Two glass dishes full of easy banana pudding with nilla wafers.

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.

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

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.
Two cups of banana pudding on a wooden table.

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 image of banana pudding with nilla wafers and vanilla jello instant pudding.

Quick and Easy Banana Pudding

4.95 from 20 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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

Square overhead shot of hands serving a chicken pot pie recipe with biscuits
Overhead image of a bowl of chili mac on a dinner table with cornbread
Hands serving a platter of sheet pan sausage and potatoes

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. 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.