Quick and Easy Southern Banana Pudding

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Just wait — this quick and Easy Banana Pudding Recipe has an extra creamy filling with layers of nilla wafer cookies and fresh banana slices! I promise this is the perfect dessert if you are a banana pudding lover — every bite is absolutely luscious!

Why You’ll Love This Easy Banana Pudding!

Simple Ingredients. Use simple ingredients, get incredible flavor! Whip up instant pudding with cold milk, cream cheese, and whipped topping to make a delicious, creamy mixture. Then, layer it between crisp vanilla wafers and sliced bananas.

Cream Cheese Twist. The whole family will love this creamy cheesecake twist on a classic Southern dessert.

Easy Recipe. Could it get any easier than no-bake?

Ingredients for banana pudding on a table.

Ingredient Notes

  • Bananas — Use two ripe bananas sliced.
  • Cool Whip — To make this recipe especially easy, use a refrigerated whipped topping like Cool Whip. 
  • Nila Wafers —  For this dessert, use the original vanilla cookies. 
  • Banana Pudding — Use the instant pudding mix for this easy recipe.
  • Milk — Use full-fat whole milk for the best results.
  • Cream Cheese —  The cream cheese adds flavor and helps thicken the pudding.
  • Powdered Sugar — Powdered sugar sweetens the cream cheese, making it a bit like a cheesecake!

Note: There is no vanilla extract in this pudding recipe. The cream cheese and banana flavor are all you need to take this banana dessert over the top!

How to Make No Bake Banana Pudding

You’ll want to save this yummy best banana pudding recipe for family gatherings or whenever you need a last-minute dessert. It’s a classic dessert with a twist and disappears almost as quickly as you can make it!

STEP 1 | Make the filling

Let’s start with the pudding. Make sure your milk is really cold, then pour it into a large mixing bowl with the dry pudding mix and whisk until it is slightly thickening. This only takes seconds! Remember, you will use less milk than is indicated on the pudding package.

Process steps for making banana pudding: mix instant pudding with milk; beat cream cheese with Cool Whip.

In a separate bowl, beat the softened cream cheese using an electric mixer until creamy. Add the powdered sugar and mix until well combined. Gently fold in 1 ½ cups of the whipped topping until smooth.

Process steps for making banana pudding: fold cream cheese mixture into pudding.

Now, add the cream cheese mixture to the bowl of pudding and fold it in with a rubber spatula.

STEP 2 | Slice the bananas

Peel and slice your fresh bananas into rounds that are about 1/4-inch thick.

If you are making the pudding ahead of time, brushing the bananas with a bit of citrus juice will keep them from turning brown. Use sparingly, or the citrus will make the pudding tart.

Process steps for making banana pudding: spread pudding mixture over bananas.

STEP 3 | Layer ingredients

Line the bottom of an 11 x 7-inch dish with vanilla wafers, flat side down. Top with a layer of banana slices, then spoon half the pudding mixture on top. 

Smooth half the pudding mixture on top of the bananas and repeat the layers. Finish with a layer of whipped topping on top of the pudding.

Process steps for making banana pudding: top layers with Cool Whip and crushed wafers.

STEP 4 | Garnish and serve

Top the layers with whipped topping and garnish with vanilla wafer crumbs, whole cookies, or banana slices. Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. NOTE: You may have extra vanilla wafers left over.

Banana Pudding in a baking dish topped with sliced bananas and crushed wafers.

One last note, be careful not to lick the spoon too often while making the pudding, or you may not have enough to finish the dish—it’s that yummy!

If you love this banana dessert, next time try my Banana Bread French Toast, these hearty Banana Oat Muffins, or this luscious banana cream pie!

Tips from the Chef’s Kitchen

Be sure the bananas are not overly ripe. Too many brown spots and they will be too soft and not hold up in the pudding.

If garnishing with banana slices, add them just before serving so they are fresh and don’t discolor.

When making ahead, brush the banana slices with a small amount of citrus juice to keep them from turning brown.

I usually make my banana pudding in a single dish, but sometimes, making individual banana pudding jars is a fun way to serve it. With screw-on lids, mason jar desserts are easy to pack and transport to parties or outdoor picnics, and everyone loves them!

Variations and Substitutions

  • For a show-topper dessert, prepare my Southern Banana Pudding Recipe in an 11 x 7 baking dish, individual 8-ounce mason jars, or even a trifle dish. 
  • You may also make your own fresh whipped cream in just 5 minutes.
  • When I make this pudding in mason jars, I think the miniature vanilla wafer cookies (Nabisco Nilla Wafers) work best. In addition, Nutter Butter cookies (also available in miniature size) or Pepperidge Farms Chessman butter cookies are good options.
  • Be creative with your garnish — add a sprinkle of cinnamon, whole wafers, crushed wafer bits, or banana slices.

Storage Tips

If not serving immediately, cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Banana pudding is best within 2 days.

no bake banana pudding in small mason jars on white plate on a table.

Frequently Asked Questions

How far in advance can I make banana pudding?

Banana pudding can be made a day ahead of time, and the flavors get even better as it sits. Even when I make it in advance, the vanilla wafers still have some crunch with this recipe.

How do I keep bananas from turning brown in the pudding?

Brushing bananas with citrus juice (lemon or orange) keeps them from turning brown. Too much citrus, however, will make the pudding tart, so go lightly.

no bake banana pudding in small mason jars on a table.

Looking for More Easy Dessert Recipes?

My strawberry trifle is another no-bake dessert with fresh strawberries and a creamy ricotta filling that’s deliciously light and refreshing. Or, these bite-size cherry tarts made with canned cherry pie filling are simply irresistible.

What to Serve with Banana Pudding

I am not sure about you, but banana pudding screams Southern food to me! Why not make it a truly Southern meal with even more classics from the South?

A serving of banana pudding in a bowl with a full pudding in the background on a table.

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No Bake Banana Pudding

Just wait– this Quick and Easy Southern Banana Pudding Recipe has an extra creamy filling with a layer of nilla wafers and fresh banana slices on top! 
3.24 from 17 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Sweets
Cuisine American
Servings 9 servings
Calories 147 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 8-z. carton Cool Whip thawed
  • 2 bananas sliced
  • 1 box miniature Nilla wafers
  • 1 5-oz. pkg. instant banana pudding
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions
 

  • In a large bowl, whisk the pudding and milk together until slightly thickened.
  • In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer beat the cream cheese until creamy. Add the powdered sugar and mix until well combined. Fold in 1 1/2 cups whipped topping until smooth.
  • Add the cream cheese mixture to the bowl of pudding and fold in with a rubber spatula.
  • Line bottom of an 11 x 7-inch dish with vanilla wafers (or 9 8-ounce jars). Top with a layer of banana slices, then spoon half the pudding mixture on top. Repeat the layers.
  • Top with the remaining whipped topping and garnish with vanilla wafer crumbs, whole cookies, or banana slices. NOTE: You may have extra vanilla wafers leftover.
  • Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Notes

  • If making ahead of time, brush the banana slices with a small amount of citrus juice to keep them from turning brown.
  • When garnishing with banana slices, add them just before serving so that they are fresh and don’t discolor.
  • If not serving immediately, cover and refrigerate. Banana pudding is best consumed within 2 days.
  • Nutrition

    Serving: 1gCalories: 147kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 3gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 85mgFiber: 1gSugar: 19g

    Life Love and Good Food does not claim to be a registered dietician or nutritionist. Nutritional information shared on this site is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.

    Keyword banana, cool whip, desserts in a jar, mason jar desserts, nilla wafers, no bake dessert, pudding, trifle desserts
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was.

    Beyond the Recipe

    Every time my Mom brought home a box of vanilla wafers from the grocery store, we were sure we’d soon have homemade banana pudding for dessert.

    Entirely made from scratch, Mom would cook a vanilla custard with egg yolks and layer it between the cookies and sliced bananas. She used the extra egg whites to whip up a meringue for the top, then baked the pudding to toast the meringue.

    It was delicious, yes, but also time-consuming and more complicated. Cooking custard can be tricky — if you don’t temper the eggs just right, you end up with lumpy pudding! That’s one great thing about today’s recipe — no cooking required, and it’s perfect every time.

    Sheila Thigpen, blogger

    About Sheila Thigpen

    Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer

    Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

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