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No Bake Banana Pudding

Prepare my easy banana pudding in an 11 x 7 baking dish, individual 8-ounce mason jars, or even a trifle bowl for a show-topper dessert.

You’ll want to save this yummy no bake banana pudding recipe for whenever you need a last-minute dessert. It’s always popular and disappears almost as quickly as you can make it!

Whip up instant pudding with milk, cream cheese, and whipped topping to make a delicious, creamy pudding mixture. Then, layer it between crisp vanilla wafers and sliced bananas. Topped with more Cool Whip and garnished with a sprinkle of cinnamon, wafers, or banana slices, every bite is absolutely luscious!

Be careful that you don’t lick the spoon too many times while making the pudding for this easy banana dessert or you may not have enough to finish the dish — it’s that yummy!

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

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.

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

Why you’re going to love it!

  • Rich, creamy flavor. Always popular with kids and adults alike.
  • Simple recipe. Just a handful of ingredients and 15 minutes is all you need.
  • Easy make-ahead dessert. Even more delicious the next day!

No Bake Banana Pudding: behind the recipe

Every time my Mom brought home a box of vanilla wafers from the grocery store, it was a pretty sure bet we’d soon be having homemade banana pudding for dessert.

Completely 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 thing that’s great about today’s recipe — no cooking required and it’s perfect every time.

ingredients for no bake banana pudding on a table.

Key ingredients and substitutions

  • Bananas — 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.
  • Instant pudding — Either banana cream or vanilla pudding can be used.
  • Whipped topping — To make this recipe especially easy, use a refrigerated whipped topping like Cool Whip. You may also make your own fresh whipped cream in just 5 minutes.
  • Cream cheese — Because this recipe uses less milk than is called for on the pudding box, the cream cheese adds flavor and helps thicken the pudding.
  • Cookies — When I make this pudding in mason jars, I think the miniature vanilla wafer cookies (Nabisco Nilla Wafers) work best. If you’re making the dessert in a single dish, use the original size. In addition, Nutter Butter cookies (also available in miniature size) or Pepperidge Farms Chessman cookies are good options.

How to make easy banana pudding

process steps for making the pudding for no bake banana pudding jars: 1) mix instant pudding and milk; 2) whip cream cheese with powdered sugar and cool whip; 3) fold two mixtures together; 4) final bowl of pudding.

STEP 1 | Make the filling

  • Use a large bowl to mix the pudding with milk so you have room later when you add the cream cheese mixture.
  • Unlike a lot of other recipes, this banana pudding does not use sweetened condensed milk but still it is sweet enough and you’ll never miss the extra calories. Instead, using less milk in the pudding and the cream cheese is how the mixture is thickened.

STEP 2 | Slice the bananas

  • Peel and slice the bananas into rounds that are about 1/4-inch thick.
  • If you are making the pudding ahead of time, brushing the bananas with a little citrus juice will keep them from turning brown. Don’t use too much or the citrus will make the pudding tart.

STEP 3 | Layer ingredients

  • If you are making individual servings in mason jars, leave enough headspace to cover with a lid.
  • Place a layer of cookies flat side down in the bottom of your serving dish or jars, then top with a layer of banana slices.
  • Spoon half the pudding mixture on top of the bananas and repeat the layers. Finish with a layer of whipped topping on top.

STEP 4 | Garnish and serve

  • If garnishing with banana slices, add them just before serving so that they are fresh and don’t discolor.
  • Be creative with your garnish — add a sprinkle of cinnamon, whole wafers or crushed wafer bits, or banana slices.
  • If not serving immediately, cover and refrigerate. Banana pudding is best consumed 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 in fact the flavors intensify as it sits. I find that 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 a tiny bit of citrus juice (lemon or orange) with keep 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.

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Yield: 9 servings

No Bake Banana Pudding

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

Be careful that you don’t lick the spoon too many times while making the pudding for this easy banana dessert or you may not have enough to finish the dish — it’s that yummy!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the pudding and milk together until slightly thickened.
  2. 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.
  3. Add the cream cheese mixture to the bowl of pudding and fold in with a rubber spatula.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
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    Nutrition Information:

    Yield:

    9

    Serving Size:

    1

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 147Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 85mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 1gSugar: 19gProtein: 3g

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    sheila thigpen in her kitchen

    Sheila @ Life, Love & Good Food

    Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Home Cook, Wife, Mom, Nana

    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 Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

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