Easy Banana Pudding

This sweet and creamy banana pudding is hands down the best dessert you’ll bring to any party! I make this for every gathering, and it’s always a crowd favorite. My friends and family BEG me for the recipe every time, and I’m so excited to finally share this with you!

This recipe is inspired by Magnolia Bakery’s infamous banana pudding with a few modifications. If you want to be the one to bring the best dessert to your next gathering, you have to make this!

Why you’ll love this recipe

This easy banana pudding recipe will knock the socks off of your guests with just one bite! The trick is to add freshly whipped cream to the instant vanilla pudding mixture to turn it into the fluffiest filling for layering the sweet ripe bananas. The Nilla wafers create a soft and tender textural contrast that brings the dessert together.

And the best part is, this recipe requires no cooking and only takes seven ingredients to make. So you can (literally) whip this up anytime you’re craving an indulgent treat or want to bring a crowd-pleasing dessert to your next gathering! This dessert can also be made ahead of time, which makes this super convenient!

How do I prepare Easy Banana Pudding?

Follow the steps below to create this delectable dessert you can enjoy with your family and friends:

Step 1: Make the pudding

Combine sweetened condensed milk, ice-cold water, vanilla instant pudding mix, and salt in a bowl. Mix together until well combined. Cover and transfer the pudding to the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight to allow it to set.

Step 2: Add whipped cream

In a large bowl, add heavy cream and whip until stiff peaks form. Fold in ⅓ of the whipped cream into the pudding mixture, then pour the pudding mixture into the remaining whipped cream. Gently fold them together until there are no visible streaks.

Step 3: Assemble the pudding

To assemble, prepare a 4-quart glass or trifle bowl and add ¼ of the pudding mixture. Then layer on ⅓ of the Nilla wafers followed by ⅓ of the sliced bananas. Repeat two more times. 

You should be left with ¼ of the pudding mixture, which you will layer on top. Garnish with Nilla wafers, Nilla wafer crumbs, and sliced bananas.

(You can also watch the video below to see how I do this step. 😊)

Step 4: Cover and refrigerate

Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Serve chilled, and enjoy!

Preparation Tips for Easy Banana Pudding

To make the most delicious banana pudding dessert every time, here are a few tips and tricks you can keep in mind:

  • If you don’t have a 4-quart glass or trifle bowl, you can prepare the banana pudding in jars, mini cups, or a casserole dish.
  • Although I prefer the vanilla pudding flavor, you can use the banana-cream-flavored pudding for an extra boost of banana flavor. 
  • For best results, use bananas that are ripe but still firm. Under-ripe bananas lack in flavor and sweetness and over-ripe bananas can be too mushy and hard to handle.
  • The bananas tend to oxidize and turn brown when exposed to the air. To prevent this, cut them right before you are ready to assemble the banana pudding. 
  • The pudding mixture must be completely set before mixing with the whipped heavy cream otherwise the mixture will be too loose. 
  • You can make Nilla wafer crumbs by adding a few pieces into a sealed plastic bag and crushing them with a rolling pin. Alternatively, you can also use a mortar and pestle.
  • My banana pudding is not as sweet as Magnolia’s so feel free to adjust the amount of sweetened condensed milk added according to your preferred sweetness level. 

Easy Banana Pudding Ingredients & Substitutions

Sweetened condensed milk: sweetened condensed milk makes the pudding mixture rich, sweet, and creamy. While there are several brands, I prefer using the Longevity Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk

Iced cold water: ice cold water is used to dissolve the instant pudding mix, but most importantly, helps it set faster. 

Box vanilla instant pudding mix: vanilla instant pudding mix is the secret ingredient in this recipe! I always use the Jell-O brand

Heavy cream: whipping heavy cream adds a creamy and fluffy texture to the pudding. You can substitute it with coconut cream but keep in mind that the coconut flavor will affect the overall taste of the banana pudding. 

Ripe bananas: the bananas should be ripe but still firm. Under-ripe bananas lack flavor and sweetness and over-ripe bananas can be too mushy and too sweet.

Box Nilla wafers: While Nilla wafers are typically crunchy when layered into the banana pudding, it softens up for a soft texture that contrasts the creaminess of the pudding. Nilla wafers are the most classic ingredient but you can also use graham crackers. 

Kosher salt: the salt balances out the sweetness of the pudding mixture. Just a pinch is all you need. 

Ingredient Additions & Variations

If you want to experiment with other ingredients to make variations of this easy banana pudding, here are a few suggestions I think would complement the flavors of this dessert:

  1. Strawberries – there’s no better combination than strawberries and bananas. Slice them in half and layer them on top of the bananas or line them on the side of the trifle bowl for each layer for an eye-catching presentation. 
  1. Mangoes – if you prefer to lean on the tropical side, mangoes add a nice touch to the pudding. Slice them into small squares and spread them evenly through each layer of the dish.
  1. Kiwi – if you prefer a mildly sweet and refreshing companion to bananas, kiwis are an excellent choice. You can slice them thinly and layer them with the bananas or line them on the sides of the trifle bowl, similar to the strawberries. Alternatively, you can also slice them into small squares so they’re easily spread throughout each layer.
  1. Nuts – if you want to some crunch to the banana pudding, you can never go wrong with nuts. Feel free to use any type you prefer, such as almonds, cashews, or walnuts. Chop them into rough pieces and add them throughout each layer. Also, make sure they’re roasted so the flavors are intensified.
  1. Dates – hear me out, not everyone may be a fan of dates, but their sweet and chewy nature adds a nice contrast against the creaminess of the pudding. Chop them into rough sizes so they’re easy to spread throughout the dish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can banana pudding be made in advance?

Yes absolutely! The beauty of this dessert is that it is actually ideal when made ahead of time. I recommend making it at least 8 hours before serving but you could make this up to 24 hours in advance. It allows the flavors and layers to meld together. Just make sure to add the garnishes right before serving to prevent the bananas from browning and the wafers from getting soggy. 

What can I use aside from Nilla wafers?

While Nilla wafers are traditional you can definitely substitute them with graham crackers or shortbread cookies. Keep in mind that the flavor of the banana pudding will be different however, it’ll still be delicious!

How do you whip heavy cream to stiff peaks?

Use a mixer or immersion blender for this process. Start whipping at a low setting before gradually increasing the speed to medium, then high. The heavy cream will turn thicker the longer you whip. You’ll know you reach stiff peaks when the heavy cream can stand straight and keep its form if you lift the mixer up and away from it.

What is vanilla instant pudding mix made of?

The ingredients of vanilla instant pudding mix depend on the brand. But most will contain key ingredients like sugar, gelatinized cornstarch, milk powder, and vanilla. 

What do Nilla wafers taste like?

If you’re not familiar with its taste, Nilla wafers are a combination of sweet and vanilla flavors. It may look like a regular cookie at first sight, but its thin and crispy texture makes it melt in your mouth. Aside from incorporating them into this banana pudding recipe, you can eat the NIlla wafers straight out of the box or add them to other desserts, like ice cream or pie.

What is Kosher salt? 

Kosher salt doesn’t contain any additives, like iodine or anti-caking agents. It also has a coarser and bigger flake size than regular table salt, so it’s easier to control when flavoring your food. I use kosher salt for this recipe to balance out the sweetness of the condensed milk and ripe bananas, adding more depth to their flavors.

How long can you store banana pudding in the fridge?

You can store leftover banana pudding in the fridge for up to 3 days. Make sure to cover the 4-quart glass or trifle bowl with cling wrap to prevent the dish from drying out. I don’t recommend keeping the banana pudding in the freezer since the crystallization process changes the dessert’s texture. The bananas turn soggy, and the pudding loses its light and fluffy consistency. But if you don’t mind, you can store the dessert in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Looking for more easy & delicious dessert recipes?

1. Strawberry Cream Donutif you love strawberries and cream, you won’t be able to resist this soft and fluffy donut recipe. It’s filled with luscious whipped cream, homemade strawberry sauce, and sweet fresh strawberries, making it every sweet tooth’s dream come true!

2. Miso Banana Bread level up this timeless recipe with an unconventional twist. Miso adds an umami-rich flavor that surprisingly goes well with the sweetness of the banana bread.  It adds a cozy touch to the recipe, making it the perfect companion for coffee or tea!

3. Mango Pancakerecreate this classic Hong Kong street food favorite with this sweet and luscious recipe. The pancakes are the perfect canvas for the velvety cream and succulent mangoes, making them a delectable treat.

4. French Tuile Cookiesif you’re in the mood for cookies and looking to try something new, this is the recipe for you. Top them with my Spiced Maple Glazed Pecans recipe to give it a bit of a kick.

5. Hong Kong French Toast this rich and delectable treat is another Hong Kong classic. Don’t be afraid to slather the French toast with a thick layer of peanut butter and drizzle it with a generous amount of condensed milk on top – it’ll hit the spot!

5 from 6 votes

Easy Banana Pudding

Servings 12
Prep Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day


  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk add more for additional sweetness
  • 1 1/2 cups ice cold water
  • 1 (3.4) oz box vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 3 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 5-6 sliced ripe bananas 
  • 12 oz box Nilla Wafers
  • pinch of kosher salt


  • In a bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk, ice cold water, vanilla instant pudding mix and salt. Mix together until well combined. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight to allow the pudding to set.
  • In a large bowl, add heavy cream and whip until stiff peaks form. Fold in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the pudding mixture then pour the pudding mixture into the remaining whipped cream. Gently fold together until there are no visible streaks.
  • To assemble in a 4 quart glass or trifle bowl, add 1/4 of the pudding mixture. Then layer on 1/3 of the Nilla wafers followed by 1/3 of the sliced bananas. Repeat two more times. You should be left with 1/4 of the pudding mixture which you will layer on top. Garnish with Nilla wafers, Nilla wafer crumbs, and sliced bananas.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Serve chilled and enjoy!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

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Join the Conversation

  1. 5 stars
    My husband saw the picture of your banana pudding online and asked me to make it. He fell in love just from the picture, presentation is everything. So I made it today 01/10/2023 and when I tell you he loves it he loves it. I’m not a banana person but your banana pudding is amazing I love it myself. Thank you for sharing your recipe. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

    1. 5 stars
      Hi Yvonne, you’ve just made my day 🙂 I’m so happy that you and your husband enjoyed the banana pudding!!

  2. 5 stars
    Would love to try. How do you layer so neatly? What did you use to transfer the mixture

    1. 5 stars
      Hi! I used a ladle to layer on the pudding. Definitely helped made it quick and easy 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    I can’t wait to try this next time my family gets together! It looks amazing! One question though.. What kind of salt is that, and how much do you use? (the salt isn’t listed in your ingredients) THANK YOU!!

    1. 5 stars
      Hi Sharon! Just a small pinch of kosher salt is all you need 🙂 I hope you and your family enjoy this dessert! Please let me know how it turns out ^^

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