My Mama’s famous Banana Pudding recipe has layers of fresh bananas, creamy pudding, vanilla wafers & whipped cream. With one secret ingredient, you will be on your way to making the best banana pudding, ever!

If you enjoy this Banana Pudding Recipe, check out these similar recipes: Toasted Coconut Cream Pudding, Banana Moon Pie Trifle and Lemon Strawberry Trifle

Banana Pudding in a trifle bowl and small jar.

My Favorite Banana Pudding Recipe

Banana Pudding is one of those recipes I dream about. The creamy layers of pudding, slices of banana, and vanilla wafers that get soft from the pudding…each bite more delectable than the last. It’s good the day you make it and somehow even better the next day. 

This banana pudding recipe is my Mom’s and it’s seriously dang near famous at this point. Like most of my mom’s recipes growing up, it’s a shortcut version using instant pudding, vanilla wafers, sliced bananas and her secret ingredient — sweetened condensed milk! Below you will also find directions on how to use cool whip or homemade whip cream to give your Banana Pudding that extra silky taste.

There are a few things that my Mom makes that are truly, THE BEST and this Banana Pudding is absolutely one of them. I am excited to share this easy recipe, and all of my tips for the best banana pudding, with all of you! 

Mason jar filled with banana pudding.

Easy Banana Pudding with a Secret Ingredient

As with a lot of my Mom’s recipes, the secret to this extra creamy banana pudding is sweetened condensed milk. It’s one of those things that just can’t be replaced. It brings a sweetness and creamy texture that no other ingredient can give. It’s also the secret to her famous sweet potato casserole!

For this recipe, you will use a few other packaged items like vanilla pudding, vanilla wafers and cool whip (or homemade whip cream!). I know that in today’s world, a lot of people stay away from a recipe that may use instant pudding or items like that. But I have tried making it homemade fully from scratch, but it doesn’t taste as good as this version with the sweetened condensed milk!

If you are looking for that classic flavor you enjoyed so much growing up, then keep scrolling down, this is the recipe for you. This banana pudding was the one gracing all the plates at the church potluck, the recipe your mom made for Sunday night dinner and the recipe you are probably going to love the most. However, if you really want a fully from scratch pudding recipe, I recommend checking out this homemade banana pudding recipe!

up close image of banana pudding in a trifle bowl

Banana Pudding or Vanilla Pudding?

I know this question is coming. You are going to scroll down and see that this Banana Pudding recipe calls for Vanilla pudding. You are going to read it a few times to make sure you aren’t crazy and then you are going to ask me why not use banana pudding instead. 

Well, because artificial banana pudding does not taste nearly as good as real bananas. In this recipe, we use a ton of REAL slices of fresh bananas mixed into the trifle to give it all the banana flavor that this banana pudding needs. The vanilla pudding plays perfectly with the flavor from the strong fresh banana flavor to create the perfect balance between the two. 

Small jar filled with banana pudding, vanilla wafers, bananas and whip cream.

Can I make this Banana Pudding recipe ahead of time?

This is a super common question I get a lot and thankfully the answer is YES! You can make this banana pudding ahead. This recipe is honestly best if you let it rest for at least a few hours before serving it to allow the wafers to soak up some of the pudding. One that happens, this recipe turns into this perfect soft creamy texture that you want in a good banana pudding. 

If I am having company, I prefer to serve this banana pudding within 4 to 6 hours of making it. In that time, the bananas won’t have browned much and it will still look picture perfect. However, if I am serving this just for my immediate family, we all love it just as much the next day or two! Yes your bananas will brown a little, but the overall banana pudding will taste exactly the same. 

How to keep bananas from turning brown?

One way to prevent your bananas changing colors is to coat the banana slices in an acidic fruit juice like lemon, lime juice or pineapple juice. However, this is completely unnecessary. A slightly browned banana does not taste any different and the texture is still exactly the same. Plus, once the pudding rests, the brown vanilla wafers and bananas become hard to decipher from each other. 

Even with coating the banana slices in something like lemon juice, your bananas are going to turn a little brown…especially the ones towards the top that are most exposed to the air. Once you peel and cut a banana, they will start turning brown almost immediately, it’s just nature, so acting quickly will be in your favor! 

Three jars of banana pudding with a spoon.

Cool Whip vs Whipped Cream

This is 100% a personal choice and I know many people feel strongly. I have given you directions on how to use both, so it is absolutely up to you! If you want the 90’s version of Banana Pudding that your mom probably made, then use cool whip. If you would like a richer version, use real whipped cream. The choice is yours! 

Tips for the Best Banana Pudding

  1. When layering the banana pudding, cut and cover the banana slices quickly with the pudding to minimize the exposure to the air. This will help keep them from browning. (read more on that above!)
  2. Don’t slice the banana for garnish until just before serving time. Or, you can also just garnish it with whip cream and vanilla wafers. 
  3. Cover and refrigerate any leftover banana pudding for up to 3 days. Beyond this, the bananas can start to get mushy.
  4. You can use mini serving bowls (like small mason jars), a large trifle bowl or a 9×13 baking dish to make your trifle. The 9×13 is probably the easiest to make and travel with, but the other two look very impressive.

Banana Pudding in a trifle bowl with a banana and vanilla wafer on top.

I am so happy to be sharing my Mama’s famous recipe for the best Banana Pudding. It has been a staple in our family for over 20 years, and I fully expect my girls to come home from college one day begging me to make it just like I did to my mom.

This Banana Pudding recipe can be served in a trifle bowl, individual jars or can also be doubled to fill a 9×13 dish to feed a crowd! I hope you enjoy this family recipe as much as we have over all these years! Please leave a comment/review below letting me know how it works out for you!

Best Banana Pudding Recipe

Best Banana Pudding Recipe

Yield: serves 8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Resting Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

This recipe for my Mama's famous Banana Pudding has layers of fresh bananas, creamy pudding, vanilla wafers & whipped cream. With one secret ingredient, you will be on your way to making the best banana pudding, ever!

Ingredients

  • 16 ounce heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 (5.1 oz) box instant vanilla pudding (dry mix only)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 5 large bananas, sliced
  • 1 (11 oz) box vanilla wafers

Instructions

  1. With a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, whisk heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together powdered pudding mix, milk and condensed milk until smooth. Let sit for 3 minutes. Fold in whipped cream until smooth (reserve a little whip cream for decoration on top if desired).
  3. In a large trifle bowl (or individual parfait glasses) assemble the pudding. First, lay one third of vanilla wafers across the bottom of the bowl. Top with one third of the banana slices. Cover with one third of the pudding mixture. Continue with two more layers, reserving a few vanilla wafers to lay across the top as garnish.
  4. Cover pudding and let it rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours before serving. Can also be made up to a day ahead and stored in the fridge until ready to serve!

Notes

COOL WHIP: If you would prefer to use cool whip, swap the first 3 ingredients (whipping cream, powdered sugar, vanilla extract) with a 12 oz container of Cool Whip.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 servings Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 318Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 65mgSodium: 57mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 2gSugar: 20gProtein: 4g

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