My Mama’s Homemade Banana Pudding recipe has layers of fresh bananas, creamy pudding, vanilla wafers & whipped cream. It has a top secret ingredient that makes it the best banana pudding ever!
The Best 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 meant to be quick, easy and delicious! This is a shortcut banana pudding 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’m excited to share this easy recipe, and all of my tips for the best banana pudding, with all of you!
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 pudding to give it all the banana flavor that this pudding needs. The vanilla pudding plays perfectly with the flavor from the strong fresh banana flavor to create the perfect balance between the two.
The 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!
What Goes Into this Easy Banana Pudding?
In addition to the sweetened condensed milk mentioned above, you will use a few other packaged items in this recipe. That’s part of what makes this banana pudding so easy to make! These include ingredients 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 and it doesn’t taste as good as this version!
If you are looking for that classic flavor you enjoyed so much growing up, then 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 from Add a Pinch!
How to Make Banana Pudding
This pudding is very easy to make and great dessert to make with the kids! Here’s how you do it:
- Make the whipped cream: 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.
- Make the pudding mix: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together powdered pudding mix, milk and condensed milk until smooth. Let sit for 3 minutes.
- Combine the pudding and whipped cream: Fold in whipped cream until smooth (reserve a little whip cream for decoration if you like).
- Assemble the pudding: 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.
- Chill: Cover pudding and let it rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours before serving.
Can Banana Pudding Be Made Ahead?
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’m 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.
Can I Prevent the Bananas from Browning? Does it Matter?
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!
Cool Whip vs Whipped Cream
This is 100% a personal choice and I know many people feel strongly about this. I have included 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.
Tips for the Best Banana Pudding
- 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!)
- 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.
- Cover and refrigerate any leftover banana pudding for up to 3 days. Beyond this, the bananas can start to get mushy.
- 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.
This Banana Pudding can be served in a trifle bowl, individual jars or can also be doubled to fill a 9×13 dish to feed a crowd!
Let Me Know if You Enjoyed This Recipe!
I am so happy to be sharing my Mama’s famous recipe. 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. Please leave a comment/review below letting me know how it works out for you!
- 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
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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!
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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Serving Size:1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 299Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 59mgSodium: 62mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 2gSugar: 19gProtein: 4g
Want to Save This Recipe?
Today, we are having a virtual Baby Shower for Julianne at Beyond Frosting. I’m so excited for her growing family and wish we could get together in person to share this Banana Pudding as it’s perfect for a shower or party. It is always one of the first to go as it’s a favorite comfort food dish for many!
More perfect dishes for a baby shower:
- Banana Fritters from Grandbaby Cakes
- Snowy Mountain Baby Shower Cake from Life, Love and Sugar
- Fruity Pebbles Muffins from Crazy for Crust
- Mountain Baby Shower Cookies from Glorious Treats
- Instant Pot Cheesecake from Dinners, Dishes and Desserts
- No Bake Turtle Dream Bars from 365 Days of Baking and More
- Churro Cupcakes from Spoonful of Flavor
- Classic Lemon Bars with Shortbread Crust from A Classic Twist
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Poke Cake from The First Year Blog
- Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake from A Dash of Sanity
- Potato Chip and Pecan Sandies from Simple Joy
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