No-Bake Banana Pudding Recipe

If you asked a kiddo what one of his or her favorite desserts happens to be, pudding would make the top ten list. Chocolate pudding, cheesecake pudding, vanilla pudding. They're all sugary sweet, rich in calcium, and often can be found packed in a portable plastic pudding cup. Even better is homemade pudding layered in a glass cup, served with sprinkles on top or a sugar wafer tucked into the side.

But there's just something about no-bake banana pudding with its refreshing fruity flavor made with a few extra ingredients that people rave about. This recipe from Nathaniel Lee of Beginner Food incorporates store-bought banana instant pudding with healthy bananas, cream cheese, Cool Whip, and vanilla wafers. It takes just ten minutes to prep and 30 minutes to cook with a tasty treat as the end result. It doesn't take much effort or skill to whip up this delicious dessert perfect for after dinner.

Gather up the ingredients for this no-bake banana pudding

This no-bake banana pudding recipe not only calls for one 3.5-ounce package of banana instant pudding but also one can of sweetened condensed milk, one eight-ounce block of cream cheese, two cups of milk, one teaspoon of vanilla extract, half of a four-ounce tub of Cool Whip, one 11-ounce box of vanilla wafers, and five bananas. It's important to use banana-flavored pudding, Lee explained, not vanilla.

"Absolutely 100 percent use instant banana pudding, not vanilla. The flavor we believe to be 'fake banana' or 'artificial banana' is actually the flavor of the Gros Michel. The Gros Michel was the banana our parents and grandparents grew up with. The Gros Michel is commercially extinct, replaced with the modern Cavendish banana. This is why fake banana flavor taste so foreign to us today; it is based on a banana species we don't eat anymore. All banana recipes from the '60s or earlier were meant to have the sweeter more floral flavor of the Gros Michel, so using banana instant pudding with fresh Cavendish bananas gives you the closest taste as possible to the original," Lee said.

Get out the mixer for this no-bake banana pudding

Place an eight-ounce block of softened cream cheese in a bowl for this no-bake banana pudding recipe, then add one teaspoon of vanilla extract and one can of sweetened condensed milk. Mix these ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Lee noted that both low-fat and fully loaded cream cheese will work in this recipe, although regular cream cheese brings a richness to this dessert.

"The cream cheese does not have to be softened, but it makes mixing it in a lot easier. Countertop softening is preferred; if you had to rush it, you could use bowl of warm water. I do not prefer the microwave, especially with full fat cream cheese, as if you overdo it, the fat will separate to oil," Lee said.

Add in the mix and milk to your no-bake banana pudding

Dump one 3.5-ounce package of banana flavored instant pudding mix into the concoction along with two cups of milk. Be sure to use two percent milk, or reduced milk, Lee said. Mix the dessert together for two minutes.

There are two types of pudding you can make at home: cook and serve or instant pudding. The biggest difference between these two lies in their preparation. Cook and serve pudding requires you to use a pot on the stove where you blend the milk and pudding powder over heat, then allow it to cool so it sets. Instant pudding is simply whisked in a bowl with milk and is ready to eat after sitting for five minutes. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to set.

What bananas to use for this no-bake banana pudding

While the no-bake banana pudding is setting in the fridge, wash the five bananas and slice them into coins. Feel free to use fully ripened yellow bananas or fruit that is just starting to turn. Lee said it's personal preference.

"Most people do not ripen their bananas fully, instead eating them when yellow. As a result, the banana still has bite to it. Using the banana-flavored pudding evens this out, as the Gros Michel flavoring of the pudding is so sweet and floral. Personally, I like them when spotted brown. I think it is better for desserts and the texture works better for pudding," Lee said.

Use dessert cups for this no-bake banana pudding

While any cup or container can be used to house this no-bake banana pudding, Lee used eye-catching mason jars, which make for an impressive look.

"While I think mason jars look better in photos, they are pain to work with when making a dessert like this in layers. This is due to the tapered mouth of the jar. If you don't have steady hands and patience, I recommend using a martini glass or straight-sided mason jar with a wide mouth. This will allow you to much more easily add pudding and layers," Lee said.

Assemble your no-bake banana pudding

The no-bake banana pudding dessert is to be layered starting with the wafers, then banana slices, then pudding, then Cool Whip. Once all of the cups are filled to the brim, garnish with a vertically placed wafer, a banana coin, and a dollop of whipped cream. Lee fondly remembers enjoying this dessert at summertime picnics and barbecues.

"It was about as ubiquitous in my childhood as red, white, and blue Jell-O. The 3.5-ounce version developed here is perfect for a family of four or five. Before I met my fiancée, I never had much of an occasion to make a dessert like this for myself. But when I learned that she had never heard of it before, we immediately went to the store to pick up the ingredients. It is now one of her favorite fast and easy desserts. There is a real sense of fun assembling the layers yourself," Lee said.

No-Bake Banana Pudding Recipe
5 from 29 ratings
There's just something about no-bake banana pudding with its refreshing fruity flavor made with a few extra ingredients that people rave about.
Prep Time
Cook Time
No-bake banana pudding in a mason jar
Total time: 40 minutes
  • 1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 package (3.5 ounces) banana instant pudding
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tub (4 ounces) Cool Whip
  • 1 box (11 ounces) vanilla wafers
  • 5 bananas
  • Whipped cream to taste
  1. Wash the bananas.
  2. Mix together cream cheese, vanilla extract, and condensed milk until smooth.
  3. Add instant pudding mix and milk.
  4. Mix for 2 minutes.
  5. Place in fridge for 20 minutes to set.
  6. Slice bananas into coins.
  7. Assemble pudding with alternating layers of wafers, banana slices, pudding, and Cool Whip.
  8. Garnish with vertical wafer, banana coin, and whipped cream.
Calories per Serving 924
Total Fat 43.0 g
Saturated Fat 22.1 g
Trans Fat 0.0
Cholesterol 113.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 122.9 g
Dietary Fiber 4.0 g
Total Sugars 73.0 g
Sodium 460.5 mg
Protein 16.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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