Banana Pudding

$4.91 recipe / $1.23 serving
by Monti - Budget Bytes
5 from 2 votes

Edited by Beth - Budget Bytes

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Banana pudding is a Southern dessert staple with that creamy vanilla pudding, deliciously sweet slices of bananas and, of course, those buttery vanilla wafers. This super easy no-bake dessert travels well and is easy to make in individual portions or a large casserole to feed a crowd, so it’s perfect for holidays and family gatherings. But why wait for a special occasion? This banana pudding recipe is the perfect meal prep dessert so you can enjoy a little grab-and-go treat every day!

Side shot of banana pudding in a glass with a second glass in the background.

What is banana pudding?

Banana pudding is a Southern American dessert with layers of creamy banan or vanilla pudding, fresh banana slices, and crunchy vanilla wafers. Sometimes it’s finished with a little whipped cream on top. It originated in the late 1800s when bananas went from exotic to every day (like the internet did in the 90s. Do you remember dial-up? Kids these days don’t know the struggle. 😂)

Ingredients for Banana Pudding

You only need three simple ingredients to make this easy banana pudding recipe:

  • Pudding: We prefer vanilla pudding to layer between the sliced bananas and wafers, but some opt for banana-flavored pudding. And, depending on how easy or “from scratch” you want to make it, you can either use instant or homemade vanilla pudding.
  • Bananas: Sweet slices of banana are the perfect flavor and texture contrast between the vanilla pudding and vanilla wafers. Make sure to use banans that are ripe so they’re nice and sweet!
  • Vanilla Wafers: Nilla Wafers (or the generic version) are the classic cookie for banana pudding, but you can also substitute with plain honey graham crackers, shortbread cookies, or animal crackers if needed.

WHat Else Can I Add?

Banana pudding is delicious in its most simplistic form, but you can also add all sorts of other goodies to make it even more special. Here are some ideas for taking your banana pudding to the next level:

  • Caramel Sauce: Drizzle caramel sauce over each layer of bananas and on top
  • Chocolate Sauce: Drizzle chocolate sauce over each layer of bananas for a Boston Cream like dessert
  • Whipped Cream: Add a thick layer of whipped cream on top for even more richness and texture contrast
  • Shredded Coconut: Go for a tropical twist by adding in layers of shredded coconut
  • Meringue: For an extra special finish, top with a meringue instead of whipped cream!

How to Layer Banana Pudding

There is a method to the madness when you’re layering banana pudding. Whether making a large bowl or individual servings, the foundation should always be cookies. That first layer of vanilla wafers will soak up that creamy vanilla pudding and transform into a cake-like consistency. Your second layer should be thin slices of ripe banana, so when you spoon the vanilla pudding over everything, it sinks into all the nooks and crannies. Then repeat. Holy cow. Don’t you want some RIGHT NOW?!?!

Make Ahead Instructions

Banana pudding can be made ahead and the leftovers enjoyed for up to to days, but you’ll get the best flavors and textures if prepared no more than 24 hours in advance. The biggest challenge when making banana pudding ahead is preventing the bananas from browning.

If you plan to make the banana pudding more than a couple hours ahead, simply toss the sliced bananas in small amount of lemon juice to help prevent oxidation. Once assembled, the close contact with the pudding will further slow the oxidation and browning. Finish the pudding by topping with fresh banana slices just before serving!

How to Ripen Bananas

Using ripe bananas is critical for this banana pudding recipe, so if there are only green bananas at the store, here’s what you can do. Ripen green bananas by wrapping the bunch in aluminum foil, then place them in a paper bag with other ripe fruit, like apples or avocadoes. Put the bag in a warm, sunny spot for about 12 to 24 hours. When the skin has yellowed, remove the foil and separate the bananas. Next, place them on a baking sheet in a 300ºF oven for about ten minutes. Their skin will start to brown, but any remaining starches will transform into sugar, leaving a deliciously sweet banana on the inside!

Overhead shot of banana pudding in three glasses with wafers scattered on the counter.
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Banana Pudding

5 from 2 votes
This easy, creamy banana pudding recipe has layers of vanilla wafers, bananas & pudding. A Southern classic dessert, perfect for potlucks & gatherings.
Side shot of three glasses of banana pudding.
Servings 4 1 1/2 cups each
Prep 10 minutes
Total 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces vanilla wafers* ($1.43)
  • 3 bananas ($0.69)
  • 3 cups vanilla pudding (homemade or store bought) ($2.79)

Instructions 

  • Slice bananas in about 1/3 inch thick rounds. Place four glasses that hold about 2 cups each on your work surface.*
  • Add about four vanilla wafers to each glass. If necessary, snap them in half to create an even layer. Top with 4 or 5 slices of banana.
  • Spoon about 1/4 cup of pudding over the bananas. Repeat the layering process a second and a third time. Serve!

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Notes

*6 ounces of vanilla wafers is about half of an 11-ounce box.
*This recipe can also be prepared in one 9-inch round pie plate and then scooped into individual servings later.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cupsCalories: 761kcalCarbohydrates: 113gProtein: 12gFat: 31gSodium: 434mgFiber: 3g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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Overhead shot of three glasses of banana pudding with wafers on the counter and in a bowl.

How to Make Banana Pudding – Step by Step Photos

Side view of wafers and bananas in a glass.

Place four glasses that hold about 2 cups each on your work surface. Add four vanilla wafers to each glass. If necessary, snap them in half to create an even layer. Top with a 4 or 5 slices of banana.

Side view of banana pudding layered in a glass.

Spoon about 1/4 cup of pudding over the bananas. Repeat the layering process a second and a third time. Serve your banana pudding as is, or top with homemade whipped cream.

Overhead shot of three glasses filled with banana pudding with vanilla wafers next tot hem.
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Comments

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  1. Suggestion: include a recipe to make your own pudding for a cost comparison. Found the recipe as written to be lazy.

    1. Hi V- The vanilla pudding from scratch recipe is linked in the post. It is also discussed in the recipe card. Check it out. XOXO -Monti

  2. Definitely make your own pudding! It really isn’t hard.
    Maybe this is just a personal preference, but it doesn’t taste like banana pudding to me until the next day. The vanilla wafers certainly aren’t crunchy at that point, but the flavors are melded and it’s less runny. I didn’t do the citrus juice trick and the bananas were still fine the next day (they weren’t crazy ripe to begin with, and I made sure none of the slices were exposed to air).

  3. This was great – I made the vanilla pudding and it was so easy and delicious and assembly of the banana pudding was VERY easy. Made for a great dessert with minimal effort. Yum!