Easy Banana Pudding

Alternate layers of pudding, banana slices, and vanilla wafers in a trifle bowl

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Chill: 30 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings

Banana pudding has long been a favorite Southern dessert, and this shortcut version is an excellent choice for a busy day. This easy and convenient banana pudding is made with instant pudding, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla wafers, whipped cream, and sliced bananas.

Use firm, ripe bananas in the pudding. To keep the sliced bananas from turning brown, they are gently tossed or brushed with a small amount of lemon juice. If you don't have a lemon, use lime juice, orange juice, or pineapple juice. If possible, assemble the pudding in a glass bowl or individual glass dessert dishes to show the attractive layers.

Take a bowl of banana pudding along to a potluck dinner or social occasion and watch it disappear. Chill the pudding for at least 30 minutes before serving for the very best flavor.

Ingredients

  • 3 bananas (plus 1 banana for topping, if desired)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 cups cold milk
  • 1 (5.1-ounce) package instant vanilla pudding (6-serving size)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) container whipped topping (divided)
  • 30 vanilla wafer cookies (or more, for serving)
  • Optional: vanilla sugar or cinnamon sugar (for garnish)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for easy banana pudding
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  2. Peel and slice 3 bananas and toss them in a bowl with the lemon juice. The lemon juice will keep them from turning brown. Set aside.

    Bananas peeled and sliced, and placed in a clear bowl
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  3. Combine the cold milk and instant vanilla pudding mix and whisk or beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Add the sweetened condensed milk and mix until thoroughly blended. Let stand for 2 minutes.

    Cold milk and instant vanilla pudding mix are beaten with an electric mixer
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  4. With a spatula or spoon, fold half of the whipped topping into the pudding mixture.

    Whipped topping is folded into the pudding mixture
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  5. In a glass serving bowl or individual dessert dishes, alternate layers of pudding, banana slices, and vanilla wafers. Spoon or pipe the remaining whipped topping over the pudding. Chill the pudding for at least 30 minutes before serving.

    Alternate layers of pudding, banana slices, and vanilla wafers in a trifle bowl
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  6. Garnish the dessert with banana slices just before serving. For an extra special look, sprinkle the dessert with vanilla sugar or a cinnamon-sugar blend.

    The dessert is garnished with slices of banana and cinnamon sugar
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Tips

  • You can make banana pudding with bananas at any stage of ripeness, but many prefer fully yellow fruit or even a few brown spots for good flavor. If you're planning to make banana pudding but your bananas aren't ripe enough, try putting your bananas in a paper bag. Add an apple to help speed up the process.
  • Consider taking this simple dessert to the next level with a beautiful garnish. Add a few mint leaves, some vanilla sugar, cinnamon sugar, or crumbled vanilla wafers.
  • Cover and refrigerate leftover banana pudding for up to 3 days.
  • When making the layers, cover the bananas quickly with the pudding to keep them from exposure to air. This will help keep them from turning brown.
  • Don't slice the banana for garnish until just before serving time.

Recipe Variations

  • Swirl some caramel sauce or ice-cream topping over each layer of bananas for banoffee flavor.
  • Make toasted coconut banana pudding: Put 3/4 cup of flaked sweetened coconut in a dry skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring until the coconut is browned and aromatic. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the toasted coconut over the banana layer and save the remaining 1/4 cup for topping just before serving.
  • Sprinkle each layer of bananas and vanilla wafers with miniature marshmallows.
  • Replace the vanilla pudding with all or part banana cream pudding or cheesecake pudding.
  • Instead of vanilla wafers, use small butter cookies or broken shortbread.
  • Replace a few tablespoons of the milk with banana liqueur or rum.