Easy instant banana pudding with vanilla wafers is a quick (and unbelievably delicious) banana pudding recipe made with cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, bananas, nilla wafers, and vanilla pudding mix.
Top this no-bake banana pudding dessert with cool whip or a homemade meringue made with egg whites and sugar!
Banana pudding is a classic Southern dessert with a lot of variations. This delicious dessert takes just 30 minutes (or less).
If you like pudding desserts check out this chocolate yummy (or chocolate delight). It's made with chocolate pudding, a pecan shortbread crust, a sweet cream cheese layer, and whipping cream.
What You Will Love
This recipe is the result of experimenting with several recipes to find a sweet spot of deliciousness, ease, and not being overly rich. If you are tracking macros, this dessert is easy to fit in.
This recipe started as Paula Deen's infamous 5-star rated "Not Yo Mama's" Banana Pudding Recipe" but with some tweaks. Vanilla wafer cookies are subbed for Chessman cookies (a bit healthier), whipping cream was removed (lots of added calories without much bang), and a homemade meringue was added for that fluffy topping.
The end result: the best banana pudding recipe ever that the whole family will love. The proof is in the pudding so to speak.
- Bananas: Use fresh bananas (not frozen). The best bananas are ripe bananas.
- Vanilla wafers: The exact brand I used was Nabisco's Nilla wafers. You can also use shortbread cookies, Lotus biscoff cookies, or Chessman cookies (sub 2 bags of Chessman for one box of Nilla wafers). Biscoff cookies may be more readily available outside of the U.S.
- Pudding mix: Use instant vanilla pudding mix, preferably French vanilla or plain vanilla.
- Milk: Use any kind of cold milk- whole milk, fat-free milk, or non-dairy milk.
- Cream cheese: Full-fat cream cheese is preferable.
- Sweetened condensed milk: Store-bought condensed milk.
- Pinch of salt
- If making homemade meringue: whole eggs and white sugar.
See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for quantities.
How To Make Instant Banana Pudding
In a large bowl, add the cold milk and instant pudding mix. Whisk for a couple of minutes.
Set the instant pudding aside to firm up (about 5 minutes).
In a second large mixing bowl, add the cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk.
Whisk together until smooth.
Add the pudding mixture to the cream cheese mixture. Drop in a pinch of salt (trust me).
Whisk the banana pudding mixture by hand until smooth.
Layer the bottom of a 9" x 13" casserole dish with vanilla wafers. Add the fresh banana slices on top.
Spread half of the pudding mixture. Add a second layer of vanilla wafers and sliced bananas. Layer the rest of the pudding mixture.
How To Make Homemade Meringue
⭐️ If you want to keep this a no-bake dessert, just top the banana pudding with whipped cream or cool whip and skip this section. ⭐️
Because meringue is made with raw egg whites, you definitely want to bake it. Homemade meringue is a favorite topping for pie and pudding because it's light and fluffy.
The banana pudding bakes with the meringue in the oven which caramelizes the bananas a little bit too.
Heat the oven to 350 ℉ (180 ℃). Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites.
Add sugar to the egg whites. Pour some vanilla extract (optional).
Using a hand electric mixer, beat the egg whites and sugar on high until stiff peaks form (about 3 or 4 minutes).
Spread the meringue on top of the pudding.
Bake the meringue at 350 ℉ (180 ℃) for about 18 minutes, or until the peaks brown.
Tips and Tricks
- Give the dessert at least 2 hours to set, so the vanilla wafers can soften. This dessert tastes better the next day (in my opinion).
- Whip the egg whites on high until they get really fluffy.
- The pinch of salt (or two pinches) adds so much!
Variations and Substitutions
- Substitutions for the homemade meringue: use cool whip, store-bought whipped cream, or make homemade whipped cream (using heavy whipping cream). This is a no-bake banana pudding if you skip the meringue and use a substitute.
- Make a thicker banana pudding mixture. Instead of using 4 cups of milk, use 3 cups of milk.
- Use vanilla pudding mix instead of French vanilla pudding mix.
- Make homemade pudding instead of using boxed pudding. Granny Eva used to make a pudding custard with egg yolks.
- Substitutions for Nilla Wafers: use graham crackers, Lotus biscoff cookies, chessman cookies, or shortbread cookies.
Store this creamy banana pudding with plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 4 days. The bananas may brown slightly. The meringue may "sweat" a little. This is normal.
Topping the bananas with pudding mixture, whipped cream, or meringue seal the bananas off from exposed air. This helps the bananas from turning brown.
Yes, you can substitute graham crackers for vanilla wafers. Just layer the graham crackers in the same way as vanilla wafers (sandwiched in between bananas and pudding.
Chessman cookies, shortbread cookies, Lotus biscoff cookies, and graham crackers can be used instead of nilla wafers.
Join The Tribe
Easy Instant Banana Pudding with Vanilla Wafers
- 1 box vanilla wafers 11 oz box, use ⅔ of box
- 2 boxes french vanilla pudding mix 3.4 oz boxes
- 8 ounces full-fat cream cheese
- 14 ounce sweetened condensed milk
- 7 whole fresh bananas
- 4 cups cold milk any kind
- pinch of salt
- 8 eggs whites separated
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract optional
Make Banana Pudding
- In a large bowl, mix together the milk and pudding mix. Let the pudding mix set for about 5 minutes.
- Using a hand mixer in a second bowl, whisk the cream cheese and condensed milk together. Add the pudding mixture to the cream cheese mixture. Add a pinch of salt. Whisk together.
- In a 9"x13" dish, add a layer of vanilla wafers. Then top with sliced bananas. Add half of the pudding mixture. On top of the pudding, add another layer of vanilla wafers and sliced banana. Top with the remaining pudding mixture.
- If using cool whip or whipped cream, top the banana pudding. If making homemade meringue, continue to the next step.
- Heat the oven to 350 ℉ (180 ℃).
- In a large bowl, separate the egg whites from the egg yolks. Add the sugar and vanilla extract (if using).
- Whisk the egg whites using a hand mixer on high. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form (about 3 to 4 minutes).
- Spread the meringue on top of the banana pudding. Bake the meringue at 350 ℉ (180 ℃) for about 18 minutes, or until the peaks brown. Let the banana pudding cool down for 30 minutes. Store the pudding in the fridge.
- For thicker pudding- reduce the milk by 25%. So if the recipe calls for 4 cups, just use 3 cups.
- Use any kind of cold milk- whole milk, fat-free, oat milk, almond milk, etc.
- Substitute cool whip or homemade whipped cream for homemade meringue.