Banana pudding is a Southern classic everyone is familiar with, but Paula Deen’s banana pudding is a unique and decadent spin on the original! Cream cheese makes this dessert extra special, and extra creamy, too!
Paula Deen’s Banana Pudding Recipe
Let me start by saying that I don’t like banana pudding. I know that a good Southern girl should like it, but I just don’t. (For the record, I don’t like sweet tea or watermelon, either.)
This background information is important, because I love this banana pudding. This alone should be enough to convince you that it’s something special. It tastes unlike any banana pudding you’ve ever eaten.
I figure that has a lot to do with the cream cheese. How can you go wrong with cream cheese? It transforms what can sometimes be a soupy pudding mixture into something rich, creamy, and delectable.
Even better, this banana pudding recipe is beyond simple. In fact, I feel a little guilty making it because the hardest thing I have to do is clean up the three or four bowls I manage to use in making it. It’s really just a matter of assembly. The cookies are store-bought. The pudding comes from a mix. The whipped cream is frozen.
If you’re looking for an effortless no-bake dessert, this is it.
What You’ll Need
Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Pepperidge Farm Chessmen Cookies – You could go with the more traditional vanilla wafer, but Chessmen cookies add a special touch.
- Milk – Whole milk will yield the creamiest texture.
- Instant French vanilla pudding
- Cream cheese – Let the cream cheese soften so it’s easy to beat into the pudding mixture.
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Frozen whipped topping – Also known as Cool Whip! You’ll want to use whipped topping rather than whipped cream, as it has added stabilizers that will help your banana pudding last longer in the fridge.
What’s a Good Substitute for Chessmen Cookies?
If you can’t find Chessmen cookies, you can use Lorna Doone cookies, Trefoil Girl Scout cookies, or vanilla wafers. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can use homemade vanilla wafers or butter cookies, too.
How Ripe Should Bananas Be for Banana Pudding?
As with banana bread, the riper the better! The outside of the banana should have a lot of brown spots, specks, and streaks; this means the fruit inside is soft, sweet, and full of banana flavor. If your bananas aren’t ripe yet, here’s how to ripen bananas.
How to Make Banana Pudding
If you’ve made other creamy no-bake chilled desserts in the past, this banana pudding is quite similar. Here’s what you’ll need to do.
Make the first layers. Line the bottom of a 13″x 9″x 2″ dish with one bag of Chessman cookies. Layer the sliced bananas on top of the cookies.
Make the pudding mixture. Beat the milk and pudding mix together. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese and condensed milk, then fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Once the whipped topping is incorporated, add this mixture to the pudding and stir until well-blended.
Finish assembling. Pour the pudding over the bananas, then top it with the remaining cookies. Place the assembled dessert in the refrigerator until you plan on serving it.
Tips for Success
These tips will help make sure your banana pudding turns out perfect—and help you make it your own!
- Make sure it’s set. I recommend chilling for at least an hour so the pudding layer has time to thicken before serving.
- Use full-fat cream cheese. It has a better texture than reduced-fat versions, which means it will yield a creamier pudding.
- Want more banana flavor? You can swap the French vanilla pudding for banana if you want your pudding extra banana-y.
How to Store
Banana pudding will last for about 3 days in the refrigerator. Cover the dish with plastic wrap or foil or, if you have leftovers, transfer them to an airtight storage container.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
Don’t attempt to freeze this pudding. Freezing and thawing will change the texture and result in a disappointing dessert. For a freezer-friendly dessert idea with bananas, try my Banana Oatmeal Crumb Cake.
69 Comments on “Banana Pudding”
I too have experienced the wonder that is Paula’s “Not yo mama’s banana pudding.” And I am really enjoying your blog (this is my first comment.) If you like lemony desserts, try her lemon blossoms……delish!
amen–there should always be a chocolate option for dessert! however, the southern girl in me finds this banana pudding mighty tempting. i guess i’d be forced to eat some of both. 🙂
I love everything about bananas and this pudding looks so good even if it comes from a box. the cookies make it so pretty too. This is the kind of dessert my husband likes, probably much more than my gianduja macaroons! LOL>
I’ve never made this because there are only two of us. Any suggestions for making a smaller batch? I’d love to have a banana pudding for say four (that’s three for me and one for DH – hehe). I can’t imagine that you could freeze this yummy dessert.
a BLINDING heart – a writer’s blog – http://www.ablindingheart.com
I love banana pudding…the simpler the better!
This made me a banana pudding convert as well. My husband always requests banana pudding for his birthday (which sort of disappointed me at first because I do NOT like the classic Southern rendition and would rather bake a cake!). I like to make a different one each year…except the year I made this one I was definitely tempted to quit looking for recipes.
While I have not made this particular recipe, I have made a no bake banana pudding. It’s really good, too! Your Dad might like it as well, Jennifer. And I agree, dessert should ALWAYS include chocolate!
i made this for my fil’s birthday last year and it was a hit. i ended up using less sweetened condensed milk and whipped topping to try and cut the sweetness. and as i’m sure you know, they don’t make that size pudding in sugar-free either! 😛
Thanks, Olivia! I’ll have to check out those lemon blossoms.
a.grace, we all had some of both. How could we not?
Aran, it’s very good – even from all those boxes!
Julia, I think this would certainly half or quarter well. I’m sure you could scale it down easily for the two of you.
Sarah, as much as you like banana pudding, you should give this one a try!
Kimberly, it’s the only recipe I use!
Cindy, Daddy actually jokingly requested that I make two of these so he could take one home. I did send him some leftovers!
Susan, this is a great recipe for making lighter. All of the components come in a lighter or fat free version, and the cookies aren’t bad to begin with.
It looks really beautiful, Jen.
Jennifer, so glad you liked the recipe. Great write up and I’ll make sure Paula gets a look at it. We’ve just put a new recipe search function on the site to make things easier to find, and we’ve added quite a few recipes. A.Grace, for a chocolate fix, try the double chocolate gooey butter cake. Should be enough there to satiate your cravings for quite some time.
Phil, thanks so much for dropping by! The new recipe search is great. I’ll definitely be putting that to use.
It looks really great! I also do not understand the appeal of sweet tea or watermelon.
Oh some friends from church were just telling me I needed to look up this recipe the other day. I like banana pudding as long as it is VANILLA pudding WITH bananas. None of that yucky banana flavored junk for me.
It sounds delicious, and those cookies actually look really delicious!
Oh, yes. My beloved Banana Pudding. So Southern and so classy!
Thank you for making this for Easter! This is the BEST Banana Pudding I have ever had, and you know we all love it! The left-overs are great, too!
…and I’ll be asking for this again!!
Oh, I love the recipes that Paula Deen comes up with. But I usually have to lighten them up ;d
I love Banana Pudding. Great time of year for it to ;]
Katie, it’s good to know I’m not alone. 😉
Courtney, you should definitely try it. Let me know what you think!
Nan, I know this is one recipe I will be repeating for a while.
Tarah, this is a very easy recipe to lighten up. Most everything is available as light or fat-free.
There is something to be said for making an easy recipe sometimes. I don’t care for Paula recipes in general, but I do like her Pumpkin Trifle. I made that quickie back in the fall and it was well received too.
You totally got me hooked on this recipe. It appeals to both banana pudding lovers and non-lovers. Now, when are you going to make the Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding recipe? Feel free to try it out the next time we visit:)
This looks really good! I will have to save the recipe for when I want an easy and delicious dessert! I really love the look of those cookies.
Well, I feel really old. Before the world had fallen in love with Paula Deen Linda Stevens of Tupelo High School Band fame made this for me. She used the traditional Nilla Wafers but everything else was the same. For years she got me back to do free rehearsals just at the mention of this simple but oh so sumptuous delight.
Now Paula adds the store bought cookies and it’s a national wonder of the confectionery world.
I’m stunned that no one has mentioned the fact that anything with “Eagle Brand” in it stands in the fabulous category…uncontested.
Could you suggest a substitute for cream cheese?
I’d love to try this, but my husband doesn’t like the taste.
RecipeGirl, I am not a pumpkin fan so I’ll skip the trifle. Paula does have some great, easy desserts.
Nuwanda, I’m not sure about the Krispy Kreme bread pudding. Maybe you and I can make that next time we visit. Maybe a small batch. I’m afraid of having leftovers.
Ashley, the cookies make this a very cute dessert. Pepperidge Farm makes miniature versions, too.
Tim, I had no idea. Paula even admits that this isn’t her original recipe, so no telling how long it’s been around. As for Eagle Brand, it’s definitely a staple in my pantry.
Midge, I’m not sure what I’d be willing to substitute for the cream cheese. Maybe plain yogurt that has been strained. There really isn’t an overwhelming cream cheese flavor, though. My brother-in-law doesn’t much like cream cheese, but he eats this.
When we don’t drink sweet tea, that means you can have extra desserts!! YUM!
Patty, that is pure genius! I’ll be sticking to water and diet drinks for sure.
I have seen Paula make this before. I have never made it nor tried but secretly I am dying to make it. It just looks so sinfully delicious!
I too have my hesitations about desserts that appear to easy but, embrace it! If it’s delicious (and it does look so!), enjoy it.
Gigi, it is wonderful! Definitely worth a try.
Sara, I agree. I try not to let myself be overly suspicious of easy recipes. Sometimes those are some of the best.
This looks delicious. I will have to add it to my list of things to try 🙂 Bananas are great and easy banana recipes are the best.
I have made both the Not Yo Mamma’s Banana Pudding and the Pecan Dreams from Paula Deen (both on the same episode) and both are so YUMMY! Makes me want some now! Hmmm, I have bananas that need to get used up, I have pudding, cream cheese, but none of those yummy cookies. Hmmm.
Oh, and the Lemon Blossoms ARE killer. They are made mini muffin size and so easy to just pop one after another in your mouth. They are kind of crispy glazed on the outside and so yummy. Again, kind of a cupcake though, so look out for another one! ; )
I enjoy your blogs.
Oh yum! I make this every year for Easter…..except this year because my MIL supplied dessert..and OH how I missed it! I may make it soon now that you had to show it to me and make me miss it that much more!!!!!
Maggie, I hope you like it!
Katrina, I think I’m going to have to try those Lemon Blossoms. They sound delicious!
Tiffany, it’s a great Easter dessert. Glad to hear it has another fan!
Oh, wow. This looks great ESPECIALLY with the Chessmen cookies on top!
This sounds incredible, I love the Chessmen on top. I’ve never had banana pudding but have been meaning to make it for a while now. I love bananas. I love pudding. I just need to incorporate peanut butter into it somehow. Only problem is that I have a feeling Paula Deen’s version is unhealthy times 10.
– The Peanut Butter Boy
Nick, while Paula doesn’t usually have much regard for calories, you can easily lighten this one up with lighter versions of the ingredients.
I love this recipe! I used this same pudding as the basis for my “Seductive Strawberry-Banana Trifle” a few weeks ago. It’s even better mixed with cake and fresh berries!
Susan, that does sound good!
This is the prettiest banana pudding I have ever seen! Wow. Thanks for posting. I will have to try it out!
Thanks, Janna! It’s the only banana pudding I’ve ever liked. It is so, so good.
I LOVE Paula Deen!! I also LOVE this banana pudding! It is by far the best!! It is super rich and extra yummy!!!
This is wonderful if you cut up a little strawberry it too.it make it more yummy.Thought I would share.
how how how did you serve it so beautifully? i see you made it in a regular dish… does this recipe result in a thicker, sturdier pudding? it looks perfect – no pudding on the top cookies, perfect sides… i am jealous.
Thanks, minnie! I don’t do anything special. Just refrigerate overnight and it sets beautifully!
HI there! I realize this is a late question for this entry, but I am making this pudding for a cookout tomorrow. Yours is a STUNNING rendition. How long did you let it set up before serving? Thank you much!
A, I usually leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
Like you, traditional bananna pudding is not my favorite. This recipe,however,is absolutely wonderful and I love that it is quick and easy!
Recipe sounds good – Paula is usually on her game. I am a Good Ole Southern Girl though and I would put my recipe up against it any day and even though it doesn’t have little chessmen on the top it has a beautiful meringue that looks pretty darn good! I would like to try this one though because I agree can’t go wrong with cream cheese and condensed milk!!! Love any of the ooey gooey recipes – I DON’T like pumpkin and the ooey gooey pumpkin made me a convert!!!!!
I’ll have to try this.
I know this ain’t “my mama’s banana pudding,” But I don’t care how you make it…It ain’t REAL banana pudding without meringue on top… If I try this, it’ll have to stand up to a few minutes in the oven.
I made this last Friday and have enjoyed it all week! For breakfast, especially…Yep, breakfast banana pudding with coffee: heaven! I did add 1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut (Bob’s Red Mill) and it was wonderful and probably could have added double that amount. Super easy. The cookies stay crunchy for a few days and even when they get soft, still smooth. We grew up on coconut banana cream pie. This dessert is a great, great change up and cuts/travels much better than a pie. I’ll be making this for my next potluck. Thank you!!!!
I don’t really care for bananas either so I made it with raspberries and with mixed berries. Super delicious!!!
I am a southerner as well and do not like sweet tea, watermelon, or banana pudding, but something tells me I would love this! Gonna try soon!
I’m glad I’m not the only one! Enjoy!
I came across this recipe from the Paula Deen website and I made it for Easter this year (I know, that was months ago) and it was a super sized hit! I did use regular ‘nilla wafers so next time I’ll use the Chessman Cookies – my hubby really loved it – he likes all things Banana (I’m kinda like you – bananas – eeh!) I want to say I really like your website because although I’m a cook, I’m not much of a baker and I’m trying. Guess it’s because I don’t really like sweet stuff – gasp! Anyway, in order to please hubby, I’m trying more baking. Thanks for the great recipes!
Welcome, Jane! Have fun baking! 🙂
I am southern and I love sweet tea, watermelon, and banana pudding. I always make the pudding from scratch. I never used box because I really do feel there is such a taste difference. That’s just my taste preference, I know a few folks using the box pudding. I just feel like it has such a phony flavor to it that I just prefer the pudding from scratch. The only problem is, it takes a lot longer to make than to eat it. lol My hubby loves my banana pudding and his favorite which I learned how to make, Bread Pudding. He has always raved about his grandmas bread pudding so I found a recipe with the ingredients that she used in hers and I made the caramel sauce that he loves to drizzle over it. I love to bake tho.
Thank you for sharing this recipe, I’m planning to make it this weekend. However, I am only serving for 4-5 people, so I wanted to halved the recipe. I’m going to make it in an 8×8 pan, then save the other half of custard filling for later. I hope it works.
I think it will be just fine. Enjoy!
Hello. I’ve made this before and it wasn’t as thick looking as yours. It has the consistency of regular banana pudding so when I scooped it, it didn’t hold up like yours. Did you use cool whip? Or homemade whipped cream? Did you do anything special?
Hi, Barb. I make this exactly as described in the recipe, Cool Whip and all. If you used any low-fat or no-fat ingredients, that would definitely affect the texture.
The first time I made this recipe, the pudding mixture didn’t seep through the banana layer, so the bottom layer of Chessman cookies were dry and crunchy. The next time I mixed the sliced bananas into the pudding mixture then put the sliced banana/pudding mixture on the Chessman cookie layer. The pudding moistened the bottom cookie layer- problem solved. I also like to put the Chessman cookies on top in a checkerboard pattern so the pudding shows through, so it looks more like banana pudding when it’s served. That’s important especially when you bring something to a potluck!
It needs to be noted that the longer this sits in the fridge, the softer the cookies become. The softer they are, the more delicious this dish becomes. Seriously. Let it sit overnight at the very least.
This Banana Pudding is absolutely delicious!! I love homemade Banana Pudding to, but this recipe has the Homemade Banana Pudding recipe beat. This is the best Banana Pudding I’ve ever ate!! Thx Paula Deen!!!!!!!
wow, as a southern girl I just can’t believe this beats the homemade banana pudding that I make. I’m sorry folks but for me I make the pudding from scratch, use Nabisco vanilla wafers (the best in my book), and sliced fresh bananas. To top it all off it has to be a meringue that has the lil peaks and its browned to perfection. I refrigerate it ’til it’s completely cool and then we begin to eat!! I know, I know, we eat it faster then it took to make it but dang it is gr8 eating!!!!!
This is delicious! Is it possible to use this exact recipe except make INSTEAD of topping with cool whip, make/bake with traditional meringue?
I’m glad you like it! I wouldn’t try baking this filling. It’s essentially a hybrid of pudding and a no-bake cheesecake filling, so it wouldn’t hold up to baking.