Better Than Mama’s Banana Pudding Recipe

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You won't believe how quick and easy it is to make this banana pudding recipe. This easy no bake dessert features creamy, decadent layers of vanilla pudding, fresh bananas, and cookies to make the best banana pudding you've ever eaten!
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Banana pudding is a common recipe in the south. Everyone has their own version of banana pudding from restaurants to home cooks.

However, this is unlike any other banana pudding recipe you may have made. This recipe is a bit of a twist on the classic banana pudding recipe. It has been elevated and improved to be better than the original.

But don’t worry, it is still easy to make and no baking is required.

Banana Pudding Recipe
Banana Pudding Recipe

What you need to make Banana Pudding better than Mama

  • Stauffer’s Animal Crackers: ditch the vanilla wafers and elevate your banana pudding using animal crackers. Not just any animal crackers though, they need to be like the Stauffer’s brand (the Trader Joe’s Organic Animal Crackers can be used too)
  • Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix: using instant pudding mix in this recipe makes this dessert quick, easy, and delicious
  • Heavy Whipping Cream: ditch the tub of Cool-Whip (store-bought whipped topping), making homemade whipped cream is super simple all you need is a whisk and a little bit of time. Don’t worry I tell you exactly how to do it in the recipe below.
  • Fresh, Ripe Bananas: bananas (and the animal crackers) are the stars of this recipe. You want to have fresh, perfectly ripe bananas for this recipe. Overripe bananas will not do and underripe bananas also will not be any good when it comes to this recipe.

I don’t have that ingredient, what can I substitute for it?

  • Vanilla Wafers instead of Stauffer’s Animal Cracker: what makes this banana pudding recipe better than Mama’s is the fact that it uses animal crackers instead of vanilla wafers. If for whatever reason you don’t have or can not find Stauffer’s Animal Crackers (or equivalent brand) then you can substitute traditional vanilla wafers in this recipe no problem. Just know that the Stauffer’s Animal Crackers will give your banana pudding a unique and distinct taste difference from a traditional southern banana pudding recipe.
  • Cool-Whip (or store-bought whipped topping) instead of Heavy Whipping Cream: yes you can use Cool-whip instead of making your own homemade whipped cream as shown in the below recipe. If you choose to do this you will also need to eliminate powdered sugar and salt as those are not necessary since cool-whip is already sweetened.
The Best Banana Pudding Recipe
The Best Banana Pudding Recipe

How to make Better than Mama’s Banana Pudding Recipe

Making this banana pudding recipe couldn’t be any easier since there is no baking involved. All you need to do is whip up the ingredients, layer them in a trifle dish, and then let it chill before serving.

  • Whip: using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, a hand mixer, or a whisk you are going to whip the pudding and heavy whipping cream separately before combining to make a creamy pudding mixture.
  • Layer: in a trifle dish you will layer your bananas and animal crackers with your pudding mixture to assemble your banana pudding for serving
  • Chill: after you have layered your banana pudding in a dish, it needs to chill in the fridge for about 12 hours or until the crackers (cookies) have softened. Crunchy cookies will ruin your banana pudding experience.

Equipment Recommendations for the best Banana Pudding

  • Trifle Dish: this no bake dessert is so pretty with all of its layers. Using a clear glass dish like this trifle dish will really show off this dessert
  • Whisk Attachment for Stand Mixer: this recipe involves lots of mixing both for the pudding and the heavy whipping cream. I prefer to use a whisk attachment on the stand mixer to whip the heavy whipping cream into homemade whipped cream. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you could also use a hand mixer with whisk attachments or just whisk by hand using a regular whisk.
  • Long Serving Spoon: trifles can be quite tall so you need a long serving spoon to get all of the delicious layers of banana pudding when serving.
  • Silicone Spatula: a silicone spatula is needed when gently folding the pudding and the homemade whipped cream together
Better than Mama's Banana Pudding Recipe
Better than Mama’s Banana Pudding Recipe

How to store Banana Pudding in the Fridge

Storing this banana pudding recipe is super simple if using a glass trifle dish. Simply wrap the top of the trifle dish with plastic wrap and store in the fridge.

This recipe is best when eaten within 3 days of being made.

Frequently Ask Questions about Making Banana Pudding

Do I have to let this recipe chill for 12 hours? You don’t have to, however, the reason for the chill time is to allow the cookies time to become soft. Crunchy cookies in banana pudding is no good in the south. We like our cookies soft and to achieve this you need to allow the finished banana pudding some time to hang out in the fridge. Overnight is generally enough time for the cookies to soften.

Cooking Tip! Make this recipe the day before you want to serve it so that it will have plenty of time in the fridge and to insure that all of your animal crackers will be nice and soft.

better banana pudding recipe

Better than Mama’s Banana Pudding Recipe

The Domestic Diva
You won't believe how quick and easy it is to make this banana pudding recipe. This easy no bake dessert features creamy, decadent layers of vanilla pudding, fresh bananas, and cookies to make the best banana pudding you've ever eaten!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Chill Time 12 hours
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Southern
Servings 12 people


  • 2 small boxes of instant vanilla pudding (3.4 oz each)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 16 oz Stauffers Original Animal Crackers
  • 4 ripe bananas


  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together 2 small boxes of instant vanilla pudding and 2 cups whole milk. Set aside.
  • Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat 2 cups heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Start your mixer off on the slowest speed and gradually increase the speed until heavy whipping cream has thickened. It will take several minutes before the heavy whipping cream has firmed up. You'll know it is done when you can remove the whisk and the heavy whipping cream keeps its shape.
  • Once your heavy whipping cream has thickened into stiff peaks, gradually mix in 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1/4 tsp salt. Whisk until combined. Do not overmix1.
  • Remove mixing bowl from stand mixer. With a silicone spatula, fold in the pudding mixture by hand into the heavy whipping cream by adding one scoop of the pudding at a time to the heavy whipping cream and gently fold until combined with the heavy whipping cream. Do not stir, only use a folding motion. After folding the pudding with the heavy whipping cream, the finished pudding mixture should be light and fluffy.
  • In a trifle dish, add a single layer of Stauffers Original Animal Crackers on the bottom.
  • Then layer 1/3 of pudding mixture on top.
  • Add another single layer of Stauffers Original Animal Crackers then layer slices of 2 ripe bananas on top of that.
  • Layer another 1/3 of the pudding mixture.
  • Repeat another single layer of and slices of 2 ripe bananas.
  • Add remaining 1/3 of pudding mixture.
  • Top the banana pudding with Stauffers Original Animal Crackers along the edge of the assembled banana pudding and a few crackers in the center.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge overnight before serving. You want the crackers to be soft before serving.
  • Use a large serving spoon to scoop out banana pudding and serve onto plates or bowls.


  1. Once the heavy whipping cream has developed stiff peaks do not over mix or you will begin to make butter.
Keyword Banana, Dessert, No Bake Dessert, Pudding
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  1. The recipe looks absolutely delicious and tasty! I love the simplicity of it. It’s perfect for a weeknight dessert.

  2. This brings back childhood memories! I’ve never had it with animal crackers though.

    1. The animal crackers are a game changer. You’ve gotta try it!

  3. Melissa Cushing says:

    I do love a good Banana Pudding and this is a masterpiece! I am so pinning this recipe to make for my family…. they will absolutely love it! Makes me hungry ;)

  4. I love quick and easy recipes for baking! Thanks for this, will copy the recipe this weekend!

  5. This looks like a good remix of the vanilla wafer banana pudding recipe, I bet the texture is great!

  6. This looks so good! I need to try it :)

  7. Richelle Milar says:

    Oh my! This is so perfect I love this recipe it looks absolutely delicious and tasty!

  8. i love no-bake recipes and this looks yummy. I’ll have to try it!

  9. Your recipe looks absolutely delicious, and I can’t wait to give it a try!

  10. Amber Myers says:

    This looks so delicious! I just love banana pudding so I’ll be trying this for sure!

  11. I’ve never had this dessert before. Sounds like it would be easy enough to make with my kids. Nice summertime dessert too!

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