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From the iconic Magnolia Bakery in NYC, this is the creamiest, dreamiest banana pudding.
Served at Magnolia Bakery, the beloved NYC bakeshop known for its old-fashioned desserts and charming decor, this is arguably the world’s most famous banana pudding. Lucky for me, my sister lived around the corner from the original Magnolia Bakery on Bleecker Street for over a decade, and no visit was complete without waiting in a line that snaked out the door to get our banana pudding fix. Given how famous this pudding is (it’s the bakery’s second-most popular dessert, after cupcakes), you may be surprised that the recipe calls for just a few ingredients, one of which is Jell-O instant vanilla pudding. Having made banana pudding from scratch, which requires more ingredients and effort, I can assure you that this version is just as good if not better. The recipe is adapted from The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook by Alyssa Torrey and Jennifer Appel.
What You’ll Need To Make Banana Pudding
In a large bowl, whisk the sweetened condensed milk and water until evenly combined.
Add the pudding mix.
Whisk until there are no lumps and the mixture is completely smooth. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, 1 to 2 hours or overnight. (Be sure the pudding is completely solidified before continuing, otherwise the dessert will not hold up.)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the heavy cream on medium speed until the cream starts to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip until stiff peaks form. (Be careful not to over-whip; if the cream looks grainy, you’ve gone too far.)
Whisk the pudding to loosen it up. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the pudding mixture a spoonful at a time.
Mix until just evenly blended and no streaks of pudding remain.
To assemble the dessert, use a 4-quart trifle dish or wide glass bowl, and set aside 5 cookies to use a garnish. Spread one-quarter of the pudding over the bottom.
Layer with one-third of the cookies.
Then add one-third of the sliced bananas (enough to cover the layer).
Repeat the layering twice more, ending with a final layer of pudding. Garnish the top with the reserved cookies or cookie crumbs (or a combination of the two).
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 8 hours (no longer).
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From the iconic Magnolia Bakery in NYC, this is the creamiest, dreamiest banana pudding.
- One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1½ cups ice-cold water
- One 3.4-ounce package instant vanilla pudding mix (preferably Jell-O brand)
- 3 cups heavy cream
- One 11-ounce box Nilla wafers
- 5 ripe medium bananas, sliced (see note)
- In a large bowl, whisk the sweetened condensed milk and water until evenly combined. Add the pudding mix and whisk until there are no lumps and the mixture is completely smooth. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, 1 to 2 hours or overnight. (Be sure the pudding is completely solidified before continuing, otherwise the dessert will not hold up.)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the heavy cream on medium speed until the cream starts to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip until stiff peaks form. (Be careful not to over-whip; if the cream looks grainy, you've gone too far.)
- Whisk the pudding to loosen it up. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the pudding mixture a spoonful at a time. Mix until just evenly blended and no streaks of pudding remain.
- To assemble the dessert, use a 4-quart trifle dish or wide glass bowl, and set aside 5 cookies to use a garnish. Spread one-quarter of the pudding over the bottom and layer with one-third of the cookies then one-third of the sliced bananas (enough to cover the layer). Repeat the layering twice more, ending with a final layer of pudding. Garnish the top with the reserved cookies or cookie crumbs (or a combination of the two). Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 8 hours (preferably no longer as the cookies start to get too soft).
- Note: Peel and slice the bananas at the last minute (as you layer the pudding) to prevent them from turning brown.
- Per serving (12 servings)
- Calories: 518
- Fat: 32 g
- Saturated fat: 18 g
- Carbohydrates: 55 g
- Sugar: 39 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 6 g
- Sodium: 274 mg
- Cholesterol: 93 mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.
I have loved every single recipe you’ve put out. Until now. I’m
Sure it’s an excellent recipe. I just grew up on banana pudding from scratch, and without condensed milk.
Southern Banana pudding with meringue
(from my mother to me and from my grandmother to my mother)
4 cups whole milk (I don’t advise skim, the taste won’t be nearly so good)
2 cups white granulated sugar
4 heaping tablespoons self-rising flour
4 heaping tablespoons corn starch
4 egg yolks from large eggs.
Save the Egg whites for meringue and make sure NO water gets in them!)
1 tablespoon (more to taste!) high quality vanilla extract
About 6 ripe bananas
One box Nillla vanilla wafers
In large, heavy-bottomed pan, mix dry ingredients (I sift them together). You need a heavy bottomed pan to keep from sticking or burning the pudding.
In a large bowl, beat eggs into milk. Gradually add egg/milk mixture to dry ingredients. Make sure no lumps.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, til pudding mixture comes to a full boil.
Boil 2 more minutes, then remove pudding mixture from heat and add the vanilla extract.
Cool the pudding before adding bananas or you risk cooking the bananas! Cooked bananas are NOT good in banana pudding!
I remove the pudding from the hot pan to help it cool faster. I usually put pudding in a large bowl and then in the fridge. If I’m in a huge hurry, I may put my pudding bowl in an ice water bath, or even in the freezer for an hour or so. Just watch out for it and don’t freeze it!
Once the pudding has cooled, layer an oven-safe bowl with a layer of vanilla wafers, then a layer of bananas, then a layer of pudding and repeat til used up. End with a layer of pudding on top. Refrigerate one day. The meringue will eventually go on that the next day.
4 egg whites from large eggs, room temp (about thirty minutes out of fridge is usually good)
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon high quality vanilla extract
You can also use 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar for stability of meringue. I recommend it, but it’s not mandatory. Helps meringue not “weep.”
On medium speed, beat the room
Temp egg whites, the vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar til soft peaks form. The soft peaks will curl over if you remove the mixer blades.
Slowly add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, while beating at high speed. If you add the sugar too fast, it knocks the air out of the whites and they won’t be as fluffy and high. Beat on high til stiff, glossy peaks form. Put on top of the pudding/wafers, banana/pudding mix.
Bake 350° for about 10 minutes til meringue tips are lightly golden.
Refrigerate for storage.
If you don’t beat til sugar dissolves, you’ll have “beads” left on top after baking. I like the beads but some people don’t. Whatever works for you.
Suggest eggs several days old. Too fresh and they won’t give as high a peak of meringue.
You can easily halve this recipe as it makes a lot of banana pudding!
For best results, cook the pudding and put it all together one day before eating, but don’t make the meringue til the day you eat it.
The pudding, vanilla, vanilla wafers and banana flavors will meld together better if it’s made one day before eating. The meringue quality goes down from day one to following days, so make it “day of serving.”
It will still be fine several days on fridge; if it lasts that long! It just won’t look as pretty if it sits a few days!
I have made the Magnolia Bakery recipe and found it way too sweet. I wish there was a way to cut the sweetness back a bit.
I’ve made this several times for parties and holidays. Everyone loves it! Thanks for sharing such a delicious, easy recipe.
I’ve made this twice and it is a delicious well received dessert! I’m wondering if to cut down a bit on the sweetness I could sub evaporated milk for the sweetened condensed milk.
Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes and ideas
So glad the pudding has been well received! Unfortunately, I don’t think evaporated milk would be a good substitute for the sweetened condensed milk – sorry!
Chef, when adding the pudding, are we using serving spoons? Thank you!
Hi Ralph, you can use a large spoon or spatula.
Can I use milk instead of water? Or is there a reason you prefer water? Thanks!
Hi Alexandra, This recipe is from Magnolia Bakery so I’m not sure why they chose water, but I think milk will work too.
Best banana pudding ever! It makes a lot and is very high calorie, but so worth it! Very easy to make.
This was delicious and really fun to make! I was too lazy to drag out my kitchen aide mixer so I used a hand mixer and had my son add the pudding mixture one spoonful at a time (definitely a two person job if not using a kitchen aid) . I will make this again for sure!
OMG! So delicious! And so easy for someone who is a savory chef! I always fail at desserts but this was the hit of the party! Used “mini” Nilla wafers and they fit perfectly in my glass salad serving bowl.
This is unbelievably delicious! I’m not a huge banana fan but I could eat this all day. It’s now in my top favorite desserts. Thank you for all of your amazing recipes. I’ve made a lot of your recipes and have never found any we did not like, they’re always superb!
Oh, my! I made this for dessert for our Labor Day gathering. It was a perfect dessert to top off the evening. It makes a lot, so was able to send some home with our kids, knowing it wouldn’t keep well, but it was still a treat 2 days later, just softer. Didn’t change anything, and this recipe could not be any easier! So simple and delicious, yet looks impressive!
I made this for Labor Day. It was a big hit!! It looked so beautiful in my footed trifle dish, similar to yours. I made two minor changes: I used Jello French Vanilla instant pudding mix instead of regular vanilla. Also, when whisking the three cups of cream, I added 1 Tablespoon of sugar. I felt it needed sweetness. This recipe will be my go to dessert for a crowd. It was a delicious dessert without cooking or baking! Thank you for sharing your talent with us.
Best Banana Recipe Ever!
This dessert was so simple to make and a huge hit at a family gathering! I was nervous about the bananas turning brown but I trusted your tip and followed the recipe and it turned out perfectly! Thanks
My mother and I have made this banana pudding for years to rave reviews. One step in the version we have is to slice the bananas FIRST and let them soak in fresh lemon juice (usually 1-2 lemons is fine; just enough to cover the slices). This eliminates browning of the fruit over time and adds a bit of tang that people love but can’t quite identify.
We just finished eating this for dessert – my daughter is jumping up and down over it – so, so good. I could not wait for it to chill for 4-8 hours! Still so good – easy too!
I have never seen Nilla wafers for sale in Canada. Does anyone know what would be a good substitute? I’ve never had them so I’m not sure. Definitely want to make this! Thanks 🙂
Hi Erica, either animal crackers or shortbread cookies would work nicely. Please LMK how it turns out if you try this with one of them!
They are available on Amazon.ca, as well as a gluten-free vanilla wafer cookie that I haven’t yet tried. Alternatively, you could try “langues de chat” (“cat’s tongue” cookies) which I have used here in Montreal. They might be available in smaller, European-style grocery stores.
I am from the South and have always made banana pudding, but I never would use instant pudding or canned condensed milk. Ugh.
Is there any reason I could not make this in individual glasses? Like your other banana pudding recipe?
Hi Sammy, Individual glasses will work just fine. Enjoy!
Can this recipe be adapted to single-serving pudding bowls or ramekins? 4-qt is huge for my small household. Looks delicious!
I have made this often. It is FANTASTIC. At first I used cooked pudding (it had to be better than instant, right?) but once my husband bought instant in error. Voilà! It was even better! It is one of my grandsons’ favorite desserts—they love to help make it. And never, ever substitute cool whip for the whipped cream. This is an amazing, showy dessert for little effort, but you must follow the guidelines about chill times.
I want to make this! I have a question though…once assembled, will the bananas turn brown overnight? Is there a way to prevent this?
Hi Jan, They really don’t as long as they are covered with the pudding and the dish is covered when refrigerated. (Also, peel and slice the bananas at the last minute as you layer the pudding.) The bakery recommends making it no more than 8 hours ahead, but I find that it’s still really good the next day.
Great. I had the same question about the bananas turning brown and you answered it ! Love this