Banana Pudding {No Bananas!}

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Classic banana pudding, no bananas! Don't miss out on this popular southern potluck dessert made with pudding and butter cookies.

A slice of banana pudding sits on a stack of white plates. You can see that there are no bananas in the layers.

If you spend any time in the South, it won't be long before you encounter the classic banana pudding dessert at a potluck or church event.

I love no bake pudding desserts, they're some of my favorite treats. But I know I'm not alone when I say this: I just do not like bananas.

I've tried them every way I can think of. I can tolerate them in my favorite two banana breads: this easy banana zucchini quick bread and my sliceable bread machine banana bread.

Generally I just think fresh bananas overpower any dish they are added to.

I finally decided to create my absolute dream banana pudding with no bananas! Because life's too short to miss out on the rest of this amazing dessert.

Jump to:

Why This is the Best Recipe

I love easy potluck desserts but after over a decade of living in the South, I can say that this is the best banana pudding recipe because:

  1. No Bananas!: Yep, that's right. There are no bananas in this banana pudding. You can read more about why I made a banana-free banana pudding in my notes below.
  2. 10 Minute Prep: This is one of the fastest desserts to make ever. It is so easy you will hardly believe it.
  3. Slices Cleanly: No messy dessert pans. Banana pudding can be very sloppy to serve but this recipe slices neat and clean.
  4. Light and Fluffy: Even though it slices neatly, the cream filling is still light and fluffy and oh so delicious.
  5. Make Ahead Friendly: You could prep this the morning of your party but I think it tastes even better the next day. That makes this the perfect make ahead dessert for a holiday, potluck, or special event.
  6. Inspired by the Queen of Southern Recipes: This recipe has been adjusted from Paula Deen's Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding recipe to be more friendly to banana-averse Midwesterners.

Why No Bananas?

Not everyone enjoys bananas. I'm not sure I've ever heard of a banana allergy, but you just never know!

And picky eating kids? Bananas are a no go for many of them, too.

If you want to be the most thoughtful host or potluck dessert maker ever, consider making this banana pudding with no bananas as a delightful option for the dessert table.

You could easily split the recipe into two 8x8-inch pans -- one without bananas and then you could sneak a few into the second pan!

Then everyone will be happy.


The ingredients to make a banana pudding without fresh bananas are on the counter.

To make my banana pudding with no bananas, you only need a few simple ingredients:

  • Vanilla Instant Pudding: Some banana pudding recipes even use Instant banana pudding. If you want the banana flavor but without the fresh bananas, you could try that. But this version is completely banana free.
  • Chessmen Butter Cookies: This is the ingredient that speaks to my heart. I think they look so pretty on top of that pudding layer. If you can't find them, you could always use the traditional Nilla wafer cookies or any butter cookie you love.
  • Cream Cheese
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Whipped Topping
  • Milk

See what's missing on that list?? The bananas. Ha.

Prep the Cream Filling

To make the banana pudding cream layer, start by beating together the cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk in a large mixing bowl. A hand mixer works best.

Add the dry pudding mix and the milk to the bowl and beat them into the cream cheese for about 2 minutes. The pudding will start to thicken and you'll see the ripples in the cream.

Then gently fold in the whipped topping. Don't stir too hard, you want it to remain nice and light and fluffy.

Step by step photos show how to beat the cream cheese with condensed milk and add the pudding and milk.

Assemble the Banana Pudding

In a 9x13-inch pan, lay one package of the Chessmen cookies in a single layer.

I placed them decoration side up but it doesn't really matter. You may need to adjust the position to make them fit the best for your pan, but remember how you did it so you can match that layout for the top.

Spoon the prepared pudding mixture over the top of the cookies. Be careful to not disturb the cookie position.

The photo collage shows how to assemble the no bake pudding torte.

Gently smooth the pudding over the cookies, working it into all the corners of the pan and making the top smooth and pretty.

Finally, add the second package of Chessmen cookies over the top.

Cover and Chill

The Chessmen cookies are firm and crispy at this point. To get the right texture for a classic banana pudding, it is important to cover and chill the dessert for a few hours.

This allows the cookies to absorb some of the moisture of the pudding an soften to a more cake-like texture.

It also gives the pudding mixture time to set up so you can slice it cleanly when serving.

Use plastic wrap to cover the the dessert and chill it for 4 hours up to 24 hours ahead of time.

The assembled dessert is ready to go into the fridge. You can see the rows of Chessmen cookies on top.

How to Add Bananas

I'm not sure why you'd want to do this, but I know there are people who think it is just not banana pudding without the bananas.

If that's you, go ahead and slice 6 fresh bananas. Add them in an even layer on top of the first layer of Chessmen cookies.

Spoon the pudding over the top and finish the recipe as directed.

Make Ahead Tips

This is the perfect make ahead party dessert!

The banana pudding should chill for at least 4 hours before serving to give the cookies a chance to soften.

You can make it ahead up to 24 hours and it will taste even better.

Do not try to freeze this dessert. The pudding and cookies will become a watery mess once it thaws.


I think even the most popular classic desserts can be played with. Keep your party guests guessing with these fun banana pudding variations:

Chocolate Chip Banana Pudding: Add mini chocolate chips to the pudding mixture along with the whipped topping.

Strawberry Banana Pudding: Add a layer of thin sliced strawberries on top of the first layer of cookies.

Blueberry Banana Pudding: Add a layer of fresh blueberries on top of the first layer of cookies.

Serving Suggestions

The slice of banana pudding without bananas is on a stack of plates. You can see the spot in the dish where it was cut, it came out cleanly and was easy to slice.

Banana pudding tastes best chilled. Keep the dessert in the fridge until just before serving it at your party.

This comforting sweet dessert is absolutely delicious all by itself. I love that fluffy, creamy center and the soft buttery cookies on top and on the bottom.

But it would also taste delicious with a sprinkle of fresh berries on the side, especially if you skip the bananas.

Banana pudding is for sure one of my new favorites, but don't miss these other delicious southern recipes, too.

More No Bake Desserts

If you love no bake desserts as much as I do, you won't want to miss these reader favorites:

📖 Recipe

A slice of banana pudding sits on a stack of white plates. You can see that there are no bananas in the layers.

Banana Pudding {No Bananas}

4.91 from 52 votes
This easy potluck dessert recipe is a classic southern church dessert. While it usually features fresh bananas layered in the creamy pudding mix, this recipe is completely banana free for anyone who has an allergy or strong aversion to banana flavor.
TOTAL TIME 4 hours 10 minutes
PREP TIME 10 minutes
CHILL TIME 4 hours
YIELD 12 servings


  • 2 (7.25 oz) packages of Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies or Nilla Wafers if you prefer
  • 1 (8 oz) block of cream cheese softened
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (5 oz) box Instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 (12 oz) container of whipped topping like Cool Whip, thawed


  • Place one package of Chessmen cookies on the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish in a single layer. Reserve the second package for the top.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk together with a hand mixer on medium speed until well combined, about 1 - 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl periodically.
  • Add the dry Instant pudding mix to the bowl along with the milk. Use the hand mixer to beat the ingredients together on medium-high speed until the pudding thickens and you can see ripples in the creamy mixture, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the entire container of whipped topping to the mixing bowl and gently fold it in with a spatula. Be sure your whipped topping is completely thawed before you begin or it will not blend properly into the mixture.
  • Gently spoon the pudding filling over the cookies in the baking dish. Smooth it out to an even layer making sure to get all the corners.
  • Place the remaining Chessmen cookies over the top in a pretty pattern. Cover the dish with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours before serving so the cookies can soften as they absorb the moisture from the pudding. This will give the cookie layer an almost cake-like consistency.

Recipe Notes

Make Ahead Tip

This banana free banana pudding tastes even better the next day. Simply chill the covered dessert in the fridge overnight.
Do not try to freeze the banana pudding, the texture will become runny as it thaws.

How to Add Bananas

If you're a purist and absolutely require bananas in your banana pudding, you can slice 6 fresh bananas and add them in a single layer on top of the first package of Chessmen cookies. Top with the vanilla pudding mixture and finish the recipe as directed.
You could also substitute banana flavored pudding mix for the plain vanilla pudding if you want banana flavor without fresh bananas.

How to Be a Holiday Hero

If you're bringing this banana pudding recipe to a special event, you could actually make 2 8x8-inch baking dishes with one batch worth of ingredients.
Just split everything into the two pans: 
  1. Banana Pudding with NO Bananas
  2. Banana Pudding WITH Fresh Bananas: Just use 3 bananas
This gives your guests the option to go classic or finally be able to enjoy the dessert without bananas!

Save This Recipe to Your Recipe Box

Find this delicious recipe next time you visit by saving it to your very own recipe box on my site. All your favorites stored in one easy place!

The photo collage shows a slice of banana pudding without bananas on a stack of white plates next to a photo of the assembled no bake dessert.


  1. Hi! Thank you so much for this recipe! I developed an anaphylaxis reaction to bananas in my early 20s after years of loving bananas. And I always crave the dessert I can’t have! Thank you so excited to use it for thanksgiving !

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