Not really. It’s better, and easier. The original Nilla banana pudding recipe is an actual cooked pudding dish. Bah. Too much work! And just using boxed pudding according to box directions is okay I suppose...but it lacks something – unless you tweak it just a bit. This dish is a snap, and I’ve never yet met a person who didn’t love this, and I’ve fed this to a lot of people!
You will need:
- 2 boxes of Jell-o French Vanilla Instant Pudding
- 2 C heavy cream
- 1 ½ C milk
- 1 box of Nilla wafers
- A bunch of bananas
- Cool Whip
The choice of pudding is crucial here. French Vanilla, not regular vanilla. If you’ve tasted both, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t tried the French Vanilla, get it. Sometimes it can be hard to locate, not every store carries it, but it is worth the effort, believe me. If all else fails, you can get it here. I use this pudding for cream puffs and as a base for napoleon filling as well. Yes, Jell-o makes a “banana crème” pudding as well – but trust me and go with the French Vanilla. Synthetic banana flavor is not the taste we’re looking for.
I generally make this the morning I am serving it, so that the cookies don’t get soggy. Find a bowl, something large and with a lid. You can see the plastic bowl I used below. Put it aside, that is the bowl you will be assembling the dish in.
I tend to make pudding with a hand mixer, but you can also use the whisk attachment on a stand mixer. Combine both pudding boxes with the milk and heavy cream (light cream and whipping cream just don’t give quite the same flavor, so go ahead and splurge). Beat on high, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until the pudding is thickened like so. With the heavy cream in there, it won’t take long to get to the whipped stage. If you continue whipping cream into the break stage (when it starts to look dry), and it will turn into butter, so keep that in mind.
Put one layer of Nilla wafers down into the assembly bowl, one cookie thick.
Then, spread pudding on top. The thickness is up to you and the depth of your bowl. Your bowl should be deep enough to get 2 layers, so plan accordingly when you put the pudding down, you want to have enough for the second layer, which will probably have a bigger diameter than the first layer. You might not want to just use half your pudding, however, because that might be so high that you can’t fit 2 layers. Judge by eye, depending on the bowl height.
Then, put down a layer of sliced bananas. I normally slice them right as I am putting them down, so they don’t sit exposed to the air for too long.
And then half of the Cool Whip, sealing the edges around the bowl to keep the bananas from the air. Then, repeat: Nilla, pudding, bananas and ending again with Cool Whip.
Cover and refrigerate for several hours. Voila! Banana pudding. Not very labor intensive, but a big pay-off in terms of taste. The heavy cream, French Vanilla pudding, and Cool Whip make a world of difference in the taste! Enjoy!