This Banana Pudding Ice Box Cake takes all the flavors you love from banana pudding and transforms it into an easy, frozen dessert using instant pudding!
Sometimes I have to ask myself the tough questions like, “can I make a tender scone that tastes like carrot cake” or “banana pudding; will it ice box cake?” or “can I make a poached pear taste like gingerbread?” The answer to all of those is yes! 🎉
Table of Contents
The toughest and most ridiculous versions of these questions (like the last one 👆), I reserve for my professional chef life. Because let’s be honest, you aren’t going to make 13 component carrot cake entremets.
- Instant Pudding: I used Jello Vanilla Instant Pudding, but you can use any type you choose or you can make it from scratch using the vanilla bean pudding recipe here.
- Vanilla Extract: While this is optional, it really makes the dessert taste like it is from scratch.
- Heavy Cream: This is the main volume in the banana pudding ice box cake so be sure it is not light cream.
- Nilla Wafers: I used a mix of mini Nillas and full sized. There is no difference but I just discovered that mini ones existed and now I will never go back!
- Bananas: Ripe but not spotted bananas are your happy place in banana pudding. They will continue to soften and ripen as they sit. If you would use it for banana bread, it’s not going to be ideal here.
Make your banana pudding ice box cake your own!
- Add Candied Nuts: Don’t candied peanuts sound delicious in banana pudding? Agreed.
- Add a Caramel Surprise: Swirl in some caramel sauce or go the extra mile and make caramel pudding instead of vanilla!
- Ditch the Layers: No one is saying it has to be layered perfection; crush those Nillas, cube the bananas and mix it all up. Let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes and scoop it like no-churn ice cream.
- From Scratch: I see you, and we are already besties. Yes, you can make that vanilla pudding from scratch using the recipe from my banana pudding recipe. High-five because you’re awesome.
- Lightened Up: Use sugar free pudding mix, omit the powdered sugar and substitute Cool Whip for the heavy cream. Boom. A lightened up banana pudding ice box cake.
- Winter Twist: Substitute those Nilla wafers for gingersnaps and you’ve got yourself a little holiday twist. To me, it isn’t banana pudding without Nillas, but others disagree.
Storage of Your Banana Pudding Ice Box Cake
Keep frozen to prevent ice crystals from forming. You can refrigerate first to allow the Nillas to soften before freezing.
Pastry Chef Tip
Is it true that you like a clean presentation without much clean-up? Me too! For this, easily line a loaf pan with plastic wrap by lightly spraying a 9x5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray and then placing plastic wrap. The spray will cling to the plastic wrap and stick it to the sides, so you can get a nice smooth lining without much fuss. Leave some plastic wrap hanging over the sides to help with removal. Et voilà!
Banana Pudding Ice Box Cake
Prepare Instant Pudding:
- If you haven’t prepared the Instant pudding yet, whisk in the milk according to package directions and allow to set in the refrigerator. It will incorporate better cold. 1 cup prepared pudding is half of a pudding box. I also add additional vanilla extract to the instant pudding.
Prepare Loaf Pan:
- Lightly spray a 9x5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray and line with plastic wrap. The spray will cling to the plastic wrap and stick it to the sides, so you can get a nice smooth lining without much fuss. Leave some plastic wrap hanging over the sides to help with removal.
Assembly & Finishing:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl, combine heavy cream, confectioner’s sugar and remaining vanilla.
Whisk until stiff peaks form.
- Reserve about a cup of whipped cream for the topping, set aside.
- Gently fold the remaining whipped cream into the pudding.
- Slice the bananas about ⅛ inch thick.
- Starting with lightened pudding, spread a thin layer of pudding in the bottom then layer on the bananas and nilla wafers, repeat until almost at the top.
- Finish with the plain whipped cream and decorate the top with Nilla wafers, additional bananas or leave plain.
- Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer 8 hours or overnight.
- Allow to warm at room temperature for 5 minutes before attempting to free it from the pan.
- Fill a large cup with hot water and have a tea towel handy.
- Gently pull the plastic wrap lining until the ice box cake pops out. Remove plastic wrap.
- The easiest way to cut is by dipping a serrated knife in the warm water, wiping the blade and then slicing the cake with a hot knife. Depending on how long it takes, you might need to put the cake back in the freezer if it starts to melt too much.
- I served on chilled plates with a little caramel sauce, but it doesn’t need anything else!