This no-bake banana pudding recipe not only calls for one 3.5-ounce package of banana instant pudding but also one can of sweetened condensed milk, one eight-ounce block of cream cheese, two cups of milk, one teaspoon of vanilla extract, half of a four-ounce tub of Cool Whip, one 11-ounce box of vanilla wafers, and five bananas. It’s important to use banana-flavored pudding, Lee explained, not vanilla.
“Absolutely 100 percent use instant banana pudding, not vanilla. The flavor we believe to be ‘fake banana’ or ‘artificial banana’ is actually the flavor of the Gros Michel. The Gros Michel was the banana our parents and grandparents grew up with. The Gros Michel is commercially extinct, replaced with the modern Cavendish banana. This is why fake banana flavor taste so foreign to us today; it is based on a banana species we don’t eat anymore. All banana recipes from the ’60s or earlier were meant to have the sweeter more floral flavor of the Gros Michel, so using banana instant pudding with fresh Cavendish bananas gives you the closest taste as possible to the original,” Lee said.