The perfect make ahead dessert for any party, potluck, or backyard BBQ, this simple banana pudding cake recipe will have everyone going back for seconds!

slice of Banana Pudding Cake on a black plate

Banana pudding is a classic southern dessert. My grandmother always made banana pudding when we had large family meals. This easy banana pudding cake recipe takes all the flavors of the traditional dessert and makes them into a simple poke cake that tastes just like the banana pudding I remember. 

What is a poke cake, you may ask? Well, just as the name implies, it is a cake that has had holes poked all through it for the purpose of adding some filling. For example, in our turtle poke cake it’s caramel. In this recipe, it’s vanilla pudding.

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It Starts With Cake Mix

As you know, we like to doctor up our cake mix with a few additional ingredients. Our coconut cake is a family favorite.

In this one, we are using yellow cake mix and mashed bananas instead of pudding to make a banana cake. If you love bananas and want more dessert options, check out our banana split cake or our banana cream cheesecake dip! These dishes are so good they’ll make you go bananas!

ingredients for Banana Pudding Cake

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Yellow Cake Mix – You can sub out with vanilla if you want, just be aware that it will give your dish a vanilla flavoring.
  • Eggs
  • Vegetable oil – You want to avoid using olive oil when baking as it can change the flavor of your dish.
  • Water
  • Bananas – You want them overripe and mashed for the cake, but also some fresher ones for slicing on top.
  • Instant Vanilla pudding – Make sure it’s instant pudding.
  • Milk – You’ll use this to make your pudding.
  • Nilla wafers – Any brand of vanilla wafers will do. You should be able to find these in the cookie aisle of your grocery store.
  • Cool Whip – You can sub with homemade whipped cream if you prefer. We suggest using our recipe for stabilized whipped cream that we use for our cupcakes in a jar if you do.
how to poke Banana Pudding Cake

Instructions for Banana Pudding Poke Cake

Step 1 – Preheat. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

Step 2 Mix cake batter. In a large bowl mix together the cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil, water, and mashed bananas.

Step 3 – Add to pan. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 13 x 9-inch metal baking pan. To grease your pan you can use shortening, butter, or even cooking spray.

Step 4 – Bake. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. 

Step 5 – Make pudding. While cake bakes make the pudding by adding 2 cups of milk to the vanilla pudding mix, whisking it together and then placing the pudding in the fridge to firm up.

Step 6 – Add pudding to the cake. Let the cake cool completely then use the end of a wooden spoon to poke holes across the entire top. Spread the vanilla pudding over the cake making sure it gets in all the holes. Tip: Your cake will cool faster if you use a wire rack. This keeps the bottom of your cake off the countertop and allows airflow all around the cake.

Banana Pudding Cake with crushed Nilla and banana slices

Step 7 – Add banana slices. Cut 2 of the fresh bananas into slices. Place the fresh banana slices in rows on top of the pudding covering the top of the cake. 

Step 8 – Add wafers and whipped cream. Sprinkle the crushed Nilla wafers over the bananas. Spread the whipped cream frosting over the cake making sure to completely cover the bananas and Nilla Wafers. 

Step 9 – Chill. Cover with plastic wrap and place the cake in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Step 10 – Add more banana and serve. Right before serving, cut the remaining banana into slices and top the cake with whole Nilla Wafers and banana slices. Serve immediately. 

Banana Pudding Cake topped with Nilla and cool whip
What Can You Add to a Box Cake Mix to Make it Taste Better?

You can add pudding mix in various flavors to make a delicious, moist cake like we do for our coconut cake, pistachio cake, and lemon cupcakes.

In this recipe, instead of adding pudding mix to the cake mix we instead add bananas to the cake mix for added flavor, then we poke holes in the cake and top with vanilla pudding and banana slices. This gives the pudding a banana flavor that soaks into the cake as it sits.

How Ripe Should Bananas be for Banana Pudding?

You get the most banana flavor from a banana that is overripe. I try to buy my bananas about 5 days ahead of time unless they are very green in which case, they may need 7-8 days to fully ripen. You know they are at their best when the skin becomes speckled with brown spots, and you can smell the sweet banana scent before peeling.

Banana Pudding Cake slice on a black plate with Nilla on top

Freeze Your Perfectly Ripe Bananas

If you’re like me you rarely remember to buy bananas far enough in advance to have them perfectly ripe for whatever delicious banana dessert you’re making. To solve this problem, any time I have an overripe banana I peel it, place it in a freezer bag, and put it in the freezer. These frozen bananas work great for adding to muffin mix, cake batter, or smoothies.

If you’re using them in a batter or a smoothie you can just thaw them slightly in the microwave (10-15 seconds usually does it) and then mash them up before adding them to your batter or throwing them into the blender if you’re making a smoothie.

If you are going to slice them up for a recipe, let them thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours, then slice and use them as needed.

For this recipe I recommend using a fresh banana for the slices that you add on top before serving. They will have a firmer texture and a better visual appearance. These are just a topping, so they don’t need to be overripe. Just make sure they aren’t green!

Banana Pudding Cake layers

Can You Freeze Banana Pudding Cake?

Yes! You can freeze the baked cake, then thaw and add other ingredients when you’re ready to use it. Let the cake cool completely, then wrap it in 2 layers of plastic wrap and 1 layer aluminum foil. You can store it in the freezer for up to 2 months.

To use, remove from the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. Once thawed, remove the aluminum foil and plastic wrap and follow the rest of the instructions for making the banana pudding cake.

How to Store It

Store leftovers by covering it tightly with lid or plastic wrap and storing it in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

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Servings: 10
Prep Time: 2 hrs
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 2 hrs 30 mins

Banana Pudding Cake

The perfect make ahead dessert for any party, potluck, or backyard BBQ, this simple banana pudding cake recipe will have everyone going back for seconds!

Ingredients

  • 1 box Yellow Cake Mix
  • 3 large Eggs
  • cup Vegetable oil
  • ½ cup Water
  • 2 large Overripe bananas, mashed
  • 3.4 ounces Instant vanilla pudding
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 3 Bananas
  • 1 box Nilla wafers
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl mix together the cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil, water, and mashed bananas.
  • Pour the cake batter into a lightly greased 13×9 inch metal baking pan.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  • While cake bakes make the pudding adding 2 cups of milk to the contents of the pudding box, whisking it together and then placing the pudding in the fridge to firm up.
  • Let the cake cool completely then use the end of a wooden spoon to poke holes across the entire top.
  • Spread the vanilla pudding over the cake making sure it gets in all of the holes.
  • Cut 2 of the bananas into slices. Place the banana slices in rows on top of the pudding covering the top of the cake.
  • Roughly chop enough Nilla wafers to fill 1 cup. Sprinkle the crushed Nilla wafers over the bananas.
  • Spread the whipped topping over the cake making sure to completely cover the bananas and Nilla Wafers.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and place the cake in the refrigerator for 30 minutes – 1 hour.
  • Right before serving top the cake with whole Nilla Wafers.
  • Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice, Calories: 439kcal, Carbohydrates: 76g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 63mg, Sodium: 511mg, Potassium: 364mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 45g, Vitamin A: 209IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 203mg, Iron: 2mg
Nutrition Disclaimer: We are not certified nutritionists. Nutrition facts are an estimate and are provided as a courtesy. They are generated by an online API which recognizes ingredient names and amounts and makes calculations based on the serving size. Results may vary.
Author: Kat Jeter & Melinda Caldwell
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Banana cake recipe with cake mix and pudding, banana pudding cake, banana pudding cake recipe, banana pudding poke cake