real life test kitchen: banana nilla wafer pudding + other 4th of july yums

Occasionally we like to do a deep dive into the recesses of our 1970s childhood memories and make something that is just not good for us. By that I mean it is a “faux recipe” — one made up mostly of processed foods and that would make Michael Pollen cringe. It’s funny how something that used to be so everyday is now an indulgence of sorts. At the top of this list is a banana dessert made of Jello instant pudding, Nilla wafer cookies, whipped cream and bananas. My husband refers to it as “white trash tiramsu.” The other night the book club gathered at my house to discuss (what else) Cooked, and I couldn’t resist serving up a big a dish of this light, fluffy, banana-y treat. It was enjoyed by all without too much guilt, and I guarantee it would be a welcome finale to any 4th of July meal.

Banana Nilla Wafer Pudding


2 small boxes of jello banana instant pudding and ingredients to make it.
1-8oz tub of cool whip whipped topping
1 box Nilla wafers
4 bananas cut in thin slices


1. Make the pudding according to instructions. Set aside to thicken in fridge if need be.
2. Grab a casserole dish and put a layer of cookies down on the bottom.
3. Using a spatula, spread a layer of pudding on top. Put a layer of sliced bananas on top of that, followed by whipped cream.
4. Repeat until the dish is full.
5. Chill for a few hours before serving.
6. Enjoy!

If this recipe doesn’t quite jive with your current palette, here are a few more 4th of July treats to choose from:

Chicken and Bowtie Pasta Salad

Charred Corn Salad

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Strawberry and Pea Salad

From our partners

Darn you! Now I’m craving banana pudding. If you want an only-slightly-more-homemade version, the Magnolia Bakery recipe is completely wonderful too, though almost certainly worse for you :)