This Banana Pudding Cake features three vanilla cakes layered with homemade banana pudding and vanilla icing. Topped with caramel sauce and Nilla wafers, it’s a decadent dessert that’s surprisingly simple to prepare.
Easy Banana Pudding Cake Recipe
Looking for a dessert that appears elegant and decadent but is quite simple to prepare? Look no further than this Banana Pudding Cake!
Like my banana pudding poke cake, this layer cake recipe is a re-imagination of classic Southern banana pudding. It features vanilla cake layered with a homemade banana pudding mixture and coated in a rich, homemade vanilla frosting, before being decorated with toasted coconut and, of course, Nilla wafers.
You’ll notice this 3-layer cake includes a couple of boxes of French Vanilla cake mix. I’m all for using cake mixes when possible, especially when you have the opportunity to give them a little extra love using great ingredients.
While guests will think this cake took hours and hours the prepare, you’ll know the truth – all you need is a few minutes to prepare the cake batter, a few minutes for the banana pudding, and a few minutes for the frosting. The most time-consuming part is simply waiting for the cake to cool!
Each element of this recipe – the cake, the pudding, and the frosting – requires just a few easy-to-find ingredients. See the recipe card below for measurements.
- French vanilla cake mix – Starting with a box of cake makes this banana pudding cake super easy!
- Oil – Vegetable oil or canola oil are great.
- Toasted coconut – See below for notes on doing it yourself.
- Caramel sauce – Caramel + banana is such a great flavor combo!
- Nilla wafer cookies – Because it’s not banana pudding without Nilla wafers!
- Banana pudding – Be sure to grab INSTANT pudding, not the kind that requires cooking.
- Milk – Regular whole or 2% milk is perfect.
- Sweetened condensed milk – Sweetens our homemade banana pudding.
- Cream cheese – Adds some tanginess to the pudding, while also thickening it.
- Cool Whip – Adds a fluffy texture to the banana filling.
- Sweet cream butter – The base of our homemade vanilla frosting. I recommend using unsalted.
- Powdered sugar – Sweetens the frosting while giving it some shape.
- Vanilla extract
- Heavy whipping cream – Gives the frosting a thicker, stable texture.
How to Toast Coconut
Toasting coconut is as easy as turning on the oven (325), spreading shredded coconut evenly on the cookie sheet, and baking until it’s all golden brown. Depending upon your oven, you can expect 5-7 minutes – maybe a little longer, maybe shorter. When they are golden brown (after a few good shakes while baking to even it all out) it’s time to come out of the oven.
NOTE: If you are using sweetened coconut, it will get brown quicker because of the sugar. Keep a close eye on the oven.
How To Make Banana Pudding Cake
This decadent layer cake is quite easy to prepare, though you need to make sure to bake the cakes well in advance so they have time to cool. You can even make them a day ahead if you want!
- Make the cake batter. Make the cake batter according to the directions on the back of the box. Divide evenly into three round cake pans, each sprayed with non-stick spray.
- Bake. Bake the cakes for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
- Level the cake. Use a cake leveler to slice off the tops, so that the cakes will sit evenly.
- Make the banana pudding layer. Beat the banana pudding and milk for about 5 minutes, then mix in the sweetened condensed milk. Mix in the cream cheese until smooth, then fold in the Cool Whip. Scoop into a piping bag.
- Make the frosting. Beat all the frosting ingredients until the mixture is creamy with stiff peaks. Scoop into the piping bag.
- Assemble the cake. Place a cake on the cake board. Frost a thick outline along the edge of the cake, then fill in the center with the pudding. Top with the second cake and repeat. Place the third cake layer on top.
- Decorate the cake. Use the remaining frosting to frost the entire cake, then sprinkle toasted coconut on the bottom. Transfer the caramel sauce into a squeeze bottle and squeeze along the top edge of the cake. Pipe dollops of frosting along the top, then sprinkle with toasted coconut. Add a Nilla wafer to each frosting dollop.
- Chill. Chill for an hour in the fridge, then cut into slices and enjoy.
What If I Don’t Have A Cake Leveler?
No worries! Not everyone does. They are pretty cheap and easy to find so if you plan on making more layer cakes, they’re worth picking up. That said, an easy DIY solution is to cut the top off with dental floss. Check out this tutorial to see how it’s done.
Pro tip: Make sure it’s unflavored dental floss! (Don’t ask me how I know…ha!)
Tips for The Best Banana Pudding Cake
Here are a few tips for making this decadent banana pudding cake.
- Make sure to divide the batter evenly. If you’re not great at “eyeballing it”, you can use a scale to make sure each pan has the same amount of batter before baking.
- Allow the cakes to cool completely. Before preparing the banana pudding and frosting, it’s important that the vanilla cakes cool completely. Feel free to make them a day in advance and keep them wrapped tightly in plastic on the counter.
- Can I use homemade vanilla cake? Of course. I like the ease of using a box cake mix for this recipe but feel free to use your favorite vanilla cake recipe instead.
- Allow the cake to set before cutting. Once the cake is assembled, allow at least an hour for it to chill in the fridge. This gives both the pudding mixture and frosting some time to set. If you cut it immediately, the pudding may ooze out the sides.
How to Store Leftovers
- Fridge. Keep any leftover banana pudding layer cake in the fridge. A cake keeper is ideal, as it should be in an airtight container.
- Freezer. I do not recommend freezing this cake, due to the pudding layer.
More Banana Desserts:
Banana Pudding Cake
- 2 boxes of French Vanilla cake mix
- 6 eggs
- 2 C water
- 1 C oil
- 2 C toasted coconut
- 1 bottle of caramel sauce
- Nilla wafer cookies
Banana Pudding ingredients
- 1 3.4- oz. box of Instant Banana Pudding
- 2 cups of milk
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 8- oz. package cream cheese softened
- 1 container Cool Whip
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray cake pans with pam baking spray
- Follow the directions on the back of the cake box to make the batter
- Divide the batter between the three pans
- Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean
- Once baked, allow to cool completely
- Using a cake leveler, slice off the rounded tops to make the cakes leveled
Banana pudding directions
- Using a large mixing bowl, beat together the banana pudding and milk for about 5 minutes.
- Mix in the Sweetened condensed milk until smooth
- Mix in the cream cheese until smooth
- Fold in the cool whip until smooth
- Scoop the pudding into the piping bag
- Using a standing mixer, beat all the frosting ingredients until creamy and stiff peaks
- Scoop into the piping bag
Building the cake directions
- Place one cake round onto the cake board
- Using the cake frosting, pipe a thick outline around the edge of the cake. This will be the barrier to keep the pudding in the middle
- Pipe pudding into the middle of the cake layer
- Place the second cake layer on top of the first one
- Repeat steps with the frosting and pudding with the second cake layer
- Place the third cake layer on top
- Using the remaining frosting, frost entire cake
- Sprinkle the toasted coconut onto the bottom of the cake
- Pour the caramel sauce into the squeeze bottle and squeeze it along the top edge of the cake that way the sauce drips down along the sides.
- Using the remaining frosting in the piping bag, pipe dollops of frosting along the top
- Sprinkle with toasted coconut and place a Nilla wafer cookie against the frosting dollops
- Place in the fridge for 1 hour to allow the frosting to harden before cutting into slices and enjoying.
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- 1 Cake leveler
- 1 Disposable piping bag
- 1 Large piping bag (with star tip)