The Best Gluten Free Banana Pudding Recipe (With Variations)

This Gluten Free Banana Pudding recipe is simple to make with everyday ingredients. A delicious, semi-homemade treat that will feed a crowd.

banana pudding on white plate with homemade american flag butter cookie on top.

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what makes this recipe so different and unique?

Traditional banana pudding is made with Nilla wafers. But years ago, when Paula Deen was still on the Food Network, I watched her make what she called “Not Yo Mama’s Banana Pudding.” I made it and Paula was right, it was not my mama’s banana pudding. It was BETTER!! (Actually, my mom never made banana pudding, but if she had, I’m sure she would have made it traditionally with Nilla wafers).

I’ve been missing that banana pudding since being diagnosed with celiac so many years ago. I always said I was gonna try to make it gluten free, and I finally got around to it. I’m so glad I did because everyone loved it more than any banana pudding they’ve ever had.

When I first made it, I used these Schar Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies (affiliate link) in place of the Pepperidge Farm Chessmen Cookies that Paula Dean used. They were perfect (albeit a different shape) and I thought I had my final version of this recipe. But every time I set out to make banana pudding, I could never find those Schar cookies anywhere. After going to numerous stores, I decided to just make my own cookies. Because that’s how I roll. And I think my newer version is even butter than the original!

What’s in This Wonderful Banana Pudding?

You would expect that anything Paula Deen makes is gonna be luscious, and this banana pudding does not disappoint. The ingredients are simple, but perfect.

  • Gluten free cookies — Paula Dean is a genius for using Chessmen cookies instead of vanilla wafers. But for us, Pepperidge Farm has yet to make a gluten-free version of their cookies in any form. Luckily, we have a few options. We can make our own or use a store-bought variety (see below for variations).
  • Sweetened condensed milk — Probably my favorite ingredient of all time. Liquid gold.
  • French vanilla pudding mix — using a pudding is what I call a “semi-homemade” recipe. There’s nothing wrong with using pudding mix to make our lives easier. Especially if we decide to go the homemade cookie route.
  • Cream cheese — another not-so-common ingredient in banana pudding, but it works.
  • Whipped cream — Paula’s recipe calls for Cool Whip, but she also says sweetened whipped heavy cream can be used instead. I chose the latter, but there’s no shame in using Cool Whip.
overhead view of slice of gf banana pudding on white plate with glass pan full of whole banana pudding and red napkin on the side.

Whether you choose to buy cookies or make your own, you’ll need some form of gluten free cookie that will soften within the layers of pudding and bananas. If you can find Schar Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies (affiliate link) in your area, by all means use those. They work great! If you can’t find those particular cookies, any plain vanilla gf cookie will work, such as Kinnikinnick Vanilla Wafers (affiliate link) or Walker’s Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies (affiliate link).

If you decide to make homemade gluten free cookies, there are even a couple of different options as well! You could keep it traditional and make my Gluten Free Vanilla Wafers or you can make these new gluten free butter cookies! Chessmen cookies are actually butter cookies. I found this plunger cookie cutter at my local Michael’s and it’s perfect for Memorial Day or 4th of July, but get creative and customize them to your occasion.

how to make gf butter cookies

  • Beat together butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg and vanilla extract and combine well.
  • Briefly mix in the flour just until a soft dough forms.
  • Divide the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap and refrigerate until slightly firm, about an hour.
  • Roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out with desired cookie cutter and place on parchment-lined baking sheets.
  • If desired, brush the raised edges of each cookie with beaten egg yolk.
  • Bake in a 350 F oven for 12 minutes.
  • Cool completely before using.
sheet tray filled with three rows of american flag butter cookies.

let’s make banana pudding

  1. Combine whole milk and pudding mix and whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready.
  2. Whip heavy cream with powdered sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form.
  3. Whip cream cheese until smooth. Add sweetened condensed milk and continue whipping until well combined.
  4. Stir pudding mixture into cream cheese mixture.
  5. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture.
  6. Line bottom of 9 by 13-inch pan with your cookie of choice.
  7. Place half the cut bananas in one layer on top of cookies in pan.
  8. Spread pudding mixture over bananas.
  9. Top with another layer of cookies.
  10. Repeat, ending with cookies on top.
  11. Cover and chill until completely set and cookies have softened, at least 4 hours.

gluten free Banana Pudding FAQs

Can Gluten Free Vanilla Wafers be Substituted for the Cookies?

Yes, they can! You can use store bought or make your own using this recipe.

Is Instant Pudding Mix Gluten Free?

While there are some that aren’t gluten free, most Jello Brand pudding mixes are gluten free, including vanilla and French vanilla. If you don’t feel safe eating instant pudding, you can make your own u0022puddingu0022 using this pastry cream recipe.

Can I Use Cool Whip Instead of Whipping My Own Cream?

Yes, to make it even easier, use thawed Cool Whip in place of the whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla.

more gluten free banana recipes to try

fork cutting into slice of banana pudding.

It’s so easy to make this gluten free banana pudding. Probably the hardest part about it is waiting until it sets to dig in!!

banana pudding on white plate with homemade american flag butter cookie on top.

The Best Gluten Free Banana Pudding

If you love banana pudding and haven’t had it in years, you’re in for a treat! Gluten free shortbread cookies make this smooth and creamy banana pudding just right!!
4.05 from 20 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Chilling Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 42 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 16 servings


Gluten Free Butter Cookies

  • 1 cup (8 oz or 226g) butter, softened (dairy-free butter may be substituted)
  • ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • cups (385g) Kim's all purpose gluten free flour blend (a store bought may be substituted, but hasn't been tested)
  • 2 large egg yolks, whisked and at room temperature for glaze, optional

OR If Using Store Bought Gluten Free Cookies

  • 7 ounce bags (198g) Schar gluten free shortbread cookies (Kinnikinnick vanilla wafers, Walkers gf shortbread, homemade vanilla wafers, or any other similar cookies can be used)

Pudding Mixture

  • 1 8 oz pkg (226g) cream cheese, softened (dairy-free cream cheese may be substituted)
  • 1 14 oz can (397g) sweetened condensed milk (sweetened condensed coconut milk may be substituted)
  • 2 cups (480ml) heavy cream (a dairy-free cream or whole fat coconut cream may be substituted, or omit heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla and use a dairy-free frozen whipped topping)
  • ¼ cup (31g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 4 oz pkg (113g) French vanilla pudding mix (or vanilla pudding mix)
  • 2 cups (480ml) cold whole milk (a dairy-free milk could be substituted)
  • 6-8 large just ripe bananas, sliced


  • Line the bottom of 9 by 13-inch baking dish with cookies followed by half of the bananas slices.
  • In a small bowl, combine milk and pudding mix and whisk or beat until smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready.  
  • In the bowl of stand mixer, whip heavy cream using the whisk attachment until soft peaks form.  Slowly add powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.  Scrape from bowl and place into another container and refrigerate until needed. (You can substitute all of this with thawed frozen whipped topping, aka Cool Whip).
  • In the same bowl used for whipping cream (or another large bowl), beat cream cheese until smooth.  Add sweetened condensed milk and combine well.  
  • Stir pudding into into cream cheese mixture, and then fold the whipped cream in.   
  • Dollop ½ of the cream mixture onto the bananas in pan.  Top with another layer of cookies and the rest of the bananas. Add the rest of the cream mixture on top of the final layer of bananas and top with the rest of the cookies.  Cover and set in refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.  Cookies should become soft after sitting.  Serve cold.


Banana pudding will keep in the refrigerator for a few days before the bananas start to brown.  
Keyword banana pudding, Gluten Free
Tried this recipe?Tag @letthemeatglutenfreecake on Instagram so we can see!

Gluten free butter cookies inspired by the Spruce Eats Copycat Chessmen Cookies

Adapted from Paula Deen’s Not Yo’ Mama’s Banana Pudding recipe.

8 thoughts on “The Best Gluten Free Banana Pudding Recipe (With Variations)”

  • It looks and sounds delicious, Kim! Pepperidge Farm Chessman Cookies were my favorites before going gluten free. I’ve always loved butter cookies! Pepperidge Farm actually did come out with two flavors of gluten-free cookies a few years back: Gluten-Free Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Butter Crisp Cookies ( and Gluten-Free Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies ( I read some reviews but never saw them in my store and although they are still on Pepperidge Farm’s website, I don’t know if they are still sold. Anyway, thanks for the recipe!


    • I never knew they developed any gluten free cookies! I just looked them up in my area and they aren’t sold near me either (not a surprise–we don’t get much of the good stuff around here).
      I really like the butter cookies in this banana pudding over any vanilla wafers, homemade or store bought. Paula Deen was a genius for using them in her original recipe. I hope you get a chance to try it this way.
      Thanks, Shirley 😊

  • I used about half of the Step 3 and Step 4 mixtures to reduce the sweetness and it was delicious! This is my family’s favorite banana pudding recipe, even for those who don’t normally like gf dishes. Or I double the pudding mix (Step 2) to make sure that I have enough for everyone.

  • I was so bummed…it turned out awful, for me! The consistency was wayyyy to liquidy and never set…I was so excited to find the recipe and then it was a total bust. I followed the recipe to the “T”!

    • Other than the gluten free shortbread cookies, I adapted the recipe from Paula Deen’s recipe, using the same measurements as hers. I’ve made it several times and it’s never been liquidy.

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