Banana Pudding Experiment (Which Cookies are Best?)

So you checked out my article to banana tattoos and now you’re wondering what to do with all of these bananas. I’ve got a great solution: banana pudding.

I know what you’re thinking, this isn’t supposed to be a food blog, it’s a dad blog, but hear me out and we can turn this into a great activity for you and your family. And here comes the Dad Stuff twist. Not only do the kiddos get to help in the making process (it really is stupid easy to make), but we’re going to turn it into an experiment.

What Cookies to use in Banana Pudding

So normally banana pudding is made from vanilla wafers (and no, I’m not going to pontificate the origins of banana pudding and its cultural relevance in the US. This isn’t that kind of blog and I’m not that kind of guy).

After watching an episode of Good Eats where Alton Brown talks about how vanilla wafers are nothing like they used to be, it got me questioning so many things about life (is anything real anymore? Are we actually in the Matrix?). 

Mostly, do you really have to use vanilla wafers in banana pudding? Surely to question that would be sacrilege, but then again, did I really care for the rules anyway?

It got me thinking about other cookie options. So I gathered up four choices, and made a family experiment with it:

  • Vanilla wafers for a control
  • Pepperidge Farm’s Chessman Butter Cookies (because some other posh food blogs said it was a better option than vanilla wafers, and I wanted to find out for myself)
  • Cinnamon graham crackers
  • Oreos (because who doesn’t like Oreo flavored stuff?)

But before I get too caught up in my thoughts about cookie options, let’s just get to the recipe already. Nothing annoys me more than looking up a recipe online only having to scroll through 2,000 words just to get to the actual recipe. 

I’ll save my pontification for the end for those of you who are interested. 

The Ultimate (And Stupid Easy) Banana Pudding Recipe


  • 1 box French vanilla instant pudding mix (3.4 oz)
  • 2 cups milk (1%, 2%, whole, whatever. Use what you have or go to town with the fat. Let’s be honest here. It’s banana pudding. We’re not counting calories today.)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
  • 1 package cream cheese (8 oz)
  • 1 container whipped topping (8 oz – found in the freezer aisle)
  • 4 bananas, sliced about ¼ in. thick
  • 1 package Oreos
  • 1 box vanilla wafers
  • 1 box cinnamon graham crackers
  • 1 package Pepperidge Farm Chessman Butter Cookies


Making the filling:

  1. Mix the milk and vanilla pudding according to the directions on the box. Set aside and let chill (for however long the directions on the box say)
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the sweetened condensed milk and cream cheese until smooth.
  3. When the pudding has thickened, mix the pudding with the sweetened condensed milk and cream cheese mixture
  4. Fold in the whipped topping until smooth, being sure not to overmix 

***(for those of you out there that don’t know what folding is, it means to gently scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula to mix heavier ingredients with lighter, whipped, airy ingredients. The key is to only mix just enough to combine but not too much so you don’t knock out the air bubbles. If it doesn’t look like it completely homogenous, that’s good! If you knew all of this already, good on you and thanks for reading.)


  1. Take a 9×13 baking dish and spread out a single layer of the cookies into four separate sections: One with vanilla wafers, one with graham crackers, one with the Chessman cookies, and the last with Oreos. 
  1. Spread a single layer of sliced bananas on top of the cookie layer. 
  1. Spread the pudding mixture on top of the banana layer spreading the mixture to the edges. 
  1. Spread another layer single of cookies on top in the same place as the bottom layer. 
  1. Cover with clear plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for at least four hours. A day would be even better (if you can wait that long!)

In the end you should have one large pan of banana pudding that has four different cookie options. When the time comes to eat it, have a taste test with the family to see which one everyone likes best. 

If you’ve made it this far, you might be asking, “Which cookie was the best?” After very quickly devouring the entire pan (too quickly if I’m being honest), I most definitely have an answer for you. 

And that answer is, it depends. Let’s go through each cookie and I’ll let you know what we thought. 

Chessman Cookies

If you’re looking for a cookie that will make a great stand-alone banana pudding, go for the Chessman cookies. Those posh food bloggers are definitely on to something. 

The cookies are nice and buttery, a little thicker, and even when they absorb the filling and get softer, still have some texture to it. This was one of the family favorites. 

Cinnamon Graham Crackers

If you’re a fan of things cinnamon flavored, then go for the cinnamon graham crackers, but with a few modifications to the original recipe.  

The graham cookies are the thinnest of all the cookies and lost their texture the most. If I were to go back and make a pan of just the graham crackers, I would add another cookie layer in the middle.

Also, I personally would like to have a little more cinnamon flavor and would suggest adding some ground cinnamon to the pudding mixture. My wife and I especially loved this one!


Who doesn’t like Oreos? This was easily one of the family favorites, and if you’re feeling a little extra, go for it. 

At first, I thought to myself, if I’m going to go with Oreos, do I need the banana anymore? Surprisingly, yes. Keep the banana in. It adds a nice texture and the little bit of acidity in the banana balances nicely with the chocolatey sweetness of the cookie. 

In fact, you may consider just going to town and crushing some Oreos and mix it in the pudding mixture. If you’re putting Oreos into your banana pudding, you’re already throwing out any sense of tradition anyway, so go to town!

Since the cookies were the thickest, they did take the longest to soften. You want to let this sit overnight.  

This one was fantastic, but it can be a bit much. I would consider this for a once every-other year or if I knew I wasn’t going to be home alone with the leftovers (I can’t be trusted around sweets).

Vanilla Wafers

I know I’m going to get in trouble for saying this, but whatever, I turned off the comments anyway. The vanilla wafers were the most ho-hum of all the cookie options. It wasn’t by any means bad, but the other options were so much better. 

I know, I know. The purists out there are freaking out. But if Alton Brown is in fact correct, and today’s vanilla wafers aren’t the same recipe they used to be then this shouldn’t be that surprising. 

The Family Winner

I have to confess; I first went into this experiment with the expectation that I will come out knowing what my absolute favorite cookie choice would be. This was going to be the one cookie I use every time from here on out. Instead, I came out realizing that the next time I make banana pudding, I’m going to make one with four different cookies again. 

Each time I came back to the pan for more, I found myself wanting something a little different. The first serving may have been Chessman and graham cracker, but then I’d want to finish up with Oreo. 

If I learned anything, it was how much I enjoyed the variety. It has even got me thinking of a couple other cookie options: animal crackers, Golden Oreos, maybe even a peanut butter cookie. 

Whatever you decide to go with, the good news is after you’ve eaten all the banana pudding, you realize you bought way too many cookies, and you’re now good on snacks for the rest of the week. 

Gregory Grabowski

Greg Grabowski is the principal creator of, a website for dads by dads. Inspired by his two boys Ben and Sam and his wife Dianna, Greg loves to make things, learn things, and loves doing fun stuff with his family.

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