My mom didn’t make Banana Cream Pie all that often when I was growing up, but you can bet I looked forward to those rare occasions that she did. I’m sure there’s real Banana Cream Pie out there, but hers was all about the artificial glory of instant banana pudding, Nilla wafers, and whipped topping and it was deeeee-licious. These Banana Cream Pie Bars take their inspiration from that pie – you get layers of Nilla wafer crunch, creamy banana pudding, and cool whipped cream (I use the real stuff here, but up to you) in a sliceable, shareable dessert bar that’s no-bake and every bit as delicious as the original. And bonus? This time there’s a creamy cheesecake layer in there for you too.
In my mom’s version, the vanilla wafers were laid out whole to line a pie pan, but in this incarnation they’re processed into crumbs, mixed with butter, and pressed into a dish for a simple and delicious no-bake crust. It’s much the same as a graham cracker crust but you get a much more delicate crunch and more of a vanilla flavor.
There’s three other layers here – the cheesecake layer, the banana pudding layer, and the whipped cream topping. You’ll need whipped cream for two of those and you can use the tub of frozen whipped topping or you can make your own. If you make your own, as I did here, just make sure you whip it until it’s plenty sturdy so it holds up to slicing later. (Powdered sugar helps in that endeavor as well.)
There’s no baking to be done here, and no special culinary skills required – all you really need is a bowl, a spoon, and patience for the chilling time, which most anyone can manage. These bars are a little bit nostalgic, a lot delicious, and as easy to make as they are to enjoy.
Banana Cream Pie Bars
15m prep time
For the crust:
- 3 cups Nilla Wafers
- 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, melted
For the cheesecake layer:
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup whipped cream or whipped topping
- 1-2 bananas
For the pudding layer:
- 1 (3.4 oz) package instant banana pudding
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup whipped cream or whipped topping
For the whipped cream layer:
- 1 1/2 cups whipped cream or whipped topping
- In a food processor, pulse cookies until they become fine crumbs. Transfer to a bowl and mix with melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom of an 8x8-inch pan. (Can line with foil to make removing bars easier.) Chill in refrigerator for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the cheesecake layer:
- In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add sugar and beat until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Fold in whipped cream and spread mixture over cookie crust.
- Slice bananas thinly and arrange over cheesecake layer evenly.
- In a large bowl, stir together pudding mix and milk. Whisk until pudding starts to thicken, about 2 minutes. Fold in whipped cream. Pour over bananas and smooth out with a rubber spatula.
- Gently spread whipped cream over the top and again, spread out with a rubber spatula until smooth.
- Chill for three hours until firm enough to slice. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Like Mother Like Daughter.