This vegan banana pudding is a healthier take on the classic Southern-style pudding. It’s made creamy with chia seeds and coconut milk and sweetened with maple syrup! All you’ll need is 8 simple ingredients and 10 minutes of hands on time to enjoy this sweet treat!
When I first started developing this vegan banana pudding recipe, I was thinking of going a much more traditional banana pudding route. If you’ve never had the classic southern dessert or a banana cream pie, it is DELICIOUS. Fluffy, sweet, banana-y, and very custard like. It’s a Southern favorite for a reason – Read about how it became an iconic dessert here!
The downside is it’s usually made with a LOT of white sugar, butter, heavy cream, and eggs, and is not one of the easiest vegan options when dining out. Although I definitely enjoy an indulgent dessert now and then, I wanted this homemade pudding to be a healthier alternative made without a lot of processed sugar and oil!
Why You’ll Love this Pudding
- No baking! Typical banana pudding recipes can be finicky and are typically made by whisking together ingredients like organic sugar, lemon juice, corn starch, eggs and milk in a medium saucepan until thickened into a pudding-like consistency. But you know I love a good shortcut, especially when it doesn’t compromise on flavor. Instead this vegan custard is made with basic ingredients, no heat and no eggs or milk.
- Makes individual servings. You can make this plant-based take for 1 or make this for 10. Each serving is made directly in an individual serving jar and is easy to double, triple, or make as many as you need! Feed a crowd with ease.
- No instant pudding mix. Many classic southern banana pudding recipes call for instant vanilla pudding mix. This is almost never vegan-friendly and adds additional refined sugars and fat to the recipe. Instead, this raw vegan banana pudding is made with vanilla extract and gets it’s thick banana pudding consistency from a much healthier alternative!
What You’ll Need
- Chia seeds – For that magical vegan banana pudding texture. There is no other substitute.
- Non-dairy milk – For the best rich and creamy banana pudding, I recommend full-fat coconut milk. For a less rich, yet still creamy pudding, use another non-dairy milk. Soy milk, oat milk, almond milk, or rice milk all make a great option. Just make sure to use an unsweetened milk, or the taste of the milk will affect the final flavor of your pudding.
- Fresh bananas – The riper the banana, the richer the banana flavor will be.
- Salt – Balances out the sweet in this recipe!
- Vanilla extract – Gives this classic vanilla pudding flavor without artificial flavoring. You could also use vanilla paste or a vanilla pod! A little goes a long way.
- Banana slices, vegan cool whip and vegan vanilla wafers – If you want this dessert to feel like a classic delicious vegan banana pudding, you’ll want to finish off the top of the pudding with coconut cream, fresh banana slices and vegan vanilla wafer cookies! If you need to make a gluten-free banana pudding, opt for gluten-free vanilla wafers.
How to Make Healthy Vegan Banana Pudding
Although this recipe only requires about 10 minutes of hands on prep time, it does require planning ahead so it can soak overnight in the refrigerator. Just like my Pumpkin Chia Pudding, this vegan pudding is prepared the night before or at minimum two hours ahead. The chia seeds need time to absorb the liquid!
- Mash the ripe bananas directly in a mason jar or similar-sized 16 ounce jar until smooth and consistent.
- Add in the plant-based milk, maple syrup, salt, vanilla extract and chia seeds overtop the mashed banana.
- Mix thoroughly to combine, making sure that all of the chia seeds are covered in liquid so they can absorb liquid and become gelatinous.
- Tightly screw on the mason jar lid or cover with plastic wrap.
- After soaking overnight in an airtight container, the texture will have changed dramatically and thickened up into a chia pudding! At this point, you can either enjoy as is, or transfer the vegan banana pudding to a high-speed blender and blend until completely smooth. This will turn it into a more classic pudding texture, but is not needed!
- As desired, transfer the pudding into a second jar in layers. Add one layer of vegan banana pudding, a layer of fresh banana slices, layer of vegan vanilla wafers and repeat! Then add a final layer of vegan whipped cream, additional banana, crisp cookies and a sprinkle of cinnamon. The perfect creamy treat!
Note: If you choose to blend the banana pudding, you will notice that it gets much darker in color than if you eat it without blending. This is totally fine! The darkness is from the anti-oxidants in the chia seeds and is both healthy and normal.
I mixed the chia seeds in really well. Why is my pudding still thin?
Your chia seeds might be too old. Just like with using old baking soda and baking powder, using old chia seeds can be ineffective. Chia seeds generally have a long shelf life due to their high antioxidant powers, but they can go bad faster if not stored in an air tight container or stored in the sun. Chia seeds do very well in an airtight container in the fridge and freezer!
Are Nilla wafers vegan?
No, they contain milk and eggs. Fortunately, the vanilla wafer cookies at Whole Foods are vegan friendly are are what I use in this recipe!
Can I make this pudding ahead of time?
Yes, this vegan banana pudding stores well in the fridge for up to 5 days. If you want to make this pudding ahead of time, I would store the pudding separately and layer the pudding right before serving.
Can I double the recipe?
Yes! This recipe is easily to make in larger portions.
- Blend the banana pudding! Although you can certainly eat this pudding without blending it, blending the chia seeds is what creates that pudding, mousse like texture.
- Don’t try to substitute the chia seeds. Chia seeds are key here for the texture and thickness of the pudding.
More Delicious Vegan Desserts You May Enjoy
No-Bake Vegan Banana Pudding Recipe
What You’ll Need
- In a 16 ounce jar, mix together all of the banana chia pudding ingredients until well incorporated. Make sure all of the chia seeds are covered in liquid so they can absorb liquid and become gelatinous.
- Transfer to fridge and refrigerate overnight or for a minimum of 2 hours.
- Optional: After refrigerating overnight, transfer mixture to a high speed blender and blend until smooth.
- Add layer of banana pudding to bottom of your 16 ounce jar, then add layer of vanilla wafer cookies and lastly a layer of banana slices. Repeat until jar is full.
- Top with cocowhip, cinnamon, and more cookies and banana slices.
- Storing: Store this pudding in the fridge for up to 5 days. Cookies will soften over time. Do not freeze.
- This is a large single serving! You may find it more appropriate for two people.
- If you like the texture of chia pudding without blending, you absolutely can skip step 3.
- If you do decide to blend it and own a newer wider base Vitamix, you will need to make a minimum of 2 servings of this chia pudding at a time or there will not be enough liquid in the canister to blend. If you have the older Vitamix model that is thinner or are using a single serving blending cup, 1 serving should blend just fine!
- I used these jars for this recipe. The price fluctuates a ton on Amazon so if you like them, just watch them for a good price!
General note about salt
Please pay attention to the type of salt called for in the recipe (if applicable). Not all salts are made equal and cannot be substituted 1 for 1. If you are substituting table salt for kosher salt, you will need to cut the amount called for in the recipe by at least half.
Disclaimer: The Nutritional Information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.
This recipe was originally published October 16, 2020 and has been updated on March 17, 2021, and December 28, 2022 to include new photographs, step by step instructional photos, FAQs and tips. The original recipe remains the same.
Photography by: Baking-Ginger Studios