Instant Pudding Mix Is Key To Magnolia Bakery's Iconic Banana Pudding

There are certain times in life when we all crave a nostalgic recipe or dessert from the past. You can spend time trying to recreate your own pineapple upside-down cake or even homemade peanut brittle, but there really is nothing quite like a thick chilled cup of banana pudding. The first recipe for this southern-style treat didn't appear until 1988, but the traditional banana pudding we all know and love–you know, the one that's unabashedly loaded with Nabisco Nilla wafers–didn't become a nationwide sensation until 1921 when one home chef shared her very own recipe upgrade with a local news publication in Illinois. While traditional banana pudding calls for homemade custard, bananas, and layered vanilla cookies, over the years, the adaptation to include instant pudding mix became a convenient way to enjoy this banana-flavored dessert with fewer ingredients.

Manhattan-based confectionary Magnolia Bakery has been selling colorful cupcakes since the original location opened on Bleecker Street in New York City's West Village neighborhood in 1996. Since the corner shop's appearance in HBOs popular show "Sex and the City" in the early 2000s, Magnolia Bakery has grown in acclaim, and not just from the establishment's vast array of cupcake flavors. Apart from cookies, cheesecakes, and ice cream-based treats, the bakery's take on banana pudding proves to be almost as popular as its famous cupcakes. How does Magnolia Bakery use instant pudding to craft such a popular version of this iconic banana-based treat?

What is so special about the banana pudding at Magnolia Bakery?

If you want a fast and simple dessert, you can make a banana cream pie pudding cup, but if you're looking to recreate Magnolia Bakery's popular banana pudding, you're going to need instant pudding mix. In 2006, Bobbie Lloyd became head chef of the bakery and over the years, made various adjustments to longstanding recipes. However, she admits to The New York Times, "the banana pudding is the one recipe I didn't touch." Lloyd stands firm in her belief that you can't recreate the light and fluffy texture of instant pudding with homemade custard or whipped cream.

If you're already familiar with Jell-O instant pudding mixes, you might assume the confectionary uses Jell-O brand's banana cream flavor, but Magnolia Bakery actually makes its famous banana pudding with vanilla instant pudding, heavy cream, and sweetened condensed milk. With a simple hand mixer and patience, you can even try making the NYC bakery's version of this southern classic courtesy of Magnolia Bakery and Food Network. Beyond the three main ingredients listed above, all you need to add are bananas and Nilla wafers. Now that you know how this Manhattan-based bakery makes its banana pudding, just how popular is this take on the nostalgic confection?

Next to cupcakes, pudding is Magnolia Bakery's most popular treat

Apart from the multitude of cupcakes, cookies, and no-bake icebox cakes, Magnolia Bakery has done pudding lovers a favor by offering customers a number of ways to procure their monthly or even daily dose of banana pudding. While there are a number of copycat recipes on the internet, sometimes you just want the real thing. Of course, if you live near one of the 10 locations in the U.S. you can pick up a creamy cup of banana pudding yourself or opt for local delivery. If you want to make a real commitment, however, you can buy into the pudding of the month club. This exclusive subscription allows you to enjoy specialty seasonal pudding flavors delivered right to your doorstep.

Magnolia Bakery didn't stop at adding new flavors to this iconic dessert either. You can buy banana pudding cookies with white chocolate chips and even a gluten-free version of the classic treat online or in-store. The company has grown its banana pudding business due to the growing popularity of the confection over the last decade. Head chef Bobbie Lloyd told Delish that the company's pudding sales make up for over 25% of its brick-and-mortar business and over 50% of the company's online purchases. While Magnolia Bakery's banana pudding has become an NYC staple in its own right, the fact remains that this indulgent dessert can't be made without fine, powdery instant pudding.