Childhood nostalgia, prepare to meet this Paleo Banana Pudding!
If you grew up anything like me, you spent summers eating chilled, southern-style banana pudding. Aside from the banana, it had three key ingredients: Nilla Wafers, boxed instant pudding, and Cool Whip — a total crowd-pleaser. This Paleo Banana Pudding keeps all of those traditional flavors and ingredients in mind for a healthier version of the southern classic. And, you can still lean heavily on store-bought ingredients for assembly, just paleo-friendly ingredients now.
When trying to nail the perfect recipe, we tried the traditional pudding route using the stove and egg yolks with arrowroot as a thickener. This version was *fine* but the texture and flavor just weren’t quite close enough to the nostalgic Jell-O boxed pudding we grew up loving. Instead, we re-thought the pudding as a cashew cream that requires no baking that is pretty foolproof and thickens beautifully if you follow the resting and cooling times correctly.
And with that, here are a few more notes to make sure your Paleo Banana Puddings turn out perfectly each time.
- Soak your cashews in warm water overnight. The longer you soak the cashews, the easier it will be to get them to be smooth and creamy. If you’re in a hurry, pouring hot water over the cashews will speed up the soaking process and they will be ready in about an hour. Don’t forget to drain and rinse them after they’ve soaked, too!
- Since the pudding is a no-bake, it relies on a few starches to help it become thick and creamy. Tapioca flour is a must to use as a binding agent and the banana has starch that helps the pudding really set up in the fridge. You want to use bananas that are spotty but not deep brown like you’re looking for in banana bread. The riper bananas are, the less starch they have.
- Use a high-speed blender. A high-speed blender is best to help the cashews get super creamy. If the pudding looks off, keep blending, it will smooth out beautifully!
Also, while suggested making these in individual serving glasses, you do you! You could definitely make this in a large serving dish, it just might a bit messier to serve, but as always, you do you!
Lastly, a note about a few of the ingredients! If you can’t find the new Siete Foods cookies, you can swap for your favorite gluten-free vanilla cookie or shortbread. And the coconut whipped cream is found in the freezer section of the market.
I can’t wait to see you all create these in your kitchens this summer — and for years to come — to keep the childhood memories alive!
Paleo Banana Pudding
For the Pudding
- 1 cup raw cashews soaked in water overnight and drained or one hour in hot water
- ⅓ cup unsweetened non-dairy creamer, I used NutPods French Vanilla
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp tapioca flour
- Small pinch of kosher salt
- 2 tsp Pure vanilla extract or the seeds of 1 vanilla bean
- ½ large ripe banana - sliced about ½ cup
- 1 ¼ cups coconut whipped cream divided - thawed (I used Cocowhip from So Delicious)
- 1 4.5 oz bag Siete Foods Mexican Wedding cookies, about 18 cookies total
- 1 large ripe bananas, sliced into 1/4-inch coins
- cinnamon, optional for garnish
- ¼ cup dark chocolate shavings, optional
- Rinse and drain the soaked cashews. They should be a bit soft and almost doubled in size.
- In a high-speed blender, add soaked cashews, Nutpods, maple syrup, lemon juice, tapioca flour, a pinch of salt, and vanilla. Start blending on low to allow the cashews to start breaking up, about 30 seconds.
- Once the mixture starts to become smooth, turn up the speed slowly to low-medium, and blend for a full minute, letting the blades blend the mixture to a silky-smooth texture, and aerate the pudding so it becomes smooth and fluffy. In the process, the mixture will go from looking too liquid-y, to appearing like a natural nut butter, about 1 to 2 minutes total. It should be smooth; however it might still have a bit of gritty texture to it (the banana will help smooth it out!)
- Once the mixture is almost smooth, scape down the sides of the blender and add in the banana. Continue to blend on medium to medium-high for 1 minute, until the banana is fully incorporated, and the pudding is smooth and thick.
- Transfer the pudding to an airtight container, and chill in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours, or until the pudding has thickened. You can assemble the puddings immediately, but the pudding won’t be quite as set.
- Remove the pudding from the fridge. Using a rubber spatula, fold in ½ cup of whipped cream, being careful not to deflate it. Fold until you’re unable to see streaks of the whipped cream in the pudding, and it is evenly combined.
- Arrange 6 small mason jars or glasses on your surface. Roughly chop 12 of the cookies into smaller pieces and evenly divide them into the bottom of each glass. Top with a heaping ⅓ cup of the banana pudding, spreading to the sides of the glass. Divide up the banana slices over the pudding. Then, a heaping tablespoon of whipped cream, spreading to the sides of the glass.
- To garnish, finely chop the remaining cookies and sprinkle over the tops of the puddings.
- Sprinkle with a tiny bit of cinnamon, and shaved chocolate if using. Transfer the completed glasses to the fridge and chill until you’re ready to serve!