Can I share a secret with you guys? Just because something is labor-intenseive or 100% homemade doesn’t mean it’s the best. Making great food doesn’t have to be hard. Let’s stop being martyrs here. I used to think the same way you did. I used to make everything absolutely from scratch. And there are a lot of things I only make from scratch, but if there’s a better, easier way of doing them, I ususally do that instead.

Take, for example, banana cream pie. I used to make it with homemade pie crust and homemade pudding that literally took an hour of stirring over a hot stove. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but my sister-in-law Emily’s recipe for banana cream pie is awesome. And it’s a million times easier. But you purists out there are questioning me–“Jello pudding? Pre-baked graham cracker crust? No stinking way.” To which I say, “Yes way.” Live on the edge here, take it to Easter dinner this Sunday, and be prepared for everyone to love you. Because hey, food is the best way to win friends and influence people! :)
Oh, as you may notice in these pictures, there are two boxes of pudding. You only need one, but I wanted to show that you can use chocolate or vanilla pudding. I made mine today with chocolate and it’s super yummy, but it doesn’t necessarily taste like banana cream pie. So if you’re after traditional banana cream pie, use vanilla pudding.
And ONE other thing and then I’ll shut up. If you grocery shop at Walmart, don’t use their sweetened condensed milk. Normally, I’m okay using store brands, but their sweetened condensed milk is gritty and gross. And actually, at least at any Walmart I’ve ever shopped at, the Meadow Gold brand is cheaper.
Okay, let’s get started, shall we?

Banana Cream Pie

1 4-serving size box of instant chocolate or vanilla pudding
1 c. cold water
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 cookie crusts. You can use anything–graham crackers, Nilla Wafers, shortbread, even Oreo.
Lots of bananas
1 pint whipping cream
1/3 c. powdered sugar
In a medium bowl, combine pudding mix, cold water, and sweetened condensed milk. Mix well and place in the refrigerator to chill for a few minutes. In another bowl, whip 1 c. of whipping cream until soft peaks form.
Slice the bananas (probably 4 small bananas or 2 large bananas) and layer them on the bottom of the crusts. Be sure and save the plastic domes that come with the pie crusts–you’ll need them later!

Set aside. Remove pudding from the fridge and gently dollop the whipped cream on top of the pudding. Gently fold the whipped cream into the pudding mixture until well-combined.

Now divide the mixture between the two pies.

Prepare sweetened whipped cream with the remaining whipping cream and 1/3 c. of powdered sugar and spread it on top of the two pies. Place the clear plastic shells back on the pies and allow to chill for several hours. This is actually really important–I tried eating it right away once and the pie wasn’t banana-y at all and the moisture hadn’t absorbed into the crust, so the crust just fell apart.
And there you have it–the best AND the easiest banana cream pie you’ll ever have or need!

Chunky Monkey Variation: Blend 1/2 c creamy peanut butter into the pudding/water/sweetened condensed milk mixture (before you fold in the whipped cream). Continue as directed but place in a chocolate cookie crust. Sprinkle with honey roasted peanuts just before serving.

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