Why Instant Pudding Is My Secret Weapon for Summer Desserts

Why Instant Pudding Is My Secret Weapon for Summer Desserts

Nickel & Dine is a budget column by Rebecca Firkser, food writer, recipe developer, and expert budgeter. This time, Rebecca is teaming up with our friends at Walmart to share tips for easy summer entertaining, featuring her signature flavor-packed, time-saving recipes plus a few of her must-have hosting items from Walmart—order ‘em online for pickup or delivery.


Ah, pudding. I don’t see how anyone could not love the creamy, classic treat. (I know a lot of folks, in fact, who do not love pudding and I simply do not get it.) Made with just a few fridge and pantry staples—like sugar, cornstarch, milk, sometimes eggs and butter, plus vanilla extract or cocoa powder—it’s an affordable dessert that tastes like a million bucks.

Sometimes I get the urge to methodically stir a pot of pudding made entirely from scratch, but on summer days, I don’t have the time or desire to stand over a hot stove and whisk. It’s in these moments that I turn to instant pudding. I prefer affordable options like Walmart’s Great Value instant pudding and pie filling, so whenever I’m doing a big online shopping haul from them I like to add at least two boxes of instant pudding mix (one chocolate, one vanilla) to my cart. Because you never know when you’re going to need a bowl of pudding—for me, the craving strikes at least a couple times a month.

Once those little boxes are in your kitchen, pudding is just the beginning of the dessert possibilities. Instant pudding mix can be used to make a pudding-like component for all sorts of sweets, like cream pie (speaking of which, add a couple Great Value pie crusts to your cart while you’re clicking around), but it can also become an easy ice cream base or a filling for your boxed cake mix creations. Let’s take a tour of the many ways instant pudding is the key to easy, affordable summer desserts

Photo by James Ransom. Prop Stylist: Alya Hameedi. Food Stylist: Kate Buckens.

Pudding Parfaits

Layer prepared instant pudding—any flavor, or even a few flavors—into individual dessert cups with crushed cookies or sliced fruit and whipped topping for the quickest and easiest-to-serve party dessert.

Cream Pie

Grab a store-bought graham cracker or classic pie crust, bake it, then scoop in any flavor of prepared instant pudding. Chill it until you’re ready to eat, then top the pie with a thick layer of homemade whipped cream or defrosted whipped topping.

Cake Filling

Make your favorite cake (from scratch or a box!) and fill each layer with your favorite flavor of prepared instant pudding instead of frosting. Even simpler, try a poke cake: Bake the cake in a 9- by 13-inch pan, poke it all over with the end of a wooden spoon to make holes, then fill in the gaps with pudding. After a few hours in the refrigerator, the textures meld into an extra-moist dessert.

Banana Pudding

Layer prepared pudding, vanilla wafers, whipped topping, and sliced bananas into a big bowl or baking dish for a spoonable treat you’ll make all summer long. Vanilla pudding is the norm for this dessert, but chocolate is an extremely tasty swap. Not a banana fan? Try sliced strawberries or peaches.

Pudding Ice Pops

For a super-simple frozen treat, whisk a 3.9-ounce box of instant pudding mix with 2 cups of milk, then scoop the mixture into ice pop molds and freeze until solid. I like to add blueberries into the center of each pop for a surprise.

Ice Cream

Say you want to make ice cream for a fun kitchen project with some kiddos. You could make a formal custard, but you could also decrease the time it takes to prepare ice cream (and increase your proximity to freshly churned scoops) by using instant pudding mix. Whisk the 3.9-ounce box of mix with 4 cups heavy cream, then churn in a chilled ice cream maker until thick and frozen.


Do you have any creative ideas for making dessert with instant pudding? Tell us in the comments!

Whether you’re shopping online or using their app, our friends at Walmart have easy solutions to help you get all the goods you need for summer hosting without breaking the bank. Shop their signature Great Value, Marketside, and Great Value Our Promise brands for guaranteed high-quality fresh and frozen food, household and pantry staples, and everyday cleaning products at affordable prices. To streamline your shopping experience, check out all that Walmart has to offer here.

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