Pudding Mix Is the Secret Ingredient in These Decadent Dessert Recipes

Banana Cream Donuts
Photo: Micah A. Leal

Pudding mix is one of the unsung heroes of dessert. Sure, we sing the praises of a velvety, homemade pudding, but sometimes, convenience can be just as delicious. Whip up instant pudding on its own, and it's sure to be a hit; incorporate it into a recipe, and you've got a shortcut to a show-stopping dessert. Plus, you don't have to worry about the possibility of a clumpy mixture, since a mix is foolproof for all cooks, burgeoning and seasoned alike. As pudding mix comes in many different flavors, you can even get creative with the recipes and put your own spin on it. You'll find cake recipes using pudding and other easy recipes using pudding mix, including the likes of donuts, trifles, and parfaits. The options are vast; all that's left is for you to pick a flavor and experiment. The proof is in the pudding, and the results are tasty.

01 of 14

Death by Chocolate

Death by Chocolate
Micah A. Leal

Recipe: Death by Chocolate

The filling of our Death by Chocolate cake is made easy by some instant chocolate pudding mix. This recipe is made extra decadent by the addition of some fresh (but simple) whipped cream, which alongside the pudding, is sandwiched between two fluffy chocolate cake layers. It's to die for, indeed.

02 of 14

Chocolate Parfait

Chocolate Parfaits
Southern Living

Recipe: Chocolate Parfait

With the addition of some sour cream and whipped topping, no one will know this pudding wasn't homemade. Chocolate graham crackers provide a satisfying crunch for this thick, creamy parfait that will wow your guests with minimal effort.

03 of 14

Chocolate Trifle

Chocolate Trifle Recipe
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Recipe: Chocolate Trifle

This Chocolate Trifle is not to be trifled with. The sheer amount of chocolate, in the form of fudge brownie mix and pudding, combined with coffee liqueur, is proof that this dessert means business.

04 of 14

Chocolate Delight

Ouida’s Chocolate Delight
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Christine Keely

Recipe: Chocolate Delight

This dessert was passed down from one generation to the next, so you know it's good. HGTV star Erin Napier shares this family recipe with layers of chocolate and vanilla, made easy with alternating flavors of pudding mix.

05 of 14

Brownie Trifle

Groom's Chocolate Table: 1
William Dickey; Styling: Cari South

Recipe: Brownie Trifle

Five ingredients is all it takes to make this luxurious after-dinner delight. Pile your trifle bowl high with toffee candy, Cool Whip, and two delicious shortcuts: brownie mix and pudding mix. Add some coffee liquor if you please, and you'll have an indulgent dessert that looks as rich as it tastes.

06 of 14

Lemon Tiramisu

Lemon Tiramisu
Photographer Victor Protasio, Food Stylist Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist Heather Chadduck

Recipe: Lemon Tiramisu

Who would have ever thought to combine lemon and tiramisu—not to mention pudding mix? Please, don't knock this delightful hybrid dessert until you try it. A tangy take on a classic, mixing the flavors of Italian tiramisu and Southern lemon cheesecake, this fresh adaptation is the perfect combination of light flavors and creamy decadence to satisfy summertime sweets cravings.

07 of 14

Pineapple Sunshine Cake

Pineapple Sunshine Cake
Photographer: Jennifer Causey Food Stylist: Melissa Gray Prop Stylist: Heather Chadduck Hillegas

Recipe: Pineapple Sunshine Cake

Ideal for a summer day, this recipe only asks 10 minutes of hands-on time thanks to the addition of vanilla instant pudding mix. The final product will shine, reminiscent of a tropical piña colada but with all the requisites of a Southern dessert: cream cheese and pecans.

08 of 14

Banana Split Pops

Banana Split Pops
Southern Living

Recipe: Banana Split Pops

Paying homage to a classic, the banana split sundae, but with the ease of a handheld popsicle, these frozen treats will be devoured long before they have time to melt. Banana pudding mix combines with fresh banana as the base for this chocolate-coated and kid-friendly treat with all the best sundae toppings.

09 of 14

Sara Evans' Missouri Dirt Cake

Sara Evans Missouri Dirt Cake
Southern Living

Recipe: Sara Evans' Missouri Dirt Cake

What singer-songwriter Sara Evans brings to the table isn't just easy on the ears, but on the taste buds, too. Inspired by her Missouri upbringing and with only six ingredients, including instant vanilla pudding and a crumbly Oreo cookie topping, this chilled dessert is simply delicious.

10 of 14

Pig Pickin' Cake

Pig Pickin' Cake
Southern Living

Recipe: Pig Pickin' Cake

Paying homage to old-school Southern traditions but packed with fresh summer flavors, this cake is a go-to for every event from a classic hog roast to your next potluck. Using ingredients that you may already have in your pantry, including canned pineapple, vanilla instant pudding, and pecans, this hassle-free dessert will be the star of your celebration.

11 of 14

Chocolate Lasagna

Chocolate Lasagna
Southern Living

Recipe: Chocolate Lasagna

Introducing dessert lasagna—a mouthwatering creation with layers and layers of chocolatey goodness. A lasagna like you've never had it before, instant chocolate pudding is the key to a creamy coating of chocolate beneath a Cool Whip covering.

12 of 14

Banana Cream Donuts

Banana Cream Donuts
Micah A. Leal

Recipe: Banana Cream Donuts

These donuts are well worth the effort. Fluffy, fried dough is filled with a luscious banana filling. Instant pudding mix will give you a head start, so that all you really have to worry about is frying the dough to a beautiful golden brown.

13 of 14

No-Bake Banana Split Pie

Banana Split Pie
Photographer and props: Jennifer Causey Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: No-Bake Banana Split Pie

No heat? No problem. This pie comes together without baking, so it's perfect for summer days too humid to turn on the oven. Simply crumble up some cookies as a crust and prep your filling, made effortless with vanilla instant pudding.

14 of 14

Reese's Cake

Reese’s Cake
Alison Miksch

Recipe: Reese's Cake

Taking its cues from the popular chocolate-peanut butter candy, this bundt cake relies on pudding mix to mimic Reese's delectable charm. To seal the deal, this recipe includes peanut butter cake filling and not one, but two glazes that burst with rich, nutty flavor.

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