Dear Sweet Puddin’head

I’ve been working on some pretty comprehensive posts lately, so I decided it was time for some fluff.  LITERALLY.

I give to you, one of the simplest and most versatile recipes in my repertoire, Puddin’head.  This tasty stuff results from the combination of pudding and whipped topping.  We’ve used it for quite some time in our house, as a frosting spread on cakes and piped onto cupcakes, a substitute for plain Cool Whip in desserts like this chocolate trifle, a hot chocolate topping, or a tasty filling in crepes or on waffles along with some fruit.  After referring to it for too long as “that yummy pudding-Cool Whip stuff”, my husband finally gave it its Twain-esque moniker, and it has stuck.

This recipe is so simple, your little ones will love to help you out with it, and will likely volunteer to lick the spoon as well.  The directions are simple and completely open to tweaking.  All you do is mix one vanilla pudding packet (*instant*) with half of the milk called for on the package.  Whisk until it begins to thicken.  Then fold in one container of Cool Whip  (*Note: I’ve also used heavy cream, whipped, in the place of Cool Whip.  DELICIOUS!).  That’s it!  Use it in one of the many ways I described above, or eat it straight from the bowl.  (I won’t judge you!)

After sharing this recipe with people they usually ask what sizes to use.  The answer – it doesn’t really matter.  I’ve used one large package of pudding and one large Cool Whip,  two small puddings and one small Cool Whip, one small pudding and one small Cool Whip, and virtually ever other combination you can imagine!  It’s always good.  More pudding in your proportion means more flavor and more density.  But it’s always good.

As I said, tweaking is not only allowed, it’s encouraged.  I’ve used vanilla pudding, French vanilla, and even chocolate.  All delicious!  I’ve also blended cream cheese in with the pudding portion of the recipe.  Also tasty!  You can add coloring if you need to and it still works- and tastes – fantastic.

One puddin’head use I really love this time of year is as a filling for ice cream sandwiches.  Dollop or spread between two graham crackers, place them on a sheet and set them in the freezer.  Once they’ve firmed up, you can transfer them to an airtight container, separating layers with wax paper.  It’s a cool and tasty summertime treat!  Get fancy and press sprinkles into the sides or dip half of the sandwich in melted chocolate.  Whatever makes you happy!

So kick back, relax, and add some fluff to your day!

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Filed under Learning through Play and Experience, Snack Time

133 Responses to Dear Sweet Puddin’head

  1. Nollie

    I can vouch for the delectability of Puddin’ Head, one of our favorite treats that we learned from Mandy. I can never resist just eating it straight out of the bowl. Another use for it is as a light dessert for parties, but dressed up to look fancy. I prefer chocolate, served in individual clear plastic cups with fresh berries, chocolate shavings, or crumbled (or whole) Oreos and a dollop of Cool Whip on top.

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  3. Amy

    What a great idea! We will try it!

  4. Maria

    Can you do this with low fat milk?

  5. Joy

    You than must have to keep this in the fridge…if it is cookies or on cupcakes ect…which I don’t always have room in there…is it okay for the kids to carry to school, it does not get runnier? Thanks pls e-mail me. :)

    • notjustcute

      I emailed as well, but for those who may be wondering, I do usually keep these in the fridge. They can sit out on the counter during a party, but I doubt they would hold up well traveling to school for lunch. Perhaps inside a plastic cup to protect it, with an ice pack or something else in the lunch box to keep it cool. If it ‘s for a school party, they should be fine sitting out for an hour or two. They really don’t get too runny unless it’s a really hot day, but I just think they taste best chilled, and knowing there’s milk in it, I’m never fond of leaving them out very long. Hope that helps!

      • Debbie

        I found it best to put the icing in a plastic ziploc baggie to pipe on the cupcakes as needed. That way, my cupcakes can stay in a container on the counter and I keep the frosting in the frig and add when someone wants one – taking up much less precious refrigerator space! :) Also, as far as kids taking them to school, maybe try freezing the cupcakes the day before and they will probably thaw out by lunchtime! :)

  6. Joy

    You than must have to keep this in the fridge…if it is cookies or on cupcakes ect…which I don’t always have room in there…is it okay for the kids to carry to school, it does not get runnier? Thanks pls e-mail me. :)

  7. heather

    how much cream cheese did you add to it?

    • notjustcute

      You know, this is one of those recipes that I play around with all the time, and it’s always good! I’d start with about 3 oz of cream cheese and then go from there. It depends on how stiff you want it and how much cream cheese taste you like. Mmmm. Now I’m getting hungry! Enjoy!

  8. Janet

    This recipe is wonderful to frost an angel food cake too, and you can add berries right before serving…..YUM!!

  9. I’ve made several versions of this myself, and like the author said, it’s always good 😉 I’ve done the ice cream sandwiches as well and those are just delicious!

  10. Cathy

    I use 2 pkgs of vanilla pudding or french vanilla, 2 cups of Cool Whip, 2 cups milk and 1 cup of sour cream to make a Boston Cream filling for a cake, but I love the simplicity of yours! Gonna try it out!

  11. what size pudding mix and what size of cool whip? Please reply.

  12. Heidi

    Our family has made the switch from cows milk to almond milk… Hoping it will work too! I assume it will, it’s been fine in all the other ways I’ve substituted it. I might just be using this to frost my birthday cake this weekend!

    • Lisa

      We’ve switched to almond milk also- Did it work out in this recipe??? I know this post was from 3 months ago, but happy birthday! :-)

      • NR

        I’ve noticed on the Instant pudding box, it says the pudding will not set if used with soy milk. I drink soy but luckily my husband drinks dairy so I was able to use his carton… anyway, since the pudding apparently doesn’t set with soy, it’s possible it doesn’t set with almond milk either. That might affect the frosting so I would test it out before serving!

        • Klaudia

          There is a product called “clear gel” a vegan thickener that can be used with cold foods. When making pudding in my house with either soy, almond or coconut milk I add about a Tbs. of clear gel per small box of pudding, and it sets up just fine. If you’re making cook and serve pudding use arrowroot or cornstarch instead. I would recommend that you mix the clear gel powder with the pudding mix prior to adding your choice of “milk”.

  13. This is such a great idea! My favorite flavor pudding mix to use in desserts/trifles/etc is Cheesecake. I can’t wait to try it with this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Melanie

    If you ever make a texas sheet cake (or we call it sour cream chocolate cake)…this is the BEST frosting for that….we also call it magic cake because it magically disappears….next time you make it you should frost it with this…it is very good

  15. Paula

    I use a similar thing as banana pudding base: 8 oz softened cream cheese, 1 pkg cheesecake pudding, 1 cup heavy cream and a tub of Cool Whip. NOM.

  16. Tammy

    Layer graham crackers and puddin’ head 3x over, refrigerate 24 hours, top with chocolate frosting = eclairs … YUMMY!!!!

  17. Next time you make this, use white chocolate instant pudding instead of vanilla, the extra creamy cool whip, and add a small jar of Kraft marshmallow cream, to create a berry trifle using a variety of fresh berries and cubed angel food cake.

  18. Mary

    I’m super excited to make this tomorrow! Gonna use cheesecake flavored pudding and put it on chocolate cupcakes! :)

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  20. anyone know how you can use Reddi-Wip instead of Cool Whip??? Pretty please? We don’t eat cool whip because of all the chemicals in it but Reddi-Wip or even real whipped cream with splenda would work. I’m just several mathematically challenged. Would squirting Reddi-wip into the equivalent size of empty tub of cool whip work? Hmmm…. If you want to see what I mean about cool whip look at this 12 day experiment for cool whip: EEEK!!!
    All of these ideas for pudding “frosting” are awesome! 😀

    • Amy K.

      Our “fancy” grocery store carries a cool-whip substitute called Tru-Whip ( for info, including a store locator) that does not have all the chemicals. I haven’t tried it yet, but I would think it would work better than Reddi-Whip.

    • I made some recently with some whipping cream that had been whipped until thick with some powdered sugar and vanilla. I was tempted just to add the milk, cream, and pudding mix and whip it all, but chickened out. I assume it would work though. For the cautious though, it does work to whip each separately and then fold together.

    • Joe M

      If you are concerned with using cool whip (I don’t use it either for the same reason) you should also be avoiding “splenda”. It’s just as bad. It’s sugar bombarded in a lab with chlorine which changes it’s moecular structure……yummy!
      Just a thought

  21. Sue Amrhein

    I also make this yummy…and sometimes I mix some can pumpkin for another GREAT flavor. With very little guilt!

  22. I just baked a chocolate cake so I could use this recipe as frosting! I can’t wait to try it! :)

  23. Rachelle

    how long will this keep? Can I freeze it or keep in fridge? Let me know! Thanks!

  24. Jennifer

    I’m making cupcakes with yellow cake mix and pumpkin mix. Going to frost with this!

  25. Amy

    From the mouth of a pregnant woman, this might be the most delicious thing I’ve even straight out of the bowl.

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  27. Joni Beecher

    How do you make it last long enough to go on a cake or cookies? I guess you dont have a recipe for will power do you? :)

  28. Michelle

    What size pudding do you use for the one container of cool whip?

  29. Sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing :)

  30. candy

    I just made this frosting with vanilla pudding and cool whip. I thought it tasted good, but it tasted a lot like cool whip, lol ANd my husband is’nt to fond of the taste of it, so I added about a tablespoon on powder sugar and it taste very good. It’s in the fridge now, I’m hoping it gets a little thicker when it’s chilled… Thanks so much for the recipe

  31. Meghan

    wow this is seriously brilliant! just one question though- how well does it pipe onto cupcakes? would you recommend chilling it in the fridge to thicken before piping or is it a good texture for piping right away?

    thanks for sharing, can’t wait to use this!

    • notjustcute

      It pipes on great! I usually then put them in the fridge to keep them from getting too soft when they’re not being served, but they are fine sitting out for the party as well. Like most frostings, if the bag sits in your hand too long, the frosting is heated and that can change the texture. I try to work quickly so my hands don’t melt the frosting in the process! Enjoy!

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  33. Denice

    Chop up a butterfinger candy bar and add to this. Yummy.

  34. Mathtchr

    I make the same thing to use in chocolate eclair cake, which is just graham crackers layered with the puddin’head filling, except I add some sour cream to it instead of cream cheese to give it a little tang. I never thought of using it as frosting. That is a great idea! And it really is good straight out of the bowl!

  35. Brenda Delk

    I use this to make banana pudding. One large box instant vanilla pudding, one container cool whip (med), bananas, vanilla wafers. Just layer pudding, bananas and wafers. My kids favorite. Thanks for the other ideas to use this for.

  36. Gretchen

    Would this work with sugar-free pudding?

    • Melinda

      I used sugar free fat free vanilla pudding and sugar free cool whip and let it sit over night in the fridge. I frosted cupcakes the next day and it was very good!

  37. Tinsley

    When you pipe this pudding whipped topping on cupcakes, does it keep it’s shape or does it fall after a few mintues? Email me please!

  38. MAB77

    I made this for my twin boys’ second birthday cupcakes. It was AHHH-MAZING!!!

  39. Juliana

    Hi! I tried a similar recipe today (hadn’t found this one yet) and it said to mix the pudding mix and the milk in a bowl. So I figured, cold milk, no need to cook which seemed wierd. It tastes good but it’s fairly runny. A bit too much so I wasn’t able to frost the cake, but rather put some on each slice as I served it. Anyway, I don’t know if it’s a dumb question but, I’m guessing I was supposed to mix the pudding and milk while warming the milk so it actually thickens?

  40. Trimble

    Can Lite Cool Whip be used or will it be too runny? I accidentally bought that. :(

  41. kandacejones

    I made this like the original and added strawberries and topped a strawberry cake with it. DELICIOUS!

  42. chrisel

    I make a similar icing with a box of pudding mix, 1 1/2 c. milk, 1 tsp. vanilla + 1 envelope Dream Whip.
    Whip with electric beater until nice and fluffy.

  43. Lorrie

    I just made this with a 10 oz container of Truwhip and large box of Oreo instant pudding – delish!!
    This is the first time I’ve used Truewhip instead of Coolwhip, although it’s expensive ($4.59 @ Shaws) it’s definitely worth it! It tastes great and without all the chemicals and HFCS.
    Thanks for such an easy and versatile recipe!

  44. Mindi-jo

    Do you have to keep this icing refrigerated? Like normal whipped creme?

  45. Lisa

    Wow, I just made this with banana cream pudding. It was fabulous! Thank you for sharing this recipe. I was going to have plain old strawberry shortcake, but decided to have angel food cake with strawberries and this wonderful new recipe on top. It was delicious!

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  47. Laura

    I was just wondering if this is an okay consistency for frosting layer cakes. Does it hold up between the layers, or is it too much like pudding?

    • notjustcute

      Hi Laura-
      It depends on the cake. I wouldn’t recommend it for something that bears a lot of weight and has to sit for a long time (like a wedding cake), but it would probably be fine for a single layer cake for a more informal gathering. You might have to just play with it and see how it works for you. (I have added cream cheese before to make it more sturdy and used it in a three layer – but single tier – bridal shower cake…)

  48. Jan

    could not believe the repititive questions…. and then I just scrolled down….so if this is a repeat I apologize…. I use Soy Milk, and am assuming it will work as well? Big catch here….just joined Weight Watchers and not too sure about that but it sure sounds good…. Is there anyway I could use it for WW?

  49. jan

    I tried this and mix in some Strawberry yogurt and used cheesecake pudding,…YUMMMM

  50. Kati

    Did you use a small pkg of pudding and large cool whip?

  51. I have never heard of this delicious manna from heaven. I made this and turned them into ice cream sandwiches. (Wrote about it here.) I can’t wait to test out other pudding flavor combinations! Thank you so much for posting the recipe!

  52. Brandy

    This sounds heavenly. My husband is diabetic and we are always looking for good recipes that good for both him and myself, and this sounds easily adaptable to a sugar-free version. We will be trying it tonight!

  53. Maelee

    This looks delicious. Was reading through the comments and noticed some folks brought up that they are doing sugar alternatives, cool whip alternatives. I’m not sure. However, I did come across a recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie where she takes a can of Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut milk…opens the can, leaves it in the refrigerator for 24 hours to thicken and then whips ( Maybe this would work? I don’t have an occasion to try this yet but definitely am considering putting the two together!!! Either way, it looks AMAZING!

  54. Michele

    I made a lemon cake yesterday and used this frosting for it. I used lemon pudding instead of the vanilla and everyone liked it. I may use the bigger package of lemon pudding next time, instead of the small one, or I may even try adding a tiny bit of lemon extract for extra lemon flavor, but overall it was yummy and I liked having a lighter frosting for my cake.

  55. Shelley

    Did you use a small box of pudding and a small container of Cool Whip?

    • notjustcute

      I usually use a large box and any size Cool Whip, but you really can play with the proportions — You can’t really mess it up!

  56. Michele

    How solid does it get if you freeze it? I was thinking of making this with either chocolate or Oreo pudding and putting it into Popsicle molds to make a pudding pop. Will it freeze well like that?
    Please reply

  57. Amy

    Looks good! I am going to try it for my boy’s birthday party tomorrow! Thank you!

  58. stacy

    I was wondering what you thought of frosting a icecream cake with this. I want to create a cake for my son’s birthday

  59. angela

    i usually throw in 2tblspn of milk and 8oz of coolwhip per one package instant pudding. if whipped enough the frosting wont be grainy and its perfect for holding up for roses and whatnot. LOVE IT!

  60. PS

    If I use whipped cream instead of cool whip,will it hold it’s shape?

  61. This is divine Amanda! We are going to indulge over the weekend! Thanks for sharing!

  62. Adeline

    Made this, only i used the small box of pudding. I should have probably used the bigger box. But it tastes incredible. My daughter loved it. She kept saying mhmm. She is my most important critic, if she doesnt like it, than its no good. But she loved it. I am very happy w it. Thanks for sharing it. I am always trying new recipes for icing a cake and this one will fall under one of my favorites.

  63. Kait

    I am interested in using this frosting for cupcakes. My husband would be transporting the cupcakes to a school party for our little one. If the finished cupcakes are refridgerated the night before, right up until transport, will they hold up? Could I use tartar in the recipe to firm it up ?

    • notjustcute

      They should hold up as long as they don’t get too warm. I hadn’t thought to try cream of tartar. It’s worth a shot, I figure!

  64. Mabel

    I made this icing with chocolate pudding and put on a chocolate cake it was gone by nights end. My children loved it. Thank you

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  66. i just happily blogged about you and this yummy yummy yummy frosting…thanks a ton for sharing!

    check out the post here:

  67. Jodi

    Do you think puddin’head would work well as a fruit dip? Do you recommend something else for fruit dip?

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  69. Janet

    I use the same recipe for cream puffs. Really good and freezes well too.

  70. pati

    I used lemon pudding on a yellow cake. .YUMMMM

  71. Bess

    You can make something like this with just Cool Whip and the pudding mix. Just combine the dry pudding with half the Cool Whip and mix thoroughly then stir in rest of Cool Whip. this is great for a two layer cake.



  73. Annabelle

    I think I’ve read all the comments and I still can’t find a simple answer.
    Please, if this is made as a frosting for cakes/cupcakes etc can the leftover cake be saved on the counter or must it be refrigerated? I would think they would need to be stored cold.
    Also, if put in cream puffs and frozen how long should it be left out before it should be served?
    Can’t wait to give this a try. Thanks for posting such a winning recipe.

    • notjustcute

      I usually store it in the fridge if it’s for any extended amount of time, but I also leave it out on the counter during parties/etc. while it’s being served and it has been fine for a few hours. Obviously, if it’s hotter out you’ll have less time before it starts “melting”. Enjoy!

  74. Tara

    I grew up eating this on cakes and love it. But I am wondering if anyone has tried tinting it with either liquid food coloring drops or paste? I need these to be blue and yellow of a cub scout activity and dont want to make 48 cupcakes and then find that is separates or something. Any suggestions or opinions?

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  76. Kim

    ahhhhhhhhhhh where do I get the recipe? Sounds and looks great.

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  78. This is my recipe,that I make for my Banana pudding.Along with some sugar.It is so good,and rich.Cindy In Fla…

  79. Amy E

    I just read another recipe that added 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Has anyone tried that?

  80. Stacey

    I’m making this for my son’s birthday party tomorrow and am so excited to try it! When you use the heavy cream (instead of cool whip) do you add any suger to it? Thanks!

  81. margaret

    What type of pudding mixture do you use instant or the type you cook?

  82. can u tell me how many calories are in this iceing for am on a 600 calories diet paln right now

  83. Richard

    I’m interested in the cake icing using the vanilla pudding mix. Is that instant pudding or regular? Thanks!

  84. Marilyn

    Two questions…..
    1 – could I use coconut milk
    2 – could food colouring be added if not
    could Jell-O powder be used to colour….
    I want to make for a kids party and want a variety of colours….
    By the way… I really enjoy your site….

  85. Marilyn

    I’m sorry just read the blog…. got answer to the food coloring… but would the coconut milk be to runny..? and also Jell-O powder used…

  86. Pingback: The best Icing!! | World Famous Recipes

  87. Pingback: The best icing!! All you do is mix one vanilla pudding packet with half of the milk called for on the package. Whisk until it begins to thicken. Then fold in one container of Cool Whip. A great frosting spread on cakes and piped onto cupcakes, a tasty fil

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  89. Hi, over here in Italy this cream is used a lot for pastries and it’s called crema Chantilly :)

  90. Dawn

    Put your pudding/cool whip frosting on a rich chocolate cake. After a homemade hamburger, potato salad & baked beans lunch, it was the perfect dessert! My granddaughter complimented the frosting before the cake….lol!!! Thank you for sharing… was really an awesome ending to a wonderful meal!

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  92. does this hold up well outside–similar to better cream whipped frosting? I’m hosting an outdoor party and am considering using this. I’m not a fan of typical icing, but this looks AMAZING + easy! Perfect combo! :) My email is Thanks so much!!

    • notjustcute

      It holds up relatively well. Almost any frosting will wilt in the heat, and I haven’t really had this sit outside long, but I have had it on cupcakes sitting on my kitchen counter during a party and they were great. I’d say your chances are best if you give it time in the fridge to set up before taking it outside. Maybe do a practice run….I’m sure no one at your house would mind having to eat the experiment!

  93. Carole

    could I use this on a bunt cake? Just letting it drizzle all over the cake

  94. niki

    Hello. Going to try this recipe today, but would feel bettering you could tell me the size of cook whip you are using or a measurement of cream? Also is this icing OK to make a head if a day or two, or same day you need it. Thanks! :-)

    • notjustcute

      Hi Niki! I’ve used a lot of different sizes of cool whip, and it’s always good! I think my favorite is the large box of pudding with the small tub of Cool Whip (8oz). I wouldn’t recommend making it too far in advance, as it begins to set up a little as it sits. It works best if it’s put on a cooled cake right after the frosting is made. The cake itself can be good for a few days. I hope that helps! Enjoy!

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