What Are the Substitutions for Instant Pudding Mix? Can I Use a Regular?

instant pudding mix jello

Instant pudding mix has become a kitchen staple for many home cooks and baking enthusiasts. With its convenience and versatility, it’s no wonder that this product has gained popularity in a variety of dessert recipes. Whether you’re making a classic trifle or creating a creamy pie filling, instant pudding mix can be the secret ingredient that adds that perfect touch to your treats.

But what if you don’t have instant pudding mix on hand? Or perhaps you prefer using more natural ingredients in your cooking? Fear not! In this article, we will explore different substitutions for instant pudding mix. We will specifically address the question: Can regular pudding be used as a substitute?

Keep reading to learn how to make delicious desserts without instant pudding mix, whether you want to make changes due to dietary restrictions, personal preference, or a desire to try something new.

Understanding the Purpose of Instant Pudding Mix

Instant pudding mix is a versatile ingredient that serves as a convenient shortcut in many dessert recipes. It’s designed to simplify the process of making pudding, providing an instant solution for those who don’t have the time or patience to make it from scratch. But beyond its convenience, instant pudding mix plays a crucial role in enhancing desserts by adding flavor, texture, and thickness.

When added to recipes, instant pudding mix helps create creamy and luscious textures. Its main function is to thicken the mixture primarily because it contains modified food starches like cornstarch or tapioca starch. These starchy ingredients absorb liquid during cooking or chilling processes, resulting in a desirable thick consistency.

Furthermore, instant pudding mix acts as a flavoring agent that imparts richness and depth to desserts. It comes in various flavors like vanilla, chocolate, butterscotch, and more. These pre-packaged powders contain both natural and artificial flavors that contribute not only taste but also aroma to your treats.

Whether you’re making a classic trifle with layers of cake and fruit or whipping up homemade ice cream sandwiches using instant vanilla pudding mix, you can take these indulgent creations to another level altogether! Now let’s dive into exploring alternatives when you find yourself without this handy mix on hand.

Alternatives to Using Instant Pudding Mix: Explore Different Substitutions

cocoa powder flour instant pudding

When you find yourself without instant pudding mix and need a suitable alternative, there are several options you can consider. One popular substitution is using cornstarch-based puddings, which can be easily made from scratch at home. 

Cornstarch acts as a thickening agent and creates a similar texture and consistency to instant pudding mix. Simply combine cornstarch with milk, sugar, and flavorings like vanilla extract or cocoa powder for a homemade pudding that will satisfy your dessert cravings.

Another option is to use gelatin-based puddings as an alternative to instant pudding mix. Gelatin adds structure and thickness to the mixture when set, resulting in a creamy and smooth texture similar to instant pudding. 

You can make gelatin-based puddings by dissolving flavored gelatin in hot water before chilling it until firm. While this substitute works well for recipes that require setting, such as pies or trifles, keep in mind that using flavored gelatins may alter the final taste of your dessert.

Before deciding which substitution method suits your needs best, let’s weigh the pros and cons of each option. Making cornstarch-based puddings from scratch gives you control over the ingredients used while providing the desired texture. However, these homemade versions may take longer to prep compared to ready-to-make instant mixes if time is a factor for you. 

On the other hand, gelatin-based puddings offer quick results and work great for no-bake desserts, but they might not be ideal if you’re looking for the custard-like consistency found in traditional tapioca or rice pudding recipes.

Related: Instant Pudding vs. Cook and Serve Pudding: Differences

Can Regular (Cooked) Pudding Be Used?

When it comes to substituting instant pudding mix with regular, cooked pudding, there are a few key differences to consider. Instant pudding mixes are designed to thicken and set quickly when mixed with cold milk or water. They often contain modified starches and other ingredients that enable this speedy thickening process. On the other hand, regular (cooked) puddings require more time and heat for their preparation.

While you might be tempted to use regular pudding as a substitute for convenience, keep in mind that it may not yield the same results as instant pudding mix. Cooked puddings tend to have a creamier texture due to the cooking process, whereas instant versions have a lighter and custard-like consistency once they thicken. 

Additionally, the flavors of cooked puddings can sometimes develop better after chilling overnight, resulting in an even tastier treat! Therefore, if you decide to use regular pudding instead of instant mix in your recipe, take note of these differences and adjust your expectations accordingly.

To fully assess whether cooked puddings can adequately replace the convenience of instant mixes, it is dependent on several factors – mainly time availability and the desired end result. 

If you don’t mind spending some extra time cooking and chilling your own homemade version of traditional or custard-style puddings for recipes such as pies or fillings where appearance isn’t crucial – then using cooked puddings could work well for you. 

However, if speediness is important or if you prefer the specific texture provided by instant mixes, like when making layered desserts or parfaits – sticking with them may be a better option.

How To Make Jello Instant Pudding

Adjusting Other Recipe Components When Substituting

When it comes to substituting instant pudding mix in a recipe, consider the other components of the recipe as well. If you use a different substitute, you will need to make changes because instant pudding mix adds flavor, texture, and structure.

When substituting regular pudding for instant mix, keep in mind that it is thicker and may taste different. To compensate for this, you can try reducing the amount of milk or other liquid ingredients used in your recipe. This will help prevent your dessert from becoming too runny or overly moist.

Additionally, since regular pudding takes longer to set compared to instant mixes, you might need extra patience and time when preparing your dessert. Be sure to refrigerate your pudding creation for an adequate period before serving so that it has enough time to properly set up.

In cases where you’re avoiding both regular and instant puddings altogether, there are alternative substitutes worth considering. For example, cornstarch is commonly used as a thickening agent in cooking and baking. By combining it with sugar and any desired flavorings (such as vanilla extract), you can create a homemade version of pudding that will work well in many recipes calling for an instant mix.

With these adjustment tips at hand, don’t hesitate to experiment with various substitutes until you find one that suits your taste preferences best while still achieving the desired consistency in your desserts. Remember – creativity is key!

Expert Opinions and Tips

When it comes to substituting instant pudding mix in recipes, the opinions of experienced bakers and chefs can offer valuable insights. Many experts agree that while regular pudding may have a similar taste, its consistency and texture are quite different from instant pudding mixes. According to Chef Emily Roberts, instant pudding mixes are specially formulated to create a smooth and thick texture within minutes, which is not easily replicated with regular pudding.

However, some experts suggest alternative options that can help replicate the effects achieved by using instant pudding mixes. Pastry chef Samantha Anderson recommends using cornstarch or gelatin as thickeners in place of instant pudding powder. Adding these ingredients gradually while whisking constantly will give your recipe a similarly smooth texture.

Another suggestion from pastry chef Michael Taylor is to replace instant pudding mix with cream cheese or Greek yogurt for richness and thickness. These ingredients provide both flavor and structure to your desserts without compromising on taste or consistency.

In summary, while regular pudding may be used as a substitute for instant pudding mix in certain recipes, such as trifles or layered desserts, where the texture variation won’t be noticeable, using alternative thickening agents like cornstarch or gelatin along with creamy additives such as cream cheese or Greek yogurt can help achieve similar effects in terms of consistency when substituting for instant pudding mix.

Read: What Happens If You Eat Expired Jell-o Pudding?

Cooking Without Pudding Mix: Tips and Tricks

Venturing into homemade pudding without a mix can be a rewarding culinary experience. To ensure success, here are some essential tips to guide your journey:

  1. Choose the Right Ingredients:
    • Opt for high-quality milk and cream for a rich and creamy texture.
    • Use fresh eggs to enhance the custard-like consistency of your pudding.
  2. Balancing Sweetness:
    • Adjust sugar levels gradually to suit your taste preferences.
    • Consider natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup for a unique flavor.
  3. Patience is Key:
    • Slowly heat your pudding mixture to avoid curdling and achieve a smooth texture.
    • Stir continuously to prevent lumps and ensure even cooking.
  4. Flavor Enhancements:
    • Experiment with vanilla extract, cocoa powder, or citrus zest for added depth.
    • Infuse your milk with spices like cinnamon or nutmeg for a delightful twist.

Expert Advice:

To overcome common pitfalls, avoid overheating the mixture, as this can result in a grainy texture. Additionally, embrace patience during the cooling process to let the flavors meld. Gradually introducing these tips will help you master the art of crafting homemade pudding with the perfect consistency and flavor.


In conclusion, instant pudding mix is a convenient option for adding creamy and flavorful elements to desserts. However, when you find yourself without it or prefer not to use it, there are several substitution options available. While regular pudding may seem like the obvious go-to substitute, it may not always yield the same results due to its different consistency and cooking requirements.

If you’re looking for a similar texture and flavor profile as instant pudding mix, whipped cream mixed with gelatin can be an excellent alternative. This combination will provide a light and fluffy texture that mimics the smoothness of instant pudding mix.

For those seeking a healthier alternative or who have dietary restrictions, Greek yogurt combined with sweeteners and flavorings can be substituted for instant pudding mix. It provides a tangy twist while still delivering creaminess to your dessert recipes.

Ultimately, when choosing substitutions for instant pudding mix in your recipes, consider the recipe’s specific needs and desired taste outcome. Regular pudding may work well in some cases, but it may alter the overall texture or consistency of certain dishes. Experimentation is key to finding the perfect substitute that meets both your taste preferences and culinary goals.


What can I use instead of instant pudding for a dairy-free option?

Opt for cornstarch or arrowroot powder combined with a dairy-free milk alternative like almond or coconut milk for a delicious dairy-free pudding.

Are there any instant pudding mix alternatives for a low-sugar diet?

Absolutely! Try using sugar-free gelatin or agar-agar with your choice of low-calorie sweeteners for a tasty, low-sugar pudding.

Can I substitute Greek yogurt for instant pudding mix?

Can I substitute Greek yogurt for instant pudding mix?

How can I replace instant chocolate pudding mix in a recipe?

Create a homemade chocolate pudding by combining cocoa powder, sugar, and cornstarch, achieving the rich flavor without relying on instant mix.

Can I use agar-agar as a substitution for instant pudding mix?

Absolutely! Agar-agar, a plant-based gelatin substitute, can be used for a vegan-friendly pudding. Combine it with your preferred flavors for a delightful treat.

How can I make pudding without using any mix or gelatin?

For a mix-free, gelatin-free option, try creating a custard-like consistency using cornstarch, m

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