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Paradise Fruit Trifle Dessert with Pudding

Two dessert dishes filled with a mound of fruit-filled whipped topping, cookie crumbs, and vanilla pudding sitting on a white tray. The trifle bowl filled with the dessert sits in the background over a turquoise napkin. The title \"Paradise Fruit Trifle Dessert with Pudding\" appears in the upper left corner of the photo.

Paradise Fruit Trifle can pass as a Fruit Cocktail Salad or an Easy Trifle Dessert. It’s the perfect make-ahead Fruit Trifle recipe because you can make it with the flavors and ingredients that you like and have on hand.

Anything served in a trifle bowl just says you’re special and I’m glad you’re here. This easy fruit cocktail dessert or my very popular Chocolate Pudding Trifle Dessert just look a little fancier in my trifle bowl don’t you think?

I had some cream in the refrigerator that I wanted to use up and went diving into my pantry for inspiration.

A can of fruit cocktail and a box of vanilla pudding jumped out at me. We always have a box Nilla wafers on hand for the Grandbaby when she visits, so I was set to make this easy fruit trifle recipe.

Is it a fruit cocktail dessert or is it a salad? It’s whatever you to want it to be! I’ve served this fruit trifle recipe with dinner and I’ve served it after dinner. No one has complained that they’re served fruit cocktail salad for dessert or fruit cocktail dessert as a salad.

I’m a rule breaker! Just say make it and eat it! Honestly, we ate this fruit trifle pudding recipe for a week! Covered in the refrigerator it was just as delicious the first day as it was the fifth and it makes enough to serve a crowd.

Side view of a trifle bowl filled with layers of ground cookies, pudding, and fruit-filled whipped topping on a turquoise napkin.

How many layers are in a trifle dessert?

A trifle usually has 3 to 4 layers. Alternatively, make this fruit cocktail dessert in a 9×13 cake pan. Just use one layer of the pudding and the fruit-filled whipped topping. You can also just use one layer of the cookie crumbs on the bottom of the dish, but why would you? Pour more over the top! I mean more cookies for everyone right! It would make serving it a little easier at a potluck or picnic too.

Where did the trifle originate?

Trifle, in English cuisine, is a dessert made with fruit, a thin layer of sponge fingers soaked in sherry or another fortified wine, and custard. It can be topped with whipped cream.

From what I read Trifle Desserts could have originated in a lot of places depending on what you call it and where you are from such as “Fool”, “syllabub”, “Zuppa Ingles”, or “Bizcocho Borracho.” What ever you want to call it, call it quick, easy, and delicious!

Fruit Trifle Dessert variations

  • change out the fruit cocktail for crushed pineapple
  • use fresh fruit or pie filling instead of canned fruit
  • add a layer of angel food cake
  • try another variety of pudding such as lemon or pistachio
  • use instant pudding instead of the cook and serve variety
  • replace Nilla wafer cookies with Graham crackers
  • purchase ready whipped topping instead of whipping your own. It doesn’t save much time but it’s one less bowl to wash up.

Note: I don’t recommend using bananas in any fruit trifle dessert or salad that you’re going to be making ahead of time or kept for any duration.

You may need:

  • Trifle Bowl – I love my trifle bowl. I’ve used it as a punch bowl or just a serving bowl for fruits and salads.
  • Silicone Spatulas – This pretty set has a flat side and a curved side to take on your toughest job. I love that they are all one piece and can withstand 500°F! Throw out those old chipped ones and treat yourself!

If you like this recipe, here are a few more I think you’re going to LOVE!

Top-down view of a dessert dish filled with creamy fruit-filled whipped topping, pudding, and Nilla cookie crumbs all topped with a Nilla cookie.
Two dessert dishes filled with a mound of fruit filled whipped topping, cookie crumbs and vanilla pudding sitting on a white tray.

Paradise Fruit Trifle with Pudding

Author: Julie Menghini
Paradise Fruit Trifle with Pudding is a creamy smooth recipe that doubles as a dessert or a salad. It's the perfect fruit cocktail dessert for a potluck or a picnic and can feed a crowd!
5 from 16 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Chill 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 36 minutes
Course Dessert, Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword: Fruit Trifle, Pudding Dessert
Servings: 14


  • 4.6 oz Vanilla Pudding Cook and Serve or Instant
  • 15.25 fruit cocktail drained
  • 1/2 cup pecans chopped
  • 1 cup whipping cream whipped
  • 8 oz Nilla wafer cookies *


  • Cook pudding according to package directions. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator.
  • Crush Nilla wafer cookies until finely ground.
  • Fold the drained fruit cocktail and pecans into the whipped cream.


  • Line the bottom of a trifle bowl with half of the ground Nilla wafer cookies. Spoon the cooled pudding over the Nilla wafter cookie layer followed with the whipped cream mixture. Top the trifle with the remaining ground Nilla wafer cookies.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight or for 8 hours.


I actually ground an 11oz box of Nilla cookies and used 8oz in this recipe.  If you use a 9×13 pan instead of a trifle bowl you may use most of the ground cookies or less in a trifle bowl.  You can freeze any leftovers for future trifles.


Calories: 194kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 1gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 131mgPotassium: 41mgFiber: 1gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 250IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 14mgIron: 0.1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

This recipe was calculated using the exact brands and measurements I used to make this recipe. If you are following a strict diet please note changing anything will cause the nutritional info to change. My calculations are intended as a guide only.

Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

What is your favorite quick and easy, make and take salad or dessert? Please share with a comment below. You are my inspiration!

5 from 16 votes
Recipe Rating

Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry

Thursday 27th of June 2019

This sounds absolutely divine! I bet my kids would absolutely adore this dessert!

Julie Menghini

Friday 5th of July 2019

Thank you Bintu! I think I gained 10 pounds trying to finish the whole bowl off myself!


Thursday 27th of June 2019

This dessert looks so tasty and yummy and I love that you can use whatever ingredients you may already have available! Thanks for this yummy treat!

Julie Menghini

Friday 5th of July 2019

Thank you, Cathy!

Kelly Anthony

Thursday 27th of June 2019

I also love how a trifle bowl can make any dessert look fancy. I can't wait to impress my friends at our next potluck with this fruit trifle dessert.

Julie Menghini

Friday 5th of July 2019

Thank you, Kelly! I agree that the dish can just fancy up a recipe too.

Patty at Spoonabilities

Thursday 27th of June 2019

I love make-ahead desserts! This looks so perfect for a summer's dessert. Yum!

Julie Menghini

Friday 5th of July 2019

Thank you, Patty! I do too!

Pam Greer

Thursday 27th of June 2019

Perfect timing! I was cleaning out my china cabinet and noticed my trifle dish!! It's been so long since I've used it, this recipe is so delicious and perfect!

Julie Menghini

Friday 5th of July 2019

What a great find Pam! Thank you!

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