This Layered Chocolate Pudding Dessert with Salted Pecan Crust is an improved rendition of a retro dessert I grew up with. It’s an easy chilled dessert perfect for summer potlucks. Let me show you how I make it!

Three slices of layered chocolate pudding on plates

A Vintage Chocolate Dessert

Layered dessert recipes like this are loaded with memories for me: happy celebrations in church basements honoring soon-to-be brides and new babies. And when I browsed through my old community and church cookbooks from my home town in South Dakota, I found many different versions of this kind of sweet treat. But what I was yearning for most was a chocolate version that my mom and aunts have always made.

This Layered Chocolate Pudding Dessert with Salted Pecan Crust is my own little rendition of this retro pan of goodness, with big nods to the recipe cards from special people in my life.

I’ve made the layered chocolate pudding dessert a few times in my adult life, from old handwritten recipe cards and small spiral-bound cookbooks. And every time I did, I wished that the crust stayed together better and tasted a bit sweeter. I also wanted the three layers above it to have just a little more height.

That’s where this new recipe gets an A+. The crust is buttery and sweet with just a hint of saltiness. And the pudding layers are tall and distinct from each other, creating this beautiful layered look that is almost too pretty to eat. Almost!

What is a Layered Pudding?

A layered pudding is exactly what it sounds like: instead of one pudding, you make several of them and then layer them on top of each other in a casserole dish. The dessert is then chilled until the pudding firms up. The end result? A chilled dessert that you can slice into individual servings, each with gorgeous layers of different kinds of pudding. It’s so good!

A 9x3 glass dish with layered pudding dessert

What You’ll Need

The ingredient list may seem a bit long, but trust me, this dessert is actually very easy to make! Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card at the end of this post for exact amounts.

For the Salted Pecan Crust:

  • All-purpose Flour
  • Packed Brown Sugar
  • Kosher Salt
  • Finely Chopped Pecans
  • Cold Unsalted Butter

For the Cream Cheese Layer:

  • Cream Cheese, Softened
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Cool Whip – You’ll use some of this for the cream cheese layer and some for the Cool Chip layer.

For the Chocolate Pudding Layer:

  • Chocolate Fudge Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
  • Cold Whole Milk

For the Cool Whip Layer:

  • Remaining Cool Whip From Cream Cheese Layer
  • Shaved Dark Chocolate From A Bar
Three slices of layered pudding on plates

How to Make Layered Chocolate Pudding

This chilled pudding dessert comes together in a few quick steps. Most of the time for this recipe comes from chilling in the fridge. (Which you can totally do overnight.)

Make the salted pecan crust

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Make the dough: In a medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, salt, and pecans. Cut in butter with a rigid pastry cutter or a fork until crumbly. Press mixture evenly onto bottom of 9 x 13 inch pan.

Bake for 18–20 minutes, or until crust is set and slightly browned. It should smell nice and toasty, buttery and nutty. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

For the cream cheese layer:

Whip the ingredients: With a blender, whip cream cheese and powdered sugar until completely smooth.

Add Cool Whip: With a rubber spatula, fold in 1-1/2 cups of Cool Whip from the 12-ounce container until combined.

Add to crust: Spread mixture onto cooled crust. Refrigerate while preparing the next layer.

For the chocolate pudding layer:

Make the pudding: In a medium bowl, whisk pudding with milk for 2 minutes. Pudding will become more and more thick as you whisk.

Spread pudding evenly over cream cheese layer.

For the Cool Whip layer:

Add the remaining Cool Whip: Evenly spread remaining Cool Whip from the 12-ounce container over chocolate pudding layer.

Sprinkle with shaved chocolate: I use a vegetable peeler to grate the chocolate, running it down the sides of a chocolate bar.

Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours or overnight before serving.

Can I Make this Dessert in Advance?

Yes! This dessert can easily be made the day prior to serving. I actually prefer the overnight refrigeration, as it allows the dessert to chill thoroughly and firm up. Always serve this dessert chilled.

A 9x3 glass dish with layered pudding

Tips for Success

As you can see, even though there are a few steps, this dessert is actually pretty easy! Here are a few helpful tips to make sure your dessert comes out perfectly:

  • Don’t rush the chill time. This recipe really does need at least 4-6 hours to properly setup. The closer to 6 hours the better! This chill time lets all the layers firm up and hold their shape when you slice into the dessert. And let’s face it, those pretty layers are part of the wow factor.
  • Use good quality chocolate for the shavings. I recommend using the best quality chocolate you have. Think of the kind of chocolate you would just love to bite into and eat on its own. That’s the kind of chocolate you want to turn into shavings on top of this dessert. The better quality you use, the more flavor they will add as a finishing touch.
  • Wipe your knife between cuts. When it’s time to serve your dessert, clean off your knife between each cut. This will help you get the cleanest possible cut that showcases the pudding layers.
  • What if you don’t like Cool Whip? If this is the case, you can use an equal amount of whipped cream.
Three slices of layered pudding on plates

How to Store

You can store this layered pudding dessert in the fridge for 3-4 days. Cover tightly with saran wrap to prevent it from drying out. I don’t recommend freezing this recipe since the pudding and Cool Whip might separate in the freezer, and especially upon thawing.

Three slices of layered pudding on plates

Layered Chocolate Pudding Dessert with Salted Pecan Crust

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 50 minutes

This Layered Chocolate Pudding Dessert with Salted Pecan Crust is a retro dessert I grew up with. It's an easy dessert for summer & so good!

Ingredients

FOR THE SALTED PECAN CRUST:

  • 1 1/2 c. All-purpose Flour
  • 1/2 c. Packed Brown Sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1/3 c. Finely Chopped Pecans
  • 9 tbsp. Cold Unsalted Butter
  • FOR THE CREAM CHEESE LAYER:
  • 12 oz. weight Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 1 1/2 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 12 oz. weight Cool Whip, Divided (1 1/2 Cups For Cream Cheese Layer, Remaining For Cool Whip Layer)

FOR THE CHOCOLATE PUDDING LAYER:

  • 2 boxes (3.9 Oz. Size) Chocolate Fudge Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
  • 4 c. Cold Whole Milk

FOR THE COOL WHIP LAYER:

  • Remaining Cool Whip From Cream Cheese Layer
  • 2 oz. weight Shaved Dark Chocolate From A Bar

Instructions

For the salted pecan crust:

Preheat oven to 325° F.In a medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, salt, and pecans. Cut in butter with a rigid pastry cutter or a fork until crumbly.

Press mixture evenly onto bottom of 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake for 18–20 minutes, or until crust is set and slightly browned. It should smell nice and toasty, buttery and nutty. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

For the cream cheese layer:

With a blender, whip cream cheese and powdered sugar until completely smooth.

With a rubber spatula, fold in 1-1/2 cups of Cool Whip from the 12-ounce container until combined. Spread mixture onto cooled crust. Refrigerate while preparing the next layer.

For the chocolate pudding layer:

In a medium bowl, whisk pudding with milk for 2 minutes. Pudding will become more and more thick as you whisk. Spread pudding evenly over cream cheese layer.

For the Cool Whip layer:

Evenly spread remaining Cool Whip from the 12-ounce container over chocolate pudding layer. Sprinkle with shaved chocolate. (I use a vegetable peeler, running it down the sides of a chocolate bar.)

Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours or overnight before serving.

This dessert can easily be made the day prior to serving. I actually prefer the overnight refrigeration, as it allows the dessert to chill thoroughly and firm up. Always serve this dessert chilled.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 571Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 66mgSodium: 286mgCarbohydrates: 57gFiber: 1gSugar: 40gProtein: 8g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.

Did you make this recipe?

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