This easy, old-fashioned Banana Pudding is made from scratch with layers of homemade vanilla pudding, Nilla wafers, sliced bananas, and whipped cream.
Homemade banana pudding falls in line with other classic American Dessert recipes I’ve been making lately, including Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp, Better than Sex Cake, Muddy Buddies, and Scotcheroos.
Banana pudding has roots in the South, but has become a traditional American dessert loved all over the United States. There are variations in the way it’s served and prepared and I’ve listed some adaptations in the post below, including a more traditional Southern Banana Pudding.
What You’ll Need:
- From the fridge: milk, heavy cream, eggs, butter, whipped cream.
- From the pantry: sugar, cornstarch, vanilla extract, salt
- Bananas: use ripe, but not overly ripe bananas
- Nilla wafers: 1 box
No One Likes BROWN Bananas:
There’s nothing less appetizing than brown or dark bananas in your banana pudding. There’s a couple ways to help prevent bananas from browning:
- Don’t use over ripe bananas. You want your bananas ripe, but not browning too much (like you’d look for in banana bread). Choose bananas that are slightly ripe; yellow with little brown specks.
- Lemon juice. The best way to avoid brown bananas is to toss them in a a little bit of lemon juice before laying them on top of the Nilla wafers.
- Make it fresh. While you can make banana pudding ahead of time, the easiest way to avoid brown bananas is to make it fresh, about 4-8 hours before serving.
Serving Banana Pudding:
Hot or cold? There is debate over whether banana pudding should be served warm or cold. I’ve always eaten and enjoyed it cold, however, true southern banana pudding is served warm, with meringue on top!
Whipped cream or meringue? This recipe calls for whipped cream, but southern banana pudding is often served with meringue on top.
How to Make Homemade Banana Pudding
1. Make homemade pudding.
- Simmer. Add milk and cream to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring often.
- Whisk together: eggs, sugar, and cornstarch in a separate bowl.
- Temper the eggs. Spoon a little of the hot milk over the egg mixtures and whisk well. Repeat with another few spoonful of the hot milk, to temper the eggs (bring their temperature up without “scrambling” them).
- Combine and thicken. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and continue to cook over medium low heat (don’t let it boil) for 5-8 minutes until thickened and coats the back of a spoon.. Once thickened, remove from the heat and stir in the butter, vanilla extract and salt.
- Refrigerate. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top (to prevent a skim from forming on it). Refrigerate for an hour or more, until chilled. Stir well once chilled.
2. Assemble. Use a 9 inch square pan, a large bowl, trifle dish or individual dishes. Line the bottom of the pan with vanilla wafers. Top with sliced bananas, then ½ of the pudding mixture. Repeat with another layer, and end with a final layer of wafers (whole or crushed into pieces).
3. Refrigerate. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place the assembled dessert in the fridge for 4-8 hours. Top with fresh whipped cream before serving, if desired.
4. Top with whipped cream and serve. Store banana pudding, covered, in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
Possible Recipe Variations:
- Top with Meringue.
- No bake banana pudding: this recipe is technically no bake, however it does require a stove to cook the pudding. You can substitute instant vanilla pudding instead.
- Banana pudding cake: bake a yellow cake and let it cool completely. Cover the top of the cake with homemade pudding and refrigerate. Top with sliced bananas, Nilla wafers, and whipped cream.
- Banana pudding pie: Blind bake a homemade pie crust and allow it to cool. Layer sliced bananas, vanilla pudding, and vanilla wafers in the pie dish. Then repeat with another layer of sliced bananas, pudding, and wafers. Top with whipped cream or meringue. Or, make banana cream pie with a Nilla wafer pie crust.
Make Ahead And Freezing Instructions:
To make ahead: Banana pudding can be made 1-2 days ahead of time. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
To freeze: For best results, freeze only the pudding and assemble the banana pudding once it’s thawed. Allow the homemade pudding to cool completely and store in a freezer safe bag for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and assemble pudding with Nilla wafers, bananas, and whipped cream.
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- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 egg , at room temperature
- 2 egg yolks , at room temperature
- ¾ cup sugar
- 4 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 tablespoons butter , chopped
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 box Nilla wafers
- 4 large bananas , sliced (use ripe, but not overly ripe bananas)
- Fresh whipped cream , for topping (optional)
- Add milk and cream to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring often.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and cornstarch until well blended.
- Spoon a little of the hot milk over the egg mixtures and whisk well. Repeat with another few spoonfuls of the hot milk, to temper the eggs (bring their temperature up without “scrambling” them).
- Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and continue to cook over medium low heat (don’t let it boil) for 5-8 minutes until thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
- Once thickened, remove from the heat and stir in the butter, vanilla extract and salt.
- Pour the pudding through a sieve or fine mesh strainer into a container, to remove any lumps and make it silky smooth.
- Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top (to prevent a skin from forming on it). Refrigerate for an hour or more, until chilled. Stir well once chilled.
- To assemble the banana pudding, use a 9 inch square pan, a large bowl, trifle dish or individual dishes.
- Line the bottom of the pan with vanilla wafers. Top with sliced bananas, then ½ of the pudding mixture. Repeat with another layer, and end with a final layer of wafers (whole or crushed into pieces).
- Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place the assembled dessert in the fridge for 4-8 hours.
- Top with fresh whipped cream before serving, if desired.
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HAVE YOU TRIED THIS RECIPE?!
RATE and COMMENT below! I would love to hear your experience.
This is a good basic custard recipe. Having made custard pies all my life. I’m 80. I made a couple of changes. Only used 3 TB of cornstarch. This thickened very quickly. I also used only 1 tsp. vanilla. 3 makes it to strong causing the taste to be more on the vanilla side rather than taste the bananas.
Never thickened. I’m not sure what I did wrong. I followed the recipe to a T. Kind of disappointing.
I agree… this recipe is wonderful! Only thing I did differently was to use whole PF Chessmen Butter Cookies instead of wafers. Could I use less sugar… maybe 1/2 cup instead of 3/4 cup?
Fabulous flavor and texture. I stirred constantly and didn’t have any lumps to work out. It did set up too thick, so I slowly whisked in more cream a little at a time until I got the consistency I needed. 8 people at work gave a big thumbs up 👍
This was sooooo good and extremely EASY!!!! My husband said it tasted just like what his grandmother used to make. We ate half of the pan just after i made it😀😀🤣
A definite hit!!!!
This recipe reminds me of the one my mom use to make. My husband and I love it. The tempering egg trick really makes it easy to not mess up.
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