In the world of banana pudding, there are two varieties: there’s banana-flavored pudding, and then there’s classic banana pudding. This southern-style banana pudding recipe is a classic. It consists of a decadent homemade vanilla custard served alongside crunchy vanilla wafers and freshly sliced bananas.
Classic banana pudding is a favorite, and no matter where you live or who you serve it to, your guests are going to love it! It’s one of those ultimate comfort foods that never goes out of style like mac & cheese.
It’s a staple here in the South where it can be found at any potluck, cook-out or gathering. While the pudding takes a couple of steps, you can make it in advance and then just assemble with vanilla wafers and bananas at the last minute.
This recipe is incredibly tasty and requires you to make a from-scratch vanilla pudding. It only takes 15 minutes, but it will be worth it! There’s nothing like the creamy sweetness of fresh pudding; you absolutely cannot get this flavor from a box.
This is completely different from banana pudding with cream cheese where bananas are incorporated into the pudding. In this version it is vanilla pudding served over bananas.
What is classic banana pudding?
Classic banana pudding is a dessert that’s made by layering creamy vanilla pudding, freshly sliced bananas, and crunchy vanilla wafers. Traditionally, the vanilla pudding is made from scratch using milk, eggs, cornstarch and vanilla. It is very similar to the pudding used for banana cream pie.
The complete instructions can be found below, but to make this classic banana pudding, you’ll heat the milk and gradually incorporate the eggs (temporing) so they don’t scramble. Then, you’ll cook the pudding on the stove for a few minutes until it thickens.
The pudding needs to be refrigerated for several hours before assembling, so plan ahead. Once it’s cooled and the pudding has set, you’ll layer the pudding, bananas, and vanilla wafers in a dish.
Why you’ll love southern-style banana pudding
- This recipe is very creamy with the perfect sweetness.
- It’s a from-scratch recipe that looks impressive but is fairly easy to make.
- It can be assembled ahead of time, so it’s great for a party or potluck.
- It’s a year round dessert
Why does banana pudding need so much cornstarch?
This homemade banana pudding uses ¼ cup of cornstarch, which is a fair amount! Why? Because cornstarch is the secret ingredient that thickens the pudding.
Cornstarch is a fine, powdery flour made from corn kernels. It’s usually used in cooking and baking to thicken sauces, gravies, and puddings. It also helps to create a smooth texture as it’s finer and more powdery than flour.
Cornstarch is gluten-free, so it’s a great alternative to flour when you need a thickener that doesn’t contain gluten.
Banana pudding recipe ingredients
- Cornstarch – This will give your pudding its thick, creamy texture.
- Whole milk – To get creamy pudding, you need the fat from whole milk.
- Heavy cream – Don’t skip the cream as this is needed for a creamy pudding.
- Egg yolks – Save the egg whites and make a lemon chiffon pie.
- Bananas – Look for fresh, just-ripe bananas that aren’t turning brown just yet, but are also not green. If the bananas are not ripe then there won’t be enough flavor to make it taste like banana pudding, too ripe and they will turn brown and mushy.
- Vanilla wafers – Vanilla wafers are the classic option for banana pudding, but you can substitute with shortbread cookies like Pepperidge Farm Chessman, Bourdeux, or Dublins.
- Pantry Staples – sugar, salt, butter, vanilla
Pro Tip: If you struggle with separating eggs, find some tips for making this much easier.
Two ways to serve banana pudding
- Individual servings – layer each pudding into a glass bowl or glass, a 6 ounce wine glass is the perfect size. Since the bananas will brown and the vanilla wafers will get soggy, this method allows you to make just what you need and save extra pudding for later.
- Casserole dish – You can also assemble this in a casserole dish if you are serving it at a potluck or cook out. Layer it the same as you would individual servings. This will only last a day before the bananas and vanilla wafers are no longer fresh.
How to make banana pudding from scratch
Step 1: Prepare the eggs.
Whisk the egg yolks and cornstarch together.
Step 2: Make the pudding.
Warm up the milk, cream and sugar and then slowly drizzle a bit of the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture. Then, slowly add the egg mixture to the milk mixture. By slowly adding the egg, you will keep it from scrambling. Continue to cook whisking continuously until it thickens, only about 8 minutes.
Remove it from the heat and whisk in the vanilla and butter. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Step 3: Assemble the pudding.
Add some crushed vanilla wafers to your serving dish, then top with some banana slices, and finally, a scoop of pudding.
Chill and serve! Some like to add whipped cream to the top. Whipped cream is never a bad idea!
Tips for making perfect homemade banana pudding
- Don’t be in a hurry. Take your time making the pudding. It will be worth it.
- Be careful not to allow your mixtures to boil.
- Don’t use over ripe bananas, they should be firm but not green.
- A 6-ounce stemless wine glass is perfect for serving this pudding. You can also use small bowls or goblets.
How to store classic banana pudding
If you want to serve the pudding on another day, wait to assemble it. Just cover your fresh pudding and place it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
You can assemble your pudding up to a day in advance, but your wafers might get a bit soggy and you run the risk of your bananas turning brown. I recommend you assemble your pudding about an hour before you want to serve it, then refrigerate it until it’s time to eat.
The homemade pudding can also be frozen before assembling. Just place it in an airtight container, press plastic wrap down tightly onto the top of the pudding, and freeze it for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw completely in the fridge.
How do I keep the bananas from turning brown?
If you need to make this banana pudding in advance, your bananas might turn brown. You can help preserve them a bit longer by coating them in a touch of lemon juice. Just place all of your sliced bananas in a bowl, squeeze a lemon overtop, and give it a good stir. You don’t want the tartness of the lemon flavor to override the sweetness of the bananas, so just add enough to coat all the slices very lightly.
Banana pudding FAQs
Can I make my pudding in a pan instead of individual cups?
Absolutely! You can make this pudding in an 8×8 baking pan or glass serving dish. You can also use a glass bowl or trifle bowl.
Can I double this recipe?
Yes! You can double this recipe to make a large pudding. You can also make this in multiple layers. Add wafers, bananas, & pudding, then repeat until your ingredients are used up.
Can I use frozen bananas for homemade banana pudding?
I wouldn’t use frozen bananas for this recipe. Frozen bananas tend to thaw a bit mushy, and that’s not the best consistency for banana pudding.
More Tasty Banana Recipes to Love
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Southern-Style Banana Pudding from Scratch
- 4 egg yolks
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 medium bananas just ripe cut into ½ inch slices
- 2 cups vanilla wafers crushed
- 1 Medium saucepan
- 1 Whisk
- Whisk the egg yolks and cornstarch in a small glass bowl.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, add milk, cream, sugar, and salt and cook for about 5 minutes, whisking often. Do not let it boil.
- With a spoon, slowly drizzle a little of the warm milk into the egg mixture, slowly add about a cup of the milk to the egg. Next, slowly add the egg mixture to the rest of the hot milk in the saucepan, whisking until it is combined. Cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes until it has thickened.
- Remove from the heat and add vanilla and butter, whisking until combined. Transfer to a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a layer of skin form forming. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
- To assemble, add about 3 tablespoons of crushed vanilla wafers to the bottom of a glass or bowl. Top with ⅓ of a banana and ¼ cup of pudding, Chill for 1 hour before serving.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- Don’t be in a hurry. Take your time making the pudding. It will be worth it.
- Be careful not to allow your mixtures to boil. You don’t want your eggs to scramble.
- A 6-ounce stemless wine glass is perfect for serving this pudding. You can also use small bowls.
- Use bananas that are not green but are not overly ripe.
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