Banana Pudding Recipe – Just 5 Steps!

by Ella

Banana pudding is a classic Southern dessert that has captured hearts and palates across the United States and beyond. Known for its creamy texture, rich banana flavor, and layers of vanilla wafers and whipped cream, this beloved dessert is a staple at family gatherings, potlucks, and celebrations. Making banana pudding from scratch is a rewarding culinary experience that combines simple ingredients to create a harmonious and delectable treat. This comprehensive guide will take you through the process of making banana pudding, exploring its history, essential ingredients, step-by-step instructions, variations, and tips to perfect your pudding every time.

The History of Banana Pudding

Banana pudding has a storied history, deeply rooted in American culinary traditions. The dessert likely originated in the Southern United States, where it became popular in the early 20th century. Its rise in popularity can be attributed to the widespread availability of bananas, which were imported in large quantities from tropical regions.


Originally, banana pudding was made with layers of homemade custard, sliced bananas, and sponge cake or ladyfingers. However, as convenience foods became more common, vanilla wafers were often substituted for the cake layers, and instant pudding mixes made the dessert even easier to prepare.


Despite these modern shortcuts, traditionalists still appreciate the rich, homemade custard that forms the heart of a truly authentic banana pudding. The combination of fresh ingredients and a little time spent in the kitchen results in a dessert that is both nostalgic and timeless.


Essential Ingredients

To make a classic banana pudding, you’ll need a handful of essential ingredients. These components come together to create the layers of flavor and texture that define this dessert.



Milk: Whole milk is typically used for a rich and creamy texture.

Sugar: Granulated sugar sweetens the custard.

Eggs: Egg yolks thicken the custard and add richness.

Cornstarch: Acts as a thickening agent.

Vanilla Extract: Adds depth of flavor.

Salt: Enhances the sweetness and balances the flavors.


Ripe Bananas: Choose bananas that are ripe but not overly soft. They should have a bright yellow color with minimal brown spots.

Vanilla Wafers

Vanilla Wafers: These provide a crunchy contrast to the creamy custard and soft bananas. Nilla Wafers are a popular choice.

Whipped Cream

Heavy Cream: Whipped to soft peaks.

Powdered Sugar: Sweetens the whipped cream.

Vanilla Extract: Adds flavor to the whipped cream.

Additional Ingredients (Optional)

Lemon Juice: Prevents bananas from browning.

Banana Liqueur: Adds an extra layer of banana flavor to the custard.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Gather Ingredients:

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat the Milk: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until it begins to steam. Do not let it boil.

Mix Dry Ingredients: In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.

Combine Egg Yolks and Sugar Mixture: In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Gradually add the sugar mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent lumps.

Temper the Eggs: Slowly pour about 1 cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to temper the eggs. This prevents the eggs from cooking too quickly and curdling.

Cook the Custard: Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 5-7 minutes.

Add Vanilla: Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Cool the Custard: Pour the custard into a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until fully chilled.

2. Preparing the Bananas

Slice the Bananas: Peel and slice 4-5 ripe bananas into 1/4-inch thick rounds.

Optional – Toss with Lemon Juice: To prevent the banana slices from browning, you can lightly toss them with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.

3. Assembling the Banana Pudding

Layer Ingredients: In a large glass bowl or trifle dish, layer the ingredients as follows:

  • Start with a layer of vanilla wafers on the bottom.
  • Add a layer of banana slices.
  • Pour a layer of chilled custard over the bananas.

Repeat Layers: Continue layering vanilla wafers, banana slices, and custard until all ingredients are used, finishing with a layer of custard on top.

4. Making the Whipped Cream

Whip the Cream: In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of cold heavy cream, 1/4 cup powdered sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Use an electric mixer to beat the cream until soft peaks form.

Top the Pudding: Spread or pipe the whipped cream over the top layer of custard.

5. Finishing Touches

Garnish: Garnish the top of the pudding with additional banana slices, crushed vanilla wafers, or a sprinkle of cinnamon if desired.

Chill and Serve: Cover the pudding with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight, to allow the flavors to meld and the wafers to soften. Serve chilled.

See Also: Banana Pudding Cake Recipe

Variations on Banana Pudding

While the classic banana pudding is delightful on its own, there are several variations you can try to put your own twist on this beloved dessert.

Chocolate Banana Pudding

Add a layer of chocolate ganache or chocolate pudding between the custard and bananas for a rich and decadent variation. Top with chocolate shavings for an extra touch.

Banana Pudding Cheesecake

Incorporate a cheesecake layer by mixing softened cream cheese into the custard. This variation adds a tangy richness that complements the sweetness of the bananas and wafers.

Banana Pudding Parfaits

For individual servings, layer the ingredients in small mason jars or dessert glasses. This presentation is perfect for parties and makes serving easy.

Peanut Butter Banana Pudding

Add a layer of creamy peanut butter or mix peanut butter into the custard for a nutty twist. Top with chopped peanuts for added crunch.

Vegan Banana Pudding

Create a vegan version by using coconut milk or almond milk for the custard and a plant-based whipped cream. Ensure that the vanilla wafers are also vegan-friendly.

Tips for Perfect Banana Pudding

Use Fresh, Ripe Bananas: For the best flavor, use bananas that are ripe but not overly soft. Overripe bananas can become mushy and lose their texture in the pudding.

Prevent Browning: Toss banana slices in lemon juice to prevent them from browning. This step is optional but helps maintain the visual appeal of the dessert.

Chill Thoroughly: Allow the assembled pudding to chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight. This gives the flavors time to meld and the wafers to soften, creating a cohesive dessert.

Homemade Custard: While instant pudding mixes are convenient, homemade custard provides a richer and more authentic flavor. The extra effort is worth it.

Whipped Cream: Use freshly whipped cream instead of store-bought whipped topping for the best texture and flavor.

Layer Evenly: When assembling the pudding, ensure even layers of wafers, bananas, and custard for a balanced taste and texture in every bite.

Serving Suggestions

Banana pudding is a versatile dessert that can be served in various ways to suit the occasion:

Traditional Bowl

Serve banana pudding in a large glass bowl or trifle dish to showcase the beautiful layers. This presentation is perfect for family gatherings and potlucks.

Individual Parfaits

Layer the pudding in individual dessert glasses or mason jars for a convenient and elegant presentation. This method is ideal for parties and special occasions.

Banana Pudding Cake

For a unique twist, use banana pudding as a filling for a layer cake. Spread the pudding between layers of vanilla cake and top with whipped cream and crushed vanilla wafers.

Frozen Banana Pudding

Transform banana pudding into a frozen treat by layering the ingredients in a freezer-safe dish and freezing until firm. Serve slices of frozen banana pudding on a hot summer day for a refreshing dessert.

Healthier Alternatives

If you’re looking to make a lighter version of banana pudding, consider these healthier alternatives:

Low-Sugar Custard

Reduce the amount of sugar in the custard or use a sugar substitute to lower the overall sugar content of the dessert.

Greek Yogurt Whipped Cream

Mix Greek yogurt with a small amount of whipped cream or whipped topping for a lighter, protein-rich topping.

Whole Grain Wafers

Opt for whole grain vanilla wafers or graham crackers to add fiber and nutrients to the dessert.

Dairy-Free Options

Use almond milk, coconut milk, or another plant-based milk for the custard, and choose a dairy-free whipped topping to accommodate dietary restrictions.

See Also: Bread Pudding Recipe


Banana pudding is a timeless dessert that continues to delight generations with its creamy texture, rich banana flavor, and nostalgic charm. Whether you stick to the classic recipe or experiment with creative variations, making banana pudding from scratch is a rewarding culinary experience that brings joy to any occasion. By following the detailed instructions and tips provided in this guide, you can create a perfect banana pudding that will impress your family and friends. Enjoy the process of crafting this beloved dessert, and savor each spoonful of its delightful layers.



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