Homemade Southern Banana Pudding
This Homemade Southern Banana Pudding is a classic dessert…and it’s super easy to make! It’ll leave your family and friends begging for your “secret family recipe!”
As I think back on my childhood, there are several desserts and snacks that come to mind. A slightly toasted slice of my mother’s banana bread on a Spring morning. A chocolate cake with fudge icing for Summer picnics. A batch – or 4 – of snowball cookies during the holidays. And then there was the Southern Banana Pudding.
This Banana pudding recipe is seriously one of my all-time favorite desserts. If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, then you know I have a sweet tooth. I love to bake, and I enjoy a sweet treat after dinner. However, I usually have really good self control around desserts. I say usually because self control goes out of the window when we’re talking about banana pudding (aka the Perfect
Summer Year-Round Dessert)!
As a kid growing up in Charleston, SC and later Raleigh, NC, this banana pudding made frequent appearances at picnics, barbeques, and all sorts of family gatherings. As with biscuits, Southern bakers and chefs are judged by their ability to make banana pudding. If you can’t make a good banana pudding or a buttery golden biscuit, well then you better go back to the kitchen and stay there until you learn!
Homemade Southern Banana Pudding
The good thing about this Southern Banana Pudding is it’s actually really easy to make. You simply make the pudding and layer it with bananas and vanilla wafers. It goes off to the fridge overnight, and the next day you just top the whole thing with whipped cream. *Boom* *Done and done*
You might be surprised to learn that the banana flavor in this Southern Banana Pudding comes from real bananas, not any sort of flavor additive. I remember I was shocked when I first learned how to make this recipe. “Ok, I see the sliced bananas, but what about the banana pudding?” That’s where the overnight rest comes in!
The flavors from the bananas and the vanilla pudding will meld overnight, and the next day you have one heck of an awesome dessert! This is seriously the best banana pudding recipe I’ve ever eaten. Plus, even though this recipe is super easy to make, folks are usually quite impressed when you show up with homemade banana pudding. No instant pudding or vanilla pudding mix needed!
I like to finish this dessert by crumbling several fresh vanilla wafers on top right before serving. The whole vanilla wafers will get soft sitting in the fridge, so it’s nice to mix up the textures and add a crunchy topping.
Once you add in the homemade whipped cream, you’ve got a delicious dessert that will leave your family and friends begging for your “secret family recipe!” I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do – it’s a staple in our house!
How to Store Leftovers
This banana pudding absolutely tastes best when fresh – it’s seriously to die for! However, if you have leftovers, cover them tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. While you can freeze leftovers, the bananas will oxidize and turn brown. I recommend eating this fresh instead!
Did you make a batch of this Homemade Southern Banana Pudding at home? Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog). I’d love to see your version!
Homemade Southern Banana Pudding
- 2 cups whole milk divided
- 1 cup half-and-half
- ½ cup sugar divided
- 4½ Tbsp cornstarch
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 large bananas sliced
- vanilla wafer cookies
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp confectioner’s sugar
- Using a large mixing bowl, add 1 cup of milk, half-and-half, ¼ cup of sugar, cornstarch and egg yolks; whisk together until well combined. Set mixture aside.
- Using a small saucepan, add remaining cup of milk and remaining ¼ cup of sugar. Place over medium heat, stir often, until milk begins to simmer.
- Slowly pour hot milk into the large bowl with the eggs yolks, stirring constantly while you pour.
- Return entire mixture to saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat and fold in butter and vanilla extract.
- Layer the sliced bananas, pudding mixture and vanilla wafers in a large serving dish or trifle dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight to chill.
- Before serving, whip together the heavy cream and confectioner's sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread whipped cream on top of the banana pudding and garnish with additional crumbled 'nilla wafers. Serve cold.
Looking for more banana flavored desserts? Check out these other favorites, too!
Banana Pudding Cheesecake with Crumbled Pralines
Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream
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I lived most of my life without knowing the southern joys of things like homemade biscuits with sausage gravy, baked mac n cheese and banana pudding. It’s one of the many reasons why I’m glad I married my wife. I feel like I was being lied to growing up!
This sounds and looks like a good recipe, I’m going to give it a shot since she was wanting some banana pudding the other day. Thanks!
Thanks so much, ManChefDad! Good thing your wife is Southern to show you all the yummy secrets of the Southern kitchen. 🙂 Hope you enjoy the banana pudding!
I loved the banana pudding so delicious!!!!!
Thank you so much, Angelica! This really is one of my favorite desserts! 🙂
Heck yeah, I love, love, love banana puddin’!! 😀 Another good one to make is a Strawberry Pudding. Hull and wash 3 cups of strawberries, then halve or quarter them, (we like to take it one step further and lightly break them up with a potato masher), add them to a bowl and toss with 3 or 4 Tbs. sugar. Refrigerate 6 hours to overnight. Layer the strawberries with the custard and wafers as you normally would or, like my Aunt Joyce, just fold them all together in a big bowl. Enjoy!!
Hey Nicky! Thank you so much for the idea. I love strawberries…they are the perfect early summer fruit. So I will definitely have to give this a shot soon. It sounds delicious!
I made this over the weekend, and while it was delicious as is, I couldn’t get it to thicken properly. When I put it in the glasses, the pudding ran down over the cookies, and there was no layering. Has it ever done this for you? I might add that it is very hot and humid here now, but I didn’t know what to do to thicken it.
Hey Mac! Sorry to hear that the pudding didn’t thicken up for you. My first guess is cooking time. Once you return the mixture to the pan for the final stage (step #4), it should get quite thick. It will still boil, but it will look more like a boiling “gel” rather than water. Does this make sense? Also, did you double check the ingredient list? Things like skim milk instead of whole milk would make a huge difference, too. I’ve never had a problem with this pudding myself (and we make it fairly often!). If you try it again, let me know how it turns out the 2nd time!
Thanks for your reply, David. There is one thing that I just noticed in reading over the instructions again. I don’t think I brought it to a boil. If I’m remembering correctly–and, at my age, who knows–I only heated it to steaming. That might be the problem. But, at any rate, I will definitely be making it again. The flavor of this pudding is to die for. My bosses daughter ate so much of it, her mom had to hide the last one so her husband could, at least, taste it. Great recipe.
Hmmm…I suspect that might be the culprit here! You don’t want to burn the pudding, but you do want it to reach a boil. It’s really thick at this point, and you’ll have to stir somewhat vigorously, but it will work! I usually find myself hiding some of this pudding, too…but I’m usually hiding it for me to find later!
Whipped cream didn’t turn into whipped cream. Used exact ingredients but that’s okay! The pudding was still delicious. Thanks for sharing!
So glad you enjoyed this recipe, Nelle! Next time try whipping that cream a bit longer – it always surprises me how long it takes to get whipped cream to reach stiff peaks. (And I’ve also found that using an electric mixer with a small bowl helps a lot!) Either way, thanks for leaving a comment!
I don’t think there is anything better than a southern style banana pudding. I love your recipe and the individual servings. Of course, my serving would need to be twice this size. 🙂
Haha…thanks, MJ! And to be honest I’m pretty sure I ate two of those glasses as soon as I took the picture. 🙂
How much does this recipe make? I’m wanting to put it in a dish instead of individual servings and was curious how big to use… Thanks
Hey Gennifer! I’ve usually served these in individual glasses, but I would estimate that this recipe makes enough to fill a pie pan, but not enough to fill a 9×13 pan. When in doubt, just make a little extra…it won’t go to waste!! Just remember to pour the mixture in Step 3 in slowly so that you don’t scramble the eggs. 🙂
is it a hard and fast rule to refrigerate overnight? this is delicious warm, even , and i told myself, that one dish hasnt got quite enough in it so i may as well finish it off. but i wondered-if say six or seven hours refrig were enough or if it needs to be overnight to be its best. this is as good as my Mom’s custard, maybe even a teeny bit better ( feel bad saying that) , i will use this basic custard for many other things.
Hey Jerrie! My apologies for the delayed response…I was out of town the past few days, and I’m just now getting caught up on email. It’s certainly not a hard and fast rule to refrigerate overnight. Once you finish making the pudding, it’s cooked and ready to eat…it just tastes a lot better once it sets up in the fridge. I would guess that 6-7 hours should be more than enough to let the pudding set up…I just find that it’s easier to make it the day ahead and not worry about the timing. I’m really glad you enjoy this one…it’s one of our favorites around here! 🙂 Thank you so much for commenting!
This recipe looks great! What are your thoughts regarding substituting 1can of carnation milk and a small can of sweetened condensed milk instead of whole milk? I had a true southern lady bring in her mom’s banana pudding to a work pot luck. It was the best I have ever had. I asked her for the recipe, but she could not remember it from memory but could list what she put in it. Hoping you are able to clarify this for me. Thank you!
Hey there, Christina! You know, I’ve only ever used whole milk to make this recipe. As long as the amount of liquid is the same, you could always try it with the substitutions listed…although I am a bit fearful that the new additions could make the pudding too sweet. And the new additions are also a good bit thicker than whole milk, so I’m not sure how that would play with the cornstarch used to make this version. I can absolutely say that this pudding is one of the best I’ve ever had…and I’ve eaten a lot of banana pudding! Of course, I didn’t get a chance to try the version at your work pot luck…haha. If you do try it with the substitutions, will you swing back by and let me know your thoughts? At the end of the day, I think it’s a trial and error type of thing if you do want to sub in the evaporated and condensed milk. Good luck!! 🙂
Hi David! Banana pudding is my husband’s favorite and I’m planning on making this for valentine’s day. I have a couple of questions though… How many individual serving cups do you use? Are the bananas best just yellow ripe or spotted brown like when making banana bread? Approximately how many wafers and banana slices do you use in the layers? Thanks so much!
Hey April! Banana pudding is really tasty, and I think it would be perfect for Valentine’s Day. To be honest, I haven’t made this recipe in a couple of years. It’s an oldie, but goodie…and I’ve just kinda forgotten about it. (On a side note, now that you reminded me of this one, I’m totally craving it again!)
For the number of cups, that will depend on the size of the cups. We actually used cocktail glasses, and I believe we got 4 servings out of a batch. (Again, this will depend on the size of the glasses.) As far as the bananas, you don’t want them to be ‘banana bread bananas.’ You want them to be the same color as when you’d eat them if you were just eating a banana plain – does that make sense? And as far as the layers, that’s entirely up to you! I like more wafers to pudding ratio, and I used 6-7 per cup. I hope this helps a little bit. And I hope you enjoy this dessert! You’ve got me craving it again now! 🙂 Happy Valentine’s Day!
I grew up never having had banana pudding because my mother did not like the smell of banana peels fo she never made it for our family. Of course, it is something I enjoy very much now and your version looks terrific!
Ah, I’m glad you discovered the joys of banana pudding…even if it’s a bit later. I was the same way with cheesecake and carrot cake. Neither sounded appetizing as a kid, but then I discovered that they are actually quite delicious. (I’m making up for lost time on both fronts there!) 🙂
David, glad you brought this one back around. We’re planning a coming out (of covid) bbq and It will be a Texas menu for our Swedish neighbors.
I was just thinking about doing banana pudding so good timing. Thanks for starting from scratch as we don’t have vanilla or banana instant pudding mix here. But, we also don’t have vanilla wafers her. Can you imagine that? Have you ever made them from scratch? Do you have a go to recipe.
Ah, a Texas-style “See ‘ya, Covid” party sounds like my kinda shindig, Ron! I trust that you’re going to have some good BBQ on the smoker? I would’ve said brisket, but I seem to recall you saying that brisket is a bit hard to find over there.
Either way, a good banana pudding is a great way to end that party! (From scratch is always better when it comes to banana pudding – always!) As far as vanilla wafers, I’ve never made my own. I’m sure that it can be done, and in fact now I’m kinda curious how to do it. Sure enough, I just peeked at Google, and there are a number of homemade vanilla wafer recipes. I haven’t tried them myself (yet), but I’m adding that to the list of baking adventures I want to try!
I’ve never had a Southern Banana Pudding, but I already know I would LOVE it! Indeed, what not to love about it? Vanilla wafers, bananas, and rich yet not too heavy custard? This looks and sounds insanely delicious!
Ah, you absolutely need to make this banana pudding, Ben! In fact, I could see you adding a fun twist to this with a bit of dulce de leche or perhaps steeping the cream in lilac? The options are endless! But I say this classic version is pretty darn hard to beat!
Yes that was actually my thought to turn this into a “banoffee pudding”!
Ah, caramel would be an excellent addition to this one, Ben! Although I still like the idea of infusing the cream with a floral flavor…you’ve been doing some really cool stuff like that lately!
This banana pudding looks so good, kinda like a trifle! My kids would definitely love this! And I happen to have some bananas around! 😉
Yes! I don’t make trifles all that often, but I feel like they work well for banana pudding. Either that or make individual cups. Either way, this is a classic recipe, and it’s one of my all-time favorites!!
nope never heard of this one 🙂 and what are vanilla wafers? is it like a biscuit (cookie) or a sponge finger or ??? And of course for me bananas are the devil’s work!! That slimy texture, that fibrous urky taste. sorry you’ll think me terrible. I don’t eat pasta, i don’t eat bananas… what next, you’ll be asking? 🙂 but your pudding looks lovely anyway. a veritable picture.
Ah! Well I’m glad I had the opportunity to first introduce banana pudding to you, Sherry. It’s a classic Southern US recipe, and it’s delicious. One of my all-time favorites in fact! So vanilla wafers are cookies (biscuits as you might say) that are crispy but not too hard. They soften up quite nicely when they rest next to the pudding in this recipe. And of course they have a strong vanilla flavor. I guess it doesn’t matter much since you aren’t a banana fan…haha! Thanks for the kind words!
This takes me back to my childhood – and I didn’t even grow up in the south! This is one I need to make now! I love that it’s no-bake and love all that banana taste! I think this is something I haven’t ever made for my kids (they’ve been deprived!) 🙂 I guess I’d better hurry up and make a batch!
Haha – banana pudding is one of those classic comfort foods for sure! I remember when I first saw the recipe (from my Mom’s recipe box), I was shocked that the banana flavor comes entirely from the bananas sitting next to the pudding. If your kids haven’t had banana pudding yet, then you totally need to make this for them!! 🙂
I didn’t know that banana pudding was a southern thing! Looks delicious, David!
Banana pudding is a staple, Jeff! I can’t imagine a summer picnic without a big batch of banana pudding. 🙂
Truth talk – I’ve never had banana pudding!! Crazy, right?? I mean I’ve heard of banana pudding, but have never tried it! It’s not a thing around here, but it clearly should be because it looks delicious and I definitely need it in my life!! Love all the bananas in there! Must be heaven for banana lovers! Hope your week is going great, my friend. 🙂
Wait. Hold everything. You’ve never had banana pudding!? Dawn, promise me you’ll make a batch…and soon! If you love bananas, then I promise you’ll love banana pudding! 🙂
What a beautiful dessert and the recipe looks pretty straightforward. I’ve never made banana pudding, but clearly I’ve been missing out. Love the individual versions too.
Ah, you should totally make banana pudding sometime, Marissa – it’s a classic summer comfort food. The only problem is it disappears too quickly. Haha! 🙂
This is the only way to make it! No instant pudding or fake whipped cream topping for me! That bit of butter at the end makes the pudding extra silky and yummy. Not a lot of recipes call for that. I have to confess though to being a meringue lover, so I use the leftover egg whites to make the meringue, spread edge to edge on top, and bake until golden. It’s good warm out if the oven, too!
Yes! Instant pudding is such a disappoint when it comes to banana pudding – and it doesn’t take long at all to make the real deal! And don’t even get me started on fake whipped cream in a can – that stuff is terrible! I love this recipe…it totally reminds me of childhood!
Interesting notes about the meringue topping. I’ve never tried that with banana pudding, but I can see how it would be good. In fact, warm would be an interesting way to serve this one…especially on those early fall days when the days are hot but the evenings get cool. Thanks for the idea, Kim!
I made way too much pudding, can I refrigerate it and use it tomorrow? For more banana pudding of course 😋
Curiosity question. Learning for me. Lol. What does the half and half do here. This recipe is a little similar to the recipe on the back of the nilla wafer box but it doesn’t use butter or half and half. Just the 2 cups of milk. Would that extra cup of half and half make it to liquidy?
Hey Kierra! Great question about the half and half…and to be honest, I don’t know the answer. I looked up the version on the nilla wafer box, and it looks like that one uses flour. This recipe uses cornstarch. I’m going to guess that’s an important piece of the puzzle as cornstarch thickens more than flour. However, that’s just an educated guess! This recipe was passed down from my grandma, and I can say it’s 110% amazing! It’s not too liquidy, and it’s pretty much the perfect banana pudding in my opinion. 🙂 Let me know if you have any other questions…or let me know your thoughts if you make it! Cheers!