The Best Banana Pudding Recipe: Delicious and Easy to Make!

Understanding Banana Pudding

If you’re from the South, you know that banana pudding is a staple dessert. It’s a classic dish that’s been around for generations and is loved by many. But what exactly is banana pudding?

At its core, banana pudding is a simple dessert made with layers of vanilla wafers, sliced bananas, and a creamy vanilla pudding. It’s a dessert that’s perfect for any occasion, whether it’s a potluck, a family gathering, or just a weeknight treat.

homemade banana pudding, Southern dessert

Southern banana pudding is the most popular version of this dessert, and it’s made with a few extra ingredients that give it that special Southern touch. Magnolia Bakery is a famous bakery in New York City that’s known for its banana pudding, and they’ve put their own unique spin on the classic recipe.

To make a classic banana pudding, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Vanilla wafers
  • Bananas
  • Milk
  • Sugar
  • Cornstarch
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • Butter

To make Southern banana pudding, you’ll need the same ingredients as the classic version, plus a few extras:

  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Whipped cream

The sweetened condensed milk gives the pudding a richer, creamier texture, while the whipped cream adds a lightness to the dessert.

When making banana pudding, it’s important to use ripe bananas that are still firm enough to hold their shape when sliced. You’ll also want to use a good quality vanilla extract to give the pudding a rich, vanilla flavor.

In conclusion, banana pudding is a classic Southern dessert that’s loved by many. Whether you prefer the classic version or the Southern version with sweetened condensed milk and whipped cream, it’s a dessert that’s perfect for any occasion.

Key Ingredients for Banana Pudding

If you want to make the best banana pudding, you must have the right ingredients. Here are some key ingredients that you need to prepare to make this delicious dessert:

Ripe Bananas

The star of the show is, of course, the bananas. You want to use ripe bananas that have brown spots on the skin. These bananas are sweeter and have a softer texture, which is perfect for making banana pudding.

Vanilla Wafers

Vanilla wafers are a classic ingredient in banana pudding. They add a nice crunch and texture to the dessert. You can use either homemade or store-bought vanilla wafers.

Vanilla Pudding

Vanilla pudding is the base of the dessert. You can use either instant pudding or make your own vanilla custard from scratch. If you’re using instant pudding, make sure to follow the instructions on the package.

Sweetened Condensed Milk

Sweetened condensed milk is another key ingredient in banana pudding. It adds sweetness and creaminess to the dessert. You can find sweetened condensed milk in the baking aisle of your local grocery store.

Whole Milk

Whole milk is used to make the vanilla pudding. You can use either whole milk or a combination of whole milk and heavy cream to make the pudding richer and creamier.


Cornstarch is used to thicken the pudding. It helps to create a smooth and creamy texture.

Large Eggs

Large eggs are used to make the vanilla pudding. They add richness and flavor to the dessert.

Unsalted Butter

Unsalted butter is used to make the pudding richer and creamier. It is also used to butter the baking dish.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is used to prevent the bananas from turning brown. It also adds a nice tangy flavor to the dessert.

Peanut Butter (Optional)

If you want to add a twist to the classic banana pudding recipe, you can add peanut butter to the dessert. It adds a nice nutty flavor and complements the sweetness of the bananas.

With these key ingredients, you can make a delicious and creamy banana pudding that will be a hit at any gathering or party.

Homemade Banana Pudding Recipe

If you’re looking for a classic dessert recipe that’s sure to impress, you can’t go wrong with homemade banana pudding. This delicious treat is easy to make and perfect for any occasion, from family dinners to potlucks and picnics.

To make homemade banana pudding, you’ll need a few simple ingredients, including sliced bananas, vanilla wafer cookies, and whipped cream. You’ll also need some basic pantry staples like sugar, flour, and eggs, as well as vanilla extract and milk.

To start, whisk together sugar, flour, and salt in a saucepan. Add beaten eggs and milk, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla extract.

Next, layer sliced bananas and vanilla wafer cookies in a 9×13 inch baking dish or trifle bowl. Pour the custard over the top, and refrigerate until set. Finally, top with whipped cream and additional banana slices, if desired.

You can also customize your homemade banana pudding recipe by adding different toppings or variations. For a tart twist, try using lemon pudding mix instead of vanilla. For a fresh, no-bake cheesecake version, use cream cheese and frozen whipped topping instead of custard and whipped cream. And for a fun twist on traditional banana pudding, try making banana pudding cupcakes or a banana pudding cake.

No matter how you choose to make it, homemade banana pudding is a delicious and satisfying dessert that’s sure to please. And with its simple ingredients and easy preparation, it’s a recipe that anyone can master. So why not give it a try and impress your friends and family with your culinary skills?

Assembling the Banana Pudding

Now that you have all the components ready, it’s time to assemble the banana pudding. Follow these steps to make a delicious and visually appealing dessert:

  1. Start by placing a layer of vanilla wafer cookies at the bottom of your trifle bowl or serving dish. Make sure to cover the entire bottom surface of the bowl.
  2. Add a layer of sliced bananas on top of the cookies. Make sure to distribute them evenly.
  3. Pour a layer of pudding mixture on top of the bananas. Use a spatula to spread it evenly.
  4. Repeat the layers of cookies, bananas, and pudding until you reach the top of the bowl. Make sure to end with a layer of pudding on top.
  5. Crush some vanilla wafers and sprinkle them on top of the pudding layer. This will add some texture and crunch to the dessert.
  6. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. This will allow the flavors to meld together and the cookies to soften.
  7. Just before serving, whip some heavy cream with a little sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread the whipped cream on top of the pudding layer.
  8. Garnish with some sliced bananas and more crushed vanilla wafers on top.

There you have it! A delicious and visually appealing banana pudding that will impress your guests.

Variations and Substitutes

If you’re looking to mix things up a bit with your banana pudding recipe, there are plenty of variations and substitutes you can try. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Substitute Ideas

  • If you’re looking for a dairy-free option, you can substitute almond milk or coconut milk for the whole milk in the recipe.
  • For a lower-fat option, you can use skim milk or 2% milk instead of whole milk.
  • If you don’t have vanilla wafers on hand, you can use graham crackers or shortbread cookies instead.
  • Instead of using instant pudding mix, you can make your own pudding from scratch using cornstarch, sugar, eggs, and milk.

Variation Ideas

  • For a twist on the classic recipe, try adding a layer of sliced strawberries or raspberries between the layers of pudding and vanilla wafers.
  • You can also try adding a layer of chocolate ganache or caramel sauce for a decadent twist.
  • If you’re a fan of peanut butter, try adding a layer of peanut butter pudding or topping the pudding with chopped peanuts.
  • Swap out the vanilla wafers for Chessmen cookies for a buttery and slightly-sweet twist on the classic recipe.

Make-Ahead Tips

  • Banana pudding is a great make-ahead dessert. You can assemble the pudding up to 24 hours in advance and store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.
  • If you’re making the pudding ahead of time, wait to add the whipped cream or whipped topping until just before serving to ensure it stays fluffy and doesn’t deflate.

Cool Whip and Frozen Whipped Topping

  • If you don’t have heavy whipping cream on hand, you can use Cool Whip or frozen whipped topping instead. Keep in mind that the texture and flavor will be slightly different than if you use fresh whipped cream.
  • If you’re using Cool Whip or frozen whipped topping, you can skip the step of whipping the cream and simply fold it into the pudding mixture.

Cream Cheese

  • For a richer and creamier pudding, you can add cream cheese to the recipe. Simply beat softened cream cheese into the pudding mixture before folding in the whipped cream.
  • Keep in mind that adding cream cheese will change the texture and flavor of the pudding, making it slightly tangy and more dense.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best banana pudding recipe?

There are many delicious banana pudding recipes out there, but the best one is the one that you enjoy the most! Some people prefer a classic recipe with vanilla wafers and whipped cream, while others like to add their own twist with ingredients like cream cheese or caramel sauce. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find your own favorite recipe!

Can you make banana pudding with cream cheese?

Yes, you can! Adding cream cheese to banana pudding can give it a richer, creamier texture and a slightly tangy flavor. Just be sure to use softened cream cheese and mix it well with the other ingredients to avoid lumps.

What is the difference between banana pudding with condensed milk and without?

Banana pudding with condensed milk is sweeter and creamier than banana pudding without it. Condensed milk is made by removing most of the water from regular milk and adding sugar, which gives it a thick, syrupy consistency. Using condensed milk in banana pudding can also help it set up better and last longer in the fridge.

What is the history behind banana pudding’s popularity in the South?

Banana pudding has been a popular dessert in the South for many years, and its origins can be traced back to the early 20th century. It became especially popular during the Great Depression, when ingredients like bananas and vanilla wafers were relatively cheap and easy to find. Today, banana pudding is still a beloved dessert in the South and is often served at family gatherings and potlucks.

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