Southern Banana Pudding

Southern Banana Pudding

Back in the day before I thought about food 24/7 and I was relatively new to the kitchen, I made this dessert to take somewhere. Only I made it with boxed pudding and Cool Whip. Which isn’t terrible, but I love making as much from scratch as possible, so quite a many years later, this is a completely homemade version.

I have always been curious about what makes this a southern tradition (after all, it’s really just vanilla pudding, Nilla wafers, sliced bananas and whipped cream), so I did some reading. It seems that bananas first began being marketed in the United States around the turn of the century, in the early 1900’s. Cooks began using the fruit in all sorts of dishes, especially in recipes for puddings and custards with meringue toppings. The addition of the vanilla wafers in the banana pudding came later. I couldn’t find exactly why this picked up more in the southern states than in any other areas, but a great many thanks to the southerners who dreamed up this amazing dessert!

Southern Banana Pudding

This pudding is made using the same exact process that is used for making pastry cream. You may remember that last summer I did a step-by-step tutorial (with photos) of how to make pastry cream. If you are making homemade pudding or pastry cream for the first time, it may help to refer to that post. The key is to just keep whisking once everything is on the stovetop, and once you get a few bubbles on the surface the mixture should get thick and shiny. Running it through the fine-mesh sieve will catch any bits of egg in case it was overcooked just a tad. The strainer seems to always catch at least a few little pieces whenever I make pastry cream or ice cream custard.

This is actually a really quick recipe to put together (minus the chill time) and is a perfect end to any summer meal!

Southern Banana Pudding

One year ago: Seven-Layer Bars
Two years ago: Pesto Pasta & Chicken

Southern Banana Pudding

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes (active), 4 hours (inactive)

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups whole milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

30 vanilla wafers
2 large bananas, cut into ¼-inch slices

¾ cup heavy cream, chilled
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Heat the milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Meanwhile, whisk the egg and yolk in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the cornstarch until combined and the mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 20 seconds.

2. When the milk mixture reaches a full simmer, gradually whisk the simmering mixture into the egg mixture to temper. Return the mixture to the saucepan, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula; return to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a few bubbles burst on the surface and the mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla.

3. Strain the pudding through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to keep a skin from forming.

4. Line the bottom of a 1½-quart serving dish with vanilla wafers. On top of the wafers, place a layer of the sliced bananas. Pour ½ of the pudding over the bananas, and spread to the edges of the dish. Repeat the vanilla wafers, bananas, and pudding again. Press plastic wrap against the surface of the pudding and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Southern Banana Pudding - Prep

Southern Banana Pudding - Prep

5. When ready to serve, whip the heavy cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Spread on top of the pudding and top with crushed vanilla wafers. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

(Recipe adapted from Evil Shenanigans)

 

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44 Responses to “Southern Banana Pudding”

  1. Kelly @ EvilShenanigans on June 17, 2010 at 11:24 am

    I am so flattered that you adapted one of my recipes on your site! Your pudding looks lip-smackin’ good! :D

    Reply

  2. Karla on June 17, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Ahh banana pudding from scratch! Soooo much better!
    I made some for Derby Day but cheated and used boxed pudding and condensed milk. I bet this is a million times better! Next time I’ll use this recipe!

    Reply

  3. Becky from Mrs Bettie Rocker on June 17, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Looks yummy! I always forget to try some sort of anti browning treatment on the bananas when I make pudding. I hate when they get all sad looking the next day. Any tips?

    Reply

  4. Emily @ Darby O'Shea on June 17, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Well, this looks divine. Maybe banana pudding caught on in the South more than the North because of the hot weather? Cold desserts being highly desirable? Or maybe it was the proximity to banana producing trade routes?

    Reply

  5. Eliana on June 17, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    How incredible does this LOOK? I have never had bananas in bread pudding but I’m not sure why I never thought of that before. Awesome job Michelle :)

    Reply

    • angryworkingmom on June 17th, 2010 at 4:26 pm

      YUMMY!! This is a great alternative to box pudding! Which is what I grew up on ;)
      Tana- cracking me up because yes you are right that you can’t bring this to a Southern church deal with out perfectly peaked meringues! Bless your heart is right! We also crushed the vanilla wafers mixed w/ melted butter and formed the bottom like a graham cracker crust, but I can’t say that I like it better that way.

      Reply

  6. Tana on June 17, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    I have been lurking on your site and love it!!! But I had to comment on the banana pudding recipe. It’s almost perfect except for the topping. To be truly an authentic Southern banana pudding the topping HAS to be an egg white meringue browned on the oven before refrigerating. Where I’m from, a whipped cream topping would have all the church ladies shaking their heads and murmuring, “Bless her heart…”

    Reply

    • Levie on May 15th, 2012 at 8:47 pm

      Im glad someone said that bc where im from it aint southern at all without meringue on top & we call it “Nanner Puddin”

      Reply

  7. The Housewife on June 17, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Mmmm! Looks so good! And the banana custard looks so creamy…

    Reply

  8. michele on June 17, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Southern Living did an issue a while ago where they “updated” some classics, including banana pudding- they swapped the vanilla wafers for Nutter Butters. It was amazing!

    Reply

  9. Maria on June 17, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    I’ve been sick and haven’t eaten much, but I know I could eat a big portion of your pudding. Looks so good!

    Reply

  10. Elle on June 17, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Ooooh, I so want this! I haven’t had it in ages, and like you said–the last time I did, it was with boxed pudding and Cool Whip. Yours looks WAY better!

    Reply

  11. Amanda on June 17, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    oh my! I’ve had this at many parties and showers, so very yummy! Your from scratch version sounds fabulous!

    Reply

  12. Jalanda on June 17, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Leftovers? What is this that you speak of???

    Reply

  13. Katrina on June 17, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    I LOVE bananas, and I LOVE pudding, so I know I’ll like this dish. It looks so amazing. Mmm.

    Reply

  14. Heidi on June 17, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    This is my husband’s favorite! He likes it when the cookies get squooshy. Thanks for motivating me to make it from scratch.

    Reply

  15. shelly (cookies and cups) on June 18, 2010 at 7:47 am

    This looks so delicious!

    Reply

  16. Becky Sue on June 18, 2010 at 8:51 am

    This looks amazing! Okay so I was raised by some Tennessee Hillbillies and I’m here too tell ya that this recipe would make my grandma proud! I agree with your all from scratch philosophy! Thanks for this post!!!

    ~Becky Sue

    Reply

  17. Susan on June 18, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Looks delicious but TRUE southern banana pudding has a baked meringue topping. The meringue made with egg whites and white sugar. This is the way my grandmother and mom have always made it. It tastes heavenly when warm from the oven and even better the next day after it has chilled in the fridge (if there was ever any left over the next day, lol!).

    Reply

  18. Mary on June 18, 2010 at 11:36 am

    I’m with Tara and Susan – the banana pudding I grew up with was always topped with a browned meringue. Your version looks delicious too though!

    Reply

  19. CC Recipe on June 18, 2010 at 11:50 am

    I reallllllly love me some good Banana Pudding and this looks yummy, Thanks, now I am craving Banana Pudding=}

    Reply

  20. Tracy on June 18, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    This is going on my “must-make” list for SURE. Yum!!

    Reply

  21. Kiki on June 18, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    What an amazing recipe! It looks delish :P

    Reply

  22. Jen @ How To: Simplify on June 18, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    I love recipes that use bananas. I’ll have to try this banana pudding. It looks absolutely delicious!

    Reply

  23. Cinda on June 19, 2010 at 11:39 am

    The pudding looks so creamy and delicious.

    Reply

  24. Kerstin on June 19, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Mmmm, banana pudding is one of my favorites but I’ve never made it at home before – thanks for the inspiration :)

    Reply

  25. Debbie on June 19, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    I always make “from scratch” banana pudding for my FIL’s birthday & Father’s Day. We are from NC so we too are accustomed to the meringue topping but he doesn’t care for the meringue so I always leave it off. I’m going to try this recipe tonight to see how it compares to the one I always use out of a cookbook by Mrs. Hanes, the lady who is famous nationwide for her delicious, paper-thin Moravian cookies (www.hanescookies.com). Thanks for the time & effort you dedicate to your site. I always love to see a new entry in my inbox!

    Reply

  26. Jessie-- The Messie Kitchen on June 19, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    I have to admit I can relate when you say the cool whip and boxed pudding mixture. I spent many a birthday making boxed cakes. Now that I’ve started making from scratch, I realize how much better it is! You can really put so much more into it than just ingredients. This recipe looks lovely!

    Reply

  27. Magic of Spice on June 20, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    How delightful this is…I could have this as a meal:)

    Reply

  28. Fuji Mama on June 21, 2010 at 1:53 am

    I fell in love with this dessert when we were living in Memphis. It seems to always be good, but when it’s done completely from scratch it is AMAZING! I haven’t made it in forever. Thank you for giving me the excuse to make it again, because I HAVE to try your recipe. :)

    Reply

  29. Erin at the healthy apron on June 21, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    whoa yum!

    Reply

  30. Betty on June 21, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    This brings back memories! My mom used to make this all the time and it was my dad’s favorite dessert. (And yep, I’m from the south.) I haven’t had it for years, but I may have to remedy that situation. Thanks for the recipe and the memories. :) Betty

    Reply

  31. Strawberryparfait on June 25, 2010 at 10:41 am

    History major’s best guess….that the fruit coming in during the early 1900s was maybe coming in from trade routes with the Caribbean and coming into the Southern ports first? Jello has actually been around a while lol…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jell-O#History…it could have been a marketing thing they did back then…. Just a guess…still delicious though :)

    Reply

  32. Todd on June 27, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Fabulous recipe. My family is from KY but I am not so I can let the whipped cream instead of meringue slide – I probably like the whipped cream better. Was so good I re-blogged it on my site.

    Reply

  33. Jenny Spinelli on July 1, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    I have made this three times already! So easy, and such a hit! :)

    Reply

  34. Sean M on September 17, 2010 at 8:19 am

    PS – rum is a good addition. in the pudding and the whipped cream. so is using brown sugar in the whipped cream. particularly muscovado sugar if you can get it.

    Reply

  35. Cherissa on January 11, 2011 at 4:20 am

    I just made this last week…. But I add another layer, a layer of deliciousness that I like to call 8 oz. of cream cheese mixed together with about half a can of sweetened condensed milk. That’s how my grams made it and that extra layer of goodness has never let me down!

    Reply

  36. Michele on March 2, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Just finished making this. Brain blown. Pudding soooo easy to make! I’m going to make chocolate pudding now. I hope my family likes pudding because I will be making it constantly now.

    Reply

  37. Debra Kapellakis on April 17, 2012 at 10:58 am

    As soon as I read the name of this I started getting teary eyed. My Mom made this for us while growing up in Texas. She didn’t use whipped cream on top just another layer of Nilla wafers. As I read your recipe and the preceeding words about your Grandmama I was dropping tears down my cheeks of happy love filled memories. thank you for sharing this recipe, I don’t know why I never ask my Mama to tell me hers…

    Reply

  38. Jennifer on January 27, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    This looks to die for. Born in Louisville, KY but primarily raised between Memphis, TN and West Memphis, AR, banana pudding has always been a favorite. But to shame my southern heritage, to all you who say it’s not southern without browned meringue, this southern belle HATES meringue. To me, it always leaves a layer of “slime” underneath it and it has nothing on the refreshing sweet coolness of fresh whipped cream.

    Reply

  39. Bobbi on July 11, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Oh my gosh, this looks yummy! coming up with a way to make Banana Pudding cupcakes and I think I am going to use your Banana Pudding recipie!!! And let me say I am from the South and I have never had a meringue topping on my Banana Pudding and I never want one. Whipped topping is the best on Banana Pudding! Thanks for this amazing looking Banana Pudding!

    Reply

  40. Laura on July 20, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    I love Nanner Puddin’!! My beloved Grandmother “Nanny” has made this all of my life. I haven’t had it for years but this recipe is spot on. I made my own Banana Pudding a few years back. I can’t stand that Cool Whip stuff, just can’t do it. I whipped up some heavy cream with a dash of bourbon and vanilla. Dang! I swear, I could eat the whole thing over a few days.

    Btw, I have been enjoying your site for a few years now. As an experienced home cook and baker of many years, just wanted to say thanks! Yours is one of my favorites. Some of the best, and now beloved, tried and true recipes that I have come across. You rock! And the recipes that you put on the site, it’s like you are picking my brain sista! Love them all!

    Reply

  41. Stephanie on May 30, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    To make it the best, you need to make your own vanilla wafers! This recipe makes enough for me to make a trifle bowl of Banana Pudding. I also like to add a block of softened cream cheese to the pudding when it is done. I know it’s not “traditional” but it sure gives the pudding a bang!
    Vanilla Wafers
    5 tablespoons butter, softened
    1 cup sugar (vanilla sugar is the best if you have some)
    1 large egg
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1/4 cup milk
    2 cups unbleached cake flour or all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    Directions:
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg, vanilla, and milk and mix well. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir well.
    3. Spoon the dough into a gallon-sized freezer bag. Cut off the tip of one of the corners and pipe the dough onto ungreased cookie sheets at least one inch apart.
    4. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the bottoms begin to turn golden brown. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Serve or store in an airtight container.
    Yield: 4 dozen cookies

    Reply

  42. Heidelind on September 20, 2014 at 10:14 am

    I grew up with Banana Pudding but haven’t had it since I was a kid. It was a big hit for dessert last night:) thank you!!!

    Reply

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