This old fashioned southern banana pudding recipe layers vanilla wafers, sliced bananas, homemade vanilla pudding, and piles of meringue! Eat it warm (the Southern way) or after it’s been chilled; a classic dessert that’s perfect for weeknight dinners, Sunday suppers, or the fanciest of holidays.
There was a tremendous amount of feedback about how true banana pudding should be made with meringue on top, not whipped cream… And it really should be eaten warm, not cold. I’m not going to lie… I much prefer whipped cream to meringue and I like my pudding cold, not warm, but I put it on the back burner and figured I would give it a go one day.
Seven years later, it finally happened!
Since making the original banana pudding recipe, I’ve dabbled in the world of pavlova (traditional, chocolate, and even layered), and fell in love with lemon meringue pie bars. Which is to say, my taste buds have evolved and I’ve definitely come around to the idea of meringue on top of my banana pudding.
So I went all guns blazing into this totally homemade Southern banana pudding recipe, and I was thrilled with the results.
I mean, LOOK at that massive pile of meringue down there… perfectly glossy, stiff peaks are one of my favorite kitchen accomplishments, and they were plentiful in this recipe!
The verdict? I loved it!
The meringue gave it an airiness with a subtle toasty flavor that you miss with the whipped cream. I did have a bowlful warm, and was actually surprised by how much I liked it. I really doubted that I would like it at all, but it was delicious. I think I still prefer my pudding chilled, but there was something so satisfying and comfort food-like about digging into a bowl of warm pudding. I totally get it now.
If you’ve never experimented with the real deal Southern pudding, give it a shot! It’s not at all difficult and you’ll probably be surprised by how much you like it!
Make the Pudding: In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt. Whisk in ½ cup of the milk and the egg yolks. In a large saucepan, place the remaining 3 cups milk. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. Whisk 1 cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture. Whisk the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk in the saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 3 minutes more. Remove from heat. Add the butter and vanilla, stirring until the butter is melted. Set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
Assemble the Dish: Arrange vanilla wafers in the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish (you can reserve some to garnish, if you wish), and top with the banana slices. Pour the pudding through a fine-mesh sieve over the bananas and spread into an even layer.
Make the Meringue: In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with a mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Spoon the meringue over the pudding, spreading it right up to the edges of the pan.
Bake until the meringue is lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Garnish with vanilla wafers, if desired. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
I don't recommend using super ripe bananas in this recipe, as they will break down too much when the pudding is in the oven.