Southern Banana Pudding That Will Make Grandma Proud
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.
Quite a long time ago (nine years, to be exact), I shared a recipe for an easy banana pudding. It had Nilla wafers, sliced bananas, homemade vanilla pudding, and I topped it with homemade whipped cream.
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!
More Pudding Recipes
- Sticky Toffee Pudding
- Homemade Chocolate Pudding
- Best Butterscotch Pudding
- Chocolate Pots de Creme
- Rice Pudding with Bourbon-Soaked Raisins
Two years ago: Boston Cream Cupcakes
Three years ago: Symphony Bars
Six years ago: Toasted Coconut Dark Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream
Seven years ago: Filled Raisin Cookies
Southern Banana Pudding
For the Pudding
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (62.5 g) all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon (0.25 teaspoon) kosher salt
- 3½ cups (854 ml) whole milk, divided
- 8 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1½ teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) vanilla extract
For the Assembly
- 11 ounce (311.85 g) box vanilla wafers
- 6 medium bananas, sliced ½-inch thick
For the Meringue
- 8 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1⅓ cups (266.67 g) granulated sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- 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.
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
Update Notes: This recipe was originally published in August 2017; it was updated in July 2019 with new photos, a video, and better recipe instructions.
[photos by Ari of Well Seasoned]
The pudding can be cooked in the microwave. Put in large glass bowl ( I use 8 cup measuring bowl ) and microwave for about 5 minutes. BUT be sure and stir every minute or so until thickened. Easy peasy.
Great recipe! First time I made it for a “crab boil” dinner we were invited to and the dish was almost licked clean. We were recently invited to a Kentucky Derby party so I decided to kick it up and substituted 1 1/2 cups of bourbon cream for part of the milk (the alcohol cooks out). Once again, everyone loved it and my husband told me to make sure I saved the recipe. He’s already looking forward to the next time I make it. Thanks!
What if the mixture is to thin and don’t come out thick after mixing
A+ DELICIOUS thank you.
I made this for a pool party. I have my “go to “ recipe but I thought I would try this one for a change. I think I prefer the custard in this recipe. With 8 egg yokes it’s very rich and it set up nicely. I put the pudding together with the exception of the meringue and refrigerated it overnight ( I like my Banana Pudding cold). The next day I made the meringue about an hour before the party. I did notice the the pudding was a little watery around the edges of the dish. I suspect this is from the cold pudding being in a hot oven for 15 or 20 minutes at 350. I think I will brown my meringue at a higher temperature with less time to see if this fixes the problem. I wouldn’t call it a watery mess as some other reviewers mentioned. I made a double recipe and there was nothing left.
I followed the recipe exactly and the end resulted in a watery mess. It tasted way too sweet as well.
Love this recipe. I made it for Sunday dinner and everyone loved it. This recipe is a keeper!
Just wondering if I could use skim milk? I happen to have an extra gallon and would like to use it up. What are your thoughts on that?
Hi Tracey, You CAN, but the pudding won’t be nearly as creamy, thick or rich as using any other type of milk.
Love this recipe will have to try it
Enjoying trying a lot of the recipes thank you
This is the best thing to cool. Super easy but taste amazing.
I was a little nervous trying this recipe as I saw that some people stated this was watery but I decided to give it a try anyway. I was NOT disappointed!! My boyfriend is super picky with food and he absolutely loved this. It is sweet so I might just adjust some of the sugar next time. I will definitely be making more!
I followed the instructions exactly and it was a watery mess😡
Mines was exactly the same. Watery and way too much sugar
Hi, just wondering what would be the alternative for Nilla’s vanilla wafers? I live in the UK and I can’t find them.
How do you keep the bananas fro turning dark?
Hi Delaine, I make sure they are completely covered so no air is getting to them.
This is almost identical to my moms recipe. So happy to see true southern banana pudding appreciated and enjoyed by others
This is Outrageously Delicious! I didn’t use the vanilla wafers I’m not a fan. I substituted Pepperidge Farms short bread cookies. I also squeezed some lemon juice on the bananas to help prevent them from turning dark. Super easy to make!
Thanks a Michelle, another home run🤗
Spoke with some friends born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee about Banana Pudding. Both of them say always chilled and meringue not whipped cream.
Hi! Do I have to bake if I don’t do the meringue?
This is the only recipe I use. I have tried to make banana pudding previously homemade from other recipes and it did not turn out good at all. When I found this recipe it was easy to follow and the VERY BEST!! Since finding this receipe, I have made this more than 10x! LOL
Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!!
Can you use gluten free flour
Hi Sandy, I haven’t tried gluten-free flour as a thickening agent before. If you have and haven’t had any issues, then I think it would work just fine.
Great recipe but your website is awful…. it kept getting stuck and when I could try to re click on something it would take me to the very top and it took me a while to find my place again..
This looks pretty awesome. How long in advance can you make this? Should I worry about bananas browning once I cut them?
Hi Josh, You can make the pudding up to a day in advance and refrigerate. Once the whole thing is assembled, I would bake it within 12 hours. The bananas shouldn’t brown if they are completely covered by the pudding, but the vanilla wafers will start to soften and break down. Once baked with the meringue, I would serve at room temperature the same day or refrigerate and serve the next day. I hope that helps!
Hi there! I had a fun time cruising around your websdite/blog. Your recipe for Southern Banana Pudding caught my eye. I love, love, love anything with bananas in it. Here in Hawaii we are blessed to have the wonderful
“apple bananas”. They are sweeter, more firm and more moist than a regular banana. They were perfect for this recipe with the vanilla wafers. We had company for dinner and this was a big hit! Thanks for sharing!!
We always had this cold in our family and we usually topped it with sweet whipped cream rather than meringue. We always put an edging of vanilla wafers around the sides that were still crispy. Ive made the pudding and mixed in the bannas then layered it at serving time with cookies and topped it with whipped cream. That way all the wafers stay crisp.
This looks really good but I do prefer a whipped topping and served cold. Just a comment about the bananas we always mix some lemon juice and water and dip the bananas into it to prevent the bananas from turning dark. If it is going to be eaten right away and not sit then it wouldn’t matter but brown bananas are not very appetizing to me.
I have swapped the nilla wafers with Lorna Doone cookies, (thank you Paula Dean),
and I can’t go back.
Looks delicious! this should be something to share with my followers next time. Thanks for sharing!
I made this yesterday and loved it, but there is clear liquid in the bottom of the pan. What did I do wrong?
Turned out perfectly! I’ve never used an actual recipe for banana pudding. I’m from the south and if you can’t make nanner puddin’, …well there are no words. HOWEVER. Someone asked me to make them one and I decided not to eyeball anything this time. There are so many recipes out there for custard and I just wanted to zero on the one that was most authentic. BTW, a real southern banana pudding is topped off with meringue like this recipe. Because we have a history of being very poor and we don’t waste any part of an animal. Those egg whites whip up to make a pretty and delicious topping! Because let’s face it, nobody was whipping up egg white omelets back then.
To address the “watery mess”: when I was in my twenties and attempting my first batch of custard, my grandmas recipe stated, “cook and stir till thick”. Not the most precise instructions. HOW thick??? Well my first pie was a watery mess. Here’s the secret: whisk it til it’s so thick it looks exactly like pudding. Til you can dip a spoon inside, pull it out, flip it over, and run a finger along the back of the spoon to make a track in the custard coating your spoon. The track should NOT fill in at all! I mean THICK.
The only other thing I can imagine may have caused the “watery” pudding is sealing in hot custard with cold meringue, which causes steam to form under the meringue. I like to place a sheet of plastic over the custard-covered wafers and bananas and pop it into the fridge for about an hour, THEN make meringue and bake til light Golden.
Anyway this recipe is a keeper. For church suppers or whenever!
cannot wait to try this and share it with my Dad. Banana Cream is his fav. thanks again,
I appreciate every tidbit tip that saves me time and dissapointment
Southern style SHOULD be in a clear round bowl. More layers and you can see the delicious goodness coming! Warm, hot or cold, Southern banana pudding is the closest you get to heaven without, you know, the finality…
Absolutely delicious. The best banana puddin’ I’ve ever made (twice in the past week). I’ve tried it warm and cold, with and without meringue. We prefer it cold without meringue; different strokes for different folks, right? fearing that I’ll end up with banana soup instead of pudding, as has happened more than once in the past, I always add a tsp of cornstarch to the sugar/flour mixture. It may not be necessary, and I’ll make it sometime without it to verify. As others have said, we also like several layers, and put this in a pretty glass dish to show them off.
I’m looking at this and your southern banana pudding recipe and the pudding recipes are very different (even accounting for a smaller pan size). Which do you recommend?
Hi Hilary, They’re totally different recipes (aside for the Nilla wafers and banana!). If you like meringue, I would make this one. If you need something quick/easy, make the other one. They’re both delicious! :)
Could the pudding be made the night before and then the meringue made and the dish baked the day of the event?
Hi Laura, Yes you could definitely do that!
Holy Jama Lama. I grew up on banana pudding as a Baptist preacher’s daughter my momma made it when we had company and also it was my dads favorite. My mom made both versions when I was a child my dad called the meringue “ calf slobbers” Lol. I wasn’t really a fan of banana pudding growing up but recently I’ve had a craving for it. This recipe is the real deal down home, delicious and easy.
I have my mom receive for Bannana Pudding but since I am not home I am going to use yours.
But I do have one thing you said self rising flour would not work on this…..
Her receipe I believe used self rising this recipe Is over 60 years old….or older handed down from her sister.
It makes a great sauce to pour over the Bannanas or use over Apple dumplings
Have used it in all my Banana Puddings…………..always a big hit
I have made banana pudding since I was a kid. My grandma’s recipe only calls for 3 egg yolks per 2 cups milk. Also it calls for 3 tablespoons butter and a teaspoon vanilla. I have always tripled the recipe. With 8 eggs does it make it extremely rich? I am going to try this recipe for sure!
Hi Linda, I didn’t find this to be too rich. I hope you enjoy it!
Could I make this in a deeper dish as we like more layers??
Hi Wanda, Sure, I don’t see why not!
I made the banana pudding yesterday and if I can slap my own back I would! This recipe by far was the easiest way a d the best tasting nana pudding ever. I have attempted to make it homemade 3x and it turned out bad. I came across this recipe and I decided one more time I will try to make it. I followed it to a tee a nd it was perfect. My only complaint that I did wrong was, when the pudding was done, I dont think I let it cool enough because it somewhat melted my wafers and it some parts were a little runny….How do I avoid this? I heard the term that the hot pudding makes the wafers and bananas sweat.
Hi Michele, I’m so thrilled to hear how much you loved the banana pudding! If the pudding was slightly runny you could try cooking it just a smidge longer on the stove, and letting it settle for 10 to 15 minutes after coming out of the oven.
I haven’t made this for years! Definitely plan to make it soon but will try doing so using 1/2 recipe since there are only 2 of us. I have made it from scratch as well as using a vanilla pudding mix for the base to save a bit of time. Both are really good, but from scratch wins every time. Thanks for reminding me of this one.
Best banana pudding since Granny’s &Mom’s. I only had 2 cups of milk so I added a can of evaporated milk to make up my total liquid volume. Everyone loved it and it was absolutely the best banana pudding that I’ve had in years. Very simple to make, just make sure that you stir it constantly while it is cooking. I used a double boiler which takes the risk of scorching your pudding out of the equation. I will definitely make this again again and again.
Aww I’m so thrilled that you liked it Bill! Thanks so much for stopping back to share a review!
I made this Banana pudding in everybody love it I real makeit again
Can you use self rising flour instead of all purpose if so how much self rising can you use
Can you use self rising flour instead of all purpose if so how much can you use
Hi Beatrice, I do not recommend using self rising flour in this recipe.
My grandma (Bama) was originally from Mansfield, LA but lived in Texas most of her 80+ years of life. She always make hers with meringue, pudding from scratch…and real bananas! She gave me her blessing to use your recipe when I read it to her stating it’s very similar. She getting older and I’m thankful my mom came across this one so I wouldn’t have to worry my grandma about digging up her recipe somewhere LOL Doing it for Thanksgiving, and thanks for sharing it!
This is the best recipe I’ve ever made, period! My boyfriend and I devoured all of it in just two days! It came out perfect too! Thank you so very much for posting this amazing recipe for a southern favorite!
Just like my mom made and it is delicious. I had lost her recipe and found this while looking for a replacement. The best ever custard and thick meringue….
It was an amazing turn out. My family and I really enjoyed the outcome. I will be using this banana pudding recipe in the future. Thanks
This was melt in your mouth scrumptious. Wouldn’t change a thing.
I’ve also lived in Texas my whole life (40+ years) and have never heard of meringue on Banana Pudding. Trust me, this is one of my favorite desserts! The “south” is a big place… I was shocked when I drove 24 hours northeast to the Maryland/Virginia line and found out the people there think they are in the South! Haha Anyway, I’m sure this version is delicious (as many of your things are!!!) but I think I’ll leave the meringue for the key lime pie and stick to the whipped cream on this one like you. It’s especially tasty on day 2, assuming it’s that long!
I to like my banana pudding cold and with whip cream, oh and lots of cookies..
My Grandmother had to make 2 one like and one with out the bananas for me, see I like to chop up my banana’s when I eat I, as child I wouldn’t eat it if the bananas browned, so she would save me a few in pealed bananas for my very own Banana pudding! Yummy I think I’ll make this today
can this be made with half and half instead of whole milk? We never buy whole ilk cause we usually use skim milk for recipes.
Hi Laura, As long as it’s not fat free half and half, I think that would be fine. The pudding needs the fat from the dairy to set up properly.
Do you think I could use a kitchen torch on the meringue, instead of putting it in the oven? Or is the oven necessary as part of cooking the pudding?
Hi Sophia, You could use a torch, but it going into the oven sort of “melds” all of the flavors together, so I don’t think I would skip it if you don’t have to.
To prevent the banana slices from turning black I let the custard mixture cool completely before assembling the pudding. Thank you for posting this recipe. I love homemade banana pudding.
Great tip Briana, thank you for sharing!
Have lived in Texas my entire life and have never had tasted banana pudding with meringue on it. I don’t even like meringue on pies. Yours looks so pretty and think it would serve several. Have never had any with whipped cream.
My husband loves banana pudding! I need to make this for him soon!
My Southern family members love it with the meringue. I have learned to like it both ways. Although, I prefer the whipped cream version a tad more. Can’t wait to try your recipe. Thanks for sharing!
You’re welcome, I hope you enjoy it!
If you use whipped cream instead of meringue, do you still need to bake it 15 minutes, or at all?
Hi Cindy, It is traditionally served warm with meringue, but if you do the whipped cream you would not want to bake it; I would chill it before serving.
I’m with you I prefer the whipped cream and cold. With this being a Canadian holiday weekend & company coming this will be one for the table.
Have a great holiday weekend, Suzanne! I hope you enjoy the banana pudding!
Banana putting is one of my all-time favorites. It’s such a delicious traditional dessert that never goes out of style, and it’s good for every occasion.
Grew up in Pittsburgh, but have lived in the South for 30 years. During that time I’ve worked at perfecting Southern Cooking. The one mistake everyone makes at least once is trying to make the pudding with skim milk. It simply won’t thicken without the fat from whole milk.
Love your blog….and like you, prefer it cold with whipped cream :-)
Ahhh yes, I’ll add that to the recipe notes, Emmy, thanks for reminding me! We only use whole milk in our house (for everything) so I sometimes forget to mention when it’s actually necessary!