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Southern Banana Pudding

This is the best Southern Banana Pudding made with a rich, creamy homemade custard and topped with whipped cream. The homemade custard makes all the difference!

A serving of Southern Banana Pudding in a clear dessert dish.

Southern Banana Pudding is a simple dessert: inexpensive, easy, no baking required in the heat of a Southern summer, and almost everyone likes it.

And to be fair, I’m not sure whether banana pudding is actually a Southern creation or not, but I do know for sure that there has always been banana pudding gracing the table of any church potluck, funeral dinner, or family reunion I’ve ever attended.

So whatever the origin, here in the South we claim banana pudding as one of our own!

You may also like this recipe:
Cream Cheese Banana Puddingwith a graham cracker crust and a layer of cream cheese filling!

Old-fashioned Banana Pudding

I like to experiment with different varieties of a dish, but I’ve discovered that banana pudding lovers—not just those of us who like it, but those who LOVE it—don’t want experimentation. They want a good, old-fashioned banana pudding.

That means custard, bananas, and vanilla wafers. Maybe a meringue or whipped cream gracing the top, but no other deviations.

Side photo of a trifle dish filled with Southern Banana Pudding.

Banana Pudding from Scratch

I’ve made the homemade banana pudding recipe on the vanilla wafer box and it’s fine—and likely what my husband’s mother made. I’ve also made the homemade banana pudding recipe with sweetened condensed milk and instant vanilla pudding, and that’s fine too.

But sometimes, don’t you want more than fine? How about instead of fine, we go with decadent, rich, and luscious—but still easy banana pudding?

A few years ago I happened upon a recipe for banana pudding in The Gift of Southern Cooking, by Scott Peacock and Edna Lewis. These are two Southern cooks whom I revere, and while I don’t follow the whole recipe for their banana pudding, as they use angel food cake and meringue and I’m not crazy about either one, I do follow the custard part to the T.

And that custard…oh, that custard.

Creamy and rich, with a subtle flavor of vanilla evoking tropical memories…this banana pudding custard is sublime.

👋 Want the printable recipe? Just scroll down!

Banana Pudding Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 12 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1/3 all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 box vanilla wafers
  • 4-5 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick

That’s right, 12 egg yolks and heavy cream. That’s the secret and what sets this Southern Banana Pudding recipe apart from all the rest. You can’t make a to-die-for custard with a measly 3 or 4 egg yolks and regular milk. You gotta have the good stuff and lots of it!

How to Make Homemade Banana Pudding

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Step 1. Prepare the milk.

You’re going to start this Southern banana pudding recipe by steeping the vanilla bean in the milk and some cream. Twist the vanilla bean but don’t scrape it and then add it to a medium pot with milk and 1 cup of the cream. Heat slowly until almost simmering and then cover, remove from heat, and allow to steep.

Cook’s Tip: Allow the milk to steep with the vanilla bean for 20-30 minutes for maximum flavor.

Step 2. Slice bananas.

While the milk is steeping, go ahead and slice your bananas so they are ready to layer and get your vanilla wafers ready also. It only takes a few minutes to make the custard, so don’t worry about the bananas getting too brown.

Step 3. Start the custard.

Next, put the egg yolks in a bowl and whisk in the sugar then the flour and salt.

Cook’s Tip: If you’re planning ahead, use vanilla sugar: put some sugar in a container with a vanilla bean and let it sit for a few weeks.

Step 4. Cook the custard.

Whisk until completely smooth and make sure there are no lumps. Remove the vanilla bean from the milk and whisk a little of the warm milk into the eggs to temper the eggs.

Slowly whisk the rest of the milk into the egg yolks. Then put all the goodness back into the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until the custard thickens, whisking constantly.

Cook’s Tip #1: This should take about 5 minutes. If you don’t have a whisk with a large, heat-proof handle then you’ll probably want to use an oven mitt to hold the whisk since it can get pretty warm.

Cook’s Tip #2: Don’t try to skip out on the whisking constantly step or you will end up with scorched custard and you will cry.

Cook’s Tip #3: Be sure you scrape the bottom and sides of the pan while whisking.

Step 5. Remove from heat.

After the custard begins to boil, cook for one minute longer and then remove it from the heat. The custard should be very thick at this point.

Step 6. Strain the custard.

Strain the banana pudding custard through a fine-meshed sieve into a large bowl.

Step 7. Finish the custard.

Immediately whisk in the remaining 1 cup of cream and the three teaspoons of vanilla.

And that is the secret to this amazing Southern Banana Pudding: whisking in the cream after cooking will make your custard smooth and silky and utterly delicious.

Continue whisking until the cream is completely mixed in.

How to Layer Banana Pudding

Now start layering: Spoon a thin layer of warm custard on the bottom of the dish, and cover with a layer of vanilla wafers.

Cook’s Tip: I like to crush some of the wafers and leave some whole.

Add a layer of sliced bananas and then start over with the custard. Continue until you run out of wafers and bananas, and finish with a layer of custard, then crumble a few vanilla wafers over the top.

Topping for Southern Banana Pudding

At this point, you can set the banana pudding aside and make your homemade whipped cream. Just pour heavy cream in your stand mixer, add a little sugar and vanilla, and beat for 3-5 minutes until stiff peaks form.

An overhead photo of a large bowl of banana pudding with crushed vanilla wafers.

Recipe for easy Homemade Whipped Cream with a video tutorial to help!

Spread the whipped cream over the top of your custard and you will have the best Banana Pudding ever!

Can You Freeze Banana Pudding?

Short answer, NO. The custard would separate and become watery and the bananas would get mushy.

Just eat it now!

How Long Does Banana Pudding Last?

Southern Banana Pudding with homemade custard is best eaten the day you make it. You can keep it in the refrigerator for a couple of days, but the texture will start to break down and become a little watery and the wafers and bananas start to get mushy.

Enjoy this Old-fashioned Banana Pudding at your next family gathering!i

If you’ve tried this recipe, please rate the recipe and leave a comment below!

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A clear glass bowl of banana pudding topped with whipped cream.

Southern Banana Pudding

Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Creamy, luscious, homemade custard makes all the difference in this Southern Banana Pudding.

Ingredients

Custard:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Other ingredients:

  • 1 box vanilla wafers
  • 4-5 bananas, peeled and sliced ¼ - ½ inch thick

Whipped cream topping:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar, (or less)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Custard:

  1. Twist the vanilla bean but don’t scrape it and then add it to a medium pot with the milk and 1 cup of the cream. Heat slowly until almost simmering and then cover, remove from heat and allow to steep for 20 minutes.
  2. Put the egg yolks in a bowl and whisk in the sugar, then the flour and salt. Whisk until completely smooth and make sure there are no lumps hiding in there.
  3. Remove the vanilla bean from the milk and add a little of the milk to the egg yolks to temper the yolks. Stir slowly. Slowly add the rest of the milk to the egg yolks, stirring gently.
  4. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until the custard thickens, whisking constantly. This should take 3-5 minutes. The custard should be very thick and will start to boil. Be sure you scrape the bottom and sides of the pan.
  5. After the custard begins to boil, cook for one minute longer and then remove it from the heat. The custard will be very thick.
  6. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve into a large bowl.
  7. Immediately whisk in the remaining 1 cup of cream and the three teaspoons of vanilla.

Putting it all together:

  1. Spoon a thin layer of warm custard on the bottom of the dish, and cover with a layer of vanilla wafers. I like to crush some of the wafers and leave some whole.
  2. Add a layer of sliced bananas and then start over with the custard.
  3. Continue until you run out of wafers and bananas, and finish with a layer of custard, then crumble a few vanilla wafers over the top.
  4. I like to serve the banana pudding while it's still warm, and usually don't even bother to add a topping. However, if you like you can add a meringue or a whipped cream topping.

Whipped Cream:

  1. To make the whipped cream topping, have your bowl and beaters in the fridge for a bit and then take them out and add the cream. Beat with electric mixer until cream starts to get a little stiff, then add the sugar and vanilla.
  2. Continue beating at high speed until cream holds peaks. Do not over-mix or it will curdle.
  3. You can make this a little bit ahead of time. Serve a dollop of cream on top of each serving of the banana pudding or spread across the top before crumbling the wafers.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 10 servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 569Saturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 337mgSodium: 189mgCarbohydrates: 52gFiber: 1gSugar: 34gProtein: 8g

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Update Notes: This post for Southern Banana Pudding was originally published February 14, 2011, and on April 22, 2019, was updated with one or more of the following: step-by-step photos, video, updated recipe, new tips.

More Banana Recipes:

Homemade Caramelized Banana Ice Cream

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Cream Cheese Banana Pudding

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Easy Banana Split Dessert

Banana Bread

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Feast on the Cheap

Monday 14th of February 2011

Mmmm, 'Nilla Wafers. Looks wonderful

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