The Real Deal Banana Pudding
The original and best Banana Pudding recipe. Layers of luscious vanilla custard, crunchy vanilla wafers, and sliced bananas topped with a golden meringue.
I was perusing food blogs today, as usual, and I came across one where someone who grew up in the Midwest was extolling the virtues of southern cuisine. Pimento cheese specifically. This blogger talked about how he grew up on a diet of pretty bland fare and only discovered the wonders and variety of southern cuisine after he had reached adulthood.
This got me thinking that I really need to get back to what I know and do best. What I call Southern Farmhouse cooking.
Just What is Southern Cooking?
There are, of course, all kinds of different southern cuisines…creole, cajun, tex-mex. Then there’s the whole coastal thing from the Carolinas right on around through Key West and New Orleans and more. Southern cuisine is so varied and complex, it’s even thought of by Southerners in regions of its own.
Now, when I was growing up things were even more regionalized than they are today. People didn’t travel as widely nor did we get exotic ingredients on a regular basis in the grocery store.
Additionally, people grew a large portion of their food. Our summers were as much a time for playing and enjoying being out of school as they were for “puttin’ up.” For those of you who have not yet reached a certain age, that means freezing and canning fresh produce to last through the year until the next gardening season.
One of the things that shows up at every church dinner-on-the-grounds (and if you don’t know what that is, you really aren’t from the South) and family reunion in the southern states is Banana Pudding.
I’m talking about the real deal. Not any instant jello pudding with bananas, either. A banana pudding with creamy vanilla custard, sliced bananas, vanilla wafers, and a meringue piled high on the top. And, would you believe, this from scratch version is almost as quick to make as the instant pudding kind.
Go ahead and make one for your family. Y’all are going to love it!
- It’s creamy, dreamy and luscious
- You can (and should) make it in advance
- It’s transportable
- Easy to find ingredients
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Milk (whole milk, please)
- Vanilla extract
- Vanilla wafers
- Ripe bananas (you want bananas that are ripe but still nice and firm, not too many brown spots)
You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.
How to Make The Real Deal Banana Pudding
Let’s Go Step-by-Step
I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Make the Custard
Step 1. Mix 1/2 cup of the sugar, flour, and salt in the top pan of a double boiler. Into the sugar and flour, blend 3 egg yolks and the milk.
Step 2. Cook while stirring constantly over gently boiling water for about 6-8 minutes or until thickened. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Layer the Banana Pudding
Step 3. Spread a small amount of the custard (just a few tablespoons) on the bottom of a 1 1/2-quart casserole or other oven-safe dish. Make a layer of wafers and top the wafers with a layer of sliced bananas. Pour about 1/3 of the custard over the bananas.
Step 4. Make two more layers of wafers, bananas, and custard for a total of 3 layers, ending with the last of the custard.
Make the Meringue
Step 5. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until the meringue is stiff but not dry.
Step 6. Spoon the meringue on top of the pudding, spreading evenly to cover the entire surface and sealing to the edges of the casserole dish.
Bake the Meringue
Step 7. Bake in the top half of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the meringue is golden. Cool slightly or refrigerate until serving. Garnish servings with additional wafers and banana slices if desired.
HAVE YOU TRIED THIS RECIPE?
I’d LOVE to know what you thought!
Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked it!
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The Real Deal Banana Pudding
- ¾ cup sugar divided
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- Dash salt
- 3 eggs separated
- 2 cups milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 45 vanilla wafers divided
- 5 ripe bananas sliced (about 3 1/2 cups), divided
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Make the Custard:
- Mix 1/2 cup sugar, flour and salt in top pan of a double boiler. Into the sugar and flour, blend 3 egg yolks and the milk.
- Cook while stirring constantly over gently boiling water for about 6-8 minutes or until thickened.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Layer the Banana Pudding:
- Spread a small amount of the custard on the bottom of a 1 1/2-quart casserole or other oven-safe dish. Make a layer of wafers and top the wafers with a layer of sliced bananas. Pour about 1/3 of the custard over the bananas.
- Make two more layers of wafers, bananas and custard for a total of 3 layers, ending with custard.
Make the Meringue:
- Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
- Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until the meringue is stiff but not dry.
- Spoon the meringue on top of the pudding, spreading evenly to cover the entire surface and sealing to the edges of the casserole dish.
Bake the Custard:
- Bake in the top half of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the meringue is golden.
- Cool slightly or refrigerate until serving.
- Garnish servings with additional wafers and banana slices if desired.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.
This is the only way to make banana pudding, and this old woman has been using the Nabisco recipe for well over 60 years. What amazes me is that today’s cooking sets do not include double boilers and I use mine a lot for reheating things like chicken and dumplings. Therefore, my standard wedding gift has become a double boiler with the banana pudding recipe inside.
Oh, what a great idea! I use my double boiler frequently as well. The best way to cook those things that would tend to stick to the bottom of the pan over direct heat.
I make this when I am nostalgic (or when there’s a gathering of older folks, or kids, or teens, or young adults…..). The only person that I know that does not like banana pudding is Pete, because he doesn’t like bananas. But he’s pretty spectacular in every other way, so I think we can overlook his unfortunate position related to bananas. Go figure.
I add 2 tablespoons of butter at the end of the pudding stage, after it has thickened and is off the heat. Give that a try the next time you make this, and tell me if you like that little addition.
Thanks for reminding me of how much I really like our memories.
I really like your recipe for banana pudding. I’ve made it a lot, got a request this week for two. I always double the recipe.
This is REAL BANANA PUDDING! I am so tired of people mixing a cold pudding and pouring it over wafers and bananas. The wafers stay hard and its just not good.
You’re right, Gloria! It’s nothing like the real thing. Nice warm custard and a golden meringue … can’t beat that!
So often in using meringue on pies, etc., I end up with a watery mess on top resulting in a failed effort. An aunt of mine used the cornstarch recipe, which I have somewhere in my files, and always seemed successful. What is your secret, Lana?
No secret, Stella. I just beat the whites until stiff and plop them on top. I’ve never used starch or cream of tartar in mine at all and they always turn out great.
Thank you for the Delish Recipes, k have searched the supermarket for these Nilla Biscuits to no avail here in Oz, what other biscuits would/could you reccommend for this Banana Pudding, it looks awesome and so much want to try it
Hi Beverly, I’m surprised you can’t find the cookies since I thought Nabisco was distributed globally. The “nilla wafers” are a vanilla flavored crisp cookie. Anything similar should work well. I’ve seen banana pudding made with the Pepperidge Farm Chessman cookies as well. Perhaps you’d have better luck finding those. I would also think that the British digestive biscuits might work in this recipe. I’m not positive about that, but it would seem like a possible alternative.
Just made this and I had to make another batch of custard to cover the called for layers of bananas and vanilla wafers. I didn’t use it all, but it definitely needed more to cover. Has anyone else had that problem?
Never had that problem in the 40+ years I’ve been making it! This is the original recipe from Nabisco with their original measurements.
Thanks for the quick reply. I must have used too much on the bottom before the first layer of bananas and wafers. I was using the same recipe, but from another site. I found your site when I was searching the issue.
My family was from Oklahoma and Arkansas and banana pudding was the thing, pudding, bananas and vanilla wafers, but never meringue, that must truly be a Southern thing and I’m sure it is great, ours were topped with the cookies. Love lemon and chocolate meringue pies vs whipped topping.
Sharon – this is the original recipe from Nabisco which calls for a meringue. We love it this way, but without it would be just as good :-)
My hubby recently asked for a banana pudding after visiting Tennessee and I mad a Paula Dean recipe. It was delicious but this is more of the recipe I was looking for. I’ll have to try this recipe too!
Megan – I know people think Paula’s cooking is authentic southern food, but it’s not. She takes our basic recipes and really goes over the top with the butter, cream, etc. Give my banana pudding recipe a try and I think you’ll like it even better.
This looks amazing. I love banana pudding. The best I had was at The Lady & Sons in Savannah, GA. That Paula Deen makes a mean Banana Pudding. This looks sooooo good. I want some right now.
Well, this is the original recipe from Nabisco, the makers of the vanilla wafers. It’s very easy and always turns out perfectly for me.
Oh my goodness, my kids (5 and 3 yrs old) are going to love this recipe!
Dear Lana, a funny story I thought you might appreciate…
Right after discovering your blog I showed it to my boyfriend whose mom lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, of which he has fond memories. He immediately went crazy, particularly over banana pudding (which I had never heard of) and decided one day recently to make for me (as a treat, for when I stepped through the door after a long day at work) banana pudding, gormet chocolate chip cookies and perfect gin and tonics – he gave himself an hour and a half for all of this.
Naturally, when I stepped through the door I found my entire kitchen covered in flour, sugar, sliced bananas, containers of milk, eggs, raisins and butter, kitchen appliances, oven trays, a laptop set up next to the stove, custard failing to thicken on the stove and chocolate on the floor.
To cut a long story short, I did not freak out and after a few trips to the store he returned with some missing ingredients, including a litre of freshly made custard (the custard on the stove met with an unfortunate accident), ALL of which he used in the pudding so that the result was islands of biscuit, banana and meringue swimming in custard.
The pudding turned out ok – you can’t put those ingredients together and not end up with something good – but I have a technical question. Is the banana meant to taste raw or cooked? In the version we had it was uncooked, even though it had been in the oven for over 20min. I would imagine that it should taste cooked..? Stephan (the boyfriend) can’t remember and enjoyed it too much to care :)
Oh, Lee! Thanks for the best laugh I’ve had in quite a while. I can just imagine what your kitchen looked like! Tell Stephan that the bananas should be ripe but still firm, some little specks of brown on the peel but not too dark, for the pudding. The end result will be raw bananas, but they will be warm (from the warm pudding) and somewhat soft. Sort of a cross between raw and cooked, actually. The oven time is only for browning the meringue, not cooking the pudding. If you didn’t use a meringue you wouldn’t put it in the oven at all. After thinking about it I suppose you could almost call this a trifle. It should have a similar consistency.
Hope you and Stephan will give it another try. So funny…
It’s all about those nilla wafers! We made a banana pudding cake not too long ago that knocked the socks off. Everyone loves nana pudding.
I love your commentary on southern cuisine. It reminds me of my childhood in a small town. That MOST CERTAINLY looks like the “Real Deal”. YUM. Thanks for sharing.
And I instantly knew what you meant by “putting up”. :)
I loved your comments today about past cooking and shopping routines. My mom was always looking at new recipes, but she hardly ever tried them because “I don’t have that in my cabinet”. If it wasn’t made with eggs, flour, sugar, milk, cornmeal, or “grease”, it meant an extra trip to the store, where she swore she could never find what the recipe called for. I have about mastered “lacy” cornbread like hers, and it has only taken 61 years.
This was MY mom’s banana pudding recipe also, Lana. What great memories it brings back.
Anything with bananas and vanilla wafers has my vote – this looks awesome!
This is just like Mom’s! Thanks for sharing!
Was it Aunt Margie that always made banana puddin’? I can’t remember exactly which aunt, but I certainly remember the wonderful taste. It is worth the small amount of extra effort. Thanks for the memory.
Oh my, this is such a “keeper”…i have never had this version before but be sure we will test this one out this weekend! Love it that ou are do what you know best!! that is always a winner. best, s
Looks like the real deal to me. I love bananas!!