This is the best recipe for Banana Pudding! Made with from-scratch vanilla pudding, sweet bananas, and vanilla wafers, this recipe for Homemade Banana Pudding is rich, creamy, and surprisingly easy to make.
The Best Recipe for Banana Pudding
My husband's favorite dessert is banana pudding and he has made it his mission to try it at every restaurant across the southeast. But he has yet to find one that compares to my recipe for banana pudding.
What makes my recipe the best recipe for banana pudding?
The fact that this banana pudding is made with fresh whipped cream and a from-scratch vanilla pudding.
That does not mean it is complicated or hard to make! It only takes a few extra minutes of time to swap out the boxed vanilla pudding mix for homemade vanilla pudding and frozen whipped topping for fresh whipped cream.
And the difference in taste is swoon-worthy! This recipe for banana pudding is perfectly sweet, not cloyingly sweet. The pudding is light, creamy, and rich in vanilla flavor. Paired with fresh bananas and crisp vanilla wafers, this layered banana pudding is simply the best.
Notes on Ingredients
This recipe for banana pudding is made with homemade vanilla pudding, whipped cream, bananas, and vanilla wafers. In fact, you may find that you have everything you need on hand to whip up this classic dessert today!
- Milk: While you can use any fat percentage of dairy milk you have on hand, I recommend using whole milk for the richest, creamiest vanilla pudding.
- Cornstarch: To thicken the pudding, a bit of cornstarch is needed. If you happen to have a corn allergy, substitute the cornstarch with equal amounts of arrowroot powder or tapioca starch.
- Heavy Whipping Cream: Do not be tempted to substitute defrosted whipped topping, such as Cool Whip. The pudding has additional sugar added to the base to account for using unsweetened whipped cream.
- Vanilla Wafers: Use homemade vanilla wafers or your favorite store-bought brand.
- Bananas: Select bananas that are just ripe, or slightly underripe. The banana peel can have brown spots, but be sure that the flesh of the banana is without any brown spots or bruising.
- Lemon Juice: I strongly recommend dipping the sliced bananas in lemon juice, fresh or jarred, before assembling the banana pudding. Not only does this keep the bananas from browning quickly, but it also adds a bit of acidity to the pudding, balancing out the richness of the dessert.
How to Make Banana Pudding
Step One: Prepare Vanilla Pudding
Remember a key to creating the best banana pudding is to swap out boxed vanilla pudding for a homemade vanilla custard, which happens to be quite simple to make.
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and pinch of salt.
- Add the milk and egg yolks and mix together until the egg yolk are broken down and everything is nice and combined.
- Turn the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, whisking constantly. Don't be tempted to walk away from the custard, as your milk can scald and your egg yolks can scramble.
- Simmer the pudding until thickened and gently bubbling. This will take about 5 to 7 minutes. Once the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon, you know it is just the right consistency.
- Remove the pudding from the heat and strain the mixture over a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl. This will ensure your custard is super creamy and smooth. No one wants lumps in their banana pudding.
- Add the vanilla extract into the strained pudding mixture, stir to combine, and then cover the pudding with plastic wrap and pop it into the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes.
Step Two: Whip Cream
Just like homemade pudding is best for this recipe, freshly whipped cream is also key to creating the best banana pudding. The fresh cream will create the lightest, fluffiest pudding and the flavor is pure, rather than artificial or overly sweet.
- Once the pudding is nearly chilled, it is time to whip the heavy cream.
- Pour the cream into a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer and whip the cream on medium-high speed until soft, yet firm, peaks form. Don't overmix the cream of you will end up with butter rather than light and fluffy whipped cream.
Step Three: Fold the Mixture Together
Once the pudding mixture is chilled and the cream is whipped, it is time to fold them together to create the light and fluffy base for the banana pudding.
- Remove the pudding mixture from the refrigerator, and gently fold the whipped cream into the pudding mixture until just incorporated. Be careful to not over mix, or your cream will deflate.
Step Four: Prepare the Bananas
I recommend dipping the sliced bananas in lemon juice before layering them in the pudding. Not only does this help prevent the bananas from browning, but also adds a tart flavor that is the perfect balance to the sweet dessert.
- Slice the bananas into thick slices.
- Gently dip the banans into a bit of lemon juice, gently tossing to coat both sides of the sliced bananas.
Step Five: Layer Banana Pudding
You can use ANY serving dish or dishes you would like for assembling the banana pudding. A clear, trifle dish makes for a beautiful, dramatic presentation that is perfect for a potluck, and individual serving trifle dishes are great for dinner parties. If you don't have a large trifle dish or individual trifle dishes, use glass jars, a glass bowl, or any 4-quart serving dish you have on hand.
- To prepare a large trifle or layered pudding, layer a third of the pudding mixture on the bottom of the dish you opt to use. Top with half the vanilla wafers, then a layer of bananas. Repeat the layers, ending with a final layer of the pudding.
- Alternatively, layer the pudding, vanilla wafers, and bananas in individual dessert glasses or ball jars.
Step Six: Chill
In order for the flavors of the banana pudding to have time to meld, it is best to chill the assembled pudding for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours before serving. While the banana pudding will keep up to 3 days in the refrigerator, the flavor and texture of the pudding are best if served within 24 hours after preparation.
- Cover the dish or dishes with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
- If desired, garnish the banana pudding with additional sliced bananas and nilla wafers.
More From-Scratch Dessert Recipes
I would love for you to leave a comment below as well sharing how much you enjoyed this recipe for banana pudding.
Homemade Banana Pudding
- 2 cups whole milk
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1-½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 large bananas for slicing firm, yet ripe
- Lemon juice for dipping bananas
- 24-36 vanilla wafers
- In a medium saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and milk. Slowly pour in ½ cup of the milk and whisk to combine. Add in the remaining 1-½ cups of milk and egg yolks and whisk again until everything is combined.
- Cook the milk mixture over medium-low heat, whisking every minute or so, until bubbly throughout and the mixture begins to thicken. This will take about 6-8 minutes. Once bubbling, whisk and cook for 1-2 minutes to begin to thicken. Once the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon, you know it is just the right consistency.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Strain the pudding mixture over a fine-mesh strainer into a mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until chilled.
- After the pudding has chilled, pour the heavy cream into a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.
- Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled vanilla pudding mixture. Set aside.
- Slice the bananas and dip them into the lemon juice. This not only helps to prevent browning but also adds a touch of acidity to balance out the sweetness.
- In a 2-quart trifle dish, layer in ⅓ of the pudding mixture. Top with half the vanilla wafters, to just cover the pudding. Top with ½ the sliced bananas. Repeat the layers, ending with the final third of the vanilla pudding. Alternatively, layer the ingredients in individual serving dishes.
- Chill for at least 4 hours, but overnight is recommended. Serve within 3 days of preparing.