Prepare this from-scratch Banana Pudding and be prepared to be wowed! Made with from-scratch vanilla pudding, sweet bananas, and vanilla wafers, this recipe for Banana Pudding is rich, creamy, and surprisingly easy to make.
There are few desserts that are more comforting than banana pudding. While you may be tempted to use frozen whipped topping and a box of vanilla pudding to make Banana Pudding, it only takes a few more minutes to make homemade vanilla custard and whip your own whipped cream--and the difference in taste is swoon-worthy.
Why this is the Best 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 this the best?
Simply the fact that it is made from scratch. Rich, sweet vanilla custard is folded with light and fluffy whipped cream for the creamiest, fluffiest vanilla pudding base. And then it is as simple as layering pudding with bananas and vanilla wafers.
This recipe for banana pudding is not hard. It is not complicated. It does not require any crazy ingredients. In fact, you probably have everything you need on hand right now to make this classic dessert.
- Homemade Vanilla Pudding: The vanilla custard is made with milk, sugar, cornstarch, egg yolks, and vanilla extract. It is best to use whole milk for the richest flavor, but any fat percentage can be used.
- Heavy Whipping Cream: This keeps the pudding light and fluffy. 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, without any brown spots.
- 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 flavors.
How to Make Banana Pudding
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, pinch of salt, egg yolks, and milk.
- Turn the heat to medium and bring to a simmer, whisking very frequently. You want to cook until the mixture is bubbly and thickened. This will take about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Once the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon, remove the custard 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.
- Stir the vanilla extract into the strained pudding mixture, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, whip the heavy cream until soft, yet firm, peaks form.
- Remove the pudding mixture from the refrigerator, and gently fold the whipped cream into the pudding mixture until just incorporated.
- Slice the bananas into a bowl with a tiny bit of lemon juice and gently toss to coat. This will not only help the bananas not to brown as rapidly, but also helps to add some acidity the pudding and balances out the sweetness of the pudding.
- In a trifle, layer in a third of the pudding mixture. Top with half the vanilla wafers, then half the sliced 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.
- Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight before serving.
Leftover banana pudding is best enjoyed within 3 days of preparing. After that, the whipped cream begins to wilt and the bananas turn to mush.
To store the banana pudding, cover the serving dish tightly with plastic wrap or an airtight lid and store in the refrigerator. I do not recommend freezing leftovers, as the texture changes when defrosted.
Yes!! Do not be tempted to skip straining the vanilla pudding mixture, this will keep the final results creamy and smooth.
You can use ANY container you would like. While a glass bowl makes for beautiful presentation, any serving dish is perfectly fine to use.
Select bananas that are just underripe. Bananas that are slightly green on the stem are best. I also recommend dipping the sliced bananas in lemon juice. 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.
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 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1-½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 large bananas for slicing
- Lemon juice for dipping bananas
- 24-36 vanilla wafers
- In a medium saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, milk, vanilla, and egg yolks.
- Cook over medium heat, whisking frequently. Cook until bubbly and mixture begins to thicken, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and strain over a fine mesh strainer.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until cool.
- Once the pudding is cooled, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form.
- Gently fold whipped cream into cooled vanilla pudding mixture. Set aside.
- Slice the bananas and dip 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.