This old-fashioned banana pudding recipe is one of our favorite ways to use ripe bananas. Also known as southern banana pudding, this decadent dessert features layers of made-from-scratch vanilla pudding, wafer cookies and bananas. What sets this recipe apart from others is a delicate layer of meringue on top. No time to make a meringue? Try this simpler banana pudding recipe instead.
Old-Fashioned Banana Pudding Ingredients
- Ripe bananas: For the best results, use medium ripe bananas that are firm and yellow, with only a few brown spots here and there. Save your overripe bananas for recipes that call for mashed bananas, like banana bread or banana pancakes.
- Vanilla wafers: Go with store-bought vanilla wafers for this dessert. They’ll yield the best texture and will save you time!
- Eggs: This recipe calls for egg yolks for the pudding and egg whites for the meringue. Brush up on how to separate an egg if you haven’t mastered it yet.
- Vanilla extract: Stock up on our Test Kitchen’s pick for the best vanilla extract for the biggest vanilla flavor punch.
How to Make Banana Pudding
Step 1: Make the pudding filling
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and flour. Stir in the milk and whisk until smooth. Cook and stir the pudding over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat, then cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove the pan from the heat.
In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks. Stir a small amount of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, then return all to the saucepan, stirring constantly. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and gently stir in the butter and vanilla.
Step 2: Layer
In an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish, layer a third of the vanilla wafers, a third of the bananas and a third of the pudding filling. Repeat the layers twice.
Step 3: Make the meringue
To make the meringue, beat egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, on high until stiff peaks form. Spread the meringue evenly over the hot filling, sealing edges to the sides of the dish.
Step 4: Bake the pudding
Bake the pudding in a 350°F oven until the meringue is golden, 12 to 15 minutes.
Step 5: Cool and chill the pudding
Cool the banana pudding on a wire rack for an hour. Chill in the refrigerator for at least three hours before serving.
- Add more extract: Amp up the flavor of this old-fashioned banana pudding by mixing some almond or banana extract into the pudding.
- Change the cookie: Swap the vanilla wafers with Nutter Butter cookies or chocolate or strawberry wafers. You could even try your hand at homemade vanilla wafers if you want a fully homemade dessert.
- Make it nutty: Sprinkle in a layer of crushed toasted nuts, like walnuts or pecans, or drizzle some slightly melted crunchy peanut butter to add texture and flavor.
How to Store Banana Pudding
Store any leftover banana pudding in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.
Can you make old-fashioned banana pudding ahead of time?
Since the banana pudding needs at least four hours to rest, it’s a great make-ahead dessert. If you want even more of a head start, make your pudding up to two days in advance by cooking the pudding as directed. Transfer the pudding to a bowl, allow it to cool and then cover it with food wrap, pressing the wrap to the surface of the pudding (this will prevent it from forming a skin). The day you’d like to serve the dessert, remove the pudding from the fridge and continue with the rest of the recipe. Be sure to give yourself at least five hours to make the meringue, layer, bake, cool and refrigerate the dessert.
Old-Fashioned Banana Pudding Recipe Tips
Can you serve this dessert warm?
Our Test Kitchen experts think banana pudding is best served cold, but go with your personal preference.
What can you serve with old-fashioned banana pudding?
For even more creamy flavor, serve this old-fashioned banana pudding with a dollop of whipped cream.
Why is my banana pudding runny?
There are different reasons why your banana pudding could be runny. After the eggs are added to the hot mixture, allow the pudding to reach at least 155°F—or else they will not be cooked thoroughly and you could wind up with a runny mixture. Bringing it to a gentle boil guarantees you are over 155°, which is when eggs coagulate. Keep in mind that the refrigeration for three hours (or overnight) will help thicken and solidify the pudding.
How do you keep bananas from turning brown in banana pudding?
To keep bananas from turning brown in this banana pudding recipe, brush or spritz a small amount of lemon juice or other citrus acid onto the cut banana slices. That should help slow the browning process.