This banana pudding recipe was a hit with everyone who had tried it.
Banana pudding consists of a creamy vanilla pudding “custard” that is made with mashed bananas that is then poured on top of crunchy vanilla wafers and banana slices. The banana pudding is then topped with fresh whipped cream. For this recipe, I made a flavored whipped cream using rum and lemon zest. Instead of rum, try using banana liqueur if you have some on hand.
When most people think of making banana pudding they think of making it from a little box they purchased at the grocery store. Don’t do it! Making homemade banana pudding from scratch is easy and will taste a whole lot better.
History of Banana Pudding
Banana pudding is a popular dessert in the Southern United States. Their love of banana pudding likely started sometime in the late 1800’s when bananas from Latin America started arriving at ports in New Orleans, Louisiana and Charleston, South Carolina. With some knowledge of English trifles (sponge cake, custard, fruit juice or jelly, and whipped cream arranged in layers), Southerners used the bananas to assemble what we know as banana pudding. With the intense heat in the South, desserts that didn’t require baking were favored. No one wants to turn on the oven on a hot day with no air conditioning!
Note: Disregard the egg whites in the photo showing all the ingredients. They are not needed as this is a quick, no bake banana pudding. However, if you wanted a meringue topping instead of a whipped cream topping, you would use them. You would then need to bake your banana pudding. See the last step of this recipe for an explanation on how to do this.
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups milk
- 4 bananas - 2 bananas should be yellow (ripe) and 2 bananas should be brown (very ripe)
- 2 eggs - you only need the yolks
- 2 tablespoons butter - softened
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract - use pure extract, not imitation
- 30-40 vanilla shortbread cookies / vanilla wafers (nilla wafers) - number depends on the size of the serving container you are using.
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon rum - (optional) or banana liqueur
- 1 lemon - zested
- 1 cup granulated sugar - separate the sugar into 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup
In a medium-sized bowl, add in the salt, flour, and 3/4 cup of sugar. If your very ripe bananas look like mine in the ingredients picture (top right in the picture) , or even browner, I would suggest reducing the sugar amount by 1 tablespoon.
Once the dry mixture has become evenly distributed, slowly add in the milk while continually stirring.
Peel the very ripe (they should have lots of brown spots or almost brown all over) bananas and place them into a bowl (I used a cereal bowl). Mash them with a fork.
Be sure to have your egg yolks ready. You don't want to crack the eggs into this dish and get shell fragments or egg whites into the mashed bananas.
Beat the egg yolks into the mashed bananas.
Place the milk mixture into a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir frequently. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom well to prevent scorching.
For this recipe I used pure vanilla extract. However, you could instead use about 2.5" of a vanilla bean for a more intense vanilla flavor. If you are going to use a vanilla bean, now is the time to add it as it will need time to steep to release its flavor. Just slice it open lengthwise and use a knife edge to scrape all the seeds out. Then place the seeds along with the pod into the pot.
After 5-10 minutes you will feel that the mixture has thickened. You will feel some resistance as you move your whisk through the liquid.
If you had placed a vanilla bean pod in the liquid, now is the time to remove it.
Once the milk mixture has thickened, scoop up about 3/4 cup of the liquid and slowly pour it into the bowl of mashed bananas and egg yolks. Be sure to quickly stir as you add the hot milk mixture. What you are doing is tempering the egg mixture so that you don't scramble the eggs.
Here is a photo showing the egg mixture with some of the milk mixture added in.
Now that the eggs have been tempered, go ahead and slowly add it all to the rest of the milk mixture in the saucepan while stirring. After a few minutes, the consistency should be close to that of mayonaise.
Add the butter and vanilla (if you didn't use a vanilla bean) and stir well.
After a few minutes the mixture will thicken up. It's important to have the right consistency. You don't want a runny banana pudding! You now have banana custard. Banana pudding is actually a 'cooked' custard. The difference between a custard and a pudding is that a pudding uses cornstarch, tapioca, rice flour or other starch as the thickener. When you use egg yolks to thicken a mixture it becomes a custard.
Go ahead and remove the saucepan from the heat. If you feel that the mixture may have lumps (a bit of scrambled egg perhaps), go ahead and put it through a sieve over a large bowl. This will remove any of the lumps.
Place the vanilla shortbread cookies or vanilla wafers along the bottom and sides of the dish you want to serve your banana pudding in. I used a 2 quart round baking dish. It has an 8" diameter. However, in order for the ingredients to spread out more evenly I would suggest using an 11" x 7" shallow baking dish.
Peel the ripe bananas. Slice the bananas in half lengthwise and then slice horizontally. This will give nice bite-sized pieces of banana. Place these bite-sized banana pieces evenly over the top of the vanilla wafers.
Pour the banana pudding into your baking dish and spread it out evenly.
Place the banana pudding into the refrigerator and leave for a few hours. Overnight is best. This will allow the pudding to set.
Here is a photo showing the ingredients to make the whipped cream topping to place on top of the banana pudding. Cream is easier to whip when it is cold. So, before you start, be sure that your cream is cold. Also, place your mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 10 minutes or so.
Fit an electric mixer with a whisk attachement. If you don't have an electric mixer you can use a hand whisk.
Add the heavy cream to the mixing bowl.
Start whisking at high speed. Add in 1/4 cup of sugar.
Once it starts becoming a bit frothy, add in the lemon zest and rum. In place of the rum you could also use banana liqueur.
Continue whisking until stiff peaks are formed. To check for stiff peaks run the whisk over the cream and then hold it up. The peaks should stay straight up without flopping over. Do not over-beat the cream. You do not want to create butter.
Use a spatula to scrape the whipped cream onto the banana pudding. For a nicer presentation you can then add a few slices of banana and insert some extra vanilla wafers into the whipped cream. To prevent the banana slices from browning, coat the banana slices in the lemon juice before placing them on top of the whipped cream. Serve and refrigerate any leftovers.
Note: Instead of making whipped cream, you could make a meringue using the leftover egg whites. Just whisk the whites on high speed with the same amount of sugar until stiff peaks form. Be sure to whip in the lemon zest and rum or banana liqueur. Top the banana pudding with the meringue and bake it at 350º Fahreinheit until the meringue just starts to brown. If you need additional help on how to make a meringue, view these tips for making a meringue (starts at step 16).
Now that you have learned how to make banana pudding, please be sure to view these other pudding recipes.
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