Homemade Banana Pudding is a beautiful, classic, easy no-bake dessert that’s perfect for summer months. Layers of sweet bananas, vanilla cookies, homemade vanilla pudding, and creamy, smooth whipped cream all come together in this incredible dessert recipe. It’s a perfect make-ahead dessert for picnics and barbecue parties! (Learn how to make it Gluten Free below!)
Banana pudding is one of those desserts that everyone knows and loves! I’ve always felt that this dessert was such a huge staple in Southern cuisine, so I was initially surprised to see it all over Magnolia Bakery in NYC. And as tasty as their famous banana pudding is, this recipe is even better.
There are plenty of banana pudding recipes out there that call for all kinds of unique twists and intricate steps, but I’ve found through all my trial and error banana pudding mishaps that this traditional recipe truly is the best. With a classic dessert like this, it’s best to stick with the basics – simple, inexpensive ingredients and easy to follow steps!
The creamy, flavorful pudding paired with the sweet whipped cream and ripe bananas then all topped with crushed Nilla Wafers is almost too good to put into words. If you’re looking for a tried and true banana pudding recipe that’s reminiscent of how Grandma used to make it, this is the recipe for you. It’s a summertime treat that you’ve got to indulge in air least once a year!
Ingredients for Banana Pudding
For homemade vanilla pudding:
- Cornstarch – If you’re all out of cornstarch, you can use flour instead! Just use a little more flour than you would cornstarch. Flour will do the trick, but it might not result in as smooth and creamy of a pudding. Use cornstarch if you can!
- Sugar – Plain white granulated sugar works best in this easy recipe. It provides just the right amount of sweetness without being too much, so be very careful not to add any more than what the recipe calls for.
- Salt – The smallest pinch will do.
- Milk – Use either whole milk or 2% milk for this pudding recipe to get the perfect creamy consistency.
- Heavy Whipping Cream – This cream is what makes the pudding downright silky! Paired with the milk, heavy whipping cream also thickens the pudding slightly.
- Eggs – They can be cold or room temperature.
- Egg Yolks – Of all the tips and tricks I’ve tried, I’ve found that just carefully using your hands is the best way to separate the yolks from the white.
- Vanilla Extract – This helps to enhance the sweetness and deepen the vanilla flavor without being overly sweet.
For homemade whipped cream:
- Heavy Whipping Cream – Make sure it’s cold! Keep the heavy whipping cream in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
- Powdered Sugar – This will contribute to both the sweetness and fluffy consistency of the whipped cream.
- Vanilla Extract – Just a small splash of this extract will enhance the sweetness of the powdered sugar, while also providing depth.
The remaining key ingredients are:
- Bananas – They need to be ripe! The bananas should have a few brown spots and be slightly soft, but not too soft with too many brown spots. They should be more yellow than brown. However, if they’re fully yellow with green stems and are firm, they’re not quite ripe.
- Nilla Wafers – If you happen to have any extra cookies when you’re finished with this banana pudding recipe, put them to good use by making a Blueberry Muffin Milkshake!
GLUTEN FREE BANANA PUDDING:
If you want to make this recipe gluten free, all you have to do is use gluten free vanilla wafers. Gluten free vanilla wafers are widely available at most grocery stores, but you can substitute crunchy or hard gluten free sugar cookies.
This vanilla pudding recipe is already gluten free! So you don’t need to worry about the pudding or the whipped cream.
What dish to use to make banana pudding?
Glass serving bowls are easy to store and look pretty! Glass trifle bowls are also great for presentation.
Casserole baking dishes are perfect to bring to potlucks. You can also make individual servings by using ramekins and dividing the pudding in them.
How to Make Banana Pudding
MAKE THE PUDDING
Start by combining sugar, salt, and cornstarch in a sauce pot. Mix the ingredients together thoroughly. Then, pour in cold milk, heavy whipping cream, and vanilla extract. Whisk it well.
Heat everything over medium to medium-low heat while you whisk. Do NOT let the mixture reach a boil!
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks.
Pour in 1/2 cup of milk mixture into the eggs while constantly whisking.
Then, pour in another 1/2 cup of milk mixture as you keep whisking. Be sure to do this slowly!
Return the pot to the stove over medium-low heat and cook for a few more minutes. Stir slowly and constantly until the mixture thickens.
Remove the pudding from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
ASSEMBLE THE BANANA PUDDING
Line the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with sliced bananas and Nilla wafers.
Spread half of the homemade pudding over the bottom layer of cookies and bananas.
Repeat the layering process with the cookies, bananas, and pudding.
MAKE THE WHIPPED CREAM
Before using, place the metal bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes.
Make the whipped cream by whipping together the heavy whipping cream, powder sugar, and vanilla extract together. Beat until stiff peaks appear, which should happen fairly quickly!
Cover the banana pudding with the whipped cream and then refrigerate it for at least 4 hours. Then, feel free to dig in and enjoy!
- Make it more aromatic and vanilla forward by using vanilla bean instead of or in addition to the vanilla extract. If you will use vanilla bean, add it to the milk mixture while it’s heating up. When you take the milk mixture off heat, take out the vanilla bean, slice it lengthwise, and use the back of the knife to scrape out the beans. Mix the vanilla beans into the mix mixture.
- If you want stronger banana flavor, you can add a teaspoon of banana extract to the pudding.
Some handy tips and tricks:
- Make this pudding recipe ahead! This recipe really does need to be made ahead so that pudding can chill and set or you will end up with runny pudding.
- Make homemade whipped cream. It’s very easy and tastes so much lighter and more pleasant than store-bought. Plus, there are only 3 ingredients!
- When making whipped cream, make sure that your bowl, whisk attachment, and heavy whipping cream are all cold. So put the bowl and whisk in the freezer for about 15 minutes before making.
- Use ripe bananas that are all nicely yellow. This is not a recipe to use the over-ripe bananas because that flavor will come-though. Save over-ripe bananas for baking recipes.
This summer, make even more delicious treats for your backyard barbecues and pool parties!
Blueberry Crisp – a wonderful and easy dessert that combines sweet, juicy blueberries with a crunchy oat topping.
Lemon Coconut Banana Cake – soft and moist banana cake made with coconut and lemon flavors from top to bottom.
No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake – starts with a sweet layer of graham cracker crust and the best part is the silky strawberry filling made with cream cheese, strawberry filing, and whipped cream.
Banana Split Ice Cream Pie – sweet graham cracker crust filled with bananas, strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla ice cream flavors, then topped with whipped cream, chocolate, and fruit.
- 5 ripe bananas
- 11 oz Nilla wafers
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 3 cups whole or 2% milk
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream cold
- 2 tbsp powdered sugar
- 1/2-1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Combine sugar, salt, and cornstarch in a bottom heavy, large sauce pot and mix. Pour in cold milk, heavy whipping cream, and vanilla extract and whisk well.
- Heat it all over medium to medium-low heat while you slowly whisk until thickens and starts to bubble. Don't let is get to boil, bubble hard, of cook longer. Take off heat.
- In a separate metal mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and egg yolks.
- Very slowly, pour in 1/2 cup of milk mixture into the eggs while constantly whisking. This will warm up the eggs gradually to prevent scolding the eggs.
- Pour in another 1/2 cup of milk mixture, very slowly, as you keep whisking.
- Carefully, pour in the egg mixture from the bowl back into the sauce pot with milk mixture while slowly whisking.
- Return the pot to the stove over medium-low heat. Cook for a few more minutes, stirring slowly and constantly, until mixture thickens more and starts to bubble. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.
Assembling Banana Pudding:
- Slice bananas into thin slices.
- Line bottom of a serving dish or baking dish with half of the vanilla wafers and then half of the sliced bananas. (You can use a 9×13 baking dish, 9×9 baking dish with tall sides, glass round serving dish, or trifle bowl.)
- Spread half of the cooled custard over the bananas and wafers.
- Repeat the cookie, banana, and custard layers.
- Do NOT add whipped cream to warm or hot pudding. Make sure that the pudding is no warmer than room temperature.
- Place the metal mixer bowl and the whisk attachment into the freezer for 10-15 minutes. (If using glass mixer bowl, place it in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.)Don't take the heavy whipping cream out of the refrigerator until actually ready to pour it into the bowl.
- Add the cold heavy whipping cream into the cold mixing bowl and add powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Starting at low speed, start whipping everything and gradually raise to speed to high every couple of seconds. Beat until stiff peaks appear (don't walk away far).
- Transfer the whipped cream into a piping bag if you want to decorate the top or simply spread the whipped cream over the top of the pudding.
- Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.