Certain foods just taste better homemade, and banana pudding is one of them. This dessert recipe has southern origins and is a common dessert at family gatherings, potlucks and barbecues in the American south. It’s smooth, creamy and rich but that’s not all! There’s also a special ingredient that takes this homemade version to the next level: old-fashioned meringue. Southern Living released their list of “Dessert Recipes Just Like Grandma Used to Make” and this banana pudding recipe made the cut.
This creamy old-fashioned banana pudding recipe consists of multiple delicious (and pretty!) layers of vanilla wafer cookies, banana slices and smooth vanilla custard, topped with whipped meringue, which makes a big difference in both appearance and taste. It requires many ingredients you likely already have in your pantry at home, such as sugar, milk, eggs, butter, cornstarch, salt and vanilla extract. Of course you’ll also need bananas and vanilla wafers (Nabisco began to produce Nilla Wafers in 1898!). The bananas must be ripe, so look for the yellow ones (brown spots are OK) and avoid the yellow-green ones.
In my family, banana pudding is always served cold, but the temperature is up to the individual baker (and their dessert tasters). Note that the pudding will thicken as it cools, hence serving it chilled will result in a thicker consistency. Serve it warm if you’re aiming for a softer dessert.
I hope this recipe brings back sweet memories of spending time at grandma's house. Remember that grandma didn’t need a special occasion to whip up one of her delicious desserts, and neither do you!
Inside scoop: I strongly recommend using whole milk for this recipe. The higher percentage of fat helps with the pudding’s rich flavor. The higher percentage of fat is the reason that many dessert recipes call for whole milk.
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 5 minutes
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/4 cups whole milk
- 4 large eggs (separated)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 1/3 cups vanilla wafers
- 4 ripe bananas, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Here’s how to make it:
- Whisk together the 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch and salt in a small bowl. In a large, heavy saucepan, add the sugar mixture, milk and 4 egg yolks. Mix until well blended. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, about 6 to 8 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in unsalted butter and vanilla.
- Layer half of the vanilla wafers in an 8-inch square or round baking dish. Top with half the banana slices and half the pudding. Repeat procedure with remaining wafers, banana slices and pudding.
- Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites at high speed until foamy. Gradually add 3 tablespoons sugar, beating until sugar dissolves and stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Spread the meringue over the pudding.
- Bake in a preheated 375-degree F oven for about 7 to 9 minutes or until golden. Let cool 30 minutes. Either serve warm or chill before serving.
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