With layers of creamy vanilla pudding, fresh sliced bananas, classic Nilla wafer cookies and homemade whipped cream, this easy Banana Pudding Recipe is made from scratch for the ultimate southern dessert. Serve it in individual portions or pile those layers into a trifle dish for a show stopping dessert.
Simple, homemade Banana Pudding
After serving thousands of orders of banana pudding during my brief stint as a Texas BBQ restaurant, it took me years to want to make it at home. But, since my two-year-old son has taken quite the liking to bananas, I knew I wanted him to try it.
There are tons of ways to make banana pudding, and just about everyone has there favorite version. Between the sweetened condensed milk, instant pudding packets and cool whip, I honestly had no clue where to start.
I decided to go back to basics and make my pudding from scratch, and to skip the condensed milk. If you haven’t made homemade pudding before, you’ll be surprised by how simple it is. I’ve been making from scratch since I learned how to make homemade chocolate pudding and I haven’t looked back.
Banana pudding ingredients
- Vanilla pudding – you can make this from scratch, like we did (directions below) or you can use a box mix.
- Nilla wafers – this is a classic choice, but you can switch it up with some animal crackers, golden Oreos, or even graham crackers.
- Sliced bananas – Don’t slice your bananas until you’re ready to assemble, and make sure you keep them under the pudding layers to keep them from browning.
- Whipped cream – I like to make homemade, but you can definitely use store bought, whatever works for you.
How to make banana pudding from scratch
Make the vanilla pudding
Start by combining cornstarch, sugar and a pinch of salt in a large saucepan. Whisk to mix them together. Pour in the cold milk, whisking as you go to incorporate the sugar and cornstarch.
Heat the pan over medium-high and continue whisking to prevent lumps. Keep heating the milk until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Set it aside and allow the pudding to cool completely, to room temperature.
Layer the banana pudding
Whether you’re using a large baking dish, a trifle dish or individual cups, the layers will be the same. Start with a layer of Nilla wafers. I like to crush mine to make the pudding easier to eat, but you don’t have to.
Next, spoon a layer of cooled pudding over the cookies, followed by a layer of sliced bananas. You can add a layer of whipped cream here if you want, but I normally save this for the top just to make things easier for myself. It’s totally your call.
Continue layering in this order until you run out of ingredients or your dish is full. Then, cover the dishes and pop them into the fridge. Chill for at least 2 hours, or until you’re ready to serve.
Serve with whipped cream.
Using an electric mixer, whip the heavy whipping cream with a few tablespoons of sugar and a bit of vanilla extract in a large bowl.
Top each banana pudding cup with a big dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with some crushed Nilla wafers.
If you’re making one large dish, spread a nice thick layer of whipped cream on the top and garnish with crushed cookies before serving.
Tips for making the best banana pudding
Why is my banana pudding watery? Most likely, you didn’t cook your pudding long enough. You want to make sure it’s good and thick before removing it from the heat. Don’t just take it off as soon as it starts to thicken. Give it time.
How long will banana pudding last? This banana pudding recipe should last in the fridge for up to 4 days. Make sure it’s covered tightly with plastic wrap or stored in an airtight container.
Can you freeze banana pudding? You can freeze it, but I don’t recommend it. The pudding will most likely lose it’s beautiful, creamy texture and bananas don’t thaw well. If you do freeze it, I think it would be really great in a milkshake. Just add a scoop to your favorite vanilla milkshake recipe.
How do you keep bananas from turning brown in pudding? Oxidation turns bananas brown when they are exposed to air, so if you want to prevent bananas from browning, make sure they’re covered by your pudding layers. You can also coat them in a lemon juice or citric acid mixture (found in the canning supplies section).
Love Banana Pudding? Try these other Banana Desserts:
- Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Best Banana Nut Bread
- Banana Bread Muffins
- Bananas Foster Pancakes
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 box Nilla Wafers
- 2-3 bananas peeled and sliced
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in a large saucepan. Whisk to combine.
- Slowly pour in the cold milk, whisking until smooth.
- Heat saucepan to medium-high and cook until the milk starts to thicken. Stir as needed to prevent lumps. Allow the pudding to cook until the mixture coats the back of a spoon with a thick layer.
- Remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract, and let the pudding cool to room temperature.
- Layer crushed cookies, vanilla pudding and sliced bananas. Repeat until ingredients are gone or your chosen container is full.
- In a large mixing bowl, whip the heavy whipping cream with sugar and vanilla extract until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes.
- Top with the banana pudding with a layer of whipped cream.
- Garnish with cookies and sliced bananas just before serving.