This homemade banana pudding is an unbeatable dessert filled with creamy, rich custard and soft layers of bananas and vanilla wafers. It’s topped with a thick and luscious meringue that gets beautifully browned in the oven.
Today’s recipe comes from my husband’s grandmother and is a treasured family recipe she made for years and years.
(Warning: Personal story coming. I also have helpful notes and hints about this recipe from the many, many times I’ve made it. But feel free to scroll right on down to the recipe card if that sorta thing makes you crazy.)
Grandma had made it for my husband when we were going to be in Florida visiting, knowing that it was one of his favorites. Aren’t grandmothers just the best?
Fast forward a decade or so. It was 2020, we were all stuck at home, and I was pulling out all the cozy family recipes I could think of to make.
Comfort food was the name of the game.
I even made our classic green bean casserole, probably for the first time not at the holidays.
And knowing how nostalgic grandma’s banana pudding was, I just had to get the recipe.
Although she had since passed, my mother-in-law was able to track down her recipe.
It came from a cookbook called "Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers - Desserts," which I kind of love.
It’s the original recipe she used to make. In later years, I learned, she started using a boxed version of vanilla pudding (not the instant kind though) and added extra wafers on top of the dessert instead of making a meringue.
Well, I was going with the original for my first foray of course.
And oh my goodness, it was fantastic.
Cold, creamy, rich custard with soft layers of banana and vanilla wafers. And on top was a thick and luscious meringue that gets perfectly browned with just a few minutes in the oven.
Swoon worthy, folks. And also even better than the restaurant quality banana pudding we’ve tried at a number of our favorite eateries.
Grandma knows best, right? (And so do home ec teachers!)
I have since tried to do her shortcut version with the boxed pudding and no meringue and it did not go over well with my family. They want the real deal, please and thank you very much.
And I promise, you won’t want to skip out on the real deal either. It’s not difficult to make and it’s SO worth it for this soul-satisfying, incredibly delicious dessert.
OK, let’s get to making it so you can enjoy it too!
Now, I’ve got some notes and tips coming up on how to make banana pudding. Just tryin’ to be helpful.
If you want to jump on down to the recipe, simply scroll right on through the rest of the text. The recipe card is near the bottom of the page, above the comments section.
Notes on making banana pudding:
- Baking dish: The size and shape of your baking dish will affect how many bananas and vanilla wafers you’ll use. I prefer to go with a smaller size so that the custard layers are thicker and not spread out. A 2-quart casserole dish or baking dish works great. You could even use a spring-form pan or cake pan if it’s deep enough.
- Bananas: I typically need 3-4 medium bananas for this recipe. (I’ve made it in several different sized containers but that's always enough.)
- Vanilla wafers: I tend to use about ⅔ of the container of vanilla wafers. This helps avoid having to use broken ones. However, you can also line the top of your baking dish with extra wafers, or serve it with some extra wafers on top, if desired.
- Eggs: You’ll need to separate the egg whites, which are used for the meringue, from the egg yolks, which are used to make the custard.
(Here's a short YouTube video on how to separate eggs if you want to check it out.)
A few other pointers…
Custard: The original recipe called for making the custard in a double boiler. I found that extremely slow and tedious.
I’ve tested it several times as written below in the recipe card - where you just make it in a sauce pan over medium low heat - and it works great every time.
(Note: It does still require some patience. It takes about 12-15 minutes for me for the mixture to thicken to custard-like consistency.)
Meringue: Keep beating the egg whites and sugar until you get a thick, glossy meringue mixture. It takes about 5-6 minutes.
You can do big dollops of meringue over your baking dish or evenly spread it over the top. Just be sure to watch it in the oven so you don’t burn it, especially if you have big tips and peaks sticking up.
Now, a bit of controversy: to serve it warm or cold?
You can serve banana pudding straight from the oven, or rather, after letting it cool slightly so it’ll scoop more easily. It’s warm and cozy.
However, my family is decidedly on team cold.
We like our banana pudding chilled down in the fridge and then scooped into bowls. It’s thick and luscious and just how we like it. You do you.
Oh, and let’s talk servings.
As written, this recipe serves 6-8 people a hearty serving, but you could certainly double the recipe and use a larger baking dish or container if you want to serve a bigger group.
(This dessert is excellent for traveling to parties or potlucks or church picnics. Which is why you’ll always find one there.)
Last thing, what to do with extras.
How to store banana pudding:
- Once cooled, cover your banana pudding dish with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
- Banana pudding will keep, covered, for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Homemade, from scratch banana pudding is within your reach. And so much easier than you might think.
This tried and true recipe will bring back memories and flavors of love and family and can be part of your family’s tradition, too.
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups skim milk
- 3 large eggs, whites and eggs separated
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 (11 oz.) box vanilla wafers
- 4 medium bananas, sliced
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Preheat the oven to 425.
- Make the custard: Combine sugar, flour and salt in a medium sauce pan over medium low heat.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks and milk together. Add to the sauce pan and cook over medium-low until thickened into a custard consistency, stirring regularly, about 12-15 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in the vanilla.
- Line a 2-quart baking dish with half of the vanilla wafers, then top with half of the sliced bananas and pour ½ the custard over top. Repeat with wafers, banana and remaining custard.
- Make the meringue: Place the egg whites in a medium bowl and add the 6 tablespoons of sugar. Use a stand mixer or hand mixer and beat on medium until the mixture reaches a white, glossy meringue consistency and has stiff peaks, about 5-6 minutes.
- Dollop the meringue on top of the banana pudding and smooth over the top.
- Bake at 425 for 3-5 minutes, until delicately browned. Watch closely so it doesn't burn. Serve warm or let cool, refrigerate and serve cold.
Container: The size and shape of your baking dish will affect how many bananas and vanilla wafers you’ll use. I prefer to go with a smaller size so that the custard layers are thicker and not spread out. A 2-quart casserole dish or baking dish works great. You could even use a spring-form pan or cake pan if it’s deep enough.
Bananas: I typically need 3-4 medium bananas for this recipe. (I’ve made it in several different sized containers and that's always enough.)
Vanilla wafers: I tend to use about ⅔ of the container of vanilla wafers. This helps avoid having to use broken ones. However, you can also line the top of your baking dish with extra wafers, or serve it with some extra wafers on top, if desired.
Eggs: You’ll need to separate the egg whites, which are used for the meringue, from the egg yolks, which are used to make the custard.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 220Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 94mgSodium: 143mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 2gSugar: 34gProtein: 6g