I do love me some banana pudding.
Preferably after eating pulled pork sandwiches in Charleston, South Carolina but really, I can do some serious damage to banana pudding any time, anywhere. It’s just that good.
My favorite part?
Definitely the meringue topping….or no, actually I take that back. It’s the cookie layer. Definitely the cookie layer. I love how the pudding slightly softens the vanilla wafers, making them almost cake-like at the bottom of your bowl.
And even though I’d have to classify this as one of my favorite desserts, it’s something I had never attempted to make at home….that is, until yesterday.
To make this, you gotta start with the basics. Remember these? I know you do!
Please don’t buy the reduced fat kind. They just aren’t good.
Now, the essence of banana pudding is pretty simple: it’s just a cooked custard topped with meringue. That being said, cooking custard can be a little tricky and it takes practice so let’s talk about it for a second, mmk?
First of all, I’ve scorched many a cooked custard in my day. It’s not always pretty and it smells kinda funky, too. Basically, you want the custard to still be pourable, but also be thick enough so you know the egg yolks are cooked.
No one likes raw eggs in their pudding, you know?
I’m definitely not a master at this, but what works best for me is to just whisk my heart out over medium/low heat. It’ll take awhile to get thick (probably a solid ten minutes) but it’s best to go slow and steady with this than crank your heat and scorch your pudding.
Things like this teach us patience.
Unfortunately, I can’t give you real time Jenna stirs custard photos because I would have surely scorched my custard if I was taking photographs while whisking and, therefore, ruined my whole dinner party.
Multi-tasking just really isn’t my strong suit.
But it should look something like this when it’s done! Thick and creamy, but not clumpy.
Immediately take that sucker off the stove. Pour it over previously arranged vanilla wafers and banana slices and then add another layer of cookies and bananas on top. Heaven.
You’re going to want to leave that alone for a minute now while you crank out your meringue. I could write an entire post on the merits of meringue. Maybe someday I will.
But as for now, spread (or pipe!) the meringue all over the top of the pudding.
And then bake at 375 for about twelve minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
And there ya have it. I like to serve mine chilled, so it’s best to make this dessert about three to four hours before you plan to eat.
Old Fashioned Banana Pudding
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
5 very ripe bananas
4 egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1 T butter
Box of Vanilla Wafers
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 egg whites
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Spray a nine by nine inch baking pan with cooking spray and then arrange a layer of vanilla wafers on the bottom. Set aside.
Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Drop your egg yolks in a heavy saucepan. Add the flour mixture as well as the milk and vanilla and whisk well so no flour clumps remain. Turn heat on medium low and continue to whisk NON STOP for a solid ten to twelve minutes, or until the custard thickens up to a pudding consistency. This will take awhile. Be patient.
Once it’s thick, immediately take off the stove to cool. Stir in the butter. Chop your bananas and layer half on top of the cookies in the dish. Pour the custard on top. Layer the rest of the bananas, plus more cookies, on top of the custard and push down so that the cookies and bananas sort of sink into the custard a little bit.
Set aside and make your meringue. In a KitchenAid (or an electric hand mixer), beat the egg whites until they are frothy and you can’t see the bottom of the bowl. Gradually add the cream of tartar and the sugar while you continue to beat until thick, glossy peaks occur. This will take about five to six minutes, depending on your mixture.
When you have stiff peaks, turn off the mixer and spread or pipe the meringue on top of the pudding. Bake at 375 for about twelve minutes, or until the top of the meringue is golden brown. Chill for about three hours before serving.
KellyOctober 4, 2010 at 7:25 am
Definitely love banana pudding but I have never had it with meringue in top. We always just stopped at the second cookie layer and then chilled it. Hum….might be time to try something new!
eatmoveloveOctober 4, 2010 at 9:49 am
Yum…I love the 2nd cookie layer idea though 😉
Tabitha (From Single to Married)October 4, 2010 at 7:33 am
Wow – this looks so amazing! 🙂
Allie (Live Laugh Eat)October 4, 2010 at 7:46 am
I want to bathe in that sea of meringue.
…but really, in all seriousness, would that not be amazing!? 🙂
Mary & Christina (Sisters Running the Kitchen)October 4, 2010 at 7:49 am
yumm….I have actually never had banana pudding…looks delicious though! I love the look of the Meringue after going in the oven!
Bethany @ More Fruit PleaseOctober 4, 2010 at 7:51 am
I’m 99% sure that I’ve never had banana pudding and now I’m 100% that my life is incomplete!
Jessica @ How SweetOctober 4, 2010 at 7:51 am
I lurrrve banana pudding. Heaven in a dish.
LaurenOctober 4, 2010 at 7:51 am
I making this soon. Maybe it’ll help with homesickness….even though I’ve lived in Memphis for over 2 1/2 years.
Funny story about reduced fat Nilla Wafers:
My family lives in a small, rural town in northwest Georgia. We(well, my parents now) live in my grandparents’ house that is right across the street from my Great Aunt & Uncle. We also have a very spoiled yellow Labrador named Nipper. Nip likes to go over to my Aunt & Uncle’s to visit when my dad does. My Aunt gives him Nilla Wafers and he LOVES them. So my mom decided to buy some for our house(because the dog gets what he wants–he even has a futon to sleep on. No dog bed for Nip!). Except, in typical fashion for my mother, she buys the store brand reduced fat Nilla wafers. She fed him one. He tasted it and spit it out. Even the dog knows reduced fat Nilla wafers are bad!
Jasmine @ Eat Move WriteOctober 4, 2010 at 7:51 am
I seriously love that the blog world is blowing up over the magazine article about you and the other bloggers having eating disorders and you’re here posting a recipe for banana pudding. lol. Yes, obviously no eating disorder here. 🙂
jennaOctober 4, 2010 at 7:54 am
Thank you. I decided instead of posting a rebuttal, I’d just let my blog speak for itself. I think my intentions are more than clear.
eatmoveloveOctober 4, 2010 at 9:50 am
Thank you! Amen to that.
Estela @ Weekly BiteOctober 4, 2010 at 7:55 am
Banana pudding is my FAVORITE! I’ve never had it with meringue before. Only cool whip. I must try yours 🙂
Tracey @ I'm Not SuperhumanOctober 4, 2010 at 7:55 am
I think this is a southern thing. I had never heard of banana pudding until my husband begged for it, apparently nostalgic for a childhood dessert. I have to admit, it’s pretty darn good.
jennaOctober 4, 2010 at 7:59 am
I have come to the conclusion that guys love it because it reminds them of something their mom would make. Almanzo is the same way.
Brenda M.October 4, 2010 at 7:56 am
Jenna, this looks amazing! I will try it…while’s it’s not as classic as yours, have you ever looked at Paula Dean’s “Not Yo’ Mama’s Banana Pudding” recipe ( http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/not-yo-mamas-banana-pudding-recipe/index.html)? My husband asked me to marry him soon after I made this recipe. I’m pretty sure it’s why he asked. 🙂
jennaOctober 4, 2010 at 7:58 am
I haven’t but I do love some of Paula’s recipes (especially her shrimp and grits recipe!) so I’ll take a look. Thanks! 🙂
JilOctober 4, 2010 at 7:58 am
Loove! I love anything that involves meringue! haha
Angela @ Eat Spin Run RepeatOctober 4, 2010 at 7:59 am
This thing looks so so good! I’m pretty sure the meringe layer would be my favourite. My grandma used to make awesome lemon meringue pie when I was younger – I’d always save the meringue part for last because it was so good. Great photos!
Heather @ Side of SneakersOctober 4, 2010 at 8:04 am
I never even heard of banana pudding until I moved to NC- my husband’s family eats it at every single celebration. They were so in awe of the fact I’d never eaten it before. Now because of that they think it’s my favorite (and to be honest I really don’t like it all that much haha).
Heather (Heather's Dish)October 4, 2010 at 8:07 am
this sounds amazing! one of my best friends had banana pudding at her wedding in lieu of a cake…it was served in martini glasses and looked amazing!
The Blue-Eyed BakersOctober 4, 2010 at 8:10 am
Oh yes please! We’re total Nilla wafer addicts…have been since we were teeny tiny baking wannabe’s – so of course we adore banana pudding. And that meringue! Amazing!
jennyOctober 4, 2010 at 8:21 am
Sarah (A Runner's Heart)October 4, 2010 at 8:26 am
I can’t believe there are people that have never heard or tried banana pudding!!! It is my most favorite dessert of all time! It even beats out ice cream! 🙂 There’s a little trick for the banana’s if, for some reason, you have to make it for the next day and chill it over night. You will notice sometimes the banana’s turn a little brown…if you dip the banana’s in lemon juice before you put them in the pudding, it will keep them from turning brown as quickly! That way leftover’s will still taste and look great! 🙂 Just a tip that I learned from my momma! (And yes… I am from the South! A Texas chick! haha). Thanks for posting this recipe! It’s different from my mom’s so I will have to try it!!! 🙂
Alexa @ The Girl In ChucksOctober 4, 2010 at 8:28 am
I said it yesterday, but let me say it again:
My favorite sentence in the post: “I love how the pudding slightly softens the vanilla wafers, making them almost cake-like at the bottom of your bowl.”
That is MY favorite part of banana pudding too.
I tried making a lower calorie version of this at home once, as I am a little afraid of the full fatted version. You see, I will eat it all because, because that is how good banana pudding is. My version was certainly tasty, but I did burn it and I had to spend like an hour scrubbing the burned bottom of my (and the time) only pot. It was not a good moment in banana pudding history.
I’m also really intrigued by your usage of meringue. I typically see whipped cream as the chosen topping. My grandmother never used a topping at all. Just layered banana pudding and nilla wafers and stopped with a layer of nilla’s on top. All very interesting.
Just wanted to say, I’m sorry about that article Anyone who reads your blog knows that what was portrayed in that magazine is not what you are about at all.
TinaOctober 4, 2010 at 8:29 am
At first glance, I thought “why are there biscuits on top of her banana pudding?”. I can be so blonde sometimes.
And yes, regular Nillas are the way to go.
KimOctober 4, 2010 at 8:33 am
Doh, I always read your posts at work right before lunch which makes waiting for lunch so I can eat unbearable! 😉
That sounds so yummy and think I’m going to try it for Thanksgiving this year for something different.
MayaOctober 4, 2010 at 8:35 am
I have never seen banana pudding with meringue topping! That appeals to me much more than whipped cream, not really a whipped cream fan. But custard, oh custard. I love it so. Hence why banana pudding is one of my favorite desserts. Meringue topping could only make it better!
CarrieOctober 4, 2010 at 8:37 am
I’ve never had banana pudding and now I want some. You mention stirring in butter but there is no quantity specified? I hope my kids will eat this… a good way to sneak some fruit into them!
Lacey @ Lake LifeOctober 4, 2010 at 8:42 am
I’m not a baker and don’t usually make my own desserts, but I have emailed this on to my mom in hopes she’ll make it when I come home to visit some weekend. It looks delicious!
Jess (Fit Chick in the City)October 4, 2010 at 8:44 am
This sounds absolutely amazing! Nothing reminds me of being a kid more than my love for banana pudding. Thanks for the great recipe!
KarenOctober 4, 2010 at 8:55 am
Love, love, love this recipe! As a Texan this is a staple at any get together and now I can try my own!
idaOctober 4, 2010 at 8:57 am
The meringue topping looks divine on its own. And I agree that Paula Dean’s recipe is out of this world, ya’ll! She uses Chessmen cookies- it’s a serious banana pudding.
CamilleOctober 4, 2010 at 8:59 am
Holy wow. I have no words.
AndreaOctober 4, 2010 at 8:59 am
This looks fabulous. I bet my boys would love it…they eat bananas like they’re going out of style! You know what would be good? A little brown sugar sprinkled on top!
rebecca lustigOctober 4, 2010 at 9:03 am
ive never seen a banana pudding made with nillas before! i like, i like!
so glad you had a good weekend. happy monday 🙂
AmandaOctober 4, 2010 at 9:15 am
It looks beautiful. And delicious. Restaurants should serve this.
Laughter-Loving StacyOctober 4, 2010 at 9:33 am
Oooh my mouth is watering looking at it. :-p
SarahOctober 4, 2010 at 9:36 am
You know, I wasn’t sure when you said you were changing the blog around. But I have to say, I love it! I love all your recipes and photos and “down home” cooking. This is much more exciting than looking at what you ate for lunch.
Amber KOctober 4, 2010 at 9:44 am
Yum! I hate meringue, but I tend to just pick around it since everyone else loves it!
I think Nilla wafers are the best part! In fact, I like to take them straight from the box and dip them into the pudding. mmmm
CoreyOctober 4, 2010 at 9:47 am
That pudding looks awesome!! Just wanted to say I LOVE your blog, I think you are an amazing role model, and you have helped me to live a healthy, active lifestyle that I had no idea existed before I started reading blogs. I was stunned and disgusted by the Marie Claire article. You seem to be pretty awesome at not letting things get to you, but if you are upset by it (which how could you not be?) it might make you feel better to look at Marie Claire’s facebook wall and see how much support and love your loyal readers are giving you and the other girls!
eatmoveloveOctober 4, 2010 at 9:51 am
Never have tried Banana Pudding! Don’t know why…love bananas, love puddings, love cookies…
natalie (the sweets life)October 4, 2010 at 9:55 am
i adore (ADORE!!!) banana pudding and have had a box of nilla wafers in my pantry waiting to be made into b. pudding for a few weeks now. normally i don’t like the meringue kind (ok, I’ve never had it actually) but your version has inspired me!
ps. ALSO just watched your dinner party video. adorable, i hope you win!
BetsyOctober 4, 2010 at 9:57 am
This is the greatest response to “that” article that I’ve read all day.
Heather (Sugar & Spice Blog)October 4, 2010 at 9:58 am
I agree Jenna – there is nothing better than banana pudding. I think it is my all time favorite dessert. Is this just a Southern thing? I’m not sure – but my friends in New England had never heard of banana pudding until my mom made one for them! Thanks for putting it up on the blog 🙂 Maybe I’ll make one this coming weekend.
LisaOctober 4, 2010 at 10:20 am
Oh. My. God. I’ve never had banana pudding! That looks absolutely amazing and I must try it. Especially since I love bananas!
KristaOctober 4, 2010 at 10:22 am
Is Katie Drummond, the author of that Marie Claire article, the same Katie Drummond from True/Slant?
jennaOctober 4, 2010 at 10:59 am
KristaOctober 4, 2010 at 11:34 am
Jenna, thanks for replying. I think its obvious to anyone that reads your blog that you are all about moderation. You have an incredibly healthy perspective on food and life and those of us that read your blog know this. Thank you for what you do!
Moni's MealsOctober 4, 2010 at 10:24 am
I am so glad you posted this! Yippee! I am all over this one Jenna 🙂
Lauren at KeepItSweetOctober 4, 2010 at 10:34 am
i actuall have never had old fashioned banana pudding, it sure looks delicious though
Nora@LiveLifeEatRightOctober 4, 2010 at 10:36 am
Wow–this looks so lovely and delicate! Delicious. I was watching the Banana Cream Pie episode of Bobby Flay’s “Throwdown” the other day and was looking for a recipe like this!
P.S love the place mat! Is that from Anthropologie? I recently discovered this store and fell in love. Minus that the prices of some of their clothes brought a few tears. haha
jennaOctober 4, 2010 at 10:59 am
hehee that’s actually just a piece of fabric that I got at Beverley’s (a fabric store we have here). They have a whole wall of neat 1930’s themed fabrics!
jamieOctober 4, 2010 at 10:44 am
Try the Paula Dean’s Not Yo’ Mama’s Banana Pudding , I’ve made it several times and there are never any leftovers, everyone LOVES it!
AmyJoGoOctober 4, 2010 at 11:01 am
The thing I admire most about your blog is that you seem to eat whatever floats your boat but at the same time you have a healthy perspective about moderation. I’m overweight and over the last two years, I’ve tried many new products and recipes that were inspired by your healthier habits. A while back, you shared that you had gained a few pounds since moving out west. Let me tell ya, I appreciated that you shared it, but you didn’t go on and on about how you desperately wanted to shed those lbs. Your happy weight is a personal thing, your healthy choices are inspiring and your blog is fun.
MomOctober 4, 2010 at 11:12 am
ModelBehaviorOctober 4, 2010 at 12:08 pm
I actually was giggling when I read this post because it’s just so….old school! So many great memories that included nila wafers and pudding and bananas, thanks for the flashback Jenna 😀
MarenOctober 4, 2010 at 12:16 pm
you are the best for sharing this recipe I was drooling over it while reading your project food blog challenge 3 post.
ShaunaOctober 4, 2010 at 12:29 pm
I love this banana pudding, and I’m glad you do too! A few weeks ago I wanted to make it so badly that, even though I didn’t have Nilla wafers, that didn’t stop me. I found a Nilla wafer recipe, made Nilla wafers, and then made the pudding. Obsessed? I think so 🙂
Natalia - a side of simpleOctober 4, 2010 at 12:35 pm
Old fashioned anything has my heart. Keep at it girl!
AlyssaOctober 4, 2010 at 1:02 pm
What an amazing dinner party 🙂 My husband and I should do that 🙂 Except we would be eating dinner at 4PM with my inlaws at their 6PM…maybe they would shuffle to 7 for dinner 🙂
Jessica @ Jessica BalancesOctober 4, 2010 at 1:29 pm
This is wonderful, especially with the ridiculous Marie Claire article that’s out right now – I just want to say that I appreciate your attitude when it comes to healthy living and I enjoy how much you truly love food. It’s refreshing to see someone relish each bite!
Paige @Running Around NormalOctober 4, 2010 at 1:31 pm
I’ve only had one bread pudding in my life – ever!! But it’s the best dessert I’ve ever had and always order it when we go to the restaurant. This looks fabulous, though!
LaineOctober 4, 2010 at 2:19 pm
Your blog makes me happy because you are happy (I hope.)
This is apropos of nothing, just wanted to share.
Chelsea @ One Healthy MunchkinOctober 4, 2010 at 3:54 pm
I can’t believe I’ve never had this dessert before, especially considering bananas are my favourite fruit! Also I love merangue topping. 😀
stacey-healthylifeOctober 4, 2010 at 5:08 pm
Wow that’s the best looking meringue ever.
chelsey @ clean eating chelseyOctober 4, 2010 at 5:43 pm
I love how you take such simple recipes and make them GORGEOUS!! Oh my goodness – this looks amazing!
dragonfly180October 5, 2010 at 3:50 am
wow, i’m from mississippi (we pretty much have banana pudding at every get-together!), and i have never heard of putting a meringue topping on it! interesting!
sarah k. @ the pajama chefOctober 5, 2010 at 6:46 am
oh wow. i’ve had banana pudding but it’s always just like a banana, vanilla pudding, and nilla wafers parfait of sorts. this version looks phenomenal!
MacraeOctober 5, 2010 at 3:55 pm
You have to try this recipe with homemade shortbread instead of the vanilla wafers. My mom does this at Easter and it is incredible!
Baking Blunders — Eat, Live, RunOctober 6, 2010 at 6:30 am
[…] baking soda get forgotten and things just get all around messy. Sorta like if you scorch your pudding and then have to soak the pot for two […]
ValarieOctober 9, 2010 at 5:53 am
I have never made old fashioned banana pudding. Mine usually consists of jello instant pudding and cool whip, but my dad’s birthday party is this weekend and all he asked of me was a banana pudding. He hasn’t had one like his grandma made him in like 30 years I’m sure. So I’m going to try your recipe 🙂 I’m scared!
ValarieOctober 10, 2010 at 8:47 am
just put the pudding in the oven to brown…we shall see! One thing tho..I saw in the directions where you said add butter and salt but it wasn’t in the ingredient list. So I didn’t had the butter since I didn’t know how much. Custard still tasted good!
erinOctober 13, 2010 at 1:21 pm
i’m making this and would like to know the quantity of butter required
jennaOctober 13, 2010 at 1:24 pm
it’s 1 T!
ARPLJanuary 23, 2011 at 6:51 am
Tried it, loved it. My only beef was I was in a rush to make it and the Nillas weren’t on sale. I paid $4.50 just for the cookies!!? But the end result was way worth it and and my toddler will gobble the extra Nillas. Hmm…Unless I have enough to make another pudding. Excuse me, I have to go check on something…
KristenFebruary 21, 2011 at 1:23 pm
It says combine flour, sugar, and salt. How much salt? Love this recipe!
DianaMarch 10, 2011 at 9:27 am
I’ve been craving comfort food and Nilla wafers were on sale at Target yesterday, so I halved the recipe and made it in a bread pan. Perfect. Delicious recipe! My husband and I both enjoyed it.
MarisaMarch 16, 2011 at 7:33 am
I’m about to make this for my husband’s birthday. I am also wondering how much salt to use.
Larry WattsNovember 17, 2011 at 3:14 pm
add the butter after custard thickens up but is smooth with no lumps.
Pat CurtisJanuary 25, 2012 at 4:02 pm
Sounds delicious. I’m an old southern girl and have made many banana puddings in my lifetime (I am 80 years young). How much salt? I plan to try this recipe very soon.
JackieMarch 24, 2012 at 10:49 am
Thank you for this recipe. I chose to make it today. Just took it out of the oven and out to the front porch to cool before I stick it in the frig. The amount of salt I added was 1/2 tsp. I tasted the custard and it tastes good. I’m looking forward to eating this tonight! So is my son!
SarahMarch 26, 2012 at 3:18 pm
I too would like to know how much salt. My mom is from Texas and she was saying just the other day how she wished she had some “old-fashioned” banana pudding like her grandma used to make. I want to make this for her, but I want it to be right.
jennaMarch 26, 2012 at 3:20 pm
It’s 1/4 tsp — I apologize about that!
SarahApril 6, 2012 at 1:12 pm
I too am wondering, “how much salt”? My mom is from Texas, and she was just saying how she was craving an old-fashioned banana pudding like her grandmother used to make. I want to make this for her, but I want to be sure it tastes right.
SarahApril 6, 2012 at 1:14 pm
Whoops. Sorry ’bout that. My last post wasn’t showing up, so I assumed it didn’t go through. 🙂
Happy Father’s Day! — Eat, Live, RunJune 17, 2012 at 7:52 am
[…] Old Fashioned Banana Pudding (the kind with the meringue and ‘nilla wafers!) […]
loriJuly 7, 2014 at 6:29 pm
I use a similar recipe. It’s wonderful! However, it can actually be done in the microwave. Mix all the ingredients for the custard except for the vanilla. I use an whisk to stir and cook it at about 1 minute intervals til it thickens. When it’s ready to pour, add the vanilla, stir it in and pour over the cookies. Trust me, it is DELICIOUS just like the double boiler version and SO much easier. I double my recipe because I love the homemade, real banana pudding.
loriJuly 7, 2014 at 6:32 pm
Oh and it’s BEST served warm!!