This banana pudding features layers of sliced banana, homemade pudding, vanilla wafer cookies, and whipped cream. Perfect for potlucks and family gatherings!
Did you ever eat banana pudding with a pudding mix as a kid? This homemade banana pudding recipe is not that. Instead of using pudding from a box, the vanilla pudding is made completely from scratch.
Then, it’s layered with sliced ripe bananas and vanilla wafer cookies. I topped everything off with my favorite homemade whipped cream and more cookies for garnish. The cookies were the one shortcut I took with this recipe because Nilla wafers are just hard to resist!
If you’ve never made banana pudding from scratch before, don’t be intimidated. It’s so much easier to make than you’d think, and it’s a comforting dessert everyone loves!
Homemade banana pudding has four components: sliced bananas, Nilla Wafers (or a similar cookie), vanilla pudding, and a whipped cream topping. Let’s go over the ingredients list so you feel confident making this recipe:
- Granulated sugar: I used just 3/4 cup sugar to make an 8-inch square baking dish worth of pudding. The vanilla pudding is sweet, but not too sweet. Remember: the vanilla wafers and the banana slices are also sweet!
- Cornstarch: Makes for an ultra creamy, thick vanilla pudding. I don’t recommend substituting the cornstarch with another ingredient as the results won’t be the same.
- Milk: You’ll need to use whole milk for this recipe. The fat in the whole milk helps thicken the pudding and makes it creamy.
- Heavy whipping cream: Is used in both the pudding itself and is also the base of the homemade whipped cream. Look for a heavy whipping cream that’s at least 36% fat.
- Egg yolks: Give the pudding a slight yellow color and make it even creamier. Save the egg whites for breakfast the next day!
- Butter: I used unsalted butter, but salted butter would be fine too.
- Vanilla extract: Pure vanilla extract will deliver the strongest vanilla flavor.
- Vanilla wafers: I used Nilla Wafers, but a similar cookie (like the one in the video below) would be fine.
- Bananas: Make sure to use bananas that are just ripe. Overripe bananas will not hold up very well in this recipe.
- Powdered sugar: Is beaten with the whipping cream to make a light, fluffy, slightly sweetened whipped cream.
How to Make Banana Pudding From Scratch
This recipe requires some advance preparation because the vanilla pudding needs time to set in the fridge before the banana pudding can be assembled.
To make the vanilla pudding, combine the cornstarch and sugar in a large saucepan. To the saucepan, add the milk, heavy whipping cream, and egg yolks. Stir everything together until combined, then place the saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Once boiling, cook the pudding for about one minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, one tablespoon at a time, then add the vanilla extract.
Before the pudding can be placed into the fridge to chill, it needs to be strained through a fine-mesh strainer into a heat-proof bowl. Don’t skip this step, otherwise you might wind up with a lumpy pudding!
Once strained, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding to prevent a film from forming. Pop it into the fridge to chill for one hour.
After the vanilla pudding has had time to cool down, remove it from the fridge, give it a good stir, and set aside.
At this point, you’re ready to assemble the Nilla Wafer banana pudding. First, slice the bananas. You want to slice them about 1/4-inch thick so that they’re thick enough to hold up to the vanilla wafers and pudding.
Cover the bottom of an 8×8-inch baking dish with Nilla Wafers. Then, cover the cookies with banana slices. Spread about half of the vanilla pudding over the banana slices.
Repeat this process once more with the remaining ingredients. The banana pudding then needs to go back into the fridge for three to four hours to set.
Once that’s done, all that’s left is to make the homemade whipped cream, spread it over the banana pudding, and dig in!
Can I Prepare This Recipe in Advance?
Yes, although it’s best to serve banana pudding with whipped cream within 24 hours of making it. However, you can cover it tightly and store it in the refrigerator for up to two days.
Can You Freeze Banana Pudding?
No, I do not recommend freezing this dessert. The layers would likely change texture once frozen.
- Use bananas that are ripe, but not overly ripe. If the bananas are too ripe, they won’t hold up well against the thick pudding and crunchy cookies.
- Don’t skip the various chill times called for in the recipe! The vanilla pudding needs time to set up before it’s layered with the bananas and Nilla Wafers. And once the banana pudding is fully assembled, you need to give the cookies time to soften and to soak up all that delicious banana flavor.
- An 8×8-inch dish of banana pudding comfortably feeds 10 to 12 people (it’s a very rich dessert!). However, you can easily double this recipe by doubling the ingredients and assembling it in a 9×13-inch baking dish.
More Banana Desserts to Try!
- ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (32 grams) cornstarch
- 2 ½ cups (600 ml) whole milk
- ½ cup (120 ml) heavy whipping cream
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams, or ¼ stick) unsalted butter (sliced into two pieces)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 50 vanilla wafers
- 4 medium ripe bananas (sliced into ¼-inch thick slices)
For the whipped cream topping:
- 1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup (30 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
To make the pudding:
- In a large saucepan, whisk the sugar and cornstarch together until well combined. Set aside.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, heavy whipping cream, and egg yolks until fully combined. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the saucepan with the sugar and cornstarch mixture and whisk until fully combined.
- Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring/whisking continuously (I recommend using a rubber spatula to scrape around the bottom and sides of the pan a few times). Allow to boil for one minute; the mixture should be pretty thick at this point. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, one tablespoon at a time, then stir in the vanilla extract.
- Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a heat-proof bowl.
- Cover with plastic wrap, placing the plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard, and refrigerate for one hour.
To assemble the banana pudding:
- Remove the pudding from the refrigerator and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
- Place half of vanilla wafers (about 25) in an even layer on the bottom of an 8-inch square (or 2 quart) baking pan. Place half of the banana slices on top of the vanilla wafers in one even layer. Scoop half of the pudding on top and spread it out into one even layer.
- Repeat layers using the remaining vanilla wafers, banana slices, and pudding.
- Cover the banana pudding, placing the plastic wrap directing on the surface of the pudding and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.
To make the whipped cream:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Start mixing on low speed. Once the mixture starts to increase in volume, increase the speed to medium-high until stiff peaks form.
- Spread a layer of the whipped cream in an even layer on top of the banana pudding. Top with additional banana slices and crushed vanilla wafers before serving, if desired.