Old Fashioned Vanilla Wafer Banana Cream Pudding

Who doesn’t love the delicious combination of bananas and pudding?

Closely cropped vertical overhead shot of two glasses and a square baking dish of banana cream pudding, with scattered vanilla wafer cookies and a whole fruit with yellow peel and brown spots on a brown wood surface, printed with orange and yellow text at the bottom and midpoint of the frame.

Let me start by extending a warm welcome to all who want to venture down this flavorful and oh-so-tasty road with me.

I remember the first time I had banana cream pie. It was Christmas dinner at an old boyfriend’s house, years ago. Apparently, this kind of cream pie was a huge deal for them to make and enjoy every year during the holiday season.

Vertical image of a martini glass of banana pudding with another identical glass and a square baking dish of the dessert in the background, on a striped brown and beige wood surface with scattered cookies and a yellow banana.

My ex’s mom would spend hours making the banana cream pie, preparing every component from scratch. When I tasted it, the flavors of the banana and the homemade pudding filled my mouth with goodness.

It was creamy and rich, flavorful, and completely addictive. I ate three slices and I was not ashamed. Not even a little bit.

When it comes to making banana cream pie – a truly delicious one – it takes a good amount of time to whip up everything from the topping to the crust. One of the toughest things about getting that recipe right is preparing the perfect pie crust, no easy feat for the less baking-inclined among us.

Vertical image of two martini glasses of pudding with whipped cream, banana slices, and miniature vanilla wafers, with more of the cookies scattered on a brown wood surface, with a glass dish of the dessert and a white cloth in the background, against a mottled blue backdrop.

That’s why this old fashioned recipe is a pure revelation. It has all the classic flavors of a banana cream pie, but it’s easier to make. You won’t even miss the crust.

Just look at those gorgeously simple layers, and the un-fussy presentation. The crust is replaced by my all-time favorite cookie – the humble vanilla wafer.

Vertical oblique overhead shot of a square glass baking dish with handles, filled with banana pudding with cookies and sliced fruit arranged on top for decoration, on a striped wood surface with a white folded cloth, two whole banana,s, and scattered vanilla wafers.

Fresh banana slices provide just the right amount of flavor, and the creamy homemade vanilla pudding is the glue that brings it all together, with a rich base that’s somewhere between a traditional custard made with eggs, and a cooked pudding made with flour, or other types of thickeners like cornstarch.

I know that some people don’t like pudding, but I’ll say it: those are some crazy people.

Vertical slightly oblique overhead image of two martini glasses and a baking dish of banana cream pudding, with scattered vanilla wafers and whole fruit on a wood surface, with a blue background.

How can you not love it? I grew up on instant pudding and pre-made pudding packs as a kid, so there’s a special place in my heart for this particular dessert, in all of its many forms.

Vanilla pudding might seem boring, but the rich flavor and gorgeous texture of this from-scratch version are components that make it anything but.

There’s just enough vanilla flavor in the creamy recipe for it to stand out without being too cloyingly sweet, so it gives balance to every spoonful of the layered dessert.

I love to make this recipe when I know I am having people over for a gathering or a dinner party. It’s easy to make ahead and chill until you are ready to serve it.

This also happens to be a delightful dish to bring along with you to a party, potluck, or picnic, because it’s so simple to make in advance and transport.

Vertical overhead shot of two glasses and a baking pan of homemade banana pudding, with scatted vanilla wafers and two whole bananas, and a white cloth to the left of the frame, on a striped brown and beige wood surface.

Trust me when I say this is the ideal banana cream pie hack, without all the work that’s required to make the classic recipe. This is an old fashioned Southern dessert that everyone will gather around, willingly accepting a heaping spoonful (or two, or three…).

Don’t be surprised to hear your guests emitting moans of happiness from the first bite to the last.

Print
Horizontal head-on image of a glass baking dish of banana cream pudding with whipped cream on top,with scattered vanilla wafer cookies and a white cloth on a striped beige and brown wood surface, with a blue background.

Old Fashioned Vanilla Wafer Banana Cream Pudding


  • Author: Meghan Yager
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: 10 servings 1x

Description

When you take your first bite of our old fashioned vanilla wafer banana cream pudding, you’re going to melt into a puddle of happiness.


Scale

Ingredients

For the Pudding:

  • 2 cups mini vanilla wafer cookies
  • 3 large bananas, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 3 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk, divided
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 tsp unsalted butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the Garnish:

  • 12 large bananas
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • Mini vanilla wafers (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch square glass baking dish with a single layer of vanilla wafers, and top with a layer of banana slices.
  2. To make the pudding, combine sugar with flour in a medium saucepan. Stir to combine, then stir in 1/2 cup milk.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks until light in color, then whisk them into the milk mixture. Add the remaining milk and butter, and a pinch of salt.
  4. Place over low heat and cook until butter has melted and mixture has thickened, stirring frequently for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Immediately pour half of this mixture over the bananas and wafers in the baking dish.
  5. Add a layer of vanilla wafers and then a final layer of banana slices. Pour the rest of the pudding mixture on top.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  7. Chill before serving, for at least 2 hours. Beat heavy cream with sugar on high speed until it forms stiff peaks. Serve garnished with homemade whipped cream and banana slices.

  • Category: Pudding
  • Method: Stovetop, Baking
  • Cuisine: Custard

Keywords: banana cream, banana cream pudding, banana pudding, banana, vanilla wafers

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prepare Bananas and Measure Remaining Ingredients

Peel the bananas and cut each into 1/4-inch slices. Set aside.

Overhead horizontal image of two square glass bowls of butter and vanilla extract, three round glass bowls of sugar, cream, and milk, and a glass measuring pitcher of wafer cookies, with three whole yellow bananas, on a dark brown wood surface.

Measure out all remaining ingredients as listed in the ingredients list. Be sure to set out the ingredients in the order listed to make assembling the recipe easier.

Mini vanilla wafer cookies are arranged in six rows of six cookies each, in the bottom of a square glass baking dish, on a brown wood surface.

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 9-by-9-inch glass baking pan with one layer of vanilla wafers.

Overhead horizontal shot of banana slices arranged on top of wafer cookies in even rows, in a glass baking dish with handles, on top of a dark brown wood table.

Top the wafers with one layer of banana slices.

Step 2 – Make Pudding

Add the sugar and flour to a medium saucepan off the heat.

A wire whisk stirs flour into a mixture of milk and sugar in a metal saucepan, on a dark brown wood surface.

Stir to combine, then stir in half of the milk.

Overhead horizontal shot of a wire whisk stirring a white sugar and milk mixture in a metal saucepan, on a dark brown wood surface.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks until they are light in color.

Horizontal overhead image of a small glass bowl of beaten egg yolk, on a dark brown wood table.

Whisk the eggs into the milk mixture until combined. Whisk in the remaining milk, and add the unsalted butter.

A wire whisk stirs a milky mixture in a metal saucepan, on a brown wood table.

I like to add just a pinch of salt here as well, for just a touch of contrast with a sweet flavors of the other ingredients, like you would add if you were making chocolate chip cookies.

Place the saucepan over low heat. Cook the mixture until the butter has melted and the mixture is thick, stirring frequently. This should take about 15-20 minutes.

Overhead horizontal image of a saucepan filled with a yellow pudding mixture, on a dark brown wood table.

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

Step 3 – Assemble Layers

Horizontal overhead image of wafer cookies soaked in a pudding mixture arranged in rows in the bottom of a square glass baking dish, on a dark brown wood surface.

Pour half of the pudding over the wafers and bananas in the pan, while it’s still hot.

Horizontal overhead shot of a square glass baking dish of vanilla wafer cookies, pudding, and banana slices arranged in five rows of six slices each, on a dark brown wood surface.

On top of the pudding layer, add a layer of wafers, then a layer of banana slices.

Horizontal closely cropped oblique overhead shot of a yellow pudding mixture spread mostly smoothly in a square glass baking dish, on a dark brown wood surface.

Pour the rest of the pudding mixture over the top.

Step 4 – Bake

Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool slightly in the pan until it’s cool enough to place in the refrigerator.

Step 5 – Chill and Make Whipped Cream

Chill for 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Overhead horizontal shot of a whipped cream that has been spread neatly with a spatula on top of the contents of a square glass baking dish, on a striped beige and brown wood surface.

While the pudding is chilling, beat 1 cup heavy cream with 1 teaspoon of sugar until the mixture forms stiff peaks.

Horizontal head-on image of a glass baking dish of banana cream pudding with whipped cream on top,with scattered vanilla wafer cookies and a white cloth on a striped beige and brown wood surface, with a blue background.

Be careful not to over-beat the cream, or you will have butter instead of whipped cream!

Oblique overhead horizontal shot of a square glass baking dish of banana cream pudding, with whipped cream, wafer cookies, and sliced fruit arranged to decorate the top, on a striped beige and brown wood surface with horizontal stripes.

Serve garnished with homemade whipped cream and banana slices, and extra cookies if you like.

How Can I Make My Pudding Stand Out?

If you want to make your pudding really stand out, take some time to decorate the top. It’s so simple, there’s no reason not to do it.

You can get creative with extra mini vanilla wafers, banana slices, and homemade whipped cream. I like to put a layer of homemade whipped cream on top, then top that with wafers and banana slices in fun patterns.

You can even sprinkle the top with some toasted coconut for an extra flavor kick. Have fun with it!

Horizontal image of two martini glasses with crooked stems filled with a mixture of vanilla pudding, sliced bananas, and vanilla wafer cookies, with more of the dessert in a glass baking dish in the background, with whole fruit and scattered cookies on a white cloth, on a striped wood surface, with a mottled blue background.

Love all things pudding? Check out the recipes below for some more deliciousness:

Tell us how you top your dessert in the comments below. And be sure to come back and rate the recipe once you’ve tried it for yourself!

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published April 6, 2009. Last updated: March 26, 2019 at 10:31 am. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

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