Who doesn’t love the delicious combination of bananas and pudding?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
- 1–2 large bananas
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- Mini vanilla wafers (optional)
- 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.
- To make the pudding, combine sugar with flour in a medium saucepan. Stir to combine, then stir in 1/2 cup milk.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add a layer of vanilla wafers and then a final layer of banana slices. Pour the rest of the pudding mixture on top.
- Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
- 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.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- 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.
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.
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 9-by-9-inch glass baking pan with one layer of vanilla wafers.
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.
Stir to combine, then stir in half of the milk.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks until they are light in color.
Whisk the eggs into the milk mixture until combined. Whisk in the remaining milk, and add the unsalted butter.
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.
Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
Step 3 – Assemble Layers
Pour half of the pudding over the wafers and bananas in the pan, while it’s still hot.
On top of the pudding layer, add a layer of wafers, then a layer of banana slices.
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.
While the pudding is chilling, beat 1 cup heavy cream with 1 teaspoon of sugar until the mixture forms stiff peaks.
Be careful not to over-beat the cream, or you will have butter instead of whipped cream!
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!
Love all things pudding? Check out the recipes below for some more deliciousness:
- Easy Homemade Chocolate
- The Best German Vanilla & Chocolate
- Easy Vegan Avocado Chocolate
- Chocolate Trifle with Banana and Whipped Cream
- Coconut Mango Rice
- Vanilla Panna Cotta with Figs and Honey
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: January 16, 2021 at 15:35 pm. 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.
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.