If you’re craving a taste of the classic Southern comfort dessert, look no further than this timeless recipe for making banana pudding. Indulge in layers of creamy vanilla pudding, ripe bananas, and a generous topping of fluffy whipped cream that will transport your taste buds straight to the heart of the South. Whether you’re a seasoned dessert enthusiast or a novice in the kitchen, this easy and delicious recipe will have you creating a delectable dessert that will leave everyone begging for seconds. Get ready to savor the rich flavors and old-fashioned charm of the South with every spoonful of this divine banana pudding.


To make banana pudding the classic Southern way, you will need the following ingredients:

Ripe bananas

Ripe bananas are essential for creating the perfect texture and flavor in your banana pudding. Look for bananas that are fully yellow and slightly speckled, as they will be at their sweetest and softest.

Vanilla wafers

Traditional Southern banana pudding is typically made with vanilla wafers. These light and crispy cookies add a delicious crunch to the creamy layers of the pudding.

Granulated sugar

Sugar is used to sweeten the custard and balance out the natural tartness of the bananas. Make sure to measure the sugar accurately to achieve the desired level of sweetness.

All-purpose flour

Flour is added to the custard mixture to thicken it and give the pudding its creamy consistency. All-purpose flour works best for this purpose.


A pinch of salt is needed to enhance the flavors in the pudding and add a subtle savory element. It helps to balance the sweetness and create a well-rounded taste.

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Eggs are a crucial component of the custard, providing richness and structure. Be sure to use fresh eggs for the best results.

Whole milk

Whole milk adds richness and creaminess to the custard. Its high fat content helps create a luxurious texture and balances the flavors.

Vanilla extract

Vanilla extract is used to add a warm and aromatic flavor to the custard. Be sure to use pure vanilla extract for the best results.

Unsalted butter

Butter is added to the custard to enrich its texture and add a rich flavor. Unsalted butter is preferred as it allows you to control the saltiness of the dish.

Whipped cream

Whipped cream is a delightful topping that adds a light and airy texture to the banana pudding. It adds a touch of sweetness and complements the flavors beautifully.


Now that you have gathered all the necessary ingredients, let’s go through the steps involved in making classic Southern banana pudding.

Slicing the Bananas

Before you start assembling the pudding, you need to prepare the star ingredient: ripe bananas. Follow these simple steps to prepare the bananas:

Choosing ripe bananas

Selecting the right bananas is crucial. Look for bananas that are fully ripe but still firm. They should be yellow with a few brown speckles. Overripe bananas can become mushy and may not hold their shape during assembly.

Peeling and slicing the bananas

Start by peeling the bananas. Then, using a sharp knife, slice them into even rounds that are approximately 1/4 inch thick. Take care not to make the slices too thick, as they should easily meld into the layers of the pudding.

Making the Custard

The custard is the heart of the banana pudding, providing the creamy and luscious texture that we all love. Follow these steps to make the perfect custard for your Southern banana pudding:

Mixing sugar, flour, and salt

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, and a pinch of salt. Whisk the dry ingredients together until they are well blended. This will ensure even distribution of the sugar and flour throughout the custard.

Whisking eggs and milk

In a separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs and whole milk until they are thoroughly combined. The eggs will make the custard rich and velvety, while the milk contributes to its creaminess.

Cooking the custard

Place the egg and milk mixture in a saucepan over medium heat. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the saucepan, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Continue whisking until the custard thickens and begins to coat the back of a spoon. This should take about 10-12 minutes.

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Adding vanilla and butter

Once the custard has thickened, remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in the vanilla extract and unsalted butter until they are fully incorporated. The vanilla extract adds a wonderful aroma, while the butter adds richness and enhances the flavor of the custard.

Assembling the Pudding

Now that you have prepared both the bananas and the custard, it’s time to put them together and build your delicious Southern banana pudding.

Layering wafers and bananas

Start by placing a single layer of vanilla wafers at the bottom of a serving dish or individual serving bowls. Arrange the banana slices on top of the wafers, creating an even layer. Repeat this process until you have used all the wafers and bananas, making sure to end with a layer of bananas.

Pouring custard

Carefully pour the warm custard over the layered wafers and bananas, ensuring that it covers the entire surface. The custard will seep through the layers, infusing the pudding with its velvety texture and flavors.

Repeating the layers

Continue layering the wafers, bananas, and custard until you have used up all your ingredients or reached the desired height of your pudding. The number of layers you create will depend on the size of your serving dish or bowls.

Chilling the Pudding

To allow the flavors to meld together and for the custard to set properly, the banana pudding needs to be chilled. Follow these steps to ensure your pudding is perfectly chilled before serving:

Covering the pudding

After assembling the pudding, cover it tightly with plastic wrap. This will prevent the pudding from developing a skin and keep it fresh while it chills.

Refrigerating for several hours

Place the covered banana pudding in the refrigerator and let it chill for at least 4 hours, or ideally overnight. This resting period allows the flavors to fully develop and the layers to meld together, resulting in a cohesive and delicious dessert.


While the classic Southern banana pudding is delightful on its own, you can also experiment with a few variations to add your own personal touch:

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Adding meringue topping

For an extra touch of elegance, you can top your banana pudding with a fluffy meringue. Simply beat egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form, then spread it over the chilled pudding. Broil the meringue for a few minutes until it gets golden brown and toasted.

Using different types of cookies

While vanilla wafers are the traditional choice, feel free to experiment with other types of cookies. Graham crackers, shortbread cookies, or even chocolate chip cookies can all add unique flavors and textures to your banana pudding.

Incorporating other fruits

While bananas are the star of the show, you can also incorporate other fruits into your pudding. Sliced strawberries, blueberries, or even crushed pineapple can add a burst of freshness and flavor to your classic Southern dessert.

Tips and Tricks

To ensure that your banana pudding turns out perfect every time, here are some useful tips and tricks:

Using ripe but firm bananas

To prevent your bananas from turning mushy during the assembly, make sure to select ripe but firm bananas. The firm texture will hold up well in the layers and enhance the overall presentation of the dessert.

Allowing custard to cool before assembling

It’s crucial to let the custard cool slightly before pouring it over the wafers and bananas. This helps thicken the custard further and allows it to set properly, resulting in a more stable and luscious pudding.

Covering the custard with plastic wrap

When covering the pudding with plastic wrap, make sure it comes into direct contact with the surface of the custard. This prevents a skin from forming on the custard and ensures a smooth and creamy texture throughout.

Serving Suggestions

To elevate the presentation and taste of your classic Southern banana pudding, consider these serving suggestions:

Garnishing with whipped cream

Before serving the banana pudding, top each individual portion with a dollop of whipped cream. The light and airy whipped cream will complement the creamy pudding and add a touch of elegance to the dessert.

Sprinkling crushed wafers on top

For an added crunch and visual appeal, crush some vanilla wafers and sprinkle them on top of the whipped cream. This will provide a delightful contrast in textures and make the dessert even more enticing.

Serving with a caramel drizzle

For a decadent touch, drizzle some caramel sauce over the banana pudding just before serving. The rich and sweet caramel will add depth to the flavors and create a beautiful caramelized finish.


Making banana pudding the classic Southern way is a labor of love that results in a truly comforting and delicious dessert. The combination of ripe bananas, vanilla wafers, and homemade custard creates a creamy and indulgent treat that delights the taste buds. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can preserve the tradition of this iconic Southern dessert and enjoy the creamy and comforting flavors that have been cherished for generations. So gather your ingredients, slice those bananas, make that custard, assemble the layers, chill, and indulge in a slice of Southern heaven that will bring smiles to the faces of anyone lucky enough to taste it.

Jenny Jones

By Jenny Jones

Jenny Jones is a passionate culinary enthusiast hailing from the heart of the South. Born and raised in a small town known for its rich culinary traditions, she developed an unwavering love for Southern cooking from an early age.