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Old-Fashioned Southern Banana Pudding

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This Old-Fashioned Southern Banana Pudding is a cinch to prepare and is perfect for banana cream pie lovers who don’t have time to roll out a pastry crust.

This banana pudding was my sneaky way of getting out of making a banana cream pie! Layering vanilla wafers instead of making a pie crust made this a less tedious way to put a smile on the dear husband’s face after dinner!

Old-Fashioned Southern Banana Pudding in two white dessert bowls

Old-Fashioned Southern Banana Pudding

Though banana cream pie was first referenced in the 1880’s and Southern banana pudding in 1888, this version came on the scene after a recipe was posted on the boxes of Nilla Vanilla Wafers in the 1920’s. This simple banana dessert is made of layers of vanilla wafers, homemade vanilla pudding, sliced bananas, then topped off with sweet meringue.

With no fussy pie crust and one component coming right out of a box, banana pudding is so much easier to make than a banana cream pie, but just as delectable!

Old-Fashioned Southern Banana Pudding in a Pyrex baking dish

Can Banana Pudding Be Made Ahead?

  • I prefer to eat banana pudding on the day it is made. It prevents the bananas from having a chance to oxidize or discolor. Use one of the tips below to minimize browning if you’re serving to company. 
  • You must allot at least an hour in the refrigerator, though, to let the vanilla wafers soften. But overnight will definitely work.

How Do You Keep the Bananas from Browning?

  • PRO-Tip: Bananas naturally turn brown from being exposed to the air. The best way to minimize this is to make sure the banana slices are completely enveloped by the vanilla pudding to prevent any contact with room air.
  • Another option is to toss your banana slices in lemon juice, orange juice or Sprite as the citric acid will also delay the oxidation process. I prefer not to taste the tart lemon juice, so if I was to take an extra step, I’d use orange juice or a lemon-lime soda like Sprite or 7-Up.
  • Don’t be tempted to use under-ripe bananas as they do not provide the flavor you need for your banana pudding.
  • If you’re overly concerned about the appearance of your banana pudding, make it on the day you plan to serve it. It truly looks best on the day made.

Tips for Making Perfect Custard or Pudding 

Though some banana cream pies and puddings use banana extract or juices to flavor the pudding, I love the simplicity of making plain old vanilla pudding. The two layers of sliced bananas provide plenty of flavor and some banana extracts have an off-putting taste. I was traumatized with liquid banana-flavored Dramamine, for motion sickness, as a child!

  • First you must allot about 15-20 minutes of undisturbed time to make the pudding. Don’t stop to answer the phone or door or your pudding could end up full of lumps.
  • Pudding has just a few basic ingredients which are found in most kitchens: eggs, milk, sugar, salt and a thickening agent, like flour. Cocoa, chocolate or extracts will help flavor your pudding.
  • First, you must whisk together your dry ingredients in a medium saucepan. This helps disperse the salt, etc.
  • Next, the eggs and milk are added. You can whisk the eggs and milk together before mixing them into the dry ingredients.
  • I used whole milk for some added richness. Sometimes butter is mixed in at the end for the same purpose. Feel free to use 2% if you want to save a few calories.
  • Once the liquids are whisked into the dry ingredients, turn on the burner to medium heat and stir constantly until the pudding starts to bubble.
  • At  this point, let the mixture boil about a minute or until the pudding has thickened. PRO-Tip: Do not stop whisking until you remove from  the pan from the cook top.
  • If you stop whisking, so bits of the raw egg in the mixture can cook and coagulate, making small lumps in your pudding. Keeping the pan over medium (or even low) heat and stirring constantly minimizes this risk of scrambling your eggs.
  • If this does happen, you can pass your pudding through a sieve, but you will lose a lot of volume, so the best plan is to avoid getting lumps in the first place.
Old-Fashioned Southern Banana Pudding in a white bowl with a red handled spoon

More Banana Recipes You’ll Love:

This Cinnamon Topped Banana Bread is perfect for breakfast, brunch, or an afternoon snack. If you’re looking for an easy dessert, a Sour Cream Banana Cake is another Southern classic and Bananas Foster is perfect for Mardi Gras. And if you love meringue desserts, these Simple Meringue Cookies just melt in your mouth!


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Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. Each recipe in our menu this month features food from the South, and our host is Karen who blogs at Karen’s Kitchen Stories.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats it’s a virtual party. A theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out. Come along and see all of the delicious dishes from the South!

Food from The South




Main Courses

Side Dishes


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The Recipe: Old-Fashioned Southern Banana Pudding

A classic Southern dessert recipe that's a breeze to prepare!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Yield 8 servings


For pudding:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 4 eggs, separated, reserve egg whites for meringue
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 30-40 Nilla Vanilla Wafers
  • 4 or 5 bananas

For meringue*:

  • Reserved egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup sugar, superfine if available
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


In a saucepan, combine ¾ cup granulated sugar, flour, and salt. Whisk until well mixed, then whisk in the whole egg and yolks.

Turn the heat on to medium-low and whisk in milk. Cook over medium-low, stirring
constantly with a whisk, until the mixture begins to boil and thicken, for about 15 minutes.
Remove pudding from heat and stir in vanilla extract.

Layer the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with vanilla wafers, then top with a layer of sliced bananas. Spoon about half the pudding over the bananas, about 1 1/2 cups, then repeat with another layer of bananas and  pudding.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place egg whites in a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment. Add the cream of tartar and beat until foamy, then slowly add the sugar and beat until whites are glossy and form peaks. Add vanilla and mix until combined.

Spread the meringue over the top of the pudding and cook until top is lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes. Chill at least 1 hour before serving.


Adapted from a couple of recipes including The Kitchen is my Playground and Add a Pinch.

*Feel free to top with sweetened whipped cream instead of the meringue.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 379Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 126mgSodium: 207mgCarbohydrates: 65gFiber: 2gSugar: 47gProtein: 10g


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