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Classic Southern Banana Pudding

March 7, 2018
This creamy and light banana pudding is a classic Southern icebox cake for any gathering or occasion.

Classic Southern Banana Pudding

This Classic Southern Banana Pudding is made with whipped sweetened condensed milk and layered with vanilla wafers, fresh bananas, and homemade whipped cream. Meet your new favorite dessert!

Classic Southern Banana Pudding

Ah, Southern Banana Pudding. You can find this dessert all over the American South at family gatherings, picnics, church functions, and any other large celebration. To me, banana pudding is all about love. It’s always shared among loved ones. For many families, this is a foundational dessert. 

My Classic Southern Banana Pudding is traditional banana pudding with a twist. This version is a copycat recipe of the banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery. 

Any great banana pudding will have fresh bananas, vanilla wafer cookies, whipped cream, and either banana-flavored or vanilla pudding. Each element brings something interesting to the recipe. They’re all layered together into one beautiful ice box cake to feed a crwod. 

Classic Southern Banana Pudding

Is Banana Pudding an Icebox Cake?      

Technically, classic banana pudding is an icebox cake. An icebox cake is an unbaked dessert that usually includes cookies and a cream filling. The ingredients are layered together in a pan and chilled in the refrigerator overnight. As the cake sits in the fridge, the cookies soften from the moisture of the cream filling. While the cream loses moisture, it thickens and solidifies. The result is a cake-like texture when you serve the chilled cake the next day.

Some familiar and classic icebox cake recipes include:

  • Banana Pudding
  • Tiramisu
  • Trifles

What’s great about icebox cakes?

First of all, there’s no baking. These are perfect for warm-weather desserts when you want to leave the oven off.

In addittion, they’re totally make-ahead. In fact, you have to make them the day before, which is ideal for entertaining.

And no matter your cooking level, everyone can make an icebox cake! This is a fun way to get the kids involved in the layering process when making this dessert.

Finally, you can easily experiment with the flavors and layers. Try a different kind of cookie or pudding flavor. Or add fresh berries, jam or another flavoring to put your own spin on an icebox dessert. 

Classic Southern Banana Pudding

Ingredients in Classic Southern Banana Pudding

To make traditional Southern-style banana pudding, you’ll need:

  • 3-4 fresh, ripe bananas
  • Ice cold water
  • Vanilla wafers. You can use gluten-free cookies too. 
  • Sweetened condensed milk. This adds to the thick, creamy texture and sweet flavor. 
  • Vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream. Make your own with cold heavy cream and an electric mixer. 
  • Vanilla pudding mix. You could also use banana pudding mix if you like a stronger banana flavor. 
  • Cinnamon
  • Sea Salt

Classic Southern Banana Pudding

Tips to Make Banana Pudding

You’ll start making this recipe by whipping up the pudding. I add sweetened condensed milk to build a thick body to the pudding. This way, the cookies melt into the pudding more slowly so you still have some nice crunchy texture when you serve the cake.

You can use homemade whipped cream or store-bought. Cool Whip will work fine, just use it at fridge temperature, not frozen. 

Remember to layer the pudding in the dish or bowl you want to serve it from. You can use a big baking dish or a pretty glass trifle bowl. 

Classic Southern Banana Pudding

Topping Ideas

Just before serving, add a few more crushed vanilla wafers, sliced bananas, and dollops of whipped cream for garnish. This adds a wonderful textural component to the pudding. 

Classic Southern Banana Pudding

Storage

Store leftover banana pudding in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. The cookies will continue to get soggy, so the texture of the cake will change the longer it’s left in the fridge. 

Classic Southern Banana Pudding

More Favorite Dessert Recipes

If you love this classic southern dessert, you will also love these other sweet treats:

Classic Southern Banana Pudding

Classic Southern Banana Pudding

Classic Southern Banana Pudding

Prep Time: 20 mins
Chill Time: 1 hr
Total Time: 1 hr 20 mins
Serves: 8 servings
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Ingredients

  • 4 medium organic bananas, peeled + sliced
  • 1 (12 oz.) box vanilla wafer cookies (HALF are crushed; Other half are whole)
  • 1 (3 oz.) box vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk, low-fat
  • 1 1/2 cups water, ICE COLD!
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of cinnamon

OPTIONAL TOPPING:

  • 3-4 cups Homemade Whipped Cream (See Notes!)
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon

Instructions

  • Mix together the ice cold water, vanilla pudding mix, and sweetened condensed milk until thick, about 10 minutes on medium-high speed. **NOTE: The mixture should look like pudding**.
  • Finally, add in vanilla extract, salt, cinnamon and mix for another minute or so.
  • Gently fold in the homemade whipped cream (or Cool Whip) into the pudding mixture using a spatula until, well incorporated.
  • In a trifle bowl (or your favorite dish), layer vanilla wafers, sliced bananas, and pudding mixture; repeat layering until all ingredients have been used.
  • Garnish top with remaining vanilla wafers (the crushed ones!) and Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Best if chilled overnight.
  • Bon Appetit!

Tips & Tricks

  • HOMEMADE WHIPPED CREAM: In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whip the heavy cream (3-4 cups), using the whisk attachment for 4-5 minutes, until fluffy peaks begin to form. **NOTE: When it begins to thicken after the first 2-3 minutes, gradually add in 1 Tbsp vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt.** Once fully fluffy, remove from mixer bowl and continue recipe. 
  • STORAGE: Keep leftovers tightly sealed and refrigerated. Best if consumed within 3 days.

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  1. This is so creamy and delicious – we all thoroughly enjoyed this fabulous banana pudding. Great flavour and texture!

  2. Just looking at the photograph made me feel so heavy.

    But, after reading about the ingredients and imagining myself eating a few bananas, only to feel hungry a while later, I think this will become a good brunch meal!

    Eating bananas makes you feel fresh on the inside and that triggers a refreshing response – you become another kind of active and you feel that you can get things done – a great way to start the day!

    I can’t wait to eat this bowl, chilled!

    • Thanks so much Saryan! You’re absolutely right about bananas! I do hope that you enjoy this recipe once you give it a try!