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!
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.
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:
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.
To make traditional Southern-style banana pudding, you’ll need:
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.
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.
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.
If you love this classic southern dessert, you will also love these other sweet treats: