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Classic Southern Banana Pudding

July 5, 2022
Recipes - Dessert
This creamy and light banana pudding is a classic Southern favorite 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! A complete sweet indulge!

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 and a twist of the recipe that my Grandma used to make for me growing up---although she often baked hers.

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 dessert that can be enjoyed in scoops.

And when I’m feeling fancy, these Banana Pudding Cheesecake Bites always hit the spot.

Oh and if you're into banana puddings, then I HIGHLY recommend trying this Delicious Peanut Butter Banana Pudding, which really is one for the books!

Classic Southern Banana Pudding

How to Make Banana Pudding

If you're into creating easy recipes, this banana pudding is a great no-bake recipe to try out in the kitchen. Also, kids can whip up the banana pudding and help you layer the dessert as well---making for a fun family activity.

The best part about this recipe is that you don’ need any special equipment outside of an electric stand-mixer or hand-mixer and a boxed pudding mix-----which makes it totally fool-proof. 

INGREDIENT NOTES

Here’s what you need to throw together this 20-minute Classic Banana Pudding dessert:

  • Bananas. You’ll need 3-4, depending on the size. Make sure they’re soft and ripe for the sweetest flavor. 
  • Ice cold water. It’s important to use cold water to get the right consistency in your pudding.
  • Sweetened condensed milk. I use low-fat for this pudding. It adds plenty of richness and sweetness with a wonderfully thick texture.
  • Heavy cream to make whipped cream. You can also use softened Cool Whip.
  • Vanilla wafers or Gingersnap or Chessmen cookies for a more Southern twist.
  • Vanilla extract. Make sure you’re using the real stuff, not imitation!
  • Vanilla pudding mix for the easiest pudding you’ll ever make. 

Classic Southern Banana Pudding

How to Make Banana Pudding from Scratch?

To make Banana Pudding entirely from scratch, you'll need to have THREE components ready:

  • Homemade vanilla pudding
  • 3-4 bananas, sliced
  • Whipped cream or meringue (if you're feeling fancy)

First you'll start by making your homemade vanilla pudding over the stovetop and whisking in the butter and vanilla, and then it's on to assembling your banana pudding: starting with a layer of vanilla wafer cookies, followed banana slices, vanilla pudding, and whipped cream. Repeat until all ingredients are used, then add crushed cookies at the very top.

Then you place plastic wrap atop everything (lightly pressing it in so that the wrap touches the top of the pudding) and place it in the refrigerator to chill. 

Let everything chill for at least 4 hours, but know that it always tastes even more delicious the next day---once the flavors really "set in".

Ingredients for Homemade Vanilla Pudding

To make your own vanilla pudding instead of buying a store-bought version, here's what you'll need:

  • 3 cups milk (whole milk is best)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2-3 Tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
  • ½ cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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

Classic Southern Banana Pudding

Baked Banana Pudding vs. No-Bake Banana Pudding

OK, so maybe you didn't know that there are two types of banana pudding recipes. A true classic Southern traditional banana pudding is baked with a beautiful meringue and everything is married together well! And then there's a no-bake version, which is this Banana Pudding recipe that I'm sharing. 

For the baked version of banana pudding, you'll make your homemade pudding per usual, layer everything, and then whip together an easy meringue using egg whites which will be fluffy and cloudy and is used as the "topping" of your banana pudding.

Then you bake everything for a few minutes until the meringue is browned and remove it, let it cool, and then serve. 

For a great recipe, see Food Network's Banana Pudding recipe.

Assembling Layered Banana Pudding 

I recommend serving this banana pudding in a glass bowl. If you have a trifle bowl with a stand, even better!

Once your pudding is made and chilled, you’re ready to assemble. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start with a layer of cookies on the bottom. 
  2. Add a layer of sliced bananas. 
  3. Spread on some of the pudding. 
  4. Repeat!
  5. In the end: Top with a few dollops of whipped cream + crushed cookies.

For garnish on top, add more cookies, plain whipped cream and finally a last drizzle of peanut butter. Then chill the fully assembled dessert for 2 to 3 hours. For the best flavor and texture, chill the dish overnight. 

Classic Southern Banana Pudding

Tips to Make the Best 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. 

Can I Make Single-Serving Puddings?

Yes! If you prefer to make individual servings of dessert, you can layer the cookies, banana slices, and pudding in small glass mason jars for a cute and portable dessert. 

Classic Southern Banana Pudding

Topping Ideas for Banana Pudding

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

How Long Does Banana Pudding Last?

Store leftover banana pudding in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. The cookies will continue to get soggy, so the texture of the entire dish will change the longer it's left in the fridge past those amount of days. 

Best Ways to Use Those Ripe Bananas + Awesome Recipes to Try

Bananas are a staple in my home, and I usually go through all of them every week, but every now and again, we will have a few extra bananas that are overripe and on the verge of going bad.
 
This is the perfect time for them to be used in a wide variety of different banana recipes! Here are the best ways to use those ripe bananas plus awesome recipes to try?

Classic Southern Banana Pudding

More Favorite Dessert Recipes

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

MADE OUR RECIPE(S)?

If you make this Classic Southern Banana Pudding, be sure to tag me on Instagram @orchidsandsweettea!

Classic Southern Banana Pudding

Classic Southern Banana Pudding

Classic Southern Banana Pudding

4.91 from 11 votes
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! A complete sweet indulge!
Prep Time: 20 mins
Chill Time: 4 hrs
Total Time: 20 mins
Serves: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 organic bananas, sliced
  • 1 (11 oz.) box Nilla wafer Cookies (Save a small amount for crushing for the topping, if desired)
  • 1 (3 oz.) box vanilla instant pudding mix (I like to use the Jell-O brand; If using the small standard 1 oz. box, be sure to purchase 3 of those!; SEE NOTES!)
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3-4 cups VERY COLD filtered water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (8 oz.) container Whipped Cream, store-bought or homemade (You can use Cool Whip or See Notes!)
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon, optional
  • Pinch of sea salt

TOPPINGS:

  • Whipped Cream, store-bought or homemade (You can use Cool Whip or See Notes!)
  • Crushed Nilla wafer cookies

Instructions

  • In the bowl of an electric stand-mixer (using the whisk attachment), mix together the ice cold water (start with 3 cups and work to 4 cups if needed based on the consistency of pudding), vanilla pudding mix, and sweetened condensed milk until thick, about 10 minutes on medium-high speed. NOTE: The mixture should look like pudding. NOTE: If using a hand-mixer instead, you may need an EXTRA BOX of vanilla pudding to ensure that the consistency is creamy and not too 'watery'.
  • Finally, add in vanilla extract, cinnamon, salt 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 cookies, sliced bananas, and pudding mixture; repeat layering until all ingredients have been used.
  • Garnish top with a few dollops of whipped cream and vanilla wafers (crushed) and Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Best if chilled overnight.
  • Bon Appetit!

Tips & Tricks

  • 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 entire dish will change the longer it's left in the fridge past those amount of days. 
  • 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 tablespoon vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt.** Once fully fluffy, remove from mixer bowl and continue recipe. 
  • HOMEMADE VANILLA PUDDING: See post for notes and ingredients.
  • BOX OF VANILLA PUDDING: I HIGHLY recommend using an electric stand-mixer for making the pudding, however, if you're using a hand-mixer, be sure that the water is EXTREMELY COLD + You may need to add an EXTRA BOX of vanilla pudding so that it forms to a creamy consistency and not 'watery'.

DID YOU MAKE THIS recipe?

Tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea

Classic Southern Banana Pudding.

 

 

ORCHIDS + SWEET TEA

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  1. This recipe was delicious and I loved it! It reminded me of my grandmother's banana pudding growing up. One thing I would like to note, if you're making homemade whipped cream- don't forget to add sugar otherwise it won't taste very good! I thought maybe the vanilla would be enough, but it was not, so I added some confectioner's sugar (about 1 tbsp per cup of cream) and it made it perfect.

    • Hi Emily! Yay----I'm so happy to hear that you loved this banana pudding! It's definitely something that I enjoyed eating by my Grandma too! Thanks so much for the extra tip and for giving this a try! 🙂

  2. I used this recipe to make individual little servings in ball jars! Layered it up just like the recipe and it was delicious. Added some dulce de leche too! Delicious and will make again 🙂

    • Hi Brooke! I'm truly so happy that you enjoyed this recipe! I love the idea of dulce de leche---YUM! 🙂

  3. I made this over the weekend and it was a total hit! My banana loving family absolutely loved it!

  4. This banana pudding is perfect for the weekend gathering with friends and family. Can't wait to try them!

  5. I've never heard of banana pudding but this seems very much like a trifle, which I love! Can't wait to give this a try.

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

  7. 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!