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My Grandma's Baked Southern Banana Pudding

April 26, 2023
Shanika | Orchids + Sweet Tea
My Grandma's Baked Southern Banana Pudding is velvety, comforting, and packed full of banana and vanilla goodness! This beloved dessert is a must-have for any occasion---the Southern way!

My Grandma's Baked Southern Banana Pudding

There's nothing like this delicious dessert experience - My Grandma's Baked Southern Banana Pudding. This classic Southern recipe features layers of silky homemade vanilla pudding, sliced fresh bananas, and crispy vanilla wafers, all topped off with a generous serving of homemade whipped cream or meringue--if that's your thing. The combination of flavors and textures creates a truly irresistible dessert that's perfect for any occasion. Whether you're hosting a dinner party or simply looking for a comforting treat, this Southern banana pudding recipe is sure to impress. Plus, it's always best after the first day once chilled completely in the fridge. Banana-free, No-Bake, + Vegan options.

Baked banana pudding in a plate with two spoons on a white table.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links via Amazon for products that I wholeheartedly love.

When it comes to My Grandma's Baked Southern Banana Pudding, I get excited every time because of it's luscious, rich, and creamy texture that I remember so vividly growing up when she used to make it during our Saturday movie nights. It was "our thing" and something so easy that literally took her minutes to whip together---one layer of cookie, bananas, and whipped cream at a time. This recipe is truly a Southern staple and one of the things I miss after moving from Florida.

Now that I live in New York, I enjoy Magnolia Bakery's version of banana pudding which is similar to my Classic Southern Banana Pudding recipe and Caramelized "Crunch" Banana Pudding which I recommend and are entirely no bake. Need some food inspiration? Look no further than our lineup of 21 Soul-Satisfying Southern Comfort Food Recipes.

Of course, you can keep things traditional by using meringue instead of whipped cream and you'll only need a few things to achieve this: 4 egg whites, ¼ cup of cane sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar. Simply remove the egg whites (still chilled) and add it to an electric stand-mixer bowl. Whip the egg whites until smooth and glossy and then slowly add the sugar (1 tablespoon at a time) to the mixture, beating until stiff peaks form. Then continue recipe for assembly.

What is Banana Pudding?

Basically, banana pudding is an old-fashioned Southern dessert that comes layered like a trifle. The layering includes: vanilla custard, vanilla cookies, and slices of bananas---sometimes topped with meringue or whipped cream.

This recipe is very authentic to the traditional Southern recipe of banana pudding and you can feel free to make substitutions as listed in the ingredients list based on your preference.

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Ingredients for Grandma\'s Baked Southern Banana Pudding, including condensed sweetened milk, bananas, vanilla extract, eggs, butter, milk, and cornstarch.

Banana Pudding Ingredients

Here’s what you need to throw together this easy delicious Baked Southern Banana Pudding dessert:

  • Bananas. You’ll need 4-5, depending on the size. Make sure they’re soft and ripe for the sweetest flavor. 
  • Almond milk. I like to use unsweetened almond milk, however, you can use regular whole milk as well.
  • Sweetened condensed milk. I use low-fat for the vanilla pudding. It adds plenty of richness and sweetness with a wonderfully thick texture. But full-fat condensed milk is fine! You can also substitute with cane sugar in the pudding instead as well.
  • Egg yolks. You'll need 4 egg yolks for the homemade vanilla pudding. If using meringue, save the egg whites!
  • Cornstarch. I love using arrowroot starch, all-purpose flour, or regular cornstarch as the thickening agent. Be sure to mix it together with warm water until it becomes a smooth "milky-like" consistency.
  • Spices. I always add spices to everything. A bit of cinnamon and nutmeg changes things!
  • Whipped cream. I love whipped cream more than meringue, however, either toppings will do!
  • Vanilla wafers. My favorite cookies to use, but Gingersnap or Chessmen cookies are a great Southern twist also.
  • Vanilla extract. Make sure you’re using the real stuff, not imitation!
Nilla wafer cookies in the box and in a wooden bowl on a white table.

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 EASY version (as I've mentioned earlier in the post), which uses vanilla pudding mix and is closest to Magnolia Bakery.

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. If using whipped cream, you'll just bake until the tops (cookies and all) are golden brown and the pudding is bubbling.

Bananas sliced on a cutting board with a knife on a white table.

How to Assemble the Banana Pudding:

I recommend making the banana pudding in a baking dish or foil pan (traditionally done in the South) which are both oven-safe.

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

  1. Start with a layer of cookies on the bottom. You'll use most of the cookies, saving a handful to be crushed as the topping.
  2. Add a layer of sliced bananas, evenly spreading them atop cookies. Save a few banana slices for the very top layer.
  3. Carefully pour the warm vanilla pudding atop everything, spreading it with a spoon or spatula.
  4. In the end: Top with pieces of crushed cookies and a few banana slices, if desired. NOTE: your final layer will be the meringue if using it in this recipe.

Once baked, for garnish on top, add more cookies and the whipped cream (if not using meringue). Serve warm. For leftovers, chill the fully assembled dessert after it cools completely at room temperature and refrigerate in a tightly sealed container for 2 to 3 days. For the best flavor and texture, it's best when eaten the next day!

How To Make Homemade Whipped Cream

If you're thinking about keeping things from scratch instead of using Cool Whip for this banana pudding, no problem! Whipping together homemade whipped cream is super easy and only requires a mixer to achieve the perfect peeks! Here's what you'll need:

  • 4-3 cups organic heavy cream, VERY COLD
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whip the heavy cream, 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 in a pot with a gold whisk on a white table.

How to Make Banana Pudding

First, you'll start by making your homemade vanilla pudding over the stovetop and letting the butter melt completely, before adding in the milk and remaining ingredients, whisking and slowly cooking until smooth and thickened.

Then it's on to assembling your banana pudding: starting with a layer of vanilla wafer cookies, followed by banana slices, and the warm vanilla pudding. Finally, you can add crushed cookies and a few more banana slices at the very top, if desired.

Then bake everything for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and the pudding begins to bubble. Serve after 5-10 minutes of the banana pudding cooling.

Tips To Make THE BEST Banana Pudding

  • Use ripe bananas for the best flavor and texture.
  • Pour the warm homemade vanilla pudding atop everything shortly after whipping it together which helps the flavors to "melt together" prior to baking.
  • If you want a crunchier texture, sprinkle additional crumbled Nilla wafer cookies on top of the whipped cream or meringue.
  • Bake your banana pudding in a non-stick baking dish or foil pan for best results.
  • Get creative and experiment with different flavor variations, such as adding chocolate or caramel sauce, or using different types of cookies AKA try Best Biscoff Banana Pudding with Caramel 
  • Have fun and enjoy the process! Making banana pudding is a great activity to do with friends and family, and the end result is a delicious dessert that everyone will love
  • Use a spatula or wooden spoon to spread the whipped cream or meringue evenly over the top layer of the pudding. You can use homemade whipped cream or store-bought. Cool Whip will work fine, just use it at fridge temperature, not frozen. 
Baked banana pudding out of the oven in a baking dish on a white table.

How to Ripen Bananas for Banana Pudding

Have you ever had bananas that weren't fully ripe, but you were dying to make a banana pudding? Well, I totally understand. I've definitely been there. Luckily, I've come across a few hacks to help you ripen your bananas if you're in a pinch and here's what you can do:

  • Keep the banana bunches together to avoid the ripening process from stalling. 
  • Store your bananas in a warm place like near a heater or atop your refrigerator. This helps them to ripen faster.
  • Using a paper bag, add your bananas inside and fold it over to close it. The gases from inside the bag once shut tight will ripen the bananas within 24-36 hours.

If you're looking to ripe your bananas more quickly for making this banana pudding then you can do one of the following:

  • Oven Method: Preheat the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit and place bananas (with peels on) unto a baking sheet and let them bake for 15-20 minutes or until skins are black. The bananas at this point should be soft and sweet.
  • Microwave Method: Poke holes into the peel bananas (all around) and microwave for 30 seconds at a time until the bananas are soft enough. 
Baked banana pudding in a baking dish topped with whipped cream and a spoon on a white table.

Common FAQ's for Banana Pudding

What is a Substitute for Nilla Wafers?

OK, so if you aren't into Nilla wafers, don't currently have them on hand, or just want to switch things up-----don't worry! They can easily be substituted with Chessman cookies or Graham crackers, if preferred. In addition, you can use: shortbread cookies, animal crackers, or ladyfingers. If you'd like to switch things up a bit, I totally recommend Biscoff cookies like within my Best Biscoff Banana Pudding with Caramel recipe.

What Keeps Bananas from Turning Brown in Banana Pudding?

One of the biggest challenges for some people is the idea that the bananas will turn brown in their banana pudding after awhile, which is often the natural process of bananas once removed from their skin and sliced. However, there is a trick that you can do to slow this process down completely----which is adding a bit of lemon juice to your banana slices prior to adding them to your banana pudding. This helps to keep the bananas fresh for at least 3-4 days. Wallah!

Can I Make Single-Serving Pudding?

Yes! If you prefer to make individual servings of dessert, you can layer the cookies, banana slices, and warm vanilla pudding in small cocottes or ramekins (which are oven-safe) for a cute and portable dessert. Because who doesn't love an easy dessert on the go?

Can I Omit Bananas in this Banana Pudding?

Absolutely! You can totally omit the bananas if you aren't a banana fan and add extra cookies, if you want more of a "bite". It's really SO good, either way!

Can I Make this Banana Pudding Vegan?

Of course! To make this banana pudding vegan, simply ensure that you use plant-based milk, vegan butter, and 1 Tablespoon of flour with the cornstarch to replace the egg yolks for your vanilla pudding. Also, use organic vanilla wafer cookies and top everything with coconut whipped cream for a nice finish. Wallah!

Can I Make this Banana Pudding No-Bake?

Yes indeed! You can definitely make this no bake by using a vanilla pudding mix instead of making your own pudding and then going right to assembly and chilling everything.

SHOP MY FAVORITE TOOLS FOR COOKING, ESPECIALLY FOR THIS BANANA PUDDING!

Here, I’ve curated a list of cooking + baking essentials that I use to achieve my favorite baked goods or cooked meals, especially with My Grandma's Baked Southern Banana Pudding. Everything from my fave baking sheet, parchment paper, food processor, high-powered blender, skillets, and more. SEE THEM HERE!

Overhead image of baked banana pudding with a spoon.

More Amazing Southern Recipes to Try!

If you love My Grandma's Baked Southern Banana Pudding, try these classic Southern recipes next!

  • Southern-Style Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls [Soft + Gooey]
  • Iced Lemon Loaf Pound Cake
  • The BEST Southern Baked Mac and Cheese
  • Lemon Brown Butter Pasta
Overhead image of baked banana pudding with a spoon.

How to Best Store Banana Pudding Last?

Store leftover banana pudding in the fridge (tightly sealed) after cooling completely 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. 

Baked banana pudding in a baking dish half scooped out with a spoon on a white table.

MADE OUR RECIPE(S)?

If you tried My Grandma's Baked Southern Banana Pudding or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below. I love hearing from you.

Overhead image of baked banana pudding with a spoon.

My Grandma's Baked Southern Banana Pudding

April 26, 2023
5 from 14 votes
My Grandma's Baked Southern Banana Pudding is velvety, comforting, and packed full of banana and vanilla goodness! This beloved dessert is a must-have for any occasion---the Southern way!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 5 organic bananas, sliced
  • 2 (11 oz.) boxes Nilla wafer cookies (Save a handful to crush for the topping)
  • 4 cups whipped cream, store-bought or homemade (You can also make meringue; See Post for details)

HOMEMADE VANILLA PUDDING:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 4 cups Almond milk, unsweetened (You can also use whole milk, if preferred)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 (8 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk (You can sub with ½ cup of cane sugar instead)
  • 4 Tbsps arrowroot or cornstarch (Mix with ½ cup of warm water to create a "milky" consistency)
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly greasing a standard 9x13 baking dish.

To Make the Homemade Vanilla Pudding:

  • In a medium sauce pan over medium high-heat, add the butter until melted. Once fully melted, add in the milk, stirring them together until combined, reducing the heat to medium-low.
  • Before adding in the egg yolks, scoop a few spoonsfuls of the warm milk mixture into a bowl with your egg yolks and whisk until smooth. NOTE: This prevents the eggs from getting too hot and "curdling".
  • Add the egg yolk mixture to the sauce pan with the milk and whisk to combine. Add in the vanilla, condensed milk, cinnamon, and nutmeg, continuing to whisk to combine. Lastly, whisk in the cornstarch mixture and continue to whisk until the pudding begins to thicken, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Once thickened and smooth, remove from heat and set aside.

Assembly:

  • In the prepared baking dish, layer cookies and sliced bananas, evenly spreading them out. Carefully pour warm vanilla pudding mixture atop and add a few more cookies and bananas, if desired. NOTE: If making meringue, you'll top everything with meringue before baking.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and the pudding becomes bubbly.
  • Remove from oven and let cool slightly for 5-10 minutes before serving warm. Top with whipped cream and additional crushed cookies, if desired.
  • Bon Appetit!

Tips & Tricks

  • STORAGE: Store leftover banana pudding in the fridge (tightly sealed) after cooling completely 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. 
  • MERINGUE: If you'd like to make meringue instead of using whipped cream, see post for recipe option!

Nutrition

Calories: 304kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 128mg | Sodium: 197mg | Potassium: 319mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 560IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 199mg | Iron: 1mg

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Script text: Xx, Shanika

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