Southern Banana Pudding

Southern Banana Pudding: A Timeless Dessert Classic

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Welcome to the sweet indulgence of Southern Banana Pudding—a beloved dessert that evokes nostalgia and comfort with every creamy bite. This iconic Southern treat is a delightful combination of luscious custard, ripe bananas, and crisp vanilla wafers, creating a symphony of flavors and textures that is simply irresistible. Join us as we delve into the heart of this timeless recipe, exploring its origins, sharing cooking tips, and offering variations to suit every taste. Let’s embark on a culinary journey to create the perfect Southern Banana Pudding that will delight your taste buds and warm your soul.


  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • Dash of salt
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 45 vanilla wafers
  • 5 ripe bananas, sliced (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar


1. Prepare the Custard:

  1. Mix Dry Ingredients: In a medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, flour, and a dash of salt. Stir until well combined.
  2. Add Egg Yolks and Milk: In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks. Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan with the dry ingredients, whisking constantly to prevent lumps.
  3. Cook the Custard: Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until it thickens to a pudding-like consistency. This usually takes about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

2. Assemble the Banana Pudding:

  1. Layer Vanilla Wafers and Bananas: Arrange a layer of vanilla wafers on the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish or serving bowl. Top with a layer of sliced bananas.
  2. Add Custard: Pour half of the warm custard over the banana and vanilla wafer layer, spreading it evenly with a spatula.
  3. Repeat Layers: Add another layer of vanilla wafers followed by sliced bananas. Pour the remaining custard over the top, ensuring all the bananas are covered.

3. Prepare the Meringue:

  1. Beat Egg Whites: In a clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form.
  2. Gradually Add Sugar: Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, beating continuously until stiff peaks form and the meringue is glossy.

4. Top and Bake:

  1. Spread Meringue: Spoon the meringue over the top of the banana pudding, spreading it to the edges to seal in the custard completely.
  2. Bake: Place the assembled pudding in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the meringue is golden brown.
  3. Chill and Serve: Remove the banana pudding from the oven and let it cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight, to allow the flavors to meld together. Serve chilled and enjoy the creamy goodness!

Cook’s Notes and Variations:

  • Whipped Cream Topping: For a lighter alternative to meringue, top the banana pudding with freshly whipped cream just before serving. Sprinkle with crushed vanilla wafers for an extra crunch.
  • Chocolate Twist: Layer chocolate wafers or drizzle chocolate sauce between the vanilla wafers and bananas for a decadent chocolate banana pudding variation.
  • Coconut Flavor: Add shredded coconut to the custard mixture for a tropical twist, complementing the sweetness of the bananas.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q: Can I use instant pudding mix instead of making the custard from scratch? A: While instant pudding mix offers convenience, making the custard from scratch yields a richer and creamier texture. However, you can certainly use instant pudding mix if you’re short on time.

Q: How do I prevent the bananas from turning brown? A: To prevent the bananas from oxidizing and turning brown, toss them in lemon juice or pineapple juice before layering them in the pudding. This will help preserve their color and freshness.

Q: Can I make this dessert ahead of time? A: Yes, Southern Banana Pudding actually tastes better when made ahead of time as it allows the flavors to meld together. Simply assemble the pudding, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Q: Can I freeze leftover banana pudding? A: While you can freeze leftover banana pudding, keep in mind that the texture of the bananas may change slightly upon thawing. It’s best enjoyed fresh, but frozen leftovers can still be delicious.

Keto Version and Low-Carb Adaptation:

For those following a keto or low-carb lifestyle, here’s how you can modify this recipe:

  • Low-Carb Custard: Substitute granulated sugar with a low-carb sweetener such as erythritol or stevia. Use almond or coconut milk instead of regular milk to reduce the carb content.
  • Keto-Friendly Toppings: Replace the vanilla wafers with keto-friendly cookies or omit them altogether to reduce carbs. Top the pudding with a dollop of sugar-free whipped cream sweetened with stevia.

Indulge in the timeless delight of Southern Banana Pudding—a dessert that captures the essence of Southern hospitality and culinary tradition. With its creamy custard, ripe bananas, and crunchy vanilla wafers, this iconic treat is sure to evoke fond memories and create new ones with every heavenly spoonful. Whether shared at potlucks, family gatherings, or enjoyed as a sweet finale to any meal, Southern Banana Pudding is a cherished classic that never fails to bring joy to the table. So gather your ingredients, follow the recipe with care, and treat yourself to the irresistible allure of this beloved Southern dessert.

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