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Delicious Homemade Southern Banana Pudding (From Scratch)

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Real homemade banana pudding is made with custard cooked on top of the stove.

Real homemade banana pudding is made with custard cooked on top of the stove.

Decadent Southern Dessert

Banana pudding is at the top of my list of favorite classic Southern desserts. Real banana pudding is made with custard cooked from scratch, not pudding from a box— and certainly not instant pudding from a box. It’s like nails on a chalkboard for me when an otherwise sane Southerner says they have a great banana pudding recipe made with instant pudding. I call that version “steak house” banana pudding because it has been popularized by steak house all-you-can-eat buffets.

The problem with instant pudding, besides the fact that it does not taste as good as homemade custard, is the texture of the vanilla wafers. One of the best things about a really great banana pudding is the gooey texture of the vanilla wafers after being softened by the hot custard. The texture change doesn’t happen with instant pudding. The wafers stay firm and crunchy.

Warning: This banana pudding is so good, it’s advisable to make a double batch.


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 heaping tablespoons flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cans evaporated milk
  • 4-6 medium bananas
  • 1 box Nilla Vanilla Wafers



  1. Stir sugar and flour together in a saucepan.
  2. Add egg yolks and evaporated milk, and stir to combine.
  3. Cook on medium until boiling, monitoring constantly. Use a double boiler if you have one.
  4. Set aside 10-12 perfect, unbroken vanilla wafers.
  5. Place a layer of vanilla wafers in the bottom of a 2-quart dish.
  6. Top wafers with a layer of bananas.
  7. Repeat wafer and banana layers for about 3 layers, or until you run out.
  8. Pour custard over the top.
  9. Decorate the top with the vanilla wafers you set aside, unless you are going to top with meringue, in which case you can place the wafers vertically, arranged evenly spaced around the edge of the dish.

Step 1: Layer

Vanilla wafer and banana layers

Vanilla wafer and banana layers

Step 2: Pour the Custard

Pouring custard over bananas and vanilla wafers.

Pouring custard over bananas and vanilla wafers.

Step 3: Decorate the Top With Vanilla Wafers

Put the wafers on top!

Put the wafers on top!

Meringue Recipe

Here’s where some Southerners might call me out. I do not like meringue. It’s just not a pleasant texture for me. I’m including how to make meringue for those who want the full Southern banana pudding experience.


  • 2 egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ¼ cup sugar


1. Mix with an electric mixer until frothy.

2. Pour over banana pudding and bake at 325° F for 15 to 20 minutes.

Pineapple Pudding

Growing up in the South with a close-knit extended family, we got together for dinners, later called “eatin’ meetins,” several times a year. We almost always had banana pudding. My mom and all my aunts made great banana pudding from scratch.

A variation of banana pudding is pineapple pudding. My Aunt Ola Belle used to make the banana pudding recipe with vanilla wafers, cooked custard, and pineapple. Use a large can of crushed pineapple, drained, layering with vanilla wafers and custard.

Seems like someone in the family used to make strawberry pudding, but I’ll have to ask my mom about that. You’d have to do something to render some of the liquid out of the strawberries (such as maybe cooking them just a little bit) and then drain them. Seems like it would also be a good idea to use extra wafers to soak up the extra liquid.

Chocolate Pudding

Another tasty variation of the banana pudding recipe is to make a chocolate pudding. Prepare the custard, and add two tablespoons of Hershey’s Cocoa. Layer vanilla wafers and chocolate custard. Allow to cool for 30 minutes, then refrigerate. Serve chilled.

You could try some warm, but it takes a few hours to get the gooey vanilla wafer texture, and you don’t want to leave the pudding out this long. This can be incredibly rich and decadent. You may want to use less cocoa and try small servings.

© 2012 rmcrayne