Grandma's Southern Banana Pudding Recipe is a homemade from-scratch banana pudding that has layers of crunchy vanilla wafers, perfectly fresh bananas, and the best homemade cooked vanilla pudding you've ever had the opportunity to taste!
Is there a recipe in your family that's been passed down for generations? One that makes you feel all warm & fuzzy and every bite is pure comfort food?
This is one of those recipes. A recipe has been in my family for my whole life and then some. This is my great-grandmother's banana pudding recipe. A from-scratch no-bake recipe that is the definition of comfort food if there ever was any.
At our family get-togethers, it is affectionately called "Aunt Jessie's Banana Pudding" because that's what everybody called my great-grandmother... "Aunt Jessie."
I never knew Aunt Jessie - she died before I was even a year old. And my grandmother was not in our life either so the only person who's ever made this recipe for me is my Mama. And she makes it a lot!
Let me tell you - this classic southern dessert is present at every family gathering, sometimes at our church potlucks, and occasionally Mama will make it for a birthday gift.
It's easily both of my brothers' favorite desserts, and my Mama never misses an opportunity to make it for them. They will all tell you that grandma's old-fashioned banana pudding is the BEST banana pudding recipe!
This homemade southern banana pudding recipe is a no-bake, completely from-scratch recipe. You won't find any instant pudding mix here. And I guess you could say my family are purists... they never add meringue or whipped cream to it (although if you want to... go for it. I won't tell Mama! 😉)
So let's get to it - you'll find the ingredients, tools, and instructions below, and here's a video to get you started:
Self-rising flour - I rarely use self-rising flour these days but I often find it in old recipes so it must have been a staple in kitchens many years ago.
Milk - we prefer whole milk, but 2% will work as well.
Salted butter - again, all of my Mama and Grandmother's recipe used salted butter, so that's what we use in this recipe. If you only have unsalted butter, just add a pinch of salt to the recipe and you'll be all set.
Bananas - this recipe is best with just barely ripe bananas, but not overly ripe. You want them to still be a little bit firm to hold up in the hot cooked pudding
How to Make Southern Banana Pudding
Then add another cup of milk and ½ cup melted butter. Whisk until smooth.
Finally add vanilla and whisk again.
Cook on medium heat until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly.
This will take probably 15-20 minutes. Once it’s thickened, remove the pan from heat and let the pudding mixture rest for 10 minutes.
Then top with sliced bananas (about ¼ inch thick).
TIP: Slice the bananas at the last minute. If you prep and slice them ahead of time, you run the risk of them turning brown.
Pour the warm homemade vanilla pudding over the cookies and bananas.
Then cover the top with another layer of sliced bananas.
Finally, top the dish with more vanilla wafers. Mama usually uses whole vanilla wafers but if you have a box with a bunch of broken ones in the bottom (like me!), crumble them up and top the whole thing with crushed cookies! Either way, it'll be delicious!
Allow it to sit and thicken at room temp for up to an hour so the pudding will continue to thicken.
My family enjoys it warm or at room temperature. Just scoop out a bowl and dig in! But if you're making it ahead of time, you can refrigerate for 3-4 hours and serve it cold straight out of the fridge.
Many old-fashioned banana pudding recipes include meringue or whipped topping. My family enjoys this recipe without either of those, but they would certainly not mess up the dessert if you want to add them!
Note: If you decide to top with meringue, this is no longer a no-bake banana pudding. Meringue will require that you bake the pudding for a few minutes.
Banana pudding is known as a southern dessert but there is no real source for why this is true. It is known that this dessert didn't become popular until after the civil war when bananas became more popular and available in America.
Some think it's because bananas come from more southern regions and therefore were easier to access for southerners. Others say that it's a southern thing because we (in the south) are known for our sweets and desserts and this is definitely a sweet, sweet dessert! I also read that it became known as southern style banana pudding because it is a dessert that can be made without an oven (since the pudding or custard is cooked on the stovetop). And let me tell you, I can believe that because we southerners definitely avoid using the oven when the summer heat kicks in.
Absolutely yes! My family enjoys it warm and I'd say even prefers it that way. But it's really a matter of personal taste. If you prefer it cold or you're making it ahead of time, you can refrigerate for 3-4 hours and serve it cold straight out of the fridge.
Exposure to air is what browns or ripens the bananas, so you want to avoid that. There are a few things you can do to avoid ripening the bananas or them turning brown. First, don't prep them ahead of time - only cut them when you're ready to assemble the pudding. This is one step you want to wait and do this step last minute.
Also, if you're going not going to serve immediately, wait to add the top layer of bananas until just before serving. OR cover the top of the pudding with plastic wrap with the plastic touching the bananas on top so there's as little air as possible.
Last - use a plastic knife to cut the bananas. When you use a steel knife a chemical reaction occurs that causes the sliced bananas to ripen faster.
Ultimately the bananas will start to turn brown in the pudding, which is why I recommend using just-ripe bananas. That will extend the life of your dessert. See below for a few other tips!
- If you plan to make this old fashioned banana pudding ahead of time, one thing you can to to extend the life of the pudding is cover all the sliced bananas with pudding. Here's how I'd recommend doing that: layer cookies, banana slices, ½ the pudding, more bananas and cookies, then top with the pudding again so that all the bananas are "sealed" with pudding. Garnish the top with cookies only so there are no bananas exposed on top.
- Keep the pudding tightly covered with plastic wrap in the fridge. Place the wrap all the way down onto the pudding so that there's no air.
- As mentioned before, use barely ripe bananas (I like them almost green). The riper they are, the faster they'll turn brown in your recipe.
- When pouring the pudding over the cookies and bananas - pour slowly!! If you go fast, the pudding will push the cookies out of the way and you'll end up having to try and rearrange them in the hot pudding. It's not fun!! Ask me how I know 😂
- I mentioned this earlier, but sometimes you open a pack of vanilla wafers only to find a bunch of them broken. That's totally okay - use whole cookies, broken cookies or cookie crumbs. It may not look as pretty, but it'll all taste the same in the end!
- Boxes of vanilla wafers vary from 10-16 oz. I usually use a whole (15 ounce) box of the cookies but you could get by with less. When in doubt, buy an extra box of cookies.
- Cut this recipe in half and it works perfectly in an 8x8 baking dish!
How long can you store banana pudding?
Banana pudding is best fresh or the next day, but it will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days if tightly covered in plastic wrap.
More Delicious Recipes to try...
This recipe was shared over at South Your Mouth!Print