Old-Fashioned Banana Pudding Recipe — This 100% scratch homemade banana pudding recipe is made with vanilla pudding, ripe bananas, and Nilla Wafers. It’s EASY to assemble and SO GOOD!!
Old-Fashioned Banana Pudding Recipe
I recently had a craving for banana pudding. I don’t know why banana pudding of all things popped into my head, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
So I had to make it. Plus, I love Nilla wafers and they’re layered in the pudding and sprinkled on top. Over time, they soften from the pudding but still retain some crunchiness, I’m in heaven.
This no-bake banana pudding recipe reminds me of the banana pudding my grandma used to make.
It’s sweet, creamy, and thick with abundant vanilla.
The pudding itself has no bananas in it, but they’re layered in the pan with Nilla wafers, making the pudding quite universal for non-banana desserts.
Tip: If you’ve never had pudding from scratch, it’s nothing like pudding mix from a box. I love the results of pudding mix in cookies or banana bread, but for eating as-is, scratch pudding is the promised land.
The homemade banana pudding is sweet, luscious, and smooth with big nostalgic appeal.
The texture from the wafers and the bananas, both suspended in thick and creamy pudding, is pure good old-fashioned comfort food in a bowl.
If you’ve never made Nilla Wafer banana pudding from scratch, you’re going to love it.
Old-Fashioned Banana Pudding Ingredients
To make this banana pudding from scratch, you’ll need the following common and easy to find fridge and pantry ingredients including the following:
Note: All ingredients amounts are listed in the recipe card section when you keep scrolling down.
Can I Use Another Type of Milk?
I have only made this recipe with 2% milk. The pudding was wonderfully creamy and thick with 2% and I think whole milk, half-and-half, or cream would make it too thick.
I’m not sure how using a non-dairy milk would work.
Is There a Nilla Wafer Substitute I Can Use?
If you don’t have Nilla Wafers in your area, try graham crackers broken into 1×1-inch squares. It’s not an exact match though, just to be transparent.
Nilla Wafers are the way to go!
How to Make Old-Fashioned Banana Pudding
Making homemade banana pudding is like making gravy. It’s easy, but you’ll become best friends with your whisk for about a half hour.
Get everything you need out and ready before starting because you’ll be busy whisking. Mise en place.
Make the vanilla pudding: In a medium sauce pan, combine sugar, flour, optional pinch of salt, and pour 2 cups of 2% milk over it. Heat the mixture until it begins to boil gently, whisking frequently.
If you don’t whisk frequently, tan pudding skin will form on the bottom of the pan. When it breaks up, you’ll have tan chunks floating through your creamy mixture. No thanks.
Keep the heat at medium because cranking it up will likely cause the mixture to scorch, so just take your time.
It took a good 15 minutes of the pot appearing to do absolutely nothing for my pudding to finally begin to barely boil because I was compulsively whisking. I was staring into the proverbial pot that never boils, whisking it.
After the mixture boils, whisk continually for the next 2 to 4 minutes, or until the pudding has thickened. Take it off the heat and add vanilla.
In a glass measuring cup, whisk together 3 eggs and add about 1/4 cup of the hot pudding mixture to the eggs, whisking the whole time. This is called tempering eggs and if you don’t do it, you’ll literally scramble them.
Slowly pour the contents of the measuring cup into the sauce pan, whisking the entire time. Return the pan to the heat for about 2 to 4 minutes, whisking the whole time. This cooks the eggs.
Assemble the pudding: In the meantime, layer Nilla wafers, topped with bananas, in an 8×8-inch or similar sized pan. Mine was 10×7 inches.
Pour half the pudding over the wafers and bananas. Add another layer of wafers, bananas, and top with the remaining pudding.
Can I Double This Recipe?
I imagine so, but I’ve only made it as written so any modifications you make will be trial and error.
If doubling this banana pudding recipe from scratch, assemble it in a 9×13-inch baking dish.
Can I Prep This in Advance?
I don’t see why not! Like I said, this old-fashioned banana pudding will last up to 4 days in the fridge, so you’re fine to make it the night before you plan on serving it.
How to Keep Bananas From Turning Brown in Banana Pudding?
Once sliced, it’s normal for bananas to turn slightly brown in the Nilla Wafer banana pudding. They’re still completely safe to eat, but I know they don’t look as appealing.
Using ripe, but not brown, bananas helps prevent them from turning brown once sliced.
Also, if you choose to top your homemade banana pudding with whipped cream that helps too. It seals in the bananas and prevents them from being exposed to the air (which is what turns them brown).
I don’t recommend adding lemon juice – both for flavor considerations and because it could potentially start curdling the pudding.
Can I Add Whipped Cream on Top?
Of course! Serve this homemade banana pudding like you grew up eating it. You can use your favorite whipped cream recipe, or you can use the whipped cream I made for this cake.
How Long Will Homemade Banana Pudding Last?
Once assembled, this easy banana pudding from scratch will last up to 4 days in the fridge if stored in an air-tight container.
The bananas won’t brown since they’re not directly exposed to the air, but the Nilla Wafers will soften over time.
Can You Freeze Banana Pudding?
The homemade vanilla pudding itself can be frozen and thawed no problem, but once you’ve assembled the entire dessert I don’t recommend freezing it.
The Nilla Wafers will become soggy and the banana slices will likely become grainy once frozen.
Tips for Making Old-Fashioned Banana Pudding
Bananas: I used ripe bananas, but not over-ripe. Save those really freckled and speckled ones for banana bread. They will just disintegrate and biting into slightly firm banana slices is the goal.
Nilla Wafers: I used Reduced Fat Nilla Wafers for two reasons. First, the obvious to save calories and fat when possible so you can eat more dessert.
Secondly, the Reduced Fat variety are firmer, crunchier, and don’t turn to mush as easily, an advantage here.
However if you can’t find them or the manufacturer has discontinued them (this recipe was first published in 2014), no problem. Just use classic Nilla Wafers.
Topping: If desired, you can top this homemade banana pudding with whipped cream as well as crushed Nilla Wafers. Make it however you grew up eating it!
What Readers Are Saying
This old-fashioned banana pudding recipe has been one of the most popular spring and summer desserts on my site for the past few years. Here are a few 5-star reviews readers have left on this recipe:
“Homemade banana pudding is one of my favorite desserts. My grandma has always made it for me. I recently relocated and had a craving for it. Just like the rest of her wonderful desserts she didn’t have a recipe! So, when I came across this recipe I was thrilled because it consisted of all the ingredients my grandma uses. I made it and it was absolutely DELICIOUS! It lasted one day at our house. Five stars all the way!” — Yvette
“This is definitely how my grandma used to make it way back in the early 70s!” — Cyndi
“Made it, was amazing! Thank you” — Mariya
“This was a delicious dessert. My husband loved this. Thanks for a wonderful recipe! This was the first I’ve made from your website and I’m sure there will be many more that I will make. :)” — Amy
4 hours 30 minutes
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- pinch salt, optional and to taste
- 2 cups 2% milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- about 50 Nilla Wafers, divided (I prefer the Reduced Fat version; substitute with graham crackers if necessary)
- 3 to 4 large/XL ripe bananas, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds (use ripe bananas not over-ripe, they’re too mushy)
- about 3/4 cup coarsely chopped Nilla Wafers, for sprinkling (about 20-25 wafers)
- Get everything you need out and ready before beginning because you’ll be busy whisking and read the recipe over, at least twice, in full.
- In a medium sauce pan combine the sugar, flour, optional pinch of salt, and pour the milk over it.
- Heat this together over medium heat until it begins to boil gently, whisking quite frequently so that pudding skin doesn’t form on the bottom of the pan. Keeping the heat at medium is advised because higher heat will likely cause the milky mixture to scorch. It took a good 15 minutes of the pot appearing to do absolutely nothing for my pudding to finally begin to barely boil because I was compulsively whisking.
- After you see the mixture boil, whisk continually for the next 2 to 4 minutes, or until the pudding has thickened. A transition comes when the pudding gets thicker by the stroke. Use your judgment and when you think the pudding has thickened up sufficiently, take it off the heat.
- Whisk in the vanilla; set aside.
- In a glass measuring cup, whisk together 3 eggs (using the same whisk is fine).
- Add about 1/4 cup of the hot pudding mixture to the eggs, whisking the whole time to temper the eggs so they don’t scramble.
- Slowly pour the contents of the measuring cup into the sauce pan, whisking the entire time so you don’t scramble the eggs.
- Return the pan to the stove, and cook over medium heat for about 2 to 4 minutes, whisking the whole time. This cooks the eggs. You’ll know when the pudding is done and you can take it off the heat. It will be thick, creamy, and will look like pudding. It thickens up as it cools so don’t over-cook it or it can get a little too firm. Take it off the heat; set aside, whisking every few minutes so skin doesn’t form.
- In an 8×8, 10×7, or similar sized pan (9×9 is too big) make one even flat layer of Nilla wafers, covering the entire base of the pan (about 24 wafers).
- Top with banana slices in an even flat layer, covering the wafers.
- Whisk pudding and pour half over the bananas, smoothing lightly with a spatula.
- Repeat the layers, making one flat layer of wafers, another layer of bananas, and top with remaining pudding, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
- Cover with plasticwrap and refrigerate the pudding for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
- Before serving, evenly sprinkle the chopped wafers over the pudding.
Pudding will keep airtight in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. The banana slices don’t turn brown, although the wafers do continue soften as time passes.
Amount Per Serving:
Calories: 306Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 67mgSodium: 175mgCarbohydrates: 54gFiber: 2gSugar: 35gProtein: 6g
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Originally published March 2014 and republished with new commentary and photo collage September 2019. Republished again with updated info March 30, 2023.