The Very Best Southern Banana Pudding with Fresh Whipped Cream

Elevate your banana pudding game with this recipe using a Crème Anglaise base, fresh vanilla beans and pillowy whipped cream.

Why this recipe is “The Very Best”:

  • This custard is a true vanilla bean custard made with eggs, butter, milk and fresh vanilla beans. Don’t bother with that gluey powdered “pudding” mix. This dreamy custard takes just about the same amount of time and has NO chemicals or artificial colorings.
  • I load tons of banana into the layers sandwiched in between incredible custard.
  • Layer with fresh whipped cream for a pillowy addition to the filling
  • Crumble with extra cookies and banana slices on top for a posh picture perfect dessert

This custard recipe is similar to a creme anglaise base with fresh vanilla beans ( or Pine & Palm Vanilla Bean paste) stirred into the milk rather than heavy cream . Sounds pretty fancy pants, but hey- only the best for your family and friends.

You can use the standard vanilla wafers but I like to also use Lorna Dunes or Chessman for a bit more of a grown up twist. I also love Spanish Maria cookies- they are light in sugar and make a delicate base for the custard without being overly sweet. There are some things that just scream, “comfort food.” Banana pudding is one of those.

How to Make From Scratch Banana Pudding:

  • Mix dry ingredients – sugar, nutmeg, cornstarch, salt in a bowl. Whisk in 6 egg yolks.
  • Heat milk and vanilla beans or vanilla bean paste to a simmer in a medium size sauce pan.
  • Temper the egg yolks by slowly adding in the hot milk mixture one ladle at a time.
  • Let milk mixture come to a boil until thick. Remove the vanilla bean pods.
  • Stir in butter. Remove to a bowl and cover with plastic until cool.
  • Layer pudding, cookies and banana in a glass dish.
  • Cover with freshly whipped cream just before serving.

Scrape the “caviar” from the vanilla bean pods.

Equipment you need to make Banana Pudding:

  • heavy bottomed saucepan. This is my favorite brand.
  • whisk
  • sharp knife
  • plastic wrap
  • glass dish for serving
  • mixer for whipping heavy cream
Hello lover


Can you freeze this? No, the custard base does not freeze well.

How long can this stay in the fridge? Keep this recipe, covered, in the fridge up to 3 days. The cookies and bananas begin to deteriorate after 3 days. Do not add the whipping cream until serving.

Can you make a vegan version with coconut milk? I have never tried this, but I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it.

I do not have whole milk? You need the fat content from the whole milk for the custard to set up properly. I would not recommend a substitute.

Will Vanilla Extract work? Yes, but there is nothing like the intensity of flavor from adding whole vanilla beans or vanilla bean paste. If you use extract, use the highest quality (double fold recipe) you can find.

Mix the dry ingredients together then add in the 6 egg yolks

Special Ingredients you need to make Banana Pudding:

  • Vanilla Beans or Vanilla Pasta
  • Cookies for layering. Try using Pepperidge Farm Chessman, Lorna Dunes, or Spanish Maria cookies instead of “Nilla Wafers.
  • Vanilla Sugar- If you can’t buy Pine & Palm Kitchen Vanilla Sugar. Try this brand. Most specialty food shops now sell vanilla sugar
  • Heavy whipping cream- do NOT use cool whip or Redi Whip
  • Nutmeg
I use Pine & Palm Vanilla Sugar or Dutch Dan Sukker vanilla sugar

The Very Best Southern Banana Pudding with Fresh Whipped Cream

5 from 2 votes
Recipe by Meggen Arthur Wilson Course: Florida Kitchen, MOST POPULAR RECIPES, Sweet ToothCuisine: dessertDifficulty: Medium


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Cooking time





A from scratch recipe for the very best banana pudding . This recipe doe not use a boxed pudding mixture.


  • 3 cups 3 whole milk

  • 2 2 whole vanilla beans- split in half, seeds scraped out OR 1 TBSP Vanilla Bean paste

  • 6 large 6 egg yolks

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 nutmeg

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 sugar

  • 2 1/2 TBSP 2 1/2 corn starch

  • 1/4 tsp 1/4 kosher salt

  • 2 TBSP 2 butter, cut into pieces

  • 12 oz. 12 short bread cookies, like Lorna Dune, Chessman or “nilla Wafers

  • 2 cups 2 heavy cream

  • 1 TBSP 1 vanilla sugar

  • 4 4 ripe bananas, sliced into rounds


  • Bring milk and scraped vanilla seeds and empty vanilla pods to a simmer over medium low heat in a heavy bottomed medium size sauce pan. After 2 minutes, Using tongs, remove the pods from the warm milk. If using vanilla paste– just add to warm milk-omit the whole beans.
  • Thoroughly combine the sugar, nutmeg, cornstarch and salt in a medium sized bowl. Add in yolks and whisk well until thick paste is formed.
  • Add a ladle (about 1/4-1/2 cup) of the hot milk to the sugar/egg mixture to temper*. Whisk the milk in gently to incorporate. Add 3-4 more ladles of hot milk, (whisking in between) until yolks are warmed.
    Turn the saucepan of remaining milk to down to low heat.
    Gently pour the now tempered egg mixture into the saucepan of remaining hot milk and whisk constantly until pudding comes to a slow boil and thickens. Small bubbles will form as it thickens. Keep whisking.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in butter.
  • Transfer to a bowl, cover surface of pudding with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. With the tip of a knife, poke a few tiny holes in the plastic, to allow steam to escape. Let rest for 30 minutes until just tepid.
  • In a decorative glass bowl or trifle dish, ladle one cup of the pudding on the bottom of the dish. Add one layer of cookies, then pudding, then 2 large sliced bananas etc. repeating each layer and ending with pudding. I slide sliced bananas around the inside the bowl so you can see them as well. You can also use small mason jars for individual servings.
  • Cover the surface of the pudding with plastic so a skin does not form and chill at least 4 hours up to overnight.
  • Before serving: Whip the heavy cream and superfine sugar until stiff peaks form- about 2 minutes. Remove plastic from chilled pudding. Spread whipped sweetened cream over pudding mixture.
  • Crumble additional cookies & banana slices on top of pudding.


  • * Tempering- tempering is slowly adding a hot liquid to eggs to prevent the eggs from scrambling. If your eggs curdle, you may need to strain the mixture with a sieve to remove any large egg chunks.

This recipe is based on Art Smith’s banana pudding recipe. Chef Smith has an incredible restaurant at Disney Springs in Orlando. If you are in the area visiting, be sure to stop by Homecomin’ and sample his fried chicken, craft cocktails and southern goodies. All the ingredients are locally sourced including local spirits such as Winter Park Distilling Company Genius Drive Vodka.

Add in a splash of Kahlua for a grown up topping for your pudding

Back in the day, all of our girls were on the rowing team at their high school. The Friday prior to the regattas, the parents would prepare amazing food for the rowers. Lots of protein, pasta, a tray or two of chick fil a nuggets and my specialty, banana pudding. This was probably the most requested recipe of my kids and their friends. We often hosted the rowing team kids at our home for the Potlucks. Fifty hungry rowers on a Friday night was nothing short of fun.


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  1. Sharon Biglow says:

    This recipe is so incredible. At first, I was was very intimidated to use a whole vanilla bean- but it is so worth it. My family asks for this all the time.