The Quintessential Southern Pudding to Celebrate Pudding Month

Southern pot luck dinner, BBQs or the Sunday family dinner just wouldn’t be truly southern if this one dish was missing. That one dish is Banana Pudding. Served warm or cold, meringue topping or whipped or instant pudding or from scratch, it is a staple in the South. This pudding even has its own two day festival. On the first weekend in October in Centerville, Tennessee the Banana Pudding is celebrated. 

As a girl that was born in the south, grew up in the north, my mom did not make it that much. When my mom did make it the pudding part was from a box and my mom used the traditional (at least in our house it was tradition) used the true nilla wafer. It was always served cold and I don’t recall it had a topping of any kind. A traditional banana pudding is usually served with a whipped or meringue topping. I didn’t find this out until I met my mother in law.

It was a standing request from the hubster to ask his mom to make banana pudding when we came to visit. It was also present at every holiday and family get together. She was a great cook, but she also made hers with vanilla pudding from the box. It was very sweet and I think she may have added banana flavoring, but it always had the meringue topping. I am not sure if it’s my husband’s favorite dessert, and can only count on one hand the times that I’ve made it. That is not nearly enough. Maybe I need to change that. 

Banana pudding may seem southern but it can be found all over the country. It seems the earliest recipe published in the The Kentucky Receipt Book, by Mary Harris Frazier in 1903 omits the wafers.  That just doesn’t seem right! 

When you search the internet for a recipe you’ll likely get get so many hits it will take you days of searching. I found the recipe from thekichn to first the bill perfectly. Simple vanilla pudding base, bananas and the quintessential vanilla cookie. And yes they are from the box. The option of topping is up to you. Whipped cream for meringue it’s your choice. I choose meringue every time.

In know I could never make it the same as my MIL but this recipe comes as close as you can get.

This recipe is adapted from theKitchn. I seemed after all my searching this one had what I was looking for.  NOTE: I substituted my homemade bourbon vanilla for the vanilla in the recipe. 



  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 48 vanilla wafers (about 6 ounces), coarsely crumbled (2 2/3 cups), plus more for garnish
  • 4 large bananas, sliced
  • Whipped cream or meringue, for topping


  1. Combine the sugar, flour, and salt. Whisk the sugar, flour, and salt together in a medium saucepan.

  2. Whisk in the milk. Gradually whisk in the milk until combined, then place the pan over medium heat.

  3. Heat the mixture until thickened. Heat the milk mixture, stirring regularly, until thickened to a creamy salad dressing consistency and gently bubbling, 8 to 12 minutes. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes more.

  4. Whisk the milk mixture into the yolks. Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl. While whisking the yolks vigorously, slowly drizzle in the milk mixture.

  5. Return everything back to the heat. Once combined, pour the mixture back into the saucepan and place back over medium heat. It will be pale yellow, and just barely thicker than heavy cream consistency. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat.

  6. Stir in the vanilla and butter. Stir in the vanilla and butter until melted and combined. At this point, the mixture will be back to that creamy salad dressing consistency (think: runny ranch) and just a bit more saturated yellow in color.

  7. Make the first cookie layer. Sprinkle half of the crumbled vanilla wafers into a 1 1/2- or 2-quart baking dish, or the bottom of 8 (6-ounce) jars.

  8. Top with half the bananas. Place half of the sliced bananas over the crumbled wafers.

  9. Top with half the pudding. Dollop half of the warm pudding over the bananas, or fill each jar to its halfway mark with half of the pudding.

  10. Repeat layering. Repeat the layering process once more with the remaining wafers, bananas, and pudding.

  11. Chill at least 2 hours. Cover the baking dish or each jar with a sheet of plastic wrap (press it directly onto the pudding if you don’t want a skin to form). Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours.

  12. Top with whipped cream or meringue. Top with whipped cream or meringue, and more crumbled cookies, if desired.


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