Banana Pudding is a classic Southern dessert that has stood the test of modern times with vanilla wafers, homemade vanilla custard, and delicious ripe bananas that is great for any occasion.

Southern Banana Pudding - Sweet Tea & Thyme

Hello, all! Happy Monday, how was your weekend? Do you need a Monday pick me up? I know I do!

I think banana pudding is about is a dessert that’s as Southern as it gets; although as quiet as it’s kept, the dessert really isn’t that old as bananas and other exotic fruits weren’t around until late 19th and easrly 20th centuries.

While the original recipe was created by a woman here in Atlanta, the way we love and know it now is a stolen, bootlegged version made by the National Biscuit Company up north, aka Nabisco, to push their new Vanilla Wafers product in the 1920’s.

Just a little history for ya!

Southern Banana Pudding - Sweet Tea & Thyme

Banana pudding is a dish for anytime of the year, you may see it in all its glory on the Thanksgiving table, at Christmas dinner, on the counter during a BBQ, or in pretty trifles during a spring brunch. I don’t think you could ever go wrong with a sweet serving of banana pudding, especially with some fluffy meringue on top.

My mother made banana pudding as a special treat. So once every blue moon, I’d come home from school to the smell of banana pudding in the oven and then told not to touch the oven (“or slam the front door, Brittany Annette!”) for a while. You know. But by time we were done with dinner, it was on.

Southern Banana Pudding - Sweet Tea & Thyme

The way the custard softens the wafers and kind of mixes with the flavor of the bananas, it’s like a dream dessert. It’s soft and smooth and creamy and everyone can have a piece. Everyone, even the six month old can eat it. And they will eat the whole pan (or trifle, depending on how you make it). You don’t want to leave me alone with the leftovers of a banana pudding, it will be gone. Can’t help myself.

Southern Banana Pudding - Sweet Tea & Thyme

The meringue is optional, but it’s so delicious and fluffy and so pretty when baked up.

You can’t tell me those brown peaks aren’t looking scrumptious, chile.

Southern Banana Pudding - Sweet Tea & Thyme

If you want to make this easier, you can absolutely use that vanilla pudding mix in your pantry. Makes it a lot quicker for when guests pop up. Just forego the meringue and you have a quick and easy banana pudding in less than 10 minutes.

5 from 2 votes
Southern Banana Pudding - Sweet Tea & Thyme
Southern Banana Pudding with Vanilla Meringue
Prep Time
1 hrs
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
1 hrs 25 mins
Course: Dessert, Fruit
Cuisine: Southern
Servings: 8 -10 servings
Author: Britt Anne
  • 3 ripe bananas sliced into 1/4 inch coins
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup sugar more if you like sweeter pudding
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cups half and half
  • 3 large eggs separated
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 1 box vanilla wafers
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk cornstarch, sugar, and salt together. In a medium sized bowl, beat the egg yolks together until they are a pale yellow color, about 2-3 minutes. Add half and half to the eggs and whisk together well. Pour mixture slowly into the saucepan while whisking quickly.
  2. Cook the pudding over medium flame, whisking constantly, until the pudding is thickened and bubbling slightly.
  3. Take off the heat and stir in the vanilla and butter. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent pudding skin (unless you like pudding skin).
  4. Using a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl, strain the pudding into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap touching the top of the pudding. Refrigerate until cool.
  5. In an oven-safe dish (or a trifle bowl if you aren't making meringue) layer the vanilla wafers at the bottom, then a layer of bananas, then a layer of custard. Repeat until the dish is full or you run out of layering ingredients.
  6. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  7. FOR MERINGUE: In a large, clean bowl use a hand mixer to whip up the egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar, then whip until the whites are no longer foamy, but smooth looking.
  8. Add powered sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, then vanilla extract and continue mixing until stiff peaks form.
  9. Spread meringue over the baking dish, reaching from edge to edge. Use a spatula or spoon to create peaks on the meringue for browning and decoration.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the meringue has browned. Let cool slightly before serving.

If you make this recipe make sure to take a pic and #sweetteathyme on Instagram. I can’t wait to see your masterpieces!