Banana pudding is a very simple, homey, and classic Southern dessert. There are really only two ways to make it -- the right way and the wrong way. There's no futzing with the ingredients or the preparation. Futz, and you have something different.
- The right way: make a simple, homemade pudding on the stove top.
- The wrong way: make instant pudding.
- The right way: keep your pudding vanilla flavored. No squished bananas, no spices, no nothin'.
- The wrong way: make banana flavored, or any other flavored pudding.
- The right way: use ripe, but not overly ripe, sliced bananas
- The wrong way: use green or overly ripe bananas that you've squished, chopped, or cooked.
- The right way: use Nilla Wafers.
- The wrong way: use homemade or any store bought cookie other than a Nilla Wafer.
- The right way: alternately layer the three main components - cookies, bananas, pudding in that order. Repeat if necessary.
- The wrong way: not getting at least one layer of bananas and cookies underneath the pudding.
Make pudding from scratch (recipe is at end).Cover the bottom -- and sides if you like -- of a serving dish with vanilla wafers. If you want to get fancy with individual servings in martini glasses or canning jars, that's fine. Use ripe bananas -- not too green and not too brown.
Layer sliced bananas on top of vanilla wafers.
I got excited and forgot to photograph the pudding layer that comes next, but you can see it underneath the second layer of vanilla wafers. So, that's pudding layer, then repeat, starting with vanilla wafers again.
Second banana layer!
Second pudding layer!
More often than not, there is a decorative top layer, be it more vanilla wafers, meringue, or homemade whipped cream. All three of these toppings are totally legit. I've always gone with more wafers. Banana Pudding
makes about 6 servings
As this dessert sits, the wafers soften and the bananas start to turn brown. In my opinion, the optimum time to eat banana pudding is about 30 minutes to 3 hours after being made, because the wafers and bananas have softened a bit from the warm pudding. I usually can't help myself and eat some the second it's made while the wafers are still a little crunchy. If you want soft and crunchy wafers, decorate the top with wafers right before serving. At around 12-18 hours the bananas start to get brown and ugly, i.e. do not make this dessert a day ahead! It won't hang around a day any way.
1/3 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 package Nilla Wafers (may not use all)
3-5 bananas, sliced (may not use all)
- Combine flour and sugar in a sauce pan. Gradually stir in milk. Then add egg yolks and salt.
- Cook over medium heat until thickened (about 8-10 minutes, but thickening will take place almost suddenly and you will know when this occurs), stirring constantly (very important). Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter (butter can be skipped if you want to make the dish ever so slightly healthier), stirring to incorporate.
- Layer vanilla wafers, then bananas, and then one-half of the pudding in a deep dish. Repeat layers. Finally, top with a decorative layer of vanilla wafers.
- Serve warm or chilled.