Best-Ever Banana Pudding

A classic Southern banana pudding made with a custard-based vanilla pudding, sliced bananas, Nilla wafers, and a whipped cream or meringue topping.


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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