Nilla Wafer Banana Pudding

Pudding was an easy after-school snack when I was growing up. It was one of the first things I learned to cook, along with instant Cream of Wheat and cinnamon toast. One of my favorite recipe creations was vanilla pudding, bananas, and crushed Nilla Wafers. I would scoop it in a glass and stir in my toppings. (Later I learned that bananas and Nilla Wafers work well with ice cream in a blender, too.)

A little more time intensive than the Jell-O cook-and-serve packs of my childhood, this Nilla Wafer Banana Pudding recipe satisfies my sentimental side while improving on history with a homemade pudding that’s light, luscious, and pure. The yield is large enough to serve a crowd of kids or dish out at a backyard barbecue.–Rebecca Miller Ffrench

LC The Ne Plus Ultra of Nilla Wafer Banana Puddings Note

Who said Nilla Wafer and Banana Pudding had to be pedestrian? For a gussied-up guise good enough for guests, assemble this comfort food classic in a glass bowl. Or, for the ne plus ultra approach, a trifle bowl. Crystal will do in a pinch. Whatever the form, when you taste it, we think you’ll find that not a lot has changed since you last had this after-school classic ages ago. It’s still gosh darned comforting as heck. (One thing that has changed, thankfully, is the fact that there are now nilla wafers on the market that don’t contain the dreaded high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, or any other multi-syllabic and mysterious-sounding ingredients that we stumble to pronounce. Many thanks, Back to Nature Foods.)

Nilla Wafer Banana Pudding Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 30 M
  • Serves 10 to 12

Ingredients

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) heavy cream, cold
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 to 4 ripe bananas, depending on their size
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 50 vanilla wafers, crushed if desired, plus a few whole wafers for decoration

Directions

  • 1. Place the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl and whisk slightly just to combine.
  • 2. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Carefully add the milk to the pan, whisking constantly until the mixture starts to thicken, about 8 minutes. Do not let the pudding come to a full rolling boil, just a wee gentle boil. Immediately remove the pan from the heat.
  • 3. Slowly pour half the thickened milk into the egg yolks, whisking well. Return the pan to medium heat and gently and slowly add the yolk mixture to the pan. Still stirring constantly, bring the mixture back to a gentle boil, and continue to stir for 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Let cool.
  • 4. Whip the cream with a stand or handheld mixer until light and fluffy. Do not overbeat. Gently fold in the confectioners’ sugar and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  • 5. Peel the bananas, cut them into 1/2-inch slices, sprinkle them with the lemon juice, and gently toss to coat.
  • 6. Spoon 2 cups vanilla pudding in the bottom of a 2-quart bowl. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup crushed wafers or, if you prefer them whole, 1/3 of the wafers. Arrange 1 cup of the sliced bananas any way you wish over the wafers. Spoon in the rest of the pudding and coat with 1 cup crushed wafers or almost all of the remaining wafers. Arrange the remaining banana slices on top of the wafers, reserving a few banana slices for garnish. Cover the entire surface with the whipped cream. If desired, decorate with the reserved banana slices and some more whole wafers. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Susan Bingaman

Aug 16, 2012

Yeah, you can make banana pudding with a box of vanilla instant pudding and a tub of whipped topping, but if you can spare the extra time and a little extra effort (and a few more dishes), this recipe is worth your while. The pudding is creamy and rich, the cream is lightly sweetened, and oh, the bananas are good too! To make things go a bit quicker, make sure the whole milk is at room temperature before making the pudding. I got a little too aggressive crushing the vanilla wafers and would have liked to have bigger pieces for a little extra texture.

Testers Choice
Sue Epstein

Aug 16, 2012

This recipe was a blast from the past! Was it really that wonderful or was it the fact that it brought back memories of our childhood? Did it taste just like my mom’s? Since it has been at least
50 years since I’ve had Nilla Wafer pudding, I can’t be sure. Nevertheless, it was delicious. The recipe was straightforward and easy to follow. I left the Nilla Wafers whole, as my mother did, rather than crushing them, but I’m sure it made no difference in the taste. The pudding was creamy and delicious, with just the right amount of sweetness. I can’t wait to make this dish for my grandchildren.

Testers Choice
Alexander Cowan

Aug 16, 2012

In all of my years, I’ve never made pudding from scratch before. I mean, I adore pudding and all of its luscious qualities. I simply haven’t ever felt compelled to make it. Let me tell you what: this is the best recipe for a first-time pudding maker. Seriously. This recipe came together so well and so easily that I think it would be fun to make with kids (if we had any). I wouldn’t change a thing about this recipe. Its creamy texture begs for a rainy day on the couch cause it’s all about comfort. On a side note, I managed to use the entire box of Nilla Wafers in this recipe by using all the remaining cookies and crumbs as garnish.

Testers Choice
Sandy Hill

Aug 16, 2012

This Nilla Wafer pudding was definitely a nostalgic dessert! It would be a perfect dessert in a trifle bowl, bringing back childhood memories. The pudding was a traditional one with cornstarch and egg yolks as thickeners. The pudding was creamy but the whipped cream put it over the top. We loved using crushed vanilla wafers (perfect use for the bottom of the box crumbs). Each bite had the perfect balance of creamy, crispy, and banana-y. I’ll keep this recipe around for all my Nilla Wafer pudding lovers!

Testers Choice
Kim Venglar

Aug 16, 2012

This is a very good recipe for homemade banana pudding. It did take a little longer for my pudding to thicken than the 8 minutes stated in the recipe but it was well worth the extra time. I like the fact that the Nilla Wafers were crushed in the pudding. It made it much easier to serve because there are not whole crunchy cookies to try and break through. Everyone kept asking what extra spice I used and most thought there was nutmeg in the recipe. I can only think it was the use of lemon juice on the bananas that gave it that slightly different flavor. I had to show the recipe to prove
there was no special spice added. Even though it takes longer than instant pudding and Cool Whip, the taste is well worth the time to make this recipe again and again.

Testers Choice
Karen Depp

Aug 16, 2012

Easy, delicious, and quite enticing! Flavor is spot-on and it is a really attractive spin on the usual banana pudding with the whole Nilla Wafers lining a bowl. It is an inviting, delicious way to end a great meal.


Comments
Comments
  1. I grew up eating this, and it never gets old. Of course, my mom made it with Jell-O pudding, but still heavenly. I definitely want to try your truly homemade recipe. Looks amazing.

    Kendra

    • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

      Hi Kendra, I still have a slew of jello recipes in my index box. It was such a novelty when it first came out that it was used in everything- especially banana pudding! Let us know how the homemade version compares to your puddin’ memories.

  2. Lin says:

    I always like to make mine from scratch. It brings back such wonderful childhood memories. The only difference is I prefer meringue made with egg whites vs the whip cream. Thank you for this post and recipe that makes me feel 8 again!

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