This banana cream pie from Marie Howard is as classic as they come. Buttery crust, creamy banana custard, and pillowy meringue make this an enduring favorite.
This is the banana cream pie recipe that prompted my parents’ marriage proposal, the pie that is the reason I was born.–Beth M. Howard
LC Pie Oh My Note
Beth M. Howard has every right to call this banana cream pie recipe her own, for many, many reasons—all of which are explained in the beginning pages of her memoir, Making Piece. Although after you make her mom’s banana cream pie, we think that you, too, will consider it your own. Pie oh my. Um, pie o’ mine?
Banana Cream Pie
For the pie crust
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter cold, cut into small pieces
- 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening or lard cold, cut into small pieces
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus more for the work surface
- Pinch salt
- Ice water
For the filling
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups whole milk
- 5 large egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 medium bananas peeled and sliced
For the meringue
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
Make the pie crust
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C).
- In a large bowl, work the butter and shortening or lard into the flour and salt with your fingertips until marble-size lumps form. Add the ice water, a little at a time, as you “fluff” the flour with a fork. When the dough seems sufficiently moist, do a “squeeze test” by squeezing some of the dough in one hand. The dough should feel tacky but not wet. (Do not overwork the dough. You may be tempted to keep squeezing the dough, just like the guy in the old Charmin commercials, but please, don’t squeeze the dough.)
- Form the dough into a disk. Sprinkle a little flour under and over the dough and roll it thin enough to fit your pie plate. Carefully drape the dough over the rolling pin and transfer the dough to the pie plate. Trim any excess dough that hangs over the edge of the pie plate to about an inch of overhang. Create a ruffled or crimped edge on the crust by pinching the dough with your fingers.
- Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork and cover it with a sheet of parchment paper. Fill the pie plate with pie weights, dried beans, or uncooked rice and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the weights and paper and bake another few minutes, until the bottom of the crust no longer looks “soggy.” (Baking a pie crust prior to adding the filling is known as “blind baking.”) Transfer the pie plate to a wire rack to cool. Leave the oven on.
Make the filling
- Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a heavy saucepan off the heat. Gradually whisk in the milk and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until thick and bubbling, about 8 minutes. Once the mixture begins to bubble, continue cooking, still stirring constantly, for another 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Place the egg yolks in a bowl. Pour about a cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks and whisk to combine. Then pour the egg mixture into the remaining milk mixture in the pan. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring constantly, and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla until completely incorporated.
- Arrange the sliced bananas in the pie crust. Pour the hot pudding over the bananas and set aside to cool while you make the meringue.
Make the meringue
- In a clean bowl with an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar for several minutes, until light, fluffy, and white. Slowly add the sugar, a little at a time, and continue to beat on high speed until all the sugar is incorporated and stiff peaks form.
- Using a spatula or a large spoon, spread the meringue over the warm pudding filling until the meringue completely covers the entire pie. Be certain to cover the portion at the edge where the filling meets the crust. To create a swoopy, swirly, curlicue effect, use the back of a large spoon to gently dab at the meringue, lifting the spoon high each time as you pull away.
- Bake the pie for 7 to 8 minutes, until the meringue is lightly toasted, watching the meringue carefully so as not to let it burn. Let the pie cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Banana Cream Pie is just about the best dessert on the planet, in my book, so I was anxious to test this recipe. I also have never thought I was very good at making pastry, although I keep trying. This may be the best pie crust I have ever made. I only added about 2 tablespoons of water and I think that made a big difference in the crust. Also, I grated the butter and the shortening after placing both in the freezer for 20 minutes. By doing this, I didn’t work the dough much at all. I also refrigerated the dough before rolling it out. I refrigerated the dough for 30 minutes before baking. The filling came together as written. I also topped the filling with the meringue while the filling was still warm, as I think this helps to somewhat cook the meringue on the bottom while the top is browning. All in all ,this is a very good banana cream pie and I will be making it again!
This Banana Cream Pie recipe is an easy one—and one that can be adapted to make almost any cream pie that you crave. The filling is not flavored by the banana, so you could use just about anything you please as the fruit to line the bottom of the pie shell. It took my filling about 8 minutes on the stovetop o come to the thick and bubbly stage. I did not need any of the reserved flour to thicken it, it did a fine job all by itself! The pie crust recipe is just enough for one shell. I used half butter and half lard and it yielded a flaky, delicate, delicious pie crust. It’s a beautiful pie—that meringue was noteworthy! I had so much left over even after piling so much of it on the top of the pie that it resembled something atop a mountain in Austria. I used the rest that I had left over for some meringues. Good, comfort food, sweet stuff!
Originally published September 26, 2012