Banana Cream Pudding

for pie, parfaits, pavlova and even (yummm) plain

Because no judgment, promise, if anyone's tempted to spoon warm pudding right from the pot. But if – IF – there's pudding leftover, one pudding recipe makes a traditional Banana Cream Pie and Banana Cream Pudding Parfaits (think banana cream pie in a cup!) and Banana Cream Pudding Pavlova. Any one would be perfect for Pi Day that's coming up fast on March 14th. Or delighting those you love, any day of the year.

Banana Cream Pudding Parfaits, it's Banana Cream Pie in a cup. One pudding recipe for parfaits, pie, pavlova and even (yummm) just plain with chopped banana.

Did you hear? It's been a pudding factory around here, getting the recipe exactly right. Okay, okay, so it really wasn't a factory even if I've made more Banana Cream Pudding in the last month than in my whole life.

It all started with a plaintive plea for Banana Cream Pie, that's the "favorite man pie" in my circle. Just mention Banana Cream Pie and suddenly the men-folk get dreamy far-away looks and then hopeful grins, whether nine or almost-ninety or any age in between. Who can resist?

Pie one, pie two: neither one was exactly perfect. So I focused on just the pudding until I got it right, one half-batch after another.

Along the way, I learned so much about Banana Cream Pie, especially the pudding part!

Texture For pie, the pudding should be firm but not stiff or gummy. But for parfaits and plain pudding, the pudding should be soft and spoonable.
Sweetness When the pudding is used for pie or parfaits with the Stabilized Whipped Cream Topping, the pudding itself needs way less sugar but when it's plain, extra sugar is lovely.
Richness Even though lots of restaurants use heavy cream, to my taste cream makes a pudding that's just too-too rich. I went back and forth, then settled on whole milk even though 2% milk is "almost" as good. I also loved the depth added by a small measure of evaporated milk but again, it's not mandatory.

I also compared different ways to stabilize the whipped cream. Nobody wants watery whipped cream! (After awhile, that's what happens to cream whipped only with a touch of sugar.) Nobody wants whipped cream that evaporates! (Who knew? That's what happens when you apply an aerosol whipped topping ahead of time. I was so embarrassed to serve this to friends!)

Gelatin To stabilize whipped cream so that it will last without breaking down, gelatin works great but, really, who keeps gelatin on hand?
Cream Cheese So I fixed on cream cheese to stabilize the whipped cream. This means it will "hold up" for a few hours and even longer. That said, even though it will hold up, it won't look or taste as fresh so I recommend applying the Stabilized Whipped Cream no more than about four hours ahead of time.

I also played around with some fun variations of Banana Cream Pudding. Some worked, some didn't.
Coconut Milk Use a can of full-fat coconut milk, then supplement with regular milk. This pudding is excellent, just skip the vanilla, bourbon or brandy because they somehow cancel themselves out. Banana Cream Pudding made with coconut is especially rich and thick, really good.
"Light" Banana Cream Pudding Use 2 percent milk instead of whole milk. Drop the sugar down to 8 tablespoons. Use a half tablespoon of butter. My book club liked this lots and I keep thinking it would be great swirled with Light 'n' Easy Chocolate Pudding! Because of the calorie differences, this will be my "every day" Banana Cream Pudding.
"Intense" Banana For really intense banana flavor, drop the sugar down to 4 tablespoons but add two very ripe bananas, even two "black bananas". The downside with adding real banana is that the strands of banana are visible, just like in banana bread. You can make them mostly disappear by putting the whole mixture through a food processor and adding a few drops of yellow food coloring. I loved this version but my taste testers, even one who liked it at first, found it "too rich".
I also tried a small bottle of "banana emulsion" from HomeGoods that supposedly adds intense banana flavor. It doesn't.
My favorite way to add real banana flavor was just to stir diced bananas into the pudding itself. After about four hours, the bananas do start to turn slightly brown but it wasn't unsightly or anything.
Jello Banana Pudding Yeah, I really did cook a box of Jello Banana Pudding, just to see! It was "really banana-y" at least in that artificial banana tasting way. It was also very, very VERY sweet. But still? I think lots of people will love the familiarity of this old boxed favorite.


Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 20 minutes
Makes 3-1/4 cups Banana Cream Pudding, easily halved and even "thirded"
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 12 tablespoons sugar (use 8 tablespoons for parfaits & pie)
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch (use 4 tablespoons for pie)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk (or more whole milk)
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons flavoring such as vanilla, bourbon (my favorite!) or sherry
    STABILIZED WHIPPED CREAM (enough for a 9-inch pie, make about half for parfaits)
  • 1 teaspoon cream cheese, preferably at room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon flavoring such as bourbon, brandy or vanilla

PUDDING In a heavy saucepan, off heat collect the egg yolks, sugar, corn starch and table salt. With a whisk, blend well, then whisk in the milks.

Turn heat to medium high and cook, stirring every minute until mixture begins to heat up. (If you're an ADD cook like me, just stay with the pot, whisking every so often, so you don't get distracted and forget the pot.) At the first sign of the mixture beginning to thicken, lower the heat to low and whisk continuously, scraping the sides to avoid scorching the pudding, and let cook for about 2 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the butter and flavoring. Let the temperature drop for about five minutes, stirring every five minutes until pudding is warm (not hot, not cold). Use warm pudding for Banana Cream Pudding Parfaits or Banana Cream Pie. Otherwise, refrigerate until ready to serve.

STABILIZED WHIPPED CREAM Whisk cream cheese with about 1 tablespoon cream until the cream cheese has been completely mixed in. Add remaining cream and whip until soft peaks form. Add sugar and whip until firm peaks form. Mix in the flavoring.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per 1/2 cup "Light" Banana Cream Pudding (see recipe at left)/Banana Cream Pudding (recipe above): 178/240 Calories; 7/9g Tot Fat; 3/5g Sat Fat; 203/211mg Cholesterol; 409/425mg Sodium; 23/31g Carb; 0g Fiber; 20/27g Sugar; 6g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 4/5.5 & WW Points Plus 5/6. CALORIE COUNTERS 100-calorie serving = 9/7 tablespoons (6/3g protein).

  • Banana Cream Pudding
  • Diced banana
  • Ground nutmeg

Stir together Banana Cream Pudding and diced banana and sprinkle with a little nutmeg. For the best appearance, consume the pudding within about 4 hours.

  • Banana Cream Pudding
  • Diced banana
  • Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • (Repeat)
  • Stabilized Whipped Cream
  • Ground nutmeg

Pour warm (not hot, not cold) Banana Cream Pudding and the Stabilized Whipped Cream into separate ziplock bags, seal and snip a corner on each for squeezing. In a tall clear glass, build these layers: Banana Cream Pudding, diced banana, graham cracker crumbs, repeat these three. Top with Stabilized Whipped Cream, sprinkle with nutmeg. Eat immediately or refrigerate for up to about four hours.

  • Prepared graham cracker crust
  • 1/3 Banana Cream Pudding
  • Two ripe bananas, sliced
  • Remaining Banana Cream Pudding
  • Stabilized Whipped Cream
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Caramel sauce, optional

Spread about 1/3 of the warm (not hot, not cold) Banana Cream Pudding onto the crust, then add a layer of banana slices. Top with the remaining Pudding. Let cool. Spread Stabilized Whipped Cream on top, sprinkle with nutmeg. Refrigerate for about four hours until completely chilled before slicing. After slicing, drizzle with caramel sauce, oh-so-decadent!

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

Let's Talk ... Pie!

Banana Cream Pie, drizzled with caramel sauce. One pudding recipe for pie, parfaits, pavlova and even (yummm) just plain with chopped banana.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Is Banana Cream Pie the favorite pie in your circle, too?

ABOUT THAT CARAMEL! Many years ago, I put down a layer of caramel on the graham cracker crust before adding the pudding and bananas. But this way, as pictured, with a little caramel drizzled on top? You use less and taste more. Win-win!

Or What About ... Pavlova?!

Banana Cream Pudding Pavlova. One pudding recipe for pie, parfaits, pavlova and even (yummm) just plain with chopped banana.

USE UP THOSE EGG WHITES! Use the leftover egg whites to make the meringue cups called "pavlova". Add some diced banana, Banana Cream Pudding and a little fruit. Instant dessert!

Or ... Banana Cream Pudding In a Jar?!

Banana Cream Pudding in Jar. One pudding recipe for pie, parfaits, pavlova and even (yummm) just plain with chopped banana.

NO PARFAIT CUPS? Small canning jars are wonderful for portioning out small "meals" for the fridge but also for small, portable desserts like Banana Cream Pudding. Just toss some diced banana into the Banana Cream Pudding, top with some whipped cream and – but then you know this part, right? – DEVOUR.

More Pie Recipes for Pi Day on 3.14 aka March 14th

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Lemon Meringue Pie Frozen Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie Rhubarb Custard Pie
~ more pie recipes ~

More Pudding Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Light 'n' Easy Chocolate Pudding Brown Rice & Quinoa Rice Pudding Lemon Pudding Cake
~ more pudding recipes ~

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Where are the bananas in the Banana Cream Pudding recipe?
Ummm ... whoops! It’s just so obvious to me to toss in some diced banana, I forgot to mention it. Thanks for the careful reading!
My kids love banana pudding, I followed your recipe just now, it’s wonderful, so different from box pudding. I hope there’s some left by the time the kids get home from school.
PS I always mean to say and forget, your recipes really inspire me. I get dinner on the table but it’s usually a chore. But your recipes are so simple but so real. I never have to run to the grocery store for something weird. And they always make me feel like a superstar cook. THANK YOU.
Anonymous ~ Your words mean the world, thank YOU.

PS If experience is a guide, you’d best make another batch for the kiddos!
Alanna -- you might want to try adding a small amount of instant pudding powder to the whipped cream to stabilize it... I keep a package of vanilla flavour on hand for just this purpose (though any will work)... it only takes about a teaspoon to stabilize about 250 mls of cream and it'll "hold" longer than anything else I've tried.

And can I just say I ADORE your website and all the great recipes? :)
Pamela ~ Why, blush, blush, you may say. : - ) And thank YOU, it means the world. And I love too your tip about the instant pudding powder, I’ll buy a box this week!
I hope these notes about the Banana Cream Pudding interest you:

I decided to try this for my husband's birthday with coconut, his very favorite pie. Yours looked a little different from my other recipe and looked like it made more. He is diabetic and I have experimented with Splenda. Cooking with Splenda requires a little tweaking because it does NOT cook exactly like sugar!

Your recipe noted less sugar if using the recipe for pie, for the reason that sugar makes liquid when cooked and less liquid makes a thicker filling that would slice nicely.

BUT -- since Splenda makes no liquid or volume of its own, I used the full amount of Splenda (12T.)and then added about 1/2 cup of half and half to make up for the lost liquid.

I also noticed more cornstarch for pie (4T.) and I used the full amount -- the results were great!

In other recipes, such as cake, using Splenda cuts back on volume but I make up for it by adding nonfat dry milk to compensate with pretty good results.

Just FYI -- always enjoy your columns!
This is serious swoonworthy food.

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna