How to Make No-Bake Banana Pudding from Scratch
This recipe for no-bake banana pudding is a cross between classic banana pudding, tiramisu and a banana parfait.
This no-bake banana pudding has an old-school reputation. You might think of it as an hours-long process to get the perfect dessert for the church potluck or a quick treat to whip up with premade ingredients like Cool Whip and Jell-O pudding mix. My husband thinks of this recipe as the former—and as a kid, his grandmother made the best banana pudding.
I’ve tried to make banana pudding from scratch for him many times but always heard, “This is great, but it’s not like Grandma’s.”
Finally, I found out her secrets—and I’m so excited to share them with you!
No-Bake Banana Pudding Recipe
MANDY NAGLICH FOR TASTE OF HOME
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2-1/2 cups milk
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2-1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 to 6 ripe bananas
- 1 package ladyfingers
Editor’s Tip: Use this technique to ripen bananas quickly.
Step 1: Make homemade pudding
In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt. Once combined, add milk and place over medium-high heat, whisking until combined. Then add egg yolks and cook, stirring constantly until thickened. Stir in the butter and vanilla and remove from heat. Allow to cool at room temperature for 5 minutes.
Press plastic wrap into the top of the pudding, then place in the refrigerator to cool completely, about an hour.
Step 2: Whip the cream
It’s easy to make whipped cream from scratch. In a very cold bowl (chill it in the freezer!), whip heavy cream and sugar on high with a whisk attachment on a stand mixer or hand beaters.
As soon as stiff peaks form, whip in cinnamon, a half teaspoon at a time.
Step 3: Assemble the dessert
You serve this no-bake banana pudding recipe as individual parfaits or in a medium-sized trifle dish.
Roughly chop or break ladyfingers with your hands—uneven pieces will give your pudding a more interesting texture. Keep a few whole for garnishing. Spread half the pieces on the bottom of your dish(es) and cover with half the banana pudding.
Slice half of your ripe bananas. Arrange the slices over the pudding layer and quickly top with whipped cream. The faster you top the bananas, the slower they will start to brown.
Repeat the layers and top with a little ladyfinger crumble, some cinnamon, and a few banana slices. Or, if serving individually, stand half of a ladyfinger up in the side of each dish.
The Finished No-Bake Banana Pudding
MANDY NAGLICH FOR TASTE OF HOME
Just like Grandma’s! Making pudding from scratch instead of using boxed Jell-O mix makes all the difference. The flavor is more subtle and soaks up the banana flavor. The real game changer is the ladyfingers. Each cakey bite plays off the rich, homemade whipped cream for a decadent but not-too-heavy dessert.
Tips for Making No-Bake Banana Pudding
Use ladyfingers instead of vanilla wafers
These crunchy cookies—not the spongy kind you sometimes find in the bakery—are thicker and less sweet than the traditional vanilla wafer. They really soak up the banana pudding so the layer of ladyfingers becomes cake-like in the assembled pudding.
Use lots of egg yolks
Grandma used an extra egg yolk in her recipes, which made the pudding thick and more yellow. That yellow color really makes you think “banana” before you even taste the pudding! (Here’s what to do with the leftover egg whites.)
Add cinnamon to the whipped cream
This is my special twist. The hint of cinnamon elevates this no-bake banana pudding from being very sweet and vanilla-y to have a more complex flavor. It’s a great addition to many desserts with homemade whipped cream.