Caramelized Banana Pudding (With Cinnamon Whipped Cream)

Caramelized banana pudding is a fun variation of the Southern classic. Made with layers of brown sugar caramelized bananas and real from-scratch pudding, you won’t be able to stop at just 1 taste. Layer with vanilla wafer cookies and top with extra fluffy cinnamon spiced whipped cream.

banana pudding with whipped cream on top

This Isn’t Traditional Banana Pudding

Let me show you a delicious variation of banana pudding. This isn’t traditional banana pudding– rather, it’s a version made with brown sugar caramelized bananas and fluffy cinnamon spiced whipped cream on top. Classic southern banana pudding is typically made with fresh bananas and a meringue topping. My favorite real homemade banana pudding is found on Grand Baby Cakes— have you tried Jocelyn’s version yet? It’s unreal.

But it’s fun to play around with different flavors and variations. I first made this back around Christmas and have been perfecting it since. If you love cinnamon, brown sugar, real homemade pudding, billowy whipped cream, and bananas (raises hand *so high*), this dessert is totally for you.


Caramelized Banana Pudding Video Tutorial

caramelized banana pudding

caramelized banana pudding with vanilla wafer cookies

4 Parts to Caramelized Banana Pudding

  1. Caramelized Bananas: You need about 4 cups of banana slices, which is around 5 large bananas. To caramelize the bananas, cook butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon together on the stove. Add the bananas and cook them until softened and caramelized. They’ll become pretty soft, so if you prefer a little more texture in your banana pudding layers, reduce the banana cook time.
  2. Homemade Vanilla Pudding: This pudding is a variation of the pudding I use in my banana cream pie. It’s much thicker in the pie recipe since we need it to solidify into slices. I’ve thinned it out with more milk, a little more sugar, and extra butter. A little extra salt offsets the sweetness. Continue below to read how it’s made.
  3. Vanilla Wafer Cookies: A staple in banana pudding recipes! If you don’t have vanilla wafer cookies, use graham crackers.
  4. Cinnamon Whipped Cream: Extra creamy and perfectly spiced whipped cream adds a luscious layer on top of this dessert. The pudding and bananas are pretty sweet, so a lightly sweetened topping is a welcome addition. This recipe yields about 3 cups of whipped cream, so expect a generous layer.

caramelizing bananas

ingredients for homemade pudding

Homemade Vanilla Pudding

If you ever need a vanilla pudding, use this one. It’s my favorite– perfectly creamy and sweet, extra soft and buttery, and easy to make ahead of time. I love using this pudding in a trifle, layering it with sliced strawberries, cubes of brown butter pound cake, and topped with whipped cream. The recipe yields 4 cups.

You need the 8 ingredients pictured above: whole milk, heavy cream, sugar, salt, egg yolks, cornstarch, vanilla extract, and softened butter. Cook those 1st 4 ingredients together on the stove, mix the egg yolks and cornstarch together (below, left), then temper the egg yolks into the milk mixture. Whisk constantly, cook together, then remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract and butter. The stovetop process is similar to butterscotch pudding.

If you know how to whisk, you know how to make homemade pudding. It’s simple.

making pudding

Overview: How to Make & Assemble

This is the easiest part of the entire recipe– you can’t really mess it up. Line half of the vanilla wafers on the bottom of your dish. Evenly top with half of the caramelized bananas. Give the pudding a quick stir. If it has thickened considerably and isn’t pourable, whisk in a splash of milk to help thin out. Pour/spread half of the warm pudding on top. Top with remaining vanilla wafers, then the remaining caramelized bananas. Finish with the rest of the pudding, then spread whipped cream in a generous layer all over the top.

Chill the dessert for at least 4 hours and up to 1 day. The pudding will thicken, the flavors will mingle, and the vanilla wafers will soften. After or close to 24 hours, the wafers may taste too soggy and the bananas will begin to release some liquid.

For best taste and texture, serve within 24 hours.

assembling caramelized bananas and pudding in a baking dish

whipped cream on banana pudding

Other Sizes:

I usually assemble this no-bake dessert in 2.5 quart pan. The ceramic one I use in these photos is from Crate & Barrel, but– sadly– I can’t find it on the website anymore. If you’re making individual banana puddings or 1 large trifle, keep in mind that this recipe yields a lot of whipped cream, so feel free to reduce down.

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banana pudding with whipped cream on top

Caramelized Banana Pudding

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 55 minutes (includes chilling)
  • Yield: 9-12 servings
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This is a fun variation of the classic Southern dessert. Made with layers of brown sugar caramelized bananas and real from-scratch pudding, you won’t be able to stop at just 1 taste. Layer with vanilla wafer cookies and top with extra fluffy cinnamon spiced whipped cream.


Ingredients

Caramelized Bananas

  • 1/4 cup (60g; 4 Tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 large semi-ripe bananas, sliced into 1/4 inch slices (about 4 heaping cups)*

Pudding & Assembly

  • 2 and 1/4 cups (540ml) whole milk*
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream*
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup (30gcornstarch
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • about 50 vanilla wafer cookies (such as Nilla Wafers; one 11 ounce box is enough)*

Cinnamon Whipped Cream & Optional Garnish

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) heavy cream*
  • 1/4 cup (30g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • optional garnish: quartered banana slices and/or crumbled vanilla wafer cookies

Instructions

  1. Caramelized Bananas: Place the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a large skillet over medium heat. Constantly stir as the butter and sugar melt down. Add the bananas and cook until softened and slightly caramelized, about 3 minutes. *If you prefer a little more texture in your banana pudding, only cook the bananas for about 1-2 minutes.* Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Pudding: Combine the milk, heavy cream, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until all the sugar has dissolved, then bring to a gentle simmer, whisking occasionally. Working quickly as the milk mixture begins to simmer, whisk the egg yolks and cornstarch together in a medium heatproof bowl until very thick and smooth. Very slowly stream in about 3/4 cup (180ml) of the simmering milk to slightly warm the egg yolk mixture. Then, in a very slow stream, whisk the egg yolk mixture into the pan. While continuously whisking, cook until the mixture is thick and big bubbles begin bursting at the surface, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract and butter. Makes about 4 cups of pudding.
  3. Assemble: Use an ungreased 9-inch or any 2.5 quart baking dish. Line half of the vanilla wafers on the bottom. Evenly top with half of the caramelized bananas. Give the pudding a quick stir. If it has thickened considerably and isn’t pourable, whisk in a splash of milk to help thin out. Pour half of the warm pudding on top. Use a spoon to evenly spread around. Evenly top with remaining vanilla wafers, then the remaining caramelized bananas. Pour the rest of the pudding on top and spread into an even layer. Set aside, covered or uncovered, at room temperature or in the refrigerator as you make the whipped cream.
  4. Whipped Cream: Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon on medium-high speed until medium peaks form, about 3-4 minutes. Medium peaks are between soft/loose peaks and stiff peaks. Spread evenly on top of the pudding.
  5. Cover the pudding tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. The vanilla wafers will soften during this time. They may taste too soggy after 1 full day and the bananas will begin to release some liquid, so for best taste and texture, serve within 24 hours.
  6. To serve, spoon into individual bowls. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. I don’t recommend freezing this because of the high volume of liquid in the pudding, whipped cream, and bananas. The caramelized bananas won’t thaw very nicely either.

Notes

  1. Detailed Make Ahead Instructions: This is the perfect make ahead recipe because it needs to chill for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. You can also prepare the caramelized bananas and pudding in advance. Let the cooked bananas cool, cover tightly, then refrigerate for up to 1 day. If making the pudding in advance, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the warm pudding to prevent a “skin” from forming on top. Refrigerate for up to 2 days. Add a splash of milk to help thin the cold pudding out before layering in step 3. The whipped cream is best made and layered on fresh, but if needed, you can prepare it, cover tightly, and chill in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before using.
  2. Ripeness of Bananas: Look for bananas that are completely yellow. Avoid green bananas or super ripe bananas that you would use for banana bread. The mushier the bananas, the mushier the caramelized bananas. You want the bananas to have a bit of texture against the creamy pudding.
  3. Whole Milk & Heavy Cream: These precise amounts of whole milk and heavy cream are ideal. Using all or some half-and-half wouldn’t yield the same milkfat needed. Lower fat or nondairy milks will produce a very thin pudding, so I don’t recommend either. You need heavy cream for the whipped cream anyway and this entire recipe conveniently uses 1 pint.
  4. Egg Yolks: Egg yolks are key in this homemade pudding. For your extra egg whites, here are recipes using egg whites.
  5. Vanilla Wafer Cookies: Nilla Wafers are commonly used in banana pudding. If you don’t have access to vanilla wafer cookies, use about 12 full sheets of graham crackers, breaking up 6 per layer to fit the pan.
  6. Individual Banana Puddings or 1 Large Trifle: This recipe yields enough for at least 8-10 6 ounce parfaits. You can also make this banana pudding in a 3 quart (or slightly smaller/slightly larger) trifle bowl. Using the exact ingredient amounts given above, you should have enough for 3 layers of wafers, bananas, and pudding. For either size/presentation, see note above about adjusting the whipped cream.
  7. What about a traditional meringue topping? Traditional Southern banana pudding uses meringue topping instead of whipped cream. This is simply a delicious variation! Feel free to use my marshmallow meringue topping instead of whipped cream. (Which is convenient because it uses 4 egg whites.) You can torch it with a kitchen torch or, after layering on top, bake the entire assembled pudding on the top oven rack for 10 minutes at 325°F (163°C). Serve warm or cold.

Keywords: banana pudding, bananas, pudding

bowl of banana pudding with whipped cream

35 Comments

  1. This looks so good, Sally! I love everything you listed, so this is definitely on my bake-very-soon list. Tbh, I’d never heard of it before, so I can’t wait to taste it!

    1. Made it and it was a great hit…….everyone LOVED it, even those who usually aren’t fans of banana. Definitely making again! Because I live in Australia, we don’t have that kind of wafers, so instead I used milk coffee biscuits, and they tasted delicious with it – just for any fellow Aussies out there who want to give it a shot!

      1. Thanks for the tip Gemma, I was just reading the ingredients and trying to think of alternative Aussie bickies 🙂 What about layered wafer biscuits? And did you use Malt-o-Milk or Milk Arrowroot biscuits?
        TIA 🙂
        Annemarie

      2. I live in Australia too and I do have a box of Nilla wafers in my cupboard – there are a few USA specialty stores that you can get them from.

        But otherwise, I think Marie biscuit, or Italian sponge fingers or shortbread would work. I think the layerd wafer biscuits would lack the body and would get soggy in this, but Malt or Arrowroot would work too. Something that won’t get too soft in the 4 – 24 hours.

  2. Hey Sally, looks sooo good! I will definitely be making this one soon. My mum used to make a similar dessert but instead of vanilla wafers she would use corn flakes! She would finish with a layer of cornflakes on top of plain whipped cream and then dust with powdered sugar! A wonderful childhood memory.
    Just check your video – when you’re adding milk for the pudding, the screen says bananas 😉

  3. Looks yummy! I bet my dad would love this, since he’s a big banana aficionado 🙂 Hope your family is safe and healthy, pups included!

  4. Monika saxena says:

    How can I skip eggs, substitute for eggs?

    1. Hi Monika, I’m unsure. I’ve never made pudding without eggs before. (Maybe check out store-bought instant pudding?) Let me know if you try something you love.

  5. Hi Sally,
    How ripe do you recommend the bananas to be for this recipe. I can’t wait to make this one!!

    1. Hi Jeanne, see my recipe note.

  6. Antonia Mendez says:

    This recipe looks so good!!! Could you use peaches in place of the bananas? Not really a banana person but I want to try this recipe!!!:) Thanks so much!:)

    1. I’m sure you could! Peaches would be excellent with these flavors. I would replace the bananas with an equal amount of slightly firm fresh peach slices.

  7. Recipe sounds delicious. Instead of vanilla wafers, I might try chocolate ones. Bananas and chocolate , yum.

  8. Sharon K Roodhuyzen says:

    We love Banana Pudding! Can’t wait to try your updated version!

    1. This was AMAZING! I made both the whipped cream AND the marshmallow, which I flavoured with coconut and then torched for them individually on the plate, so that people could choose what they wanted (everyone had both). I also made my own vanilla wafers because I couldn’t find any in store. It was SO delicious❤️ My super-picky Dad kept telling me so, in between shovelling bites in so fast I was surprised he could breathe The perfect comfort dessert with a hint of the tropics and my kitchen stayed cool!

  9. Oh, Sally, in the recipe video, the caption reads bananas when you’re pouring milk into the pan for the pudding.

    1. Thanks Erin! We spotted that and just fixed it.

  10. I would like to try this but cannot eat a lot of sugar. How about a sugar substitute, and how much?

    1. Hi Dee, I’m unsure. I haven’t tested it. Let me know if you try anything!

  11. We love banana pudding but not a fan of vanilla wafers so I often use oreos instead, sometimes chocolate, other times vanilla. Just think of all the oreo possibilities! I’ve also used nutter butter peanut cookies and biscoff cookies. Whatever flavor you like should work.

  12. Do you think I can substitute almond milk for the whole milk in the pudding recipe? My son can’t do milk but he can handle cream so wondered if I can use almond milk with the pudding recipe.

    1. Hi Susan! I haven’t tested it, but you can try almond milk instead of the whole milk.

    2. Have you ever tried Lactaid whole milk? I also am fine with cream but not with milk, and the Lactaid stuff is real milk with the lactose removed. Almond milk usually doesn’t give pudding the same creamy texture and instead makes it watery.

  13. Hi, just to confirm – the pudding goes in while still warm/hot (ie you don’t put it in the fridge to firm up first)? And the whipped cream goes on top while the pudding is still warm?

    1. Hi Ess, the pudding is still warm when you assemble this dessert. By the time you are finished assembling and making the whipped cream, the assembled pudding will have cooled a bit. It can still be very slightly warm as you add the whipped cream.

  14. Yum! Directions were easy to follow and this was so tasty!

  15. Michael Janoplis says:

    This was amazing. I’m not big on Vanilla Wafers so I substituted chocolate Dipped Butter cookies; OMG it is so good. I love your recipes, I’ve made quite a few and they are exceptional. I look foreword to the next one. Thank You Sally.

  16. OH MY GOSHHHHHH this dessert is out of this WORLD! I think my favorite part was that the pudding is homemade, and SO easy! I stood there staring at it for a few minutes, mesmerized that I actually did it! Easy to assemble and we gobbled this up at Sunday dinner! Truly a five star winner!

  17. This recipe is one that I will add to my go-to’s – especially when company is here! A true crowd pleaser, drool worthy and you kinda feel like its healthy cuz of the bananas! Ha! Thanks again for another amazing recipe!

  18. Are you letting the dish sit so the pudding itself can set? Or so the whole dish can meld flavors? I ask bc I’m wondering if I can let the pudding set but not assemble all the parts until we are ready to eat to keep the cookies from getting soggy after a day. Would it work just to store parts separately and add some cookies, pudding, and bananas to an individual bowl? I assume the cookies would be crunchier but would the flavors work? Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Julie, It is best assembled at least 4 hours before enjoying so that the pudding will thicken, the flavors will mingle, and the vanilla wafers will soften! You can definitely make the pudding and bananas ahead of time – see the recipe notes for detailed make ahead directions.

  19. Hey Sally. Is there any way that the eggs could be sustituted with something else in the vanilla pudding?

    1. Hi Ashaani, I’ve never made pudding without eggs before so I’m not entirely sure. If you test anything, let me know!

  20. Hi Sally. Can i use ladyfingers biscuit instead of vanilla wafer? Thank you

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Sure can, Grace!

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