How to Make Banana Pudding the Black Way: Authentic Recipe Guide

Banana pudding is a classic dessert enjoyed by many across the world, but there’s something extraordinary about the “black way” of making this delicious treat. With its roots in African American culinary culture, this distinctive style of banana pudding has become a staple at family gatherings, cookouts, and holiday celebrations. By incorporating a few key ingredients and techniques, you can experience banana pudding like never before, taking your dessert game to another level.

The key to making extraordinary banana pudding the black way lies in its rich, velvety smooth base, perfectly layered with ripe bananas and crunchy vanilla wafers. This dessert showcases a luscious homemade vanilla custard made from scratch, which sets it apart from the common instant pudding mix versions many are familiar with. A touch of southern soul is also introduced through the flavors of sweetened condensed milk and cream cheese, giving the custard a luxurious texture and a hint of tanginess.

As you follow along, you’ll learn the essentials of crafting this iconic dish, such as tips for achieving the perfect custard consistency, advice on selecting bananas for the right degree of ripeness, and guidance on creating the ideal balance of flavors. Prepare to indulge in a comforting, delectable dessert—celebrating tradition and taste with every bite.

The Black Way to Banana Pudding


The Black way to banana pudding finds its roots in African heritage, which has a long-standing tradition of creating scrumptious dishes from locally sourced ingredients. Over time, it has evolved into an Americanized English trifle, incorporating elements of North American culture. Today, this delicious dessert is a staple in the Soul Food tradition, often enjoyed during Thanksgiving and other celebrations.

Banana pudding traces its origins to several African desserts that use similar ingredients. When Africans were brought to North America, they adapted their recipes to the ingredients available, such as bananas and sweetened condensed milk. This fusion of cultures resulted in a uniquely American dessert that embodies the resilience and creativity of the African American community.

Cultural Significance

Banana pudding holds a special place in the heart of the African American community, primarily due to its connection to Soul Food. Often served at family gatherings and festive occasions, this dessert embodies the warmth and love that is synonymous with Soul Food. In addition, the adaptability of the recipe invites personal touches, allowing individuals to add their own flair to this classic dessert.

Some notable aspects of The Black way to banana pudding include:

  • Using a mixture of vanilla wafers and chessmen cookies for a more diverse texture
  • Incorporating authentic Southern ingredients, such as whiskey, rum, or bourbon
  • Experimenting with additional flavors, such as cinnamon or nutmeg

As part of the Soul Food tradition, The Black way to banana pudding not only offers a mouthwatering treat but also connects the community through a shared cultural experience. This dessert stands as a delicious symbol of African American heritage and the resilience of a people who transformed hardship into something sweet and delightful.

Unripe and overripe bananas isolated on white background

Essential Ingredients


The foundation of any banana pudding is, of course, the bananas. For the best flavor and texture, use ripe, medium-sized bananas that are free from any signs of bruising or overly brown spots. This ensures that your pudding stays true to its flavor without being overwhelmed by a single component.

Nilla Wafers

Nilla Wafers are the classic choice for creating the delectable cookie layers within the banana pudding. These vanilla-flavored cookies have a crisp texture that perfectly complements the creamy pudding and soft banana slices. If you can’t find Nilla Wafers, you can also use other vanilla wafers as a suitable substitute.

Pudding Mixture

The pudding mixture is the heart of the recipe, bringing together all the ingredients for a smooth, luscious treat. To create the perfect pudding mixture, you’ll need the following:

  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cups cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whipped cream

To create the pudding mixture, start by whisking together milk, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan before placing it over medium heat. Once the mixture starts to thicken, remove it from the heat and whisk in vanilla extract. Finally, gently fold in whipped cream to give the pudding its signature silky texture.

In the assembly process, alternate layers of Nilla Wafers, banana slices, and pudding mixture until you have reached your desired serving size. Allow the banana pudding to chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours to let the flavors meld and the texture to set. Once chilled, your classic black banana pudding is ready to be enjoyed.

Homemade Components

Homemade Pudding

To make homemade banana pudding, begin by preparing the homemade pudding. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Gradually whisk in whole milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and gradually stir in egg yolks. Return the saucepan to heat and cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Once the pudding is thick and creamy, remove from heat and add butter, vanilla extract, and lemon juice.

  • Sugar: 1 cup
  • Cornstarch: 1/4 cup
  • Salt: pinch
  • Whole milk: 3 cups
  • Egg yolks: 4
  • Butter: 4 tablespoons
  • Vanilla extract: 1 teaspoon
  • Lemon juice: 1 tablespoon

Homemade Whipped Cream

For the homemade whipped cream, combine heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Whip the mixture using a hand mixer or a stand mixer with a whisk attachment until stiff peaks form.

  • Heavy cream: 1 cup
  • Powdered sugar: 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla extract: 1/2 teaspoon

A key aspect of southern banana pudding is assembling the pudding with layers of bananas, vanilla wafers, and the homemade pudding mixture. Start by spreading a layer of homemade pudding on the bottom of your serving dish. Add a layer of vanilla wafers, followed by a layer of sliced bananas. Repeat the layers, finishing with a layer of pudding on top. Finally, spread the whipped cream over the pudding and refrigerate until it’s cold and set.

If desired, add a classic touch by making a meringue topping instead of whipped cream. To make meringue, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, continuing to beat until stiff peaks form. Spread the meringue over the assembled pudding, sealing the edges, and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Refrigerate until cold before serving.

Variations and Adaptations

Vegan and Gluten-free Options

For vegan and gluten-free variations, make substitutions that maintain the delicious essence of a traditional banana pudding. Replace sweetened condensed milk with a vegan and gluten-free alternative, such as coconut condensed milk. A gluten-free vanilla pudding mix is an easy swap, and consider using gluten-free cookies or wafers.

Here are some ingredients you can substitute:

  • Sweetened condensed milk: Coconut condensed milk
  • Vanilla pudding mix: Gluten-free vanilla pudding mix
  • Cookies or wafers: Gluten-free cookies or wafers

Adding Other Flavors

Experimenting with flavors can enhance the taste of your banana pudding. For instance, adding chocolate pudding creates a richer experience, while the fusion of sliced bananas with fresh fruit offers a healthier twist. Don’t be afraid to modify the best banana pudding recipe to suit your preferences.

Here are a few flavor inspirations:

  • Chocolate pudding: Substitute or mix with vanilla pudding for a more decadent dessert
  • Fresh fruit: Mix in your favorite fruits, such as strawberries or blueberries, with sliced bananas
  • Spices: Add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg for an extra kick

Remember, your banana pudding can be as creative and diverse as you desire. Use fresh bananas and other ingredients, explore vegan and gluten-free options, and introduce different flavors for an easy, delightful treat.

Preparation and Tips

Assembling the Pudding

For a delicious and authentic Southern dessert, start by gathering high-quality ingredients. Overripe bananas are perfect for this banana pudding recipe because they are naturally sweeter and softer, making them easier to blend with other elements.

The secret ingredient that sets this black-style banana pudding apart is a pinch of salt, which helps enhance its flavor. While layering, use a baking dish or a trifle dish, as both provide an attractive presentation.

A homemade whipped cream is highly recommended over store-bought alternatives like Cool Whip, as it adds a fresh touch to this comforting dessert. To make your own whipped cream, combine heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form.

Storage and Presentation

Presentation is crucial for any dish, and banana pudding is no exception. Use a clear trifle dish or a glass baking dish to showcase the scrumptious layers of banana, pudding, and whipped cream. This can elevate your comfort food to a visually appealing party dessert, perfect for a cookout or social gathering.

To store the banana pudding, place it in an airtight container and refrigerate it. This ensures it remains fresh and delicious. For inspiration, you can browse Pinterest for creative ideas on serving and garnishing.

This quick and easy recipe is not only a delightful Southern dessert but also a perfect comfort food to share with family and friends.

Traditional Soul Food Desserts

Traditional soul food desserts have their roots in African motherland derivatives and quintessentially Southern flavors. One beloved example is the black folks southern banana pudding, a family favorite that features a rich, smooth, and silky consistency.

Black Folks Banana Pudding with Cream Cheese

The black folks banana pudding with cream cheese takes the classic banana pudding up a notch. It typically includes seedless bananas, instant vanilla pudding, vanilla wafer cookies, and cream cheese. The key to achieving its signature taste is to let the dish rest in the refrigerator for two days before serving.


  • Seedless bananas
  • Instant vanilla pudding
  • Vanilla wafer cookies
  • Cream cheese
  • Evaporated milk
  • Egg yolks
  • Cornstarch
  • Frozen whipped topping

Black Folks Chocolate Southern Banana Pudding

Another variation of the classic banana pudding is the black folks chocolate southern banana pudding. This recipe adds a twist by incorporating chocolate into the mix. The dessert is often served chilled, just like the black folks southern banana pudding, and can be easily made by kids.


  • Seedless bananas
  • Instant chocolate pudding
  • Vanilla wafer cookies
  • Fresh banana slices
  • Evaporated milk
  • Eggs

Other Popular Recipes

Baked Mac and Cheese

Baked mac and cheese is a staple in southern comfort food. This dish is often made using a great-grandmother’s recipe, passed down through generations.


  • Elbow macaroni
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Evaporated milk
  • Eggs
  • Butter

Southern North Carolina Banana Pudding

The southern North Carolina banana pudding recipe originates from an esteemed caterer’s kitchen. What sets this recipe apart from other variations is its unique meringue layer made of egg whites.


  • Seedless bananas
  • Instant vanilla pudding
  • Vanilla wafer cookies
  • Egg yolks
  • Egg whites
  • Cornstarch
  • Sugar

James Hemings’ Cookie Crust

The James Hemings Nilla Wafers cookie crust recipe dates back to early America. This dessert uses the Nilla Wafers cookies as a base to create a no-bake treat.


  • Nilla Wafers cookies
  • Butter
  • Sugar

Making these traditional soul food desserts involves specific methods that contribute to their signature tastes. Proper refrigeration, use of fresh ingredients, and letting flavors meld are crucial aspects in achieving the perfect dessert experience. Whether you’re a fan of Paula Deen’s classic banana pudding or the black folks banana pudding with cream cheese, these recipes are sure to bring joy and comfort to family gatherings and special occasions.

Banana Pudding the Black Way

Banana pudding is a classic dessert enjoyed by many across the world, but there's something extraordinary about the "black way" of making this delicious treat. With its roots in African American culinary culture, this distinctive style of banana pudding has become a staple at family gatherings, cookouts, and holiday celebrations. By incorporating a few key ingredients and techniques, you can experience banana pudding like never before, taking your dessert game to another level.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine African
Servings 4
Calories 650 kcal


  • Mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • 9x13-Inch Baking Dish


  • 1 5-ounce box vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 12-ounce box vanilla wafers
  • 4 ripe bananas sliced
  • Whipped cream and additional vanilla wafers for garnish


  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the pudding mix, heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, whole milk, and vanilla extract until smooth.
  • In a 9x13 inch baking dish, layer vanilla wafers, sliced bananas, and pudding mixture. Repeat layers, ending with pudding mixture on top.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
  • Garnish with whipped cream and additional vanilla wafers, if desired.


Calories: 650kcalCarbohydrates: 85gProtein: 10gFat: 30g
Keyword How to make banana pudding the black way
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Follow Us
Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
Follow Us
Latest posts by Cassie Marshall (see all)