African American Banana Pudding History

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Why do people love old-fashioned Southern banana pudding?

It’s because homemade banana pudding is Southern comfort food at its finest. A soul food specialty!

And Southern banana pudding has an old African American history. 

African American Banana Pudding History

Growing up in the South, I’ve had the pleasure of indulging in this sweet treat all my life.  

But how do you make banana pudding the Black way?

Is banana pudding a Black thing?

Netflix’s original series, High On The Hog, exposed many so-called American fruits and vegetables that are actually African motherland derivatives. 

This is because African foods were brought over to North America during the horrific slave trade – the origin of how banana pudding has African American history.

Bananas are one of the fruits with a West African heritage traced back to about 650 AD. Two African banana varieties crossbred to yield the seedless banana we know and enjoy today.

I’m excited to share my family’s African American banana pudding history!

Banana pudding the Southern Black way

My great-grandmother was an esteemed caterer of African descent. She taught my dad how to make banana pudding with a top meringue layer (a fluffy topping made of egg white). 

It became the signature dessert he’d make for us on special occasions. 

My mom’s North Carolina Southern banana pudding recipe is similar to my dad’s but omits the meringue. And we love her recipe just the same!

The Southern soul food banana pudding tradition has carried on into my home with The Mister as the one who usually makes banana pudding at our house.

It’s our go-to dish for traditional African-American cookouts and celebrations.  

How to make banana pudding the Black way

Banana pudding the Southern Black way 

Bananas are a staple in the South. And Southern banana pudding is a delicious dessert that can be whipped up in minutes. 

It’s perfect for any occasion! 

It can be prepared in the morning for a same-day treat!

And this soul food version has all the best flavors and texture combinations that will make it a family favorite.

You’ll never be able to look at other banana pudding the same way once you’ve tried this soul food delicious delight – Southern banana pudding prepared the Black way!

Black Southern Banana Pudding
Black Folks Southern Banana Pudding
How to make banana pudding the Black way
You'll never be able to look at other banana pudding the same way once you've tried this soul food delicious delight – Southern banana pudding prepared the Black way!
Check out this recipe!

 

How is homemade banana pudding with the wafers made?

Banana pudding is a signature Southern soul food dessert served on a bed of Nilla Wafers cookies and layered with round banana slices in between yummy whipped topping, pudding, and cream cheese. 

It’s pure bliss – also known as soul food!

Banana pudding has a Southern identity that stretches back more than half a century – African American banana pudding history.

How is homemade banana pudding with the wafers made?

Who came up with the recipe for banana pudding?

Black Southern banana pudding is an elevated version of the once-English trifle turned American cuisine.

How can the history of banana pudding be described?

African American cooks in the South took a native African fruit (the banana) and reimagined this layered, originally English custard dish to perfection!

How did banana pudding become a Southern thing?

This dish became quintessentially Southern, probably due to the source of where it was primarily prepared, providing the South with a more extraordinary claim to the dessert.

James Hemings, an enslaved African-American chef in Virginia, created baked mac and cheese and used whole milk as the recipe’s vital ingredient.

Similarly, the African-American recipe for banana pudding incorporates whole milk to give the pudding a rich, smooth, and silky consistency, like homemade custard. 

 

African American Banana Pudding

What makes this the best banana pudding recipe?

This banana pudding also includes another unassuming secret ingredient – cream cheese.

Enjoyed by generations from North to South and East to West. Southern banana pudding (the Black way) is a delightful dessert with a rich, creamy texture and banana flavor profile that’ll make your mouth water!

The preparation of this dish may seem complicated at first glance because of its layers. But it’s pretty straightforward to prepare once you know what ingredients are needed.

Easy Banana Pudding Recipe
Easy Southern Banana Pudding Recipe
Banana pudding is a classic Southern dessert recipe with decadent layerings of banana slices, vanilla pudding, cookies, and whipped cream – yum! This recipe will detail step-by-step how to make an easy Southern banana pudding.
Check out this recipe!

How to make banana pudding the Black way

 What kitchen tools will you need to make Southern banana pudding?

Check out the kitchen equipment, recipe ingredients, and instructions below.

Kitchen equipment

 

Shop my kitchenware!

KitchenAid stand mixer  |  KitchenAid hand mixer  | Amazon stainless steel mixing bowl  |   Pyrex round baking dish  | World Market measuring spoons  |  Pyrex measuring glass  |  Amazon cutting board  |  Courtly Check casserbole  |  Courtly Check rectangle baking pan  |  The Pioneer Woman plates  |

 

Ingredients for African American Southern banana pudding 

  • 3 ripe fresh bananas, sliced into banana rounds
  • 8 oz. of whipped cream (1 container)
  • 8 oz. whipped cream cheese (1 container)
  • 11 oz. box of Nilla Wafers cookies (and ¼ cup of crumbled cookies)
  • 4.6 oz. vanilla instant pudding or cook & serve pudding mix

Pro tip: To make African American banana pudding with pudding from scratch – check out this recipe HERE!

What is the best way to serve banana pudding?

Instructions for African American Southern banana pudding

  1. Make the pudding according to the pudding mixture box instructions and set it aside in the refrigerator.
  2. Mix the whipped topping and cream cheese in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
  3. Line the bottom and sides of a baking pan or dish with Nilla Wafers cookies.
  4. Add a layer of banana slices over the Nilla Wafers.
  5. Using a small spatula, spread the vanilla pudding evenly over the bananas.
  6. Add a layer of the whipped topping and cream cheese mixture over the pudding layer.
  7. Repeat the above steps for a second layer of cookies, bananas, pudding, and whipped topping.
  8. Sprinkle the ¼ cup of crumbled cookies over the top layer of whipped cream.
  9. Allow the banana pudding to chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Banana pudding is easiest to slice after being refrigerated.
  10. Serve this African American Southern banana pudding recipe immediately after being refrigerated, and enjoy!

Wanna try this same Southern banana pudding recipe with chocolate pudding?

Check out the recipe below!

Black Folks Chocolate Southern Banana Pudding
Black Folks Chocolate Southern Banana Pudding Recipe
This chocolate banana pudding recipe is as quick and easy as the original soul food banana pudding recipe.
You simply add an additional layer of chocolate pudding and crunchy buttery Nilla Wafers for pure chocolate bliss!
Check out this recipe!

Pro tips: 

  • This recipe can be made per the instructions and transferred to individual baking cups, ramekins, or mason jars. 
  • Slice pieces carefully to preserve the banana pudding layers when transferring.
  • Want to make just half of this recipe, or need to make more or less banana pudding?
  • You can use the dynamic recipe card below to adjust the serving size for the proportionate amount of desired banana pudding!

 

What do you serve with Southern African American banana pudding?

What is the best way to serve banana pudding?

Serve banana pudding as best you can in slices. 

This recipe makes approximately 12 proportionate slices of banana pudding. 

It’s best eaten as a dessert after enjoying other soul food main dishes and side dish recipe favorites, including:

 

Black Folks Southern Bread Pudding
Black Folks Southern Bread Pudding
Are you looking for an old-fashioned Southern bread pudding or a soul food African American bread pudding recipe?
Then look no further than this Black folks' Southern bread pudding – your easy go-to recipe!
Check out this recipe!

 

African American banana pudding history FAQs

How many ripe bananas do you need to make banana pudding?

You’ll need three ripe fresh bananas sliced into 1″ sliced bananas. 

Do you eat banana pudding hot or cold?

I enjoy banana pudding warm, or at room temperature, so I take a slice immediately right after it’s made! (Black folks call that greedy!)

But I believe the proper way is to have a little patience and slice into this decadent dessert after a few hours of refrigeration.

 

How long does banana pudding last in the fridge?

Banana pudding should be refrigerated to preserve the perishable bananas in the recipe. The pudding is also a milk mixture that requires refrigeration.

This Southern dessert can last for 3-5 days in the refrigerator.

 

How do you keep bananas from turning brown in the banana pudding?

Asked another way, why do your bananas turn black in the banana pudding?

Bananas are one of the main ingredients in banana pudding, but why do they turn black? 

The cause is oxidation. When bananas are exposed to oxygen, it causes them to turn brown or black.

Bananas oxidize faster than other fruits and vegetables. The starch is converted into sugar, which speeds up this process even more.

African American banana pudding recipe & history

Can you use banana pudding instead of vanilla?

Of course! But vanilla pudding is part of African American history when preparing banana pudding.

How do you keep the banana pudding from turning brown or black?

To prevent bananas from browning, slice them just before layering them with the pudding to create a barrier between the bananas and the air, slowing oxidation.

How ripe do the bananas have to be for the pudding?

This recipe uses sweet ripe bananas. So look for a firm banana with bright yellow skin and brown spots.

 

How do you keep the banana pudding from getting watery?

First, make the pudding using a thickener, and then keep it cool. 

This African American banana pudding recipe incorporates cream cheese as a tasty thickener. 

Other old-fashioned banana pudding recipes include evaporated milk and sugar or sweetened condensed milk to thicken the pudding.

What can you substitute for Nilla Wafers in banana pudding?

  

What can you substitute for Nilla Wafers in banana pudding?

Nothing. 

Part of the nostalgia for African American banana pudding and its history is Nilla Wafers cookies. Therefore, it’s not recommended to try substitutions for these integral cookies.

There are simply no substitutions. 

Not even sponge cake, vanilla extract, vanilla bean, and definitely not other brands of vanilla wafers, brown sugar cookies, or vanilla cookies.

 Ask any Black mama, auntie, or grandma, and they’ll tell you that Nilla Wafers is the official cookie of African American banana pudding!

 

Is banana pudding a Black thing?

What do you think about this Black folks’ Southern banana pudding recipe?

Did you enjoy this Southern dessert banana recipe and African American banana pudding history?

Have you had it?

Would you make it? 

Comment below and lemme know. 

Then subscribe HERE for all the soul food!

The Ultimate Soul Food Recipes Guide
The Ultimate Soul Food Recipes Guide
What is soul food? Soul food recipes are African-American recipes full of flavor! A legacy of Southern cooking the Black way. Check out this collection of the best soul food recipes!
Check out this recipe!

 

Like this post? Pin the below picture to your “Soul Food Recipes” Pinterest Board!

African American Banana Pudding History

African American Banana Pudding History | Southern Banana Pudding The Black Way

Banana pudding has an old African American history. Black cooks in the South took a native African fruit (the banana) and reimagined this layered, originally English custard dish to perfection!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Refrigeration Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Soul Food, Southern Food
Servings: 12
Calories: 301kcal

Equipment

  • 9-10" round glass baking dish (preferably with a lid)

Ingredients

  • 3 bananas ripe & sliced into banana rounds
  • 8 oz. whipped cream 1 container
  • 8 oz. cream cheese 1 container, whipped
  • 4.6 oz. vanilla pudding instant pudding or cook & serve pudding mix
  • 11 oz. Nilla Wafers 1 box and ¼ cup of crumbled Nilla Wafers cookies

Instructions

  • Make the pudding according to the pudding mixture box instructions and set it aside in the refrigerator.
  • Mix the whipped topping and cream cheese in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
  • Line the bottom and sides of a baking pan or dish with Nilla Wafers cookies.
  • Add a layer of banana slices over the Nilla Wafers.
  • Using a small spatula, spread the vanilla pudding evenly over the bananas.
  • Add a layer of the whipped topping and cream cheese mixture over the pudding layer.
  • Repeat the above steps for a second layer of cookies, bananas, pudding, and whipped topping.
  • Sprinkle the ¼ cup of crumbled cookies over the top layer of whipped cream.
  • Allow the banana pudding to chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Banana pudding is easiest to slice after being refrigerated.
  • Serve this African American Southern banana pudding recipe immediately after being refrigerated, and enjoy!

Video

Notes

  • This recipe can be made per the instructions and transferred to individual baking cups, ramekins, or mason jars.
Slice pieces carefully to preserve the banana pudding layers when transferring.
  • Want to make just half of this recipe, or need to make more or less banana pudding?
You can use this dynamic recipe card above to adjust the serving size for the proportionate amount of desired banana pudding!

Nutrition

Calories: 301kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 236mg | Potassium: 183mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 402IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 1mg
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One Comment

  1. Francene Kaufman says:

    5 stars
    Very easy. Simular to the recipe I grew up with. Simple and delicious.