Black Folks Southern Banana Pudding Recipe

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Homemade banana pudding is Southern comfort food at its finest! We call it soul food.

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?

Black Southern Banana Pudding

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. 

Bananas are another of those fruits with an African heritage traced back as far as about 650 AD. Two African banana varieties crossbred to yield the seedless banana we know and enjoy today.

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!
Check out this recipe!

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

The Southern banana pudding soul food 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. So I’m excited to share with you my family’s soul food banana pudding recipe!

Banana pudding the Southern Black way is the best way!

Bananas are a staple in the South. Southern banana pudding is a delicious dessert that can be whipped up in minutes. It’s perfect for any occasion! 

The best part about Southern banana pudding is that it can be prepared in the morning for a same-day treat!

Whether you like your banana pudding with or without the cookie crust, 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!

What is Black Southern banana pudding?

What is Black folks Southern banana pudding?

Banana pudding is a signature Southern soul food dessert served on a bed of Nilla Wafers cookies and layered with round slices of bananas 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. This dish became quintessentially Southern, probably due to the source of where it was primarily being prepared, providing the South with a more extraordinary claim to the dish!

Black Southern banana pudding is an elevated version of the Americanized English trifle. This layered homemade custard dish was reimagined to perfection by African-American cooks in the South. 

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. 

Black Southern Banana Pudding Recipe

What makes this the best banana pudding recipe?

This soul food banana pudding recipe 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 simple to prepare once you know what ingredients are needed.

Before I dive into the instructions and details for preparing this tantalizing treat, let’s first look into the ingredients for soul food banana pudding.

Ingredients for Southern banana pudding the Black way

  • Cream cheese – is the secret ingredient for this soul food banana pudding. It enhances the pudding’s flavor and thickens the consistency to keep it from getting watery and the bananas spoiling.
  • Whole milk – is another key ingredient to a pudding. Whole milk adds rich milky flavor and smooth texture to your dessert.
  • Whipped cream – To add extra creaminess, add whipped cream! Banana pudding tastes more decadent and more luxurious when topped with heavy cream.
  • Nilla Wafers – The dessert base is made from the brand of cookies called Nilla Wafers. 
  • Bananas – You will need ripe (but not overripe) bananas sliced into round discs to prepare this recipe.
  • Vanilla pudding – You could make homemade pudding. But Black foodies over the years have found that old school soul food banana pudding is still just as tasty and easily accessible for anyone to quickly prepare with instant pudding.

How to make banana pudding the Black way

This banana pudding recipe is quick and easy, and it’s banana pudding with cream cheese – the Black way! So even if you’re running short on time, this Southern dessert will be ready in no time! 

The instructions are simple so that anyone can whip up this sweet treat.

So without any further due, let’s prepare this delicious soul food sampler! 

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

Black folks banana pudding with cream cheese

Kitchen equipment

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Ingredients for Black folks Southern banana pudding with cream cheese

  • 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. box of instant or cook & serve vanilla pudding mix

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

How To Make Banana Pudding The Black Way

Easy banana pudding the Black way recipe instructions

  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.
  10. Banana pudding is easiest to slice after being refrigerated, then serve, 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!

🎙 Listen to The Soul Food Pod episode: Is Banana Pudding A Black Thing?

Keep the podcast conversation going about Black folks’ Southern banana pudding recipe HERE!

How do you serve banana pudding?

Serve banana pudding in slices. This recipe makes approximately 12 proportionate slices of banana pudding.

How do you serve banana pudding?

Southern banana pudding is best eaten as a dessert with other traditional Southern foods like fried chicken, soul food collard greens, and black-eyed peas.

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!

Southern banana pudding FAQs

Do you eat banana pudding hot or cold?

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

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

Does banana pudding have to be refrigerated?

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

Pro tip: Banana pudding is easiest to slice after being refrigerated!

Black Southern Banana Pudding The Soul Food 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? 

What do you think happens when your bananas turn black?

The answer is oxidation. Oxidation occurs when bananas are exposed to oxygen, and it causes them to turn brown or black.

When exposed to air, bananas oxidize faster than other fruits and vegetables. The starch is converted into sugar, which speeds up this process even more.

The natural sugar in the bananas reacts with the oxygen in the air to create an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase (PPO). This enzyme causes your bananas to turn brown or black as time goes on.

We all know that bananas will eventually go bad due to this natural process. Still, you can do a few things to prevent your bananas from turning dark so fast in your banana pudding.

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

To prevent bananas from browning, slice them up just before adding them to the pudding.

Slice all your bananas first and smother them completely with pudding so that no air will get through. This creates a barrier between the bananas and the air, slows oxidation, and prevents your bananas from turning mushy black. 

Then, try to serve pudding ASAP!

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

To keep your banana pudding fresh a little longer, try tossing the sliced bananas in lemon juice before adding them to the pudding layers.

As a result, the browning process will be slowed down. This may change the flavor slightly but shouldn’t affect your banana pudding taste too much.

How long does banana pudding last?

Banana pudding can be kept for three days in the refrigerator if packed tightly with plastic wrap or a lidded container. 

In general, banana pudding doesn’t last much longer than a couple of days. However, it will be edible for three days, but the bananas will be darker in color.

How ripe should the bananas be for banana pudding?

How ripe should the bananas be for banana pudding?

This recipe uses sweet ripe bananas. It would be best if you looked for a firm banana with bright yellow skin and brown spots.

Homemade banana pudding or banana pudding mix?

If you’re in a hurry, using an instant pudding mix is probably the easiest way to make banana pudding. 

Old-fashioned pudding mix

Vanilla Pudding Directions For Banana Pudding

How do you keep the banana pudding from getting watery?

Make the pudding using a thickener and keep it cool. 

This soul food 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.

Can banana pudding be made a day ahead?

It is OK to prepare banana pudding in advance of the day you serve it. But only if you do things like this:

  • Toss the bananas in lemon juice before adding them to the vanilla pudding to avoid oxidation that results in the darkening of the bananas. (However, it’s best to peel and slice the bananas while layering them in the pudding. )
  • Wrap banana pudding with plastic wrap before storing it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. Or use a container with a fitted lid.
  • I wouldn’t recommend making banana pudding more than a day ahead. It’ll be difficult to hold off the darkening of the bananas and them becoming watery after a day.
  • Lastly, use the right wafer cookies. More specifically, use Nilla Wafers brand cookies. 

What can you substitute for Nilla Wafers in banana pudding?

What can you substitute for Nilla Wafers in banana pudding?

Nothing. When making a Black Southern banana pudding recipe, trying substitutions for Nilla Wafers is not recommended.

There are simply no substitutions.

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

How To Make Banana Pudding The Black Way

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

Butter cookies, shortbread, sponge cake, and graham crackers are excellent substitutes for other pudding recipes like a fruit crumble, a trifle, or even an icebox cake. 

But it’s best not to try substitutes of cookies when making Southern banana pudding the Black way.

Something about that little Nilla Wafers makes a distinctive difference!

Southern Banana Pudding The Soul Food Way

Why are Nilla Wafers so good?

The texture of the cookie is uniquely crispy and aerated. 

Bonappetit describes it best. “As the cookies nestle into a bed of whipped cream or pudding, a Nilla Wafers cookie hydrates to create dissolve-in-your-mouth crumbs. Not wet mush like other brands.”  

This makes Nillas the perfect pairing for banana pudding!

Make your banana pudding the authentic Southern soul food Black way. It’s the best way, guaranteed to be quickly devoured!

How do you make Paula Deen’s banana pudding?

Her recipe is similar to soul food Southern banana pudding, except she does not use Nilla Wafers cookies – blasphemy if making banana pudding the Black way!

What ingredients are in Patti Labelle’s banana pudding?

Ms. Patti incorporates heavy cream and condensed milk into her recipe.

Is banana pudding a Black thing?

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

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

Black folks banana pudding is the perfect Southern dessert recipe for your next soul food Sunday, soul food Thanksgiving menu, Christmas dinner, or your favorite holiday or special occasion.

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!

This post was first published on ShaundaNecole.com on May 6, 2020.

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Soul Food Southern Banana Pudding 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!
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

  • 9×13 baking dish (preferably with a lid)
  • Or 2 qt. glass bowl (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
  • 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.
    Make the instant pudding according to the pudding mixture instructions and set it aside in the refrigerator
  • Mix the whipped topping and cream cheese in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    Add a layer of the whipped topping and cream cheese mixture over the layer of pudding
  • Repeat the above steps for a second layer of cookies, bananas, pudding, and whipped topping.
    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.
    Sprinkle the 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, then serve, and enjoy!
    Banana pudding is easiest to slice after being refrigerated, then serve, 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!
Southern Banana Pudding Recipe

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
Save it so you can make it!Pin this recipe to remember it later.
4.84 from 154 votes (110 ratings without comment)

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51 Comments

  1. Cyrene Peñas says:

    5 stars
    Wow! Who’s excited for Banana Pudding? 🙋🏽‍♀️🙋🏽‍♀️

  2. 5 stars
    Reading this again today makes me hungry! LOL. I’m always hungry

  3. 5 stars
    this sounds delish!!!!

  4. Sarah Cool says:

    5 stars
    I’m allergic to bananas but my mom loves banana pudding so I’ll be making her a batch of this!

  5. Tamra Phelps says:

    5 stars
    I am a big fan of banana pudding, and this is just how my Mom made it. Yum!

  6. Charlotte says:

    5 stars
    I made this recipe & its the best. Thank you 😊

  7. 5 stars
    Banana pudding is one of my favorite desserts. Seeing this recipe makes me want some right now!

  8. Sue Greene says:

    5 stars
    This is going to be on my table really soon!

    1. Black folks Southern banana pudding is a great dessert to start with – good all season long!

  9. 5 stars
    My son will like this. I think he and I would both love this. Sounds delicious

  10. 5 stars
    Now I want some! 🤤😋😍

  11. 5 stars
    can’t believe how good this is

  12. 5 stars
    it looks sooo good. I love pudding.

  13. 5 stars
    Hello! I plan on making this this weekend. Just to confirm whipped cream as in cool whip?? Thanks!

  14. 5 stars
    I’m making this for Christmas and am wondering if this only makes one layer or do we keep layering?

    1. 5 stars
      This is the perfect holiday dish – Start with a layer of Nilla Wafer cookies, then a layer of banana slices, a layer of pudding, whipped cream, and then crumbled cookies on top. Serve and enjoy – Merry Christmas!

  15. Janice Couch says:

    5 stars
    I am 69 years old. Really old school so that means my mom was truly old school. I can’t remember ever seeing black people put cream cheese in banana puddin. That’s a newer version

  16. 5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe!!! I Love it!

  17. Tamara Bacon says:

    5 stars
    Thank You for this recipe!

  18. Terry Harris says:

    5 stars
    Growing up my mother (NC born and raised) would make banana pudding, the exact same recipe and I loved it. Now I can pass it on to my children. Classic dessert, easy and fun to make! 😋