Warm Banana Pudding – Made with pound cake, homemade vanilla pudding, sliced bananas and topped with toasted meringue, this Southern warm banana pudding taste so velvety smooth that you’ll never want to make another banana pudding ever again! The perfect dessert for the holidays!
As you’ve probably heard me say before, moving to the South has broadened my tastes, without a doubt. Had I never moved to Atlanta, you can be sure that I never would have made these pecan bars, or these biscuits, or these cherry hand pies. It has inspired me in many ways and forced me to try things outside my comfort zone.
And also gain about 10 pounds.
Another Southern dish that I fell in love with after moving here is banana pudding. Well, in all honesty, I first tried banana pudding on a visit to Atlanta, about a couple years before moving here. But who’s really keeping track??
Almost every restaurant and grandma here has their own take on banana pudding: I’ve had it in a parfait-form, with crushed pralines instead of wafers, and even served warm!
And that’s what we’re talking about today: warm banana pudding (aka Southern Style banana pudding).
I first had warm banana pudding in the cafeteria of my first job, believe it or not. I worked at Ernst & Young and had a major Fortune 500 company as my client so I regularly worked at my client’s headquarters. In their cafeteria, they served banana pudding, which made me wayyyy more excited than one should be over a dessert.
But when they handed me my order, the pudding was hot. Was there a mistake? Did they give me some kind of cobbler by mistake? I was in a faze where I avoided confrontation at all costs so I just went with it.
And thank goodness I did! This warm pudding was a GAME. CHANGER. When heated, the pudding became velvety smooth and extra rich, kind of like the center of a lava cake. Like, it’s seems too rich to eat but you physically can’t stop eating it.
Oh and let’s not forget the topping. Since it was baked, a whipped cream topping just would not do. Instead, the pudding is topped with whipped meringue. Oh yes. And when baked, it becomes ultra fluffy and slightly creamy. Oh yes times two!
And so began my obsession with the cafeteria’s warm banana pudding. They only served it once a week so that helped keep my addiction under control. But it didn’t help that everyone knew how much I loved it and would ALWAYS keep me informed when it was spotted at the cafeteria.
Okay so now jump forward about 3 years…I’ve since left Ernst & Young and haven’t had warm banana pudding since. But one day, while my husband and I were out to dinner, I spot warm banana pudding out in the wild! How could it be?!
We were at Chef Kevin Gillespie‘s Restaurant in Atlanta called Gunshow. You may know Chef Gillespie from Top Chef. He had a huge red beard. Ringing any bells??
Anywho, while at Gunshow, I saw a warm banana pudding on the dessert menu and ordered it IMMEDIATELY. Oh man, and it was just as I remembered. My stomach was smiling that day.
So today I am sharing the recipe from Chef Gillespie’s own repertoire (courtesy of his website) that you can try for yourself. And believe me when I say…you NEED to try this.
Here are a couple things to note when making this amazing pudding:
- Everyone loves a shortcut. But for the sake of this dessert, please please don’t use instant pudding. I use it every so often because it really is so much quicker than making it from scratch. However, the texture, not to mention the vanilla-bean flecks, that you get from making it from scratch makes the effort soooooo worth it. Since the pudding is the star of the show, we want it to taste as amazing as possible.
- When cooking the pudding on the stove, it will seem like the pudding is never going to thicken. 5 minutes will go by and it still feels super runny and thin and nothing like pudding. But then minute 7 or 8 comes and suddenly the mixture is SUPER thick, just like that! So don’t give up and just keep whisking.
- Just because we aren’t taking shortcuts on the pudding, doesn’t mean we can’t take any with the pound cake. That’s right – there’s pound cake in this pudding instead of wafers. But no need to bake one from scratch. I used a store-bought one for the recipe and it worked perfectly. And it cut out about 2 hours of work. Yes and yes.
- Super ripe bananas are the best for banana pudding (and any banana dessert, really). So make sure to buy some bananas about 3-5 days before you plan to make this pudding so they have enough time to get a few brown freckles on the peel.
- If making ahead, make the pudding and refrigerate before adding meringue and baking it. Meringue gets kind of gummy after a day and loses the amazing texture that you get when it’s fresh out of the oven. When ready to serve, remove from fridge and bake the pudding for 10-15 minutes in 375 degree oven to get it heated through. Then, make meringue, place onto pudding and bake until meringue is toasted.
Alrighty, folks. That’s all there is to it! I really hope you give this pudding a try, especially if you’ve never had warm banana pudding. It’s going to rock your world!
Here are all the kitchen tools and serveware that I used in today’s recipe. For each item sold below, I make a small commission. I only recommend items that I own and love so you can trust that each recommendation is tried and true. Thank you for supporting CPA!
Warm Banana Pudding
- 2 cups half and half
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean pod
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract divided
- 8 large eggs separated
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 12-ounce loaf pound cake
- 8 bananas super ripe, sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the milk, half and half, and vanilla bean pod in a large saucepan. Place over medium-high heat to scald it. It will be ready once bubbles begin to form around the edges of the mixture, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Scoop out vanilla bean pod and remove contents by slicing down the middle and, with a paring knife, scrape out the seeds. Add seeds to the milk mixture. Discard pod. Add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract to milk mixture and whisk together. Set aside.
- Separate eggs and place eggs whites in a bowl and set aside. Place egg yolks in a large bowl with 2 cups of sugar. Whisk together quickly until the mixture turns a light yellow, about 1 minute. Sift flour and salt over the egg yolk mixture. Whisk to combine. It will take some muscle to mix this together since it's so dense. But don't give up! It will come together.
- Slowly whisk in 3/4 cup of the milk mixture to the egg yolk mixture to bring the eggs to temperature without scrambling them. This is called tempering. Add the egg mixture to the rest of the milk mixture in the saucepan. Place back on stove at medium heat. Constantly whisk the mixture as it begins to thicken to prevent lumps. It will take 8-10 minutes for the mixture to thicken into a pudding.
- Once the mixture has thickened, turn of heat. Place an immersion blender into the pudding and blend for 1 minute. Then, push pudding through fine mesh sieve to remove any remaining lumps. *Note: if you don't have an immersion blender, I recommend pushing through the sieve twice.
- Slice pound cake into thin slices, about 1/4 inch. You should get 16 slices. Place them in one even layer on a baking sheet. Toast in preheated oven for about 6 minutes. Remove from oven and flip over to toast on the other side for another 4 minutes.
- Begin layering the pudding by placing 1 1/2 cups of pudding on the bottom of a deep 2 to 3 quart baking dish. Place half of the loaf slices on top of pudding, followed by half of the banana slices. Repeat with a second layer and finish with a layer of pudding on the top. You should have three layers of pudding and two layers each of the bananas and pound cake.
- Place the leftover egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Begin whisking on medium high until frothy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and slowly add in remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar. Bring speed back up to medium high and continue whisking until soft peaks form. Place all of meringue on top of pudding and begin spreading into an even layer and sealing the edges. Meringue shrinks when it heats so if you don't seal the edges, pudding will be exposed. Using the back of a spoon or spatula, quickly press down on the meringue to create peaks. Bake in the oven to brown the meringue, about 10 minutes. If you don't like yours so brown, bake for 5-7 minutes.
- Remove from oven and serve immediately.
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