I grew up in Alabama and consider myself a true Southerner, even though I've spent the last four years full time and the three years before that going to college in the Midwest. Don't get me wrong; I love cheese curds and am making my way toward loving brats and all those other "Northern foods," but the love of Southern food still runs through my veins.
Right up there with from-scratch biscuits and sausage gravy, fried okra, and sweet tea is one of my favorite recipes of all time: real-deal banana puddin'. (You can't add a 'g' to the end of that and still pronounce it correctly!)
I'm sure there are recipes out there that start from scratch and present an even better banana pudding than this, but this recipe is my favorite. A dear lady from my church made this banana pudding when I was in junior high, and when it came time for me to get married, I asked her to please make three large banana puddings for my rehearsal dinner. Her wedding gift to me was a trifle bowl (shown in the pictures of the finished product) with the handwritten pudding recipe taped to the bottom. It was one of my favorite gifts, so I can't try out any other recipes.
Contrary to popular belief, banana puddin' isn't just vanilla pudding with bananas and 'Nilla wafers in it. There's an art to the formation of and creation of this recipe, and I think what makes it most unique is the sweetened condensed milk. It adds a creamy, thick element and a taste that you can't get by just using regular milk to make the pudding mix. Letting the pudding refrigerate overnight makes the 'Nilla wafers soft--another requirement to the success of this recipe.
To make the best banana puddin' ever, follow the directions explicitly!
Southern Banana Puddin'
2 3.4-ounce boxes of instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups 2% milk
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 8-ounce tubs of Cool Whip
4-6 bananas, thinly sliced
1 box ’Nilla wafers
Whisk together pudding mixes and milk. Add sweetened condensed milk and mix. Fold in one tub of Cool Whip.
Layer the dessert into a 9-inch trifle bowl, starting with the wafers, then bananas, then one-third of the vanilla pudding. You will need 1-2 bananas per layer.
After the first layer (ending with pudding), place ’Nilla wafers standing up in a ring around the bowl. Place more wafers on the pudding, then layer bananas, half of the tub of remaining Cool Whip, and another third of the pudding.
Finish the dessert with another layer of wafers, bananas, and the final third of the pudding. Dollop the remaining half tub of Cool Whip in the center of the dessert.
For a printable recipe, click here.