Even though banana pudding is a staple at gatherings and potlucks, it never fails to delight guests. There’s just something so comforting and satisfying about the dessert, which combines ripe bananas, creamy custard, crunchy vanilla cookies and fluffy whipped cream for a sweet and rich bite with each spoonful. The key to preparing banana pudding for a crowd? If you ask Woman’s World test kitchen director Susan Chiusano, it’s to make parfait-sized servings of the dessert so it chills faster and is easier to serve. Keep reading to learn how to make mouthwatering banana pudding parfaits, and three recipes that put a flavorful spin on this dessert classic.
What is banana pudding?
Banana pudding is a dessert where custard, vanilla wafers or ladyfingers, sliced or mashed bananas and whipped cream are all layered together. Most recipes for this dessert involve refrigerating it in the pan or trifle dish for a few hours, allowing the pudding to set before serving. But banana pudding parfaits just need about an hour to chill since they’re smaller in size.
Can bananas be too ripe for banana pudding?
Bananas are the standout ingredient in this dessert as they provide it with a sweet, fruity flavor. That’s why it’s important to use the bananas when they’re at the right stage of ripeness. Otherwise, underripe bananas will add a bland flavor to the dessert, while overripe fruit will be mushy and too sweet.
For best results when making banana pudding parfaits, use bananas that are bright yellow and have a medium to soft texture. (Click through for tips on how to keep bananas fresh so they’re perfectly ripe when you’re ready to make this pudding.)
What keeps bananas from turning brown in pudding?
When sliced and exposed to air, bananas darken quickly in a process called enzymatic browning. Brown bananas can make your pudding parfaits look less appetizing, so Susan suggests taking an extra step to avoid that. “Toss sliced bananas with around 1 to 2 Tbs. of lemon or lime juice — the little bit of acid from the citrus is enough to stop any browning,” she recommends. After coating the banana slices in citrus juice, layer or mash them as directed in the recipe. Then, serve the eye-catching and yummy banana pudding parfaits for your loved ones to devour.
How to make banana pudding parfaits
Making banana parfaits produces tasty individual-sized desserts, but you may dread cleaning all of those serving glasses afterwards. Luckily, Susan says to simply “make the desserts in disposable cups for easy clean-up.”
Another way to whipping up delicious parfaits is by incorporating booze into the recipe. “For adults-only version, I like to brush cake or cookies with spiced rum, coconut rum or banana liqueur before layering,” Susan says.
As you can see, these treats are a clever way to enjoy this classic dessert. So try these three banana pudding parfait recipes as all they deserve a spot on the dessert table at your next potluck or BBQ!
1. Classic Banana Pudding Parfaits
Easy-from-scratch custard is layered with vanilla cookies and banana slices for a twist on banana cream pudding.
- 1 (12-oz.) can evaporated milk
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅛ tsp. salt
- 6 egg yolks
- 2 ½ cups half-and-half
- 2 Tbs. butter
- 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
- 1 (11-oz.) package vanilla wafers
- 6 medium bananas, sliced
- 1 container (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed
- Active: 1 hr.
- Total time: 1 hr.
- Servings: 8 servings
- In medium bowl, whisk together evaporated milk, sugar, flour and salt until sugar has dissolved and no lumps remain. Pour into heavy-bottomed pot; cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly to prevent sticking, just until warmed.
- In same bowl, whisk egg yolks with half-and-half. While whisking, gradually add to warmed mixture in pot. Lower heat to medium; gently cook, stirring, 10 to 15 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from heat; add butter and vanilla. Mix well. If custard appears lumpy, press through fine-mesh sieve to smooth. Pour custard into bowl and press piece of plastic wrap on top. Cool slightly while preparing remaining ingredients.
- To assemble, arrange 3 or 4 whole vanilla wafers in bottom of each of 8 (8-oz.) parfait glasses, reserving 8 whole vanilla wafers for garnish. In separate bowl, crush remaining vanilla wafers. Add layer of sliced banana (about 4 slices per layer) over whole vanilla wafers; cover with about ¼ cup warm custard. Repeat layers, beginning with crushed vanilla wafers. Reserving ½ cup crushed wafers for top and 8 whole wafers for garnish, continue layering until all ingredients have been equally divided among parfait glasses ending with vanilla custard.
- Top each parfait with dollop of whipped topping, sprinkle with reserved crushed vanilla wafers and garnish with 1 whole wafer. Chill until serving.
2. Banana-Caramel Pudding Parfaits
Short on time? Use instant banana pudding mix, then layer as directed for a ready-in-minutes sweet treat.
- 3 cups milk
- 4 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed until smooth
- ½ cup sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 Tbs. cornstarch
- 1 (11-oz.) box vanilla wafers, crushed
- 1 cup caramel sauce
- 2 cups whipped cream
- Active: 25 mins
- Total time: 2½ hrs.
- Yield: 10 servings
- In saucepan over medium-high heat, bring milk to simmer. Whisk in banana purée and sugar. Bring to boil, stirring often. In small bowl, whisk egg yolks, vanilla extract and cornstarch; stream in ¼ cup hot milk mixture to temper eggs, whisking constantly. Add egg mixture to pot; stir continuously until pudding thickens. Transfer to bowl; chill 1 hour.
- Divide half the crushed wafers among 10 mini Mason jars. Divide half pudding and caramel sauce among jars; repeat layering. Top with whipped cream and crushed wafers as desired.
3. Blueberry-Banana Pudding Parfaits
This recipe gives banana pudding parfaits an extra fruity touch by adding blueberry jam — yum!
- 21 vanilla wafer cookies, crushed (about 4 oz.)
- 1 medium ripe banana
- ⅛ tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)
- 1 ½ cups prepared vanilla pudding, like Swiss Miss
- ¼ cup blueberry jam, melted
- ¼ cup fresh blueberries
- Active: 20 mins
- Total time: 20 mins
- Yield: 4 servings
- Divide crushed vanilla wafers evenly among 4 dessert glasses. In processor, purée banana and cinnamon 30 seconds or until smooth. Add prepared vanilla pudding.
- Pulse 3 times or until blended. Divide pudding mixture evenly among glasses. In bowl, stir together melted blueberry jam and fresh blueberries. Divide jam mixture among pudding cups. Chill until ready to serve.
Can’t get enough of individual-sized desserts and treats? If so, continue reading!