Fresh Banana Pudding
Banana pudding is one of those feel-good desserts that puts a smile on everyone’s face. But unlike the Southern version that layers vanilla pudding, sliced bananas, whipped cream, and vanilla wafer cookies, I’ve created a fresh banana pudding. Yes, using real bananas in the pudding (and not just sliced in-between).
Many traditional banana pudding recipes call for vanilla pudding mix, whole milk, bananas, and sweetened condensed milk. I have to admit, I expected that banana pudding actually meant banana pudding, not vanilla pudding with sliced bananas.
Trouble is, you can’t cook banana pudding with real bananas because it turns an unappetizing pale gray. To get around this issue without resorting to imitation banana extract, I infused the pudding base with fresh bananas and strained them out before cooking.
Now on to the thickener. Since I don’t typically cook with cornstarch, I opted for arrowroot powder, which is a great alternative. You could also use tapioca powder, but make sure to read my notes below. The addition of egg yolks turns the pudding a soft golden hue which beats gray any day. And once I replaced the dairy with canned coconut milk, I had a sweet treasure that’s dairy-free and simple to make with a little advance planning.
Ingredients You’ll Need
A few pantry staples and nut milks are all you’ll need to put together this creamy and satisfying treat!
- Bananas: Of course! Pick ones that are bright yellow with few brown spots, which means they’re firm-ripe.
- Coconut milk: Use full-fat canned coconut milk for maximum creaminess.
- Honey: Replaces the refined sugar in the pudding.
- Egg yolks: These give richness and structure to the pudding. Save the whites to use in omelets or to make my raspberry souffle.
- Arrowroot Powder: Used to thicken the pudding as it cools.
- Vanilla Extract: To get the most rich and potent vanilla flavor in the pudding, reach for pure vanilla extract.
Find the complete recipe with measurements below
How to Make Banana Pudding
If you have time, start making your banana pudding the day before you want to serve to get the maximum amount of banana flavor. Here’s what to do:
- Infuse the coconut milk. Heat the milk to a simmer, then remove from the heat and add sliced bananas. Let sit at least 4 and up to 24 hours.
- Cook the pudding. Strain the bananas from the milk, add the remaining ingredients, and cook until pudding starts to thicken. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
- Assemble the pudding. These are fun presented as individual servings in small glass cups. For a little added decadence, top with coconut whipped cream, sliced bananas, and toasted coconut flakes. It you want to be really extra, drizzle the pudding with my salted caramel sauce.
A Few Important Tips
There’s definitely nuance when you swap cornstarch with either arrowroot powder or tapioca powder. For either flour, make sure to keep your heat on low when simmering the pudding.
- If you use arrowroot powder: It doesn’t get quite as thick or hold as firm a shape (it’s more like a thick smoothie).
- If you use tapioca flour: It will produce a slightly thicker pudding, but you have to be very careful that you don’t boil or overcook it, as it can produce a gummy and stretchy result. As soon as it starts to thicken, remove it from the heat immediately.
- Storage: You can store this pudding in the fridge for up to 3 days, though it’s best fresh.
Can You Make Banana Pudding Without Eggs?
Absolutely! You have two options:
Skip the Eggs: The pudding color will be more pale and the texture less creamy without the eggs.
More Fruity Dessert Recipes
Make use of fresh, seasonal fruit with these tasty desserts.
- Chocolate Covered Strawberries
- Berry Sheet Cake
- Chocolate Almond Butter Banana Bites
- Candied Orange Peel
- Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
Fresh Banana Pudding
- 2 1/2 cups full-fat coconut milk, from cans
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
- 4 bananas, divided
- 1/4 cup arrowroot powder or tapioca flour
- 1/3 cup honey
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- coconut flakes, unsweetened, toasted
- coconut whipped cream
Infuse the Coconut Milk
- Pour coconut milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract into a medium saucepan and whisk to combine.
- Heat the coconut milk over medium heat, whisking often, until it simmers. Take care not to let the milk boil.
- While the coconut milk is heating, peel and slice 3 bananas into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Set aside.
- Once the coconut milk is steaming, remove the saucepan from the heat, add the sliced bananas, and stir with a spatula to coat them with the coconut milk.
- Cover the saucepan and let it sit at room temperature for 4 hours to infuse the milk with banana flavor.
- To finish the pudding now, proceed to the next step. For a more intense banana flavor, transfer the banana and milk mixture to a glass bowl or dish, cover, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours
Make the Pudding
- Remove the banana pieces from the milk using a slotted spoon or skimmer. You will not need the strained banana pieces for the rest of this recipe but you can save them for smoothies or other baking recipes.
- Pour 1/2 cup of the infused banana milk into a mixing bowl, then add the honey, egg yolks, salt, and arrowroot powder. Whisk together.
- In a medium saucepan, reheat the remaining milk over medium heat, stirring gently until simmering.
- Very slowly (just a few tablespoons at a time) drizzle about half of the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking rapidly to keep the milk from curdling the eggs.
- Return the saucepan to the stovetop, pour the tempered egg mixture into to saucepan, and warm over low heat, stirring constantly until the pudding mixture simmers and thickens slightly, about 3-4 minutes. Watch carefully to make sure the pudding mixture does not boil or over-thicken.
- Remove the hot pudding from the heat, and stir in the remaining one teaspoon of vanilla.
- Pour the pudding through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl, to remove any clumps from the pudding.
- Cool slightly, then cover by pressing a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding. This is optional, but it helps to prevent a skin from forming on the pudding.
- Chill the pudding in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours, or until it's firmed up slightly.
- To serve, top the banana pudding with sliced bananas, coconut whipped cream, and toasted coconut flakes.
- This recipe makes approximately 2 1/2 cups of banana pudding.
- If your grocery store is stocked with greenish bananas, pick them up a few days before you want to make the banana pudding. Let them ripen on the counter or place them in a paper bag to speed up the process.
- Feel free to use your favorite nut milk in place of the coconut milk. But know that it might not be as thick or creamy as using full-fat coconut milk.
- Use the leftover coconut milk in your favorite smoothie!