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Craving a slice of banana cream pie? You’re in the right place to learn all about making this fantastic old fashioned dessert from scratch. We’ll learn about making the vanilla pudding for the filling, what crust is best, how to freeze banana cream pie, and so much more. It’s not as hard to make a perfect banana cream pie as you might think!
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What is banana cream pie?
Banana cream pie is an old fashioned dessert made from a luscious vanilla custard, sliced fresh bananas, and whipped cream. It’s usually made with either a pre-baked pastry crust or a no bake graham cracker/vanilla wafer crust. Occasionally, the pie is topped with meringue instead of whipped cream and garnished with white chocolate shavings or toasted coconut. This dessert has a velvety smooth and creamy texture with the delicate flavors of banana and vanilla.
Who invented banana cream pie?
No one really knows who made the first banana cream pie! We do know that it’s an American invention, and that variations of banana cream pie date back to the 1880s. It may have originated from the American Midwest, where cream pies are popular.
How do you make banana cream pie filling?
Making banana cream pie filling is quite simple. It’s the same method you use to make French crème pâtissière, which is used in éclairs and other desserts.
- Heat the milk until just simmering.
- Beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick and light yellow.
- Slowly pour the milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly as you pour.
- Pour the mix back into the saucepan and cook until thick, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming.
- Pour the pudding through a strainer to remove any lumps.
- Mix in the vanilla and butter until well blended.
Why is my banana cream pie runny?
- The pudding was undercooked. This is the most common problem with runny fillings. Next time, cook the pudding longer to make sure that it’s quite thick.
- The pudding was overcooked. Starch-thickened puddings can get runny again if they are overcooked. Starch thickeners are cornstarch, arrowroot, or tapioca.
- The pudding didn’t have enough thickening agent. This might be a fault with the recipe. Egg yolks, cornstarch, and all-purpose flour are common thickening agents in puddings. Adding an extra tablespoon or two of cornstarch will ensure a stiffer filling.
- The pudding wasn’t chilled long enough. Even when pudding has the right amount of thickening agents and has been cooked long enough, it will be quite soft until it’s chilled thoroughly. Chill the pie for 4 hours in the fridge before serving.
- Bonus Tip! Adding about 3 tablespoons of butter (43g) to the pudding right after it finishes cooking will add additional flavor and help the pudding set up firmly in the fridge because the butter hardens in the cold air.
How to Thicken Banana Cream Pie Filling
There are several main ways to thicken banana cream pie filling. Everyone uses eggs and one or two other thickening agents to ensure a beautiful, clean slice of banana cream pie. Be careful not to add too much thickener to the filling, as it will make the pudding rubbery.
- Egg yolks. Egg yolks add richness and color to the pudding and help it thicken the pudding as it cooks. Do not use the egg whites, as they can scramble and spoil the pudding.
- Cornstarch. Cornstarch is my favorite thickener for dairy-based puddings. It requires a few minutes of cooking to activate the starch, therefore thickening the pudding.
- Arrowroot powder. This thickener is more neutrally flavored than cornstarch, and is better for more acidic fillings, like lemon meringue pie. I wouldn’t recommend using it for banana cream pie, as it can make dairy products slimy.
- Instant tapioca starch. I’ve never used tapioca starch to thicken a pie filling, but a lot of old timers find it’s effective. Be sure to use the instant kind, or you may have gelatin balls in your pudding.
- All-purpose flour. Flour works similarly to cornstarch for thickening puddings. If you’re low on cornstarch and want to use a blend of the two, I’d recommend using a half-and-half mix of flour and cornstarch.
How do you keep bananas from turning brown in a pie?
As soon as the inside of a banana gets exposed to the air, it begins to oxidize, turning it brown. This process also happens with apples and pears when they are sliced. Here’s some tips to help you get around this annoying problem.
- Brush the banana with acidic fruit juice. The juice of any acidic fruit, such as lemons, limes, oranges, or pineapples, will do the trick.
- Dip the banana into water containing acidic juice. Mix together 1/4 cup (60 ml) of lemon juice or other acidic juice to 1 cup (236 ml) of water, then dip the banana into the water.
- Dip the banana into water containing Vitamin C. Since Vitamin C is actually ascorbic acid, it will work to stop the browning. Crush a Vitamin C tablet, dissolve it in a cup or two of water, then dip the banana into the liquid.
What is the best crust for banana cream pie?
There’s a divide of opinions about the crust for banana cream pie: pastry or graham cracker. The traditionalist’s choice would be a buttery, pre-baked pastry crust, while the modernist’s quick approach would be to use a store-bought graham cracker crust. The choice is up to you!
If you want to use a pastry crust, it’s easy to learn how to make your own homemade pastry and even how to pre-bake it. It takes just a few minutes of your time, and you’ll be loving the tasty results!
Banana Cream Pie vs. Banana Pudding
For all those in the South, you’ve probably grown up eating banana pudding and are wondering what the differences between it and banana cream pie are! Since they’re very similar, let’s do a comparison to find out their differences.
Super Easy Cheat’s Version of Banana Cream Pie
Don’t have access to a stovetop to cook your own pudding? Can’t find your mixer to make the whipped cream? Here’s the cheat’s version for making banana cream pie if you’re in a pinch. (I definitely would recommend sticking to the from-scratch version if possible, though!)
- Graham cracker crust
- Instant vanilla pudding mix
- Fresh bananas
- Reddi-Whip or Cool Whip
How to Make Banana Cream Pie Ahead of Time
There’s a few ways you can approach making a banana cream pie ahead of time. Here’s some tips on making the pie components ahead of time for the best freshness and appearance!
- Pour the cooked pudding into the cooked pie shell and chill until needed. This way, the pie is cold and ready to slice at a moment’s notice.
- Do not add sliced bananas to the pie days in advance. Even if they have been brushed with lemon juice, the bananas won’t taste as crisp and fresh as they once did.
- Just before serving, place the freshly sliced bananas and whipped cream on top of the pie. Unless it is stabilized, whipped cream doesn’t keep well in the fridge.
Does banana cream pie need to be refrigerated?
- Yes, always refrigerate banana cream pie.
- Be careful not to leave the pie at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
How long is banana cream pie good for?
- Banana cream pie will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.
- Be sure to keep it covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent the pie from absorbing odors from other foods.
- Want to store the pie for longer than 3-4 days? Read below for freezing instructions.
How to Freeze Banana Cream Pie
- Fully assemble and decorate the pie.
- Pre-slice the pie for ease. If you don’t pre-slice the pie, you’ll have to let it defrost for about 30 minutes before you can cut it.
- Cover tightly with a piece of aluminum foil. You don’t want the pie to get freezer burned or absorb food odors.
- Freeze for up to 1 month.
How to Defrost Banana Cream Pie
- Individual Slices: let the slice sit at room temperature for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours.
- Whole Pie: refrigerate overnight or let it sit at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Do not leave the pie at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
How to Make Banana Cream Pie from Scratch
Let’s make the vanilla wafer crust. You’ll need 60 vanilla wafers and 7 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter.
Grind the wafers in a food processor until they’re in fine crumbs. (Don’t own a food processor? Use a blender or rolling pin to crush the cookies.)
Mix the wafer crumbs with the melted butter until a handful of the mixture holds together in a clump when squeezed.
Tightly pack the mixture into a 9-inch pie plate, especially around the sides. Using a flat-bottomed measuring cup or a spoon helps.
Chill the crust for 30 minutes in the freezer.
While the crust is chilling, let’s make the vanilla pudding for the filling. You’ll need milk, sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch, vanilla extract, and butter. My apologies–the butter didn’t make it in this photo.
Pour the milk into a 2-quart saucepan and set over medium heat. Just barely bring it to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
While the milk is heating, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until they’re thick and pale yellow. Mix in the cornstarch until the mixture is evenly blended.
Slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Don’t rush this step, or the eggs could scramble. It will look quite foamy and smooth when it’s all mixed together.
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the pudding begins to boil and has thickened considerably.
Pour the pudding through a sieve to catch any lumps. Although this step is optional, I like to do it whether I see any lumps or not.
Stir in the vanilla extract and the butter until smooth, then pour the pudding into a container and press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the pudding. This will prevent a tough skin from forming on the top as it cools.
Chill the pudding for 15 minutes in the fridge.
Meanwhile, get things ready to assemble the pie. Measure out the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla extract for later. Start slicing 2 medium bananas and pull out the crust from the freezer.
Once the pudding has chilled for 15 minutes, spread half of it in the bottom of the pie crust. Layer the bananas on top.
Spread the remaining pudding on top, then chill the pie for at least 4 hours. This long chilling time helps the pie slice much better and taste nicer.
Once the pie has chilled for 4 hours, pour the whipping cream, vanilla extract, and sugar into a mixing bowl. Beat with a handheld electric mixer until stiff peaks form. (If you turn the bowl upside down, the cream shouldn’t fall out!)
Spread or pipe the whipped cream on top of the pie as desired. I used an Ateco 824 tip for piping the rosettes and flowers on the pie.
If you’re not serving the pie immediately, cover the pie and chill it until you’re ready to serve it.
Pro Tips for Making Banana Cream Pie
- When possible, make all the components of the pie from scratch. I know that time doesn’t always allow for this, but made-from-scratch always wins for flavor!
- Be sure to boil the pudding for 1-2 minutes until it’s really thick. An undercooked pudding is the most common reason for a runny banana cream pie.
- Allow plenty of time for the pie to chill. An under-chilled pie won’t slice as neatly because the pudding hasn’t fully set. The 4-hour chill also gives the flavors time to meld.
- Decorating the pie with sliced bananas? Add them just before serving, or dip them in lemon juice. See the post above for more details.
- Change it up and use a graham cracker crust or pastry crust. We like this pie best with the vanilla wafer crust, but feel free to try different crusts.
- Here’s how to get a crunchy graham cracker/vanilla wafer crust. Pack the crumb and butter mixture into a metal pie plate. Freeze the crust until hard, then brush with egg white and bake at 375 F for 7-10 minutes.
Our Go-To Kitchen Tools for Banana Cream Pie
- Hamilton Beach Electric Mixer: whip things up in a jiffy with this convenient handheld mixer.
- Set of 3 Stainless Steel Whisks: these three whisks hold their shape even with vigorous stirring.
- Set of 3 Stainless Sieves: these awesome sieves don’t bend out of shape or rust.
- Emeril Lagasse 2-Quart Saucepan: this heavy bottomed pan is one of my favorite pans.
Craving another slice of luscious pie? Satisfy your appetite with these other recipes.
- Lemon Meringue Pie: an old fashioned favorite that’s so much easier to make than you think.
- Coconut Cream Pie: creamy coconut pudding, toasted coconut, and whipped cream? It’s good!
- Easy Key Lime Pie: sweet, tangy, and creamy–this super easy pie checks all the boxes.
The pleasure of a 5-star review for this banana cream pie would be greatly appreciated.Print
This old fashioned recipe for banana cream pie is sure to get your mouth watering! Make it with homemade vanilla pudding and either a graham cracker crust or a vanilla wafer crust. This will be one of the best no bake desserts you’ll have this summer.
For the Crust
- 60 vanilla wafers (224g)
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (98g)
For the Vanilla Pudding
- 2 cups whole milk (473 ml)
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar (100g)
- 1/4 cup cornstarch (40g)
- 3 tablespoons salted butter (43g)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Pie
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream (236 ml)
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 firm medium bananas, peeled and sliced
Making the Crust (15 min + 30 min chilling)
- Count out 60 vanilla wafers and blend them in a food processor until they are in fine crumbs.
- Toss the crumbs with the melted butter until a handful of the mixture holds together in a clump when squeezed. You may need to add extra melted butter.
- Tightly pack the mixture into a 9-inch pie plate with a flat-bottomed measuring cup or a spoon. Chill in the freezer until hard, about 30 minutes.
Making the Vanilla Pudding (15 min + 15 min chilling)
- Pour the milk into a heavy based, 2-quart saucepan and set over medium heat. Heat until the milk is just barely simmering, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, pour the egg yolks into a large mixing bowl and add the sugar. Beat with a whisk or handheld electric mixer until the mixture is thick and pale yellow, then whisk in the cornstarch thoroughly.
- Once the milk has reached a simmer, slowly trickle it into the egg mixture, whisking continuously as you pour. Mix until everything is evenly blended, then pour it back into the saucepan.
- Place the mixture on medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly to prevent lumps or burning. Cook until the mixture is bubbling and has thickened considerably.
- Pour the pudding through a sieve to remove any lumps, then stir in the vanilla extract and salted butter until smooth.
- Cover the surface of the pudding with a piece of plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Assembling the Banana Cream Pie (15 min + 4 hrs chilling)
- Peel and slice 2 medium bananas.
- Spread half of the pudding in the prepared pie shell, then lay the sliced bananas on top. Smooth the remaining pudding on top of the bananas.
- Chill the pie uncovered for 4 hours, or until the pudding has firmed up.
- Just before serving, pour the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla extract into a medium bowl. Whip to stiff peaks with a handheld electric mixer, then spread or pipe the cream on top of the pie.
- Slice the pie and serve it chilled.
- For an extra-crunchy vanilla wafer crust, use a metal pie plate. Freeze the crust until hard, then brush with an egg white and bake at 375 F for 7-10 minutes.
- The pleasure of a 5-star review for this banana cream pie recipe would be greatly appreciated.
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- Category: Pie
- Method: Chilled
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: banana cream pie with pudding, banana cream pie with vanilla wafers