So those of you who follow my Twitter and Facebook [see the sidebar] know I’d been yapping about proper old school banana pudding. When I say proper and old school, I mean basically one thing: no damn pudding mix.

banana pudding nutter butter

Nutter Butter Nana Puddin’ like the good lord (Elvis) intended

Look. Shortcuts exist for good reasons.  You want to make pudding fast? Knock your socks off! Goodness knows I’ve used shortcuts in my kitchen. But you know what I don’t  do?  Say my recipe is “homemade” or “old school” if I used a pudding mix. Charlene, my sassy-ass grandmother who didn’t put up with nonsense unless it was from her own mouth, did not make her Nana Pudding with Jell-O pudding mix.  Not company pudding, any way.

[Dibs on new band name: Company Pudding]

And neither will I.

I had a mighty need recently for my Nana’s Nana Pudding and finally found her original recipe, the one that used to be on the box of Nilla Wafers, like back in the 1940s.  CLICK ON FOR THE RECIPE!

Some things to think about before you get started:

  • why not double the recipe? No, really? You should. You’ll be glad you did. (Then you can make a secret pudding that you don’t share WHAT, ARE YOU ACCUSING ME OF DOING THIS?! Because …I did. There. I said it.)
  • I know there are some Martha Stewarts out there who want to reinvent the wheel and make the Nilla Wafers from scratch, and I guess I just want to know what it’s like to have all that free time, energy, and hope on your hands? Boxed cookies are great. It’s going to be soaking in pudding, so you see where I’m going here? Like? Why would you?
  • your unhealthy love of meringue is between you and your lord, but as for me and mine, my pudding is pure and free of that sweaty, shrinking sin. Amen.
  • make this early. Like, it’s best to make it the day before. Otherwise, make it in the morning for dinner comp’ny.


  • Big old heavy-bottomed pot. You’re going to be making something milk-based, so this is always advisable. Also, turn off your phone, let the dog out, tell your kids to leave you be, because you’re cooking something milk-based. You think you can walk away for a second. This will be your undoing, so don’t do it. That sort of thinking leads to scorched, stinking milk and a whole lot of tears.
  • Wooden spoon. They just stir pudding better. I don’t know why, but they do. Same goes for fudge.
  • A pretty bowl to layer it in. I know you’ve seen the Mason jar-style individual servings, and again, what’s it like to have all that free time to wash up dishes and dream? I also find that the banana, cookie and pudding ratio is off in them. Plus, I have this nice cut-glass bowl of my grandmother’s, so you go ahead and live your life wild, without rules and dirty dish-laden, I guess.
vintage glass bowl

Charlene’s Nana Pudding bowl. That is literally all that goes into this dish. That’s the rule.

INGREDIENTS (because I’m nice, I’ll put the doubled ingredient amounts in italics)

(you’re welcome)

  • 1/3 C of AP flour (2/3 C of AP flour)
  • 1 dash of salt (fourteen dashes I am joking it’s just 2 dashes just checking if you’re reading)
  • 2 ½ C milk (5 C milk, 1%, 2% or whole. Don’t bother if you drink skim because you clearly hate life)
  • 1 (14oz) can of SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK* (2  14oz cans)
  • 2 egg yolks (4 yolks)
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla extract (4 tsp. vanilla)
  • 3 ripe bananas, sliced (93 bananas, give or take)
  • ½ a full box of Nilla Wafers (ALL THE WAFERS–DO NOT SNACK ON THEM YOU WILL BE SAD)

* Did you actually get evaporated milk? Because you can’t interchange them. One is sweet, the other is not. It’s in the name and everything. Notice there is no added sugar? I can’t help you out if you got the wrong kind of milk. Oh, and grab the Fat Free condensed milk if you like. It will not change the taste; don’t listen to people who feed you lies. The only things you don’t want to be fat free here are the regular milk–it affects how the pudding sets up–and the cookies. Fat free cookies are hateful cardboard disks, and I’m pretty sure they’re a crime against humanity. Also, they won’t soften correctly in the pudding, and the texture will be off, and someone, somewhere will flip a table.  Probably me. Trust me, I’ll know. [points to my eyes, points to yours]


In your fat-bottomed pan, tump in the flour and salt, mix that up, and turn the heat on low. S l o w l y add in the regular milk and the yolks, stir, stir, stirring it all together. You do this slowly so you don’t have clumpy flour, which leads to clumpy pudding, and your life will end in divorce, Agnes. Yes, it will. No, don’t grab the whisk, it’s only good for a second, then it ruins the nice thick pudding and you’ve got something extra to wash up. (Are you sensing a theme? I have three kids. I wash a lot of dishes.)

Turn the heat up to just under whatever is medium heat on your stovetop, then add the condensed milk. It’s actually okay to add both milks at the same time, but I like to take my time and also, I live dangerously. (No, I do not.) Stir this all constantly — not vigorously, just steadily — until it thickens, which takes about seven minutes. You can set your timer if that helps you feel less anxious. If you’ve doubled the recipe (and oh, I hope you do), this is more like 10 minutes.  It’s not bubbling all over the place at any point, just so you know. Gently heating it up to a nice steam where it will thicken, is the aim.

What you’re looking for is the pudding to coat the back of the spoon and stay there for the most part. It’s not running like a liquid, but it’s not quite as thick as, say, stiff Greek yogurt. It’s just almost there.  Pull this off the heat when it gets to that stage and stir in your vanilla. Now it should look more like a pudding, texture-wise. It will continue to thicken, so don’t overdo it.

You have two options at this point, and it’s based on how you like your cookies: Soppy mush or with a little bite?  I like a little bite, personally, like when you just dip a cookie in a glass of milk to soften it, but it’s not falling apart? To get that, let your pudding chill in the fridge for about an hour.  Grab a piece of plastic wrap, drape it over the actual pudding so it touches (this is how you keep from getting a skin) and stick it in the fridge. Don’t care? Then move on to the next step with your hot, heathen pudding.

Layer in your pretty dish:

Nilla wafers to cover the bottom (I know, round things don’t make a solid layer, but jeez.  Ease up.), and top each wafer with a banana slice.

banana pudding nilla wafers


Gently spoon the pudding over this in a relatively thin layer, then use the back of your spoon to smooth that out, helping to push the pudding into the little spaces.  This is why we make extra pudding, by the way.  You can assess how much you’ve got in the bowl and  really spoon it on nice and hearty. You’ll get a yummy, thick layer of homemade goodness if you just listen to me.

banana pudding nilla wafers

Look I know it’s a lot of beige. But you have my word those are not mashed potatoes. I’m not a MONSTER.

Another layer of cookies, bananas, then pudding, then do a decorative “around the edges” thingy with cookies and bananas, and hey, throw a center circle in there, too, all fancy like. Put your pinkie in the air, and wave it like you just don’t care, because that’s it.  Put some plastic wrap over that, pop it in the fridge,  and let that chill for a few hours (or overnight) and whoa, Nelly, will that banana pudding be just the most perfect thing in the world.

…not so fast, what about this Elvis Style Bonus, LAURA?

OH.  Oh you wanna go? You wanna go ALL OUT on this banana pudding? Because that’s what I’m hearing. Now, sit down and hold onto something, because what if I told you about swapping out that middle layer of cookies with Nutter Butters?  (“Lisa Marie?  Bring Daddy some Nutter Butters.  Thank you.  Thank you, very much.”)

nutter butter cookie cooking

FAMILY SIZE. 144 cookies for the “family”. Look, Kenneth, we know you’re eating your feelings. We know. We’re here for you, okay? Just share. Both your feelings and the cookies.

Because that is a thing I did. Well, the first experiment was all Nutter Butters, and me and the Test Monkeys decided it was actually too much. You couldn’t taste the banana.  And guys, the banana is kind of the point. So either swap out the middle layer OR the top edge layer with Nutter Butters (bananas on the Nutter Butters, too!) and holy smokes, that there is like, how you propose to someone. That’s how people know your love is real, that your heart is pure.

THIS PUDDING IS FOR LOVE. It is not, however, for diabetics.  But it is 100% acceptable for Company.  It is:


A Company Pudding.

banana pudding condensed milk

They just don’t photograph well. If you love banana pudding, you’re heart-eyed. If you’ve never had it, this just looks like a lot of beige. TRUST ME. Trust me. It’s so good

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