A perfect Banana Cream Pie has homemade vanilla pudding studded with fresh bananas, topped with silky whipped cream and tucked inside a crunchy and sweet graham cracker crust. This classic pie is a must-make.
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Everyone needs to know how to make a Banana Cream Pie, because everyone deserves to eat a Banana Cream Pie. It's the epitome of comfort food: between the contrasting textures (crunchy and creamy) and the flavors (nostalgic vanilla, sweet banana, and a hint of brown sugar and honey from the grahams), this pie is just what is called for when you want to be wrapped up in the security of something delicious.
And truly, it's not that hard to make, either. Yes, there are three components to put together--the crust, the pudding and the whipped cream--but the end result is worth that little bit of extra effort!
I'm all for shortcuts (like...ahem, shortcut croissants or rough puff pastry) when they make sense, but not here. Homemade pudding is in a league of its own compared to anything from a box. This pudding is incredibly silky, generously speckled with fresh bananas, and topped with mounds of whipped cream and more fresh bananas – the result is nothing short of amazing.
So, let's get to making it, shall we? The article below is jam-packed full of useful information. You can jump around using the menu below, or skip to the end of the article for the full recipe.
Here is an overview of the ingredients needed for this recipe. The full recipe is listed below in greater detail.
Pie Crust Options
There are a few crust options for this pie. My first choice for this is a Graham Cracker Crumb Crust. It's classic, simple to make, and tastes great with this cream pie filling.
Another crumb crust option is a Vanilla Wafer and Nut Crumb Crust. It's so delicious and makes this pie taste like a cross between banana cream pie and banana pudding.
A Pâte Sucrée is a just sweet pie crust that is very stable and is also a great choice for this pie. If you are looking for a really neat slice, choose this one.
Need this to be gluten-free? Make this basic gluten-free butter pie crust. Just be sure to fully blind-bake the crust before adding the filling.
Step 1: The crumb crust is mixed together (either right in the pot with melted butter or a bowl).
The mixture should resemble "wet sand." If it's too dry, add more butter, and if it's too wet, add more cookie crumbs.
Step 2: Press the crumb mixture up the sides of pan, then work the crumbs down towards the middle.
The crust can be baked for more stability and a toasty flavor, or frozen for a no-bake option.
Crumb Crust Troubleshooting Tips
Not all store-bought graham crackers (or any other cookies you might use) are created equal. For that reason, it's important to pay attention to the consistency of your crumb crust mix before starting to form it. It should be the consistency of wet sand.
If your crumb crust is extremely dry, you can add more melted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, to the crumbs until they are evenly moistened. Alternatively, if your mixture is too wet and it is hard to work with, add more cookie crumbs until it is pliable.
The mixture should easily hold together when squeezed in your palm of your hand, without an excess amount of butter seeping out.
How to Make the Vanilla Pudding
Homemade vanilla pudding is the backbone of this recipe! And, if you’ve never made pudding from scratch before, I'm here to tell you that it is really simple and so delicious. The pudding is made all in one pot and doesn’t require the hassle of tempering of the eggs.
Though many similar recipes suggest tempering, it isn't necessary here, because the eggs are gently heated alongside all the other ingredients in the pot, preventing them from scrambling. In addition, the inclusion of cornstarch not only thickens the pudding but also adds an extra layer of stability to the egg mixture.
Step 1: Whisk together the dry ingredients and eggs right in the pot.
Step 2: Add in the milk.
Step 3: Cook, while stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened and bubbles are forming throughout.
Step 4: Strain the pudding through a fine-mesh strainer.
Step 5: Add the butter and the vanilla.
Step 6: Whisk together until the butter is melted and well combined.
Tips for Pudding Success:
- Be sure to have a rubber spatula and a whisk handy. I use both to make sure the mixture cooks evenly. I swap between using them while I’m cooking the pudding, using the spatula to ensure I’m getting all the mixture out of the crevices of the pot and the whisk to ensure even cooking.
- Don’t walk away from the pudding. It takes no more than 10 minutes to cook. Also, it’s super essential to stir almost constantly in the beginning to ensure no eggs get stuck to the bottom of the pot and scramble.
- Strain the pudding to eliminate any small bits of cooked eggs you might have. It makes the final pudding ultra-smooth.
- Don't let the finished pudding sit for too long, as a skin will form. Move through the steps (more on that below) quickly to get the pudding into the prepared pie crust.
Assembling the Pie
Once the pudding is made, the bananas are immediately folded into the warm pudding mixture and placed directly into the pie crust.
Then, the pie has to cool and chill. It must be cooled completely before topping it with whipped cream.
Once it has chilled, go ahead and get creative when topping it with whipped cream! You can dollop it on top, or you can pipe it or swirl it on! You can also decorate with additional sliced bananas; just be sure to only place them on right before serving, as they will brown quickly.
Serving and Storing
Serve this pie cold from the fridge. It should slice up very easily.
Because of the bananas, this pie does not keep well. It's best served within one day of assembling and chilling. The longer it sits, the firmer the pudding sets up and the browner the bananas get.
If you do have leftovers, try to consume within 2 days.
More Cream Pie Recipes
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