Banana Pudding Parfaits

banana-pudding-parfait

Banana Pudding is an old-fashioned Southern dessert traditionally made with layers of Nilla wafers, vanilla pudding and sliced bananas. Depending on who’s making it, it’s either topped with baked meringue, sweetened whipped cream or cookies. I’ve tried every variation and many different recipes, and this version beats them all. It’s a little more gourmet than most, and bucks tradition a bit, but still tastes wonderfully nostalgic and delicious.

ingredients

Instead of the classic Nilla wafers, I use crumbled shortbread cookies because they have a rich, buttery flavor and stay crunchy even when completely covered with pudding. The crunch of the cookies against the creamy smoothness of the bananas and pudding is what makes these parfaits so good. However, if you want to stick with tradition and use Nilla Wafers, that’s okay — just keep in mind that they will soften and take on a cake-like texture unless you assemble the parfaits at the last minute.

crumbled-cookies

As for the pudding, homemade is the way to go. It’s easy to make and, of course, so much better than the instant variety. I make mine with a splash of dark rum, which accents the flavor of the bananas, and then lighten it with sweetened whipped cream.

separating-eggs

Begin by separating the eggs for the pudding. You won’t use the whites, so save them for an egg white omelet, Forgotten Kisses, or Fudgy Double Chocolate Meringues. Then combine the yolks, sugar, corn starch and salt in a saucepan.

mixing-yolks-with-dry-ingredients

Whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

whisking-in-milk

Once the mixture bubbles, turn the heat down and whisk constantly until the pudding thickens.

thickened-pudding

Off the heat, whisk in the butter, vanilla and rum.

stirring-in-rum-vanilla-and-butter

Transfer the pudding to a bowl.

transfering-pudding-to-bowl-to-cool

Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for a few hours until cold. (Placing the saran wrap directly over top keeps the pudding from forming a film.)

covered-pudding

Or, if you’re in a hurry, you can place the pudding in an ice bath and whisk occasionally until cold.

pudding-in-ice-bath

Once the pudding is cold, whip the heavy cream.

whipping-cream

Gently fold it into the pudding and refrigerate until ready to assemble the parfaits.

folding-in-cream

To begin, spoon a large dollop of pudding into the bottom of each glass. Cover with a layer of crumbled cookies and bananas and repeat, finishing with a layer of pudding.

assembling-parfaits

Crush some of the cookies into crumbs and sprinkle over top of each parfait. Refrigerate for a few hours, or until ready to serve.

banana-pudding-parfaits-1

These parfaits are the perfect dessert for a summer barbecue because they are completely make-ahead — all you have to do when your guests arrive is pull them out of the fridge. Enjoy!

*These parfaits are best when made 3-4 hours ahead of time. 

Banana Pudding Parfaits

Servings: 6
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 4 Hours

Ingredients

For the Pudding

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum

For the Sweetened Whipped Cream

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, cold
  • 2 tablespoons Confectioners' sugar

For Assembling

  • 3-4 large bananas, very ripe but not mushy, sliced
  • 1-1/2 boxes Walkers Pure Butter shortbread cookies, or similar, broken into 1/4-inch pieces

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, salt and yolks. Whisk in the milk and bring to simmer, stirring frequently, over medium heat (it will take 5-8 minutes). When the mixture starts to bubble, turn the heat down to low and continue cooking, whisking constantly, for 1-2 minutes until the mixture thickens. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately whisk in the butter, vanilla and rum. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and place a piece of saran wrap directly over the pudding to prevent a film from forming. Chill in the refrigerator until cool, a few hours. (To hurry it up, you can place the bowl in an ice bath and whisk occasionally until cold.)
  2. Once the pudding is cold, place the heavy cream in a medium mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, whip on medium-low speed until the whisk or beaters begin to leave tracks in the cream. Add the Confectioners' sugar and whip until the cream holds medium, silky peaks. Go slowly towards the end; if it gets grainy or curdled, you’ve gone too far. Use a rubber spatula to fold the whipped cream into the cold pudding.
  3. Spoon a large dollop of the pudding mixture into the bottom of each parfait glass. Top with one layer of cookie pieces and one layer of sliced bananas. Repeat once and top with a final layer of pudding. Crumble some of the cookie pieces and sprinkle over top. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. *Do not slice the bananas until you are ready to assemble the parfaits. Parfaits are best when made 3-4 hours ahead of time.

Reviews & Comments

  • Do you always make individual servings of these? Wonder how this will work in a trifle bowl. Will the texture be compromised?

    - susan on May 17, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Susan, A trifle bowl would work great; texture will be the same :)

      - Jenn on May 17, 2014 Reply
      • My new go to dessert recipe! Went really well with my bro’s smoked ribs! Southern dinner completed with these yummy pudding cups. I ended up doing parfaits in drinking glasses since I only have a pair of parfait glasses. My husband said it was restaurant quality! Do you have a good recipe for shortbread? Would like the whole thing homemade. I’ve seen recipe before – butter, sugar and flour but which ratio works best? And am guessing it needs to be baked thick like Walkers. I topped it with whipped cream. I’m putting shaved dark choc next time!

        - susan on May 26, 2014 Reply
  • I made the banana pudding parfaits and love it! The dark rum really offset the flavors. It was a little too rich for a couple of my guest that evening so I would put it in smaller parfait glasses next time. Great flavor and love the texture with the Walker shortbread cookies.

    - Dawn B on November 5, 2013 Reply
  • I’ve never had banana pudding before so I was super excited to try this recipe. It turned out great except I didn’t use the walker shortbread cookies; instead I used almond windmill cookies from trader joes. I realized after that I probably should have used the walkers since they’re thicker and would have kept the crunch; the trader joes cookies got soggy fairly quickly. I also left out the rum since my taste testers included children. Can’t wait to make it again!

    - Renee on October 29, 2013 Reply
  • I have seen so many recipes for banana pudding and this is by far the best-looking! I will let you know when I test it out… and how my southern friends react to eating the best banana pudding they’ve ever had… made by a YANKEE, haha!

    - The Food Hound on September 13, 2013 Reply
  • HI Jen,

    These look delicious and I love that I can make them ahead of time. We’re having some friends over for dinner on Saturday and I’m planning to make them. How do you think it would turn out if I used Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum instead of the dark rum?

    - Robin on July 11, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Robin, It would be just fine to use spiced rum. Hope you enjoy!

      - Jenn on July 11, 2013 Reply
  • This was so good and easy to make! Thanks for all the great recipes.

    - Dawn on July 11, 2013 Reply
    • You’re welcome, Dawn!

      - Jenn on July 11, 2013 Reply
  • Can rum flavoring be used as a substitute

    - Brenda on June 27, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Brenda, I wouldn’t bother; you can leave out the rum and it will still be wonderful.

      - Jenn on June 27, 2013 Reply
  • Hi Jenn:

    got to try this, being southern and all, you know banana pudding is at the top of the list for me. thanks for such wonderful and tasteful eats. have a great day. One thing, I don’t use alcohol in any form, so would it make too big of a taste different if the rum wasn’t added?

    - betty J. on June 27, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Betty, It is totally fine to leave it out; it just adds a little flavor boost. Hope you enjoy it!

      - Jenn on June 27, 2013 Reply
  • Would be great even without the bananas. Love the addition of the dark rum. You use that in an apple cake of yours and it really adds depth.

    - Karen on June 27, 2013 Reply
  • I love this idea; I just bought some quick- sale ripe
    bananas just for baking or to use in a recipe. This is
    perfect. Thanks for sharing!

    - Angela on June 27, 2013 Reply
  • Do you think this would work with almond or soy milk? I would love to make it pareve for the holidays to come!

    - Monica on June 27, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Monica, I think you could definitely use a pudding made with soy or almond milk for banana pudding. However, I’d search for a well-reviewed vegan vanilla pudding and use that, rather than substitute the milk in this recipe. You’d also have to omit the whipped cream, which would change the lightness of the pudding, but I’m sure it would still be good.

      - Jenn on June 28, 2013 Reply
  • Wow! It looks like you’re having all the fun at your house! Delish!

    - MickMil on June 27, 2013 Reply
  • Banana pudding is my FAVORITE dessert! I also believe homemade is the only way to go! I love the shortbread idea. I’m making these this weekend!

    - Amy Simonson on June 27, 2013 Reply

Add a Review or Question

Hungry for More?

Subscribe to my free weekly newsletter — where I share new recipes and seasonal menus for every occasion.

Your email address will never be used for any other purpose.
Curious? See a sample newsletter.