Cookie Rifkin’s Super-secret Recipe for Old-fashioned Day-old Banana Pudding

banana pudding recipe

It's Banana Pudding Time!

Put down that box of instant vanilla pudding and listen up! I’m going to show you how to whip up a batch of my famous day-old banana pudding from scratch. It’s a simple recipe. The hardest part is waiting for this yummy dessert to sit overnight so that the banana flavor soaks into the vanilla wafers. And don’t you skip the old-fashioned meringue topping. That extra little step makes this Southern treat something truly special.


    •    1/2 cup sugar
    •    2 tablespoons cornstarch
    •    1 teaspoon salt
    •    2 1/4 cups milk
    •    4 large eggs, separated
    •    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    •    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    •    3 1/3 cups vanilla wafers
    •    4 ripe bananas
    •    3 tablespoons sugar 


Step 1:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Whisk in milk and 4 egg yolks until well blended. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 6 to 8 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla.

Step 2:

Cover bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish with vanilla wafers. Top with banana slices, then half of the pudding. Add another layer of remaining wafers, banana slices, and pudding.

Step 3:

Beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Gradually add 3 tablespoons of sugar, and continue beating until sugar dissolves and stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over the pudding, sealing to edge of dish.

Step 4:

Bake at 375°F for 7 to 10 minutes or until golden. Let cool 30 minutes. Chill overnight and serve cold. Wait for the compliments to roll in!

banana pudding

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Cookie Rifkin's manic banana pudding baking scene


By late afternoon, my kitchen was in total chaos, but a plunky mambo blaring from the living room inspired me to keep hustling through the heat. The thick, sweet scent of baked bananas made me dream of vacationing on a tropical beach. I laughed at myself, a sort of sad, desperate laugh. The tropics? A vacation? I’d never even left New Stepford.

I’m telling you.
Don’t be blue.
There’s so much to do.
In my house of undo.

My manic banana pudding baking fit had left everything spent, including me. Dirty towers of mixing bowls, measuring cups, and wooden spoons filled the sink up to my eyeballs. Behind that, depleted ingredients and empty packages crowded the breakfast bar. One false move and I could’ve been buried in an avalanche of dirty dishes and trash. The scale of the hectic mess completely overwhelmed me. In a vain attempt to quantify it, I did a quick inventory:

Eight empty sacks of flour,
Ten deflated bags of granulated sugar,
Thirty-six empty boxes of ‘Nilla Wafers,
Three spilt piles of salt,
Two puddles of vanilla,
Six empty milk jugs, and
Seven dozen vacated egg cartons.

I thought maybe I was out of control, but then I gazed lovingly at the huge pile of scraped banana peels that had taken over my entire kitchen counter. After some quick math, I confirmed that 251 bananas would yield five-and-a-half pounds of bananadine. That should be enough trippy black powder to keep me buzzing for over a year!

Meringue, Merengue.
Now dance the banana!

After draping my apron over my forearm to make a sling, I slid a bunch of peels into the belly hammock. Next, I sashayed over to the trash can and dumped them. After dancing seven trips back and forth, I’d piled banana skins so high that I had an overflowing garbage mound. Afterward, I covered thirty-six disposable pudding pans with aluminum foil and packed them in the deep freezer. Pleased with myself, I lingered over the open lid as billowing clouds rose and chilled my sweaty skin. My percolator bubbled on the stove behind me. I did the cha-cha back into the hot kitchen, grabbed an itty-bitty coffee cup, and poured myself some fresh espresso. You have to drink it fast, before it gets bitter, so I slammed the triple-shot. Delicious!

You get to know.
It makes me go.
In my house of undo.

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