Banana Cream Pie. Simple, smooth and perfect. There’s something about this simple southern pie that screams summer!
Southern Style Banana Cream Pie
With it’s simple graham cracker crust, vanilla custard, and layers of bananas, southern-style banana cream pies are just about as delicious as one bite can possibly get!
True story; I want to run away to somewhere in the south. (Those of you from the south, withhold judgement at my idealized notions). Every time I travel to the South, it's like a step back. A tiny reminder to slow down and enjoy things.
People seem to talk a little slower. Things seem to take a little longer. And no one is acting like it's a big deal or that they are in such a hurry that it's a problem.
The days are hot and humid and the evenings are a little sweeter because of it as you sit on the porch and talk. The moss hangs from the trees and the lightning bugs zip by. Life just seems a little more plesant.
And then there's the food... If there was one region I would LOVE to eat my way through it would hands-down be the south!
My best friend's mother was from the south. She cooked every single meal from scratch and with love. I am convinced this is why it was some of the best food I have ever enjoyed. (Not to mention the lard, butter, bacon, and sugar). In the morning she would prep the recipes for the evening, make breakfast and lunch for the family, head to work and come home and occasionally roll biscuits from scratch.
There was never too much to do and she was never too tired to prepare a proper family meal. Every night we sat down at the dinner table and enjoyed supper together. It's something that I charish, something my family does, and something that I hope everyone makes time for every now and then.
Talk a little slower, savor your meals, laugh with good company, and roll those biscuits from scratch.
And of course, make sure to bake a banana cream pie when you want to make an amazing dessert.
Tips For Making Vanilla Custard
By using a starch to thicken the cream, the custard making part of the equation is not too complicated. There are a few handy tips to make sure you get it right.
- You don’t have to worry as much about the custard separating, but you can still overcook it. Keep an eye on it. When it thickens then it will coat the spoon and slide off rather than drip off. When it coats the spoon you can pull and quickly cool it.
- It will thicken as it cools but putting the custard pot onto some ice is not a bad idea still. It will still have more time to chill and set up, but at least it won’t still be cooking.
- Make sure to have vanilla beans handy. Yes, you can get by without one and just use the vanilla extract. But trust me, it is insanely better if you add the actual vanilla bean.
- Cooking the custard a day ahead is not a bad way to go. It will set up properly that way. You should also do the pie crust a day ahead. Because you want that cold as well when you add the custard to it.
How To Store a Banana Custard
You can store this in the fridge up to a week or you can even freeze it and serve frozen like an ice cream pie.
I recommend if you are storing it, that you don’t store it with the bananas on top. Inside they are fine, but the ones on top will oxidize and the pie won’t be as attractive as a result.
The whipped cream on top is best added at service too. That way you don’t worry about it getting running on top of the custard if you put some back in the fridge.
Tips For A Graham Cracker Crust
A graham cracker crust is so easy to make and Nilla wafers add a nice flavor to it too. Make sure to mix well with your butter.
If you are game for it, then you can always use the other style of graham crackers like chocolate or cinnamon graham crackers. The Nilla wafers are still good to mix in because they add a bit of vanilla too.
- No need to over-process when you combine the butter and crumbs. Pulse to combine them. Don’t cook the mixture with a hot processor blade.
- Make sure to press the pie crust in evenly. Avoid thicker and thinner areas, even on the sides.
- Remember, it will still be hot and cooking when you pull it out. So don’t over-brown it in the oven or else it get crumbly.
- Spread a very thin layer of butter on the bottom of the crust just as it cools. This will help keep the custard from making the bottom crust soggy.
- Ideally, let your crust cool and set up before you add the custard. Cooking the crust and custard ideally should happen a day ahead of assembly.
More Banana Cream Pie Tips
- Only add the whipped cream on top when you are ready to serve. If you put it on and plan to store it, then the whipped cream will eventually weep and seep down. It still tastes ok, but it doesn’t look as good and it does make your crust soggy.
- If your custard is too thick, you can whisk in some whipped cream and stir it until you get the perfect custard consistency and smoothness.
Homemade Banana Cream Pie
For the Crust
- 8 tbs unsalted butter - melted and cooled
- 10 classic graham crackers
- 5 vanilla wafers
- dash of salt
For the Custard
- 4 cups heavy cream - divided
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup cornstarch
- 3 to 4 bananas
For the whipped cream topping
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- Handful of crushed pretzels if desired
For the Crust
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Pulse the graham crackers and vanilla wafers in a food processor until they are nothing but fine crumbs.
- Add the salt and butter and pulse a few more times to combine.
- Press the crumb mixture into a 9" pie plate and up the sides.
- Bake for 15-17 minutes until golden and fragrant. Allow to cool.
Make the filling
- Slice the vanilla bean in half and carefully scrape out the seeds.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, stir the sugar, heavy cream, milk, vanilla bean and seeds.
- Heat until bubbles around the edges appear and just start to pop, stirring often.
- Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and cornstarch together in a large bowl until smooth and pale yellow.
- When the milk is steaming, carefully remove the vanilla bean and whisk, a little at a time, into the egg mixture.
- Whisking the whole time, pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and return to medium-heat until thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir to make sure everything is smooth.
- Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard.
- Allow to cool in the fridge for 4 hours.
- When ready to assemble, slice the bananas.
- Spread a bit of custard over the bottom of the graham cracker crust.
- Arrange a layer of bananas over the first thin layer.
- Top with ⅓ cup of custard and top with another layer of bananas.
- Repeat 2 (or more) times, pressing and covering with custard each time.
- Top the final layer with a thick layer of custard.
- Wrap with plastic wrap and place in the fridge 4 hours.
Assemble and Serve
- When ready to serve, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks.
- Stir in the vanilla and sugar and whip a moment longer (soft moist peaks, not dry stiff peaks).
- Spread a heaping layer over the top of the pie and top with some crushed pretzels if desired.
- Slice and serve with a smile.
Nutritional informations provided as a courtesy and is only an approximatation. Values will changes based on ingredients used.
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Lynne @ 365 Days of Baking and More says
Oh, Kita! My grandmother used to make a Banana Cream Pie, but shhhhh....your looks SO much more delicious than hers!
We have a cousin from the South and you're right, they're just so laid back and calming when you talk to them. Whenever I talk to her, I can feel my whole body relax and any worries I have go out the window. Now I'm thinking I need to move south!
Sounds like a great tv show. Since we've never been, will have to definitely check it out!
Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen says
This pie is right up my alley and I love the combination of cookies and graham crackers for the crust. I must agree there's nothing better than sitting on the porch on a hot summer night with the ones you love. I'm really looking forward to Southern Uncovered!
Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust says
WOW. This pie is gorgeous. I think of banana cream when I think of the South too. I need to go there some day and experience the real thing, but until then I'll make this!
Lori @ RecipeGirl says
This looks like an incredible summer dessert! I need to make this for my family soon!
Christiane - Taking On Magazines says
One thing I've never made in all my years living 'down here' is a banana cream pie. I love the fact that you include the vanilla wafers in the crust...I like that kind of crust better than graham cracker anyhow (that or shortbread). Anyhoo, I'm headed over to check out that hummingbird cake. It's definitely one of the south's biggest gifts to the culinary world.
I have to agree. Now if only I could combine banana, custard, and cream cheese frosting... Wait, I may be on to something...
Christina @ Christina's Cucina says
HOLY COW! 5 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream in one pie? Come to Mama!! I just made a Banoffee Pie, so there must be something in the air.
Just spent a day in Charlotte, recently and tried a Banana Pudding that was fantastic, and I imagine this pie is very similar!
I went to school in the south and everything you described is correct. Of course I was so diehard, I'm a yankee that I never really took the time to appreciate everything. I did go home enough with friends to get those home cooked meals though. This pie looks incredible and I bet Southern mothers and grandmothers would love it.
Amy @Very Culinary says
Pie is my absolute weakness. And now I want to run away to the South, too!
Laura Dembowski says
Yes to banana cream pie with vanilla wafers in the crust! Also to the south, especially the way you describe it. It sounds like everything I want from life