Amazing Banana Cream Pie made with a homemade rich, velvety custard, lots of fresh sliced bananas, a crunchy cookie crust, topped off with a mountain of fluffy whipped cream!
Banana Cream Pie is one of my all-time favorite desserts. Let me tell you though, I’m not alone in loving it. My whole family adores this pie.
And really, is there anyone on the planet who doesn’t? This diner classic is old-fashioned, pure All-American goodness!
A thick, buttery, cookie crust layered with rich, decadent vanilla custard and lots of fresh bananas all topped with a mountain of fresh homemade whipped cream.
This is one of those fabulous desserts that will have forks flying and elbows being thrown just to get a slice! Maybe you should think of making two!
So, for years I made Emeril’s Banana Cream Pie. It was my go-to recipe. Loved it. It, however, didn’t cut neatly into pieces and was messy. The crust cut through easily enough, but the filling was just a tad too loose. It didn’t make a pretty presentation.
By chance, I saw this recipe and thought I’d give it whirl, just for grins. Well, I’ll be darned if I didn’t think the custard was just a bit velevety-er and a little bit richer. It also had a better proportion of bananas to custard ration for my tastes. These little changes took my favorite banana cream pie to new heights of yummy-osity. (I think I’m developing my own language)
I ultimately switched out the original rolled pastry crust because I like my banana cream pie with a yummy crumb crust a lot more. And frankly, I love how easy the crumb crust is to prepare! No rolling and no floured counter mess! Let me see, I like the taste better, hecka easier to make, and much less to clean up. That’s a total no-brainer for me!
So do you have a favorite Banana Cream Pie Recipe? I’d love to hear from you 🙂
Recipe Notes For Banana Cream Pie:
I love a Nilla Wafer crumb crust with my banana cream pie, so of course, that’s what I’m sharing with you in this recipe. In my book, they’re the perfect filling and crust combination.
But what is life without choices…….Here are just a few for this pie.
This pie is also absolutely delicious with either a rolled pastry crust or a graham cracker crumb crust as well.
Another alternative for the crust, that I occasionally make, is a crumb crust made with half Nilla wafers and half graham crackers. I follow the recipe I’ve given you below and but instead of using all Nilla wafers, I use 1 1/4 cup crushed graham crackers with 1 1/4 cup crushed Nilla wafers.
Use whichever crust floats your boat.
One thing that may go without saying for most people, but I, of course, had to find out the hard way, is all Nilla Wafers are not created equal. My favorite are the ones made by Nabisco (I’m not being paid or compensated to say this). It may now seem like a big deal, but every generic Nilla Wafer cookie I’ve tried are over sweet and have very little vanilla flavoring to them. They’re just blah and don’t bring enough flavor to be used in the crust of this glorious pie.
If you’ve happen to find a good generic brand, I’d love to hear about it. Please share it with us in the comment section.
If you’re short on time, or just want a quicker version of this recipe, you can simplify things by using a store bought graham cracker crust or a boxed pastry crust.
Cooking the Custard: the custard needs to be cooked to almost a boil reaching a temperature of almost 212 degrees. The egg yolks have a starch-digesting enzyme called alpha-amylase. In order for a successful gelling of a starch in the recipe, it has to be cooked at that temperature. If it’s not, the left-over enzymes in the eggs digests all of the nice firm starch gel and your custard is nothing but liquid.
After the custard has been prepared on the stove top, it needs to cool down a bit. So, the first thing you do is pour the filling into a shallow bowl. Cook’s Illustrated suggests using a second pie plate instead of a bowl. I love this idea. It’s obviously the perfect size. It’s shallow depth and fairly wide diameter help the filling cool more rapidly than a smaller standard mixing bowl would allow.
It’s really important that you cover the surface of the filling directly so a skin doesn’t form. It may seem strange to lie the plastic wrap on top of the hot filling, but that’s the best way to do it. If a skin forms, you’ll either have to strain the filling or endure lumps in your finished pie. Yuck!
The layers of custard and banana are assembled after the filling has cooled down but is still warm. This technique is slightly different from most banana cream pie recipes so, I just want to point it out, so you don’t inadvertently overlook it.
Don’t assemble the custard and bananas while the custard is still hot or the pie can have a heavier, denser overall texture.
This recipe is best made with firm, just ripe bananas. They hold up in the pie better than very ripe bananas and they keep their nice bright creamy color longer.
Many recipes suggest refrigerating the pie overnight after the layers of custard and banana have been assembled in the crust. I like the idea of the custard setting up in the fridge overnight, but I don’t like how the bananas look after doing so. There’s just no way I know of to keep them looking fresh and just sliced.
Some recipes suggest brushing the sliced bananas with citrus juice. I think that’s a great idea for some recipes, but personally, I don’t like the taste it adds to this custard.
Another suggestion is to make sure the sliced bananas are completely covered with the second layer of custard. This eliminates air coming into direct contact with the bananas. If you go this route, I suggest you also gently press on the top of the second layer of custard with a spatula to make sure the custard gets down into all the little crevices between the pieces of banana. Another trick to help fill any of those small voids and settle the filling into them is to place a dish towel on your countertop and gently tap the pie plate down a few times on the towel.
All that said, I strongly prefer to serve the pie the same day it’s assembled.
I like a nice thick layer of whipped cream on this pie, so I start with 2 cups of heavy cream.
To make the best whipped cream I can, I like to put my metal mixing bowl and the beaters from my mixer in the freezer 10-15 minutes before I make the whipped cream. I keep the heavy cream in the fridge until I’m ready to pour it in the mixing bowl.
You can use regular granulated sugar or powdered sugar to sweeten the whipped cream. I prefer using powdered sugar because it dissolves easily into the cream. If you use granulated sugar, add it to the cream before you begin to beat it so it dissolves completely.
I generally make my whipped cream in my stand up mixer. I keep the speed on medium, not on high, so I don’t accidentally overbeat the cream. I shoot for peaks that are just stiff. If you go beyond that point, your whipped cream becomes stiff and grainy. If you go any further the milk solids will separate and bits of the fat in the heavy cream will solidify
Banana Cream Pie
- 2 1/2 Cups Coarsely Crushed Vanilla Wafers
- 1/4 Cup Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Butter Melted
- 1/2 Cup Plus 2 Tablespoons Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Cornstarch
- 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
- 5 Large Large Egg Yolks Lightly Beaten
- 1 1/2 Cups Whole Milk
- 1 Cups Heavy Cream
- 2 Teaspoons Vanilla
- 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
- 1 Teaspoon or more to taste Brandy
- 2 Bananas Firm, But Ripe
- 2 Cups Heavy Cream
- 3 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar
- 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
Make the Crust:
Preheat oven 350 degrees.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the vanilla wafer crumbs and sugar. Add the butter and mix well. Press firmly onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch pie plate. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, and cool completely before adding filling (about 1 hour).
Make the Filling:
In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk in egg yolks, Gradually add milk and cream. Cook over medium heat, bringing to a gentle boil, whisking constantly until mixture thickens 8-10 minutes. Continue to gently simmer for 1 minute, lowering heat as necessary, and stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Whisk in vanilla, butter, and brandy.
Pour filling into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the filling to prevent a skin from forming. Cool for about 30 minutes or until filling is warm, but no longer hot.
Pour half of the warm filling into the cooled crust. Peel and slice the bananas into 1/2 inch slices and layer on top of the filling. Pour the remainder of the filling over sliced bananas. Place a clean sheet of plastic wrap directly on the top surface of the filling. Refrigerate pie until completely chilled, at least 3 hours.
Make the Topping:
Whip the heavy cream in a chilled bowl until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and vanilla; continue to whip until peaks are just stiff. Spread whipped cream over topping and shape decoratively into a mound. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
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