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Laura Dern's Banana Pudding

Cook Time:
20 mins
Prep Time:
10 mins


  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • cups sugar, divided
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • 1 box vanilla wafers (approximately 45 wafers)
  • 5-6 bananas, sliced
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Chef notes

This banana pudding is everything. It's what our Grandma Mary made for us on the celebratory days and on the hardest of days. It's this multi-generational kind of bliss. It's community for us. It's the thing she would make, and the three of us — my mom, grandma and I — would sit together and tell stories. It was something that brought us together.

Whenever Grandma made it, she'd set a timer when it came out of the oven so it could cool for a half hour before we devoured it. The moment the buzzer went off, my mom and I would rush to be the first to grab the pan, then chase each other around trying to be the first to eat it. One time when I was seven, the dogs sniffed my mom out, hiding with the entire pudding under the dining table. I reached in with the longest-handled ladle you've ever seen and stole a bit! Grandma screamed to my mom, "You're stealing dessert from a child!"



Preheat oven to 325 F.


In a large, heavy saucepan, combine flour, 1½ cups sugar and salt.


In a large bowl or measuring cup, lightly beat egg yolks and combine with milk.


Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until ingredients are thickened and smooth.


Remove saucepan from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla.


Cover the bottom of a two-quart oven-safe glass bowl or baking dish with vanilla wafers.


Layer sliced bananas on top of wafers.


Pour 1/3 of the custard over wafers and bananas.


Repeat layering process two more times until all wafers, bananas and custard have been used, ending with a final layer of wafers.

For the meringue:


Whip the egg whites with an electric mixer set at high speed.


Allow egg whites to foam, add cream of tartar, and then gradually add 1/4 cup sugar one tablespoon at a time.


Continue whipping until sugar is well dissolved and stiff peaks have formed.


Add remaining vanilla and whip until well-combined.


Spread meringue over banana pudding, making sure to spread to the edges of the dish.


Bake until the meringue is lightly browned, about 25 minutes.