This dairy-free banana pudding features bananas IN the pudding itself for a luscious and boldly-flavored dessert. Layer with wafers and banana slices or enjoy as-is!
It's been three plus years of living in the South and I'm still getting the hang of common 'Southern' foods. Okra was a new one, and so were fried pickles, pimento cheese, all things BBQ, hot chicken...especially hot chicken. The one food where mild can actually mean face-meltingly hot. Spiciness is always subjective, but oof -- this one is off the charts.
Southern-style desserts are a different story because I've certainly eaten sweet treats like red velvet cake and pecan pie way before living down here. However it took moving here to finally experience banana pudding. Better late than never I guess!
Now this is silly, but up until then I thought the pudding itself would be banana-flavored, not just vanilla pudding layered with bananas and cookies/wafers. I mean it's called 'banana pudding' for a reason, right? 😕 First world dessert problems.
That revelation didn't stop me from working on this dairy-free banana pudding, where the pudding itself is flavored with REAL bananas (no artificial flavoring!). It's a lusciously thick and creamy dessert layered with cookies and banana slices that truly is bursting with banana flavor.
I based the method of this dairy-free banana pudding off of my dairy-free lemon pudding, which I *highly* recommend to all the citrus lovers out there. For this one though, I used one can of (full-fat) coconut milk and one cup of almond milk. Much of the thickness comes from the addition of cornstarch, so you can use lite coconut milk if that's what you prefer. I use the lite variety when making the lemon pudding I link to above and it works beautifully.
As for assembly, I'm partial to making one large bowl where you can scoop out servings. I started by lining the bottom of the dish with vanilla wafers, and then propping up vanilla wafers along the perimeter.
Next up is another layer of banana pudding, and then a layer of banana slices. More pudding follows with more vanilla wafers, and then a final layer of banana pudding with banana slices and crushed wafers to top. Easy as that! The vanilla wafers soften once assembled and are an extra satisfying part of this dessert.
Since I had pudding leftover after making the bowl above (the dish I used has about a four-cup capacity), I used the extra to make an individual banana pudding parfait with layers of pudding, fresh banana slices, and crushed vanilla wafers. I'm thinking making all individually-sized portions would be a fun dessert for a party! Either way this dessert will bring the bold banana flavor with a touch of sweetness. Just depends on whether you'd like to share with others or enjoy your own personal serving. 😉
- While the banana pudding itself is dairy-free, if being completely dairy-free is a concern you'll want to make sure the vanilla wafers you use are dairy-free as well.
- Because bananas tends to discolor after they're peeled, I added a quick squeeze of lemon juice to the mashed banana to help prevent browning.
- I've made the pudding the day before I assembled it with the wafers without issue (chilling in the fridge with the plastic wrap pressed against the surface for the meantime), but I wouldn't make this pudding days in advance. It'll still taste great however the color will become more grayish than yellow as time goes on.
Dairy-Free Banana Pudding
For the banana pudding:
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ⅔ cup coconut milk (one can)
- 1 cup almond milk, vanilla or plain
- 2 large ripe bananas *about 8.5 oz total)
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- 4 large egg yolks
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil
- 20-30 dairy-free vanilla wafers approximate
- 1 banana, sliced
- Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Pour in coconut and almond milks and stir together. Set saucepan on the stove over medium heat.
- Add bananas to a food processor and pulse until smooth and creamy. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and stir in. Pour into the saucepan and stir.
- Whisk together egg yolks in a bowl and slowly pour into the saucepan, whisking continuously.
- Continue to stir frequently as the pudding mixture heats for 10-15 minutes, or until the consistency is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
- Remove saucepan from heat and stir in vanilla extract and coconut oil. Once all combined evenly, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the pudding (this prevents a film from forming) and let sit at room temperature to cool for about 30 minutes. Then transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely.
- To assemble, line bottom and sides of serving dish with vanilla wafers. Add a layer of pudding, and then top with a layer of banana slices.
- Add another layer of pudding over the banana slices, and then add another layer of vanilla wafers. Line up vanilla wafers along the sides again at this point.
- Top with another layer of pudding, and then decorate with banana slices and crushed vanilla wafers.
P.S. Click here for more dairy-free recipes, from hot chocolate to soups to ice cream!
I made this for my daughter's birthday and it came out so good! I couldn't find dairy free vanilla wafers at my local store (and didn't have time to go looking), so I made an icebox cake using graham crackers, letting it all soften overnight. (I also used oat milk because we have a family member that can't eat almonds, and it was perfect.) Delicious!! I kept saying that I would have though that it had dairy in it if I hadn't made it myself. 😉
Huge hit! This had to set overnight so it wasn’t soupy. We used organic animal crackers from Costco. Noone could believe it was non-dairy! Thank you for this great recipe!
You're very welcome, Gina! I'm so glad you liked it. 🙂
Jessica G says
Vanilla wafers have dairy!
Hi Jessica, not all brands of vanilla wafers have dairy. By my search, I believe the following brands do not contain dairy, though products are always being updated so I cannot say for sure: Sprouts brand vanilla wafers, 365 Whole Foods vanilla wafers, Kinnikinnick vanilla wafers, Back to Nature Madagascar vanilla wafers, MadeGood vanilla flavor cookies, and Home Free vanilla cookies. I will leave an extra note in the recipe card to remind people to check the ingredients list of their particular cookies to be sure.
What purpose does the coconut oil serve? Just wondering since I’m not a fan of strong coconut flavor
The coconut oil adds a bit of silkiness and richness to the pudding. It's not absolutely required though as the pudding will form without it. I recommend using refined coconut oil (not unrefined a.k.a. virgin coconut oil) as it has a really neutral flavor/scent and in my opinion doesn't make this pudding taste coconutty at all. Unrefined coconut oil brings with it a stronger coconut aroma and taste. While I haven't tried this variation myself, a dairy-free butter substitute may work in its place.
Tonia L Williams says
My daughter is Vegan. I would like tonknow what substitute the eggs with? Thank you.
Hi Tonia, I haven't personally used any of the vegan egg substitute products so they may work, but I can't say for sure. In some homemade pudding recipes I have actually left out the eggs entirely and increased the amount of cornstarch and achieved a similar thick texture. Maybe three tablespoons of cornstarch if omitting the eggs? I have a peppermint mocha pudding recipe that although it features dairy (non-dairy milk will work just fine), you can see the steps to take in making pudding without eggs there: https://www.mysequinedlife.com/peppermint-mocha-pudding/ -- I hope this is helpful!
Brenda Bryson says
Can you use coconut cream instead of coconut milk? Guar gum in place of corn starch? I will try it out and let you know if it works. All natural flavors are the best, thanks.
Hi Brenda, I haven't tried either of those substitutions before so I couldn't say how they'd do. I would love to know how it turns out if you give it a shot, though!
This is a total hit in our house! Birthday request every year we love it so much! Thank you!!!
You're very welcome, Sarah! So glad your family loves it (and happy belated)!