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How to Make the Best Banana Cream Pie

My oven has been broken for almost two months. While I’ve missed baking bread and cake this has been a great opportunity to perfect my banana cream pie recipe. It may be prideful, but I truly think my Banana Cream pie recipe is the best!

Making the Pie Crust

One of the things that really sets this Banana Cream Pie recipe apart is that the graham cracker style crust is not made with graham crackers. Every time I buy graham crackers for a pie crust I have leftover crackers and I’m reminded that I don’t actually enjoy eating them. So I swapped them out for Nilla Wafers which I actually like. They make a delicious pie crust and really amp up the vanilla flavor of the dessert. As an extra bonus, one box of Nilla Wafers makes exactly two pie crusts! For this pie, I bought the mini Nilla Wafers since I was just going to be crushing them up anyway. You can throw the cookies in a food processor if you’re fancy, but I just put them in a sealable bag and whack them with a rolling pin until the reach the desired consistency.

Another hack is to use a measuring cup to press the pie crust mixture into the pie tin. It keeps your hands clean and helps really tamp down the edges and corners. Make sure the pie crust is an even thickness throughout the whole thing. You technically don’t need to blind bake the crust, but unless you serve your pie within an hour or two of assembly the crust will be soggy if you don’t blind bake it.

Making the Custard

The rich, vanilla custard is based off of a crème pâtissière recipe from the GBBO’s Big Book of Baking, but it has been changed and adapted for this Banana Cream Pie recipe. Custard can be a little tricky, but there a few tricks that can help.

First, be very careful while you heat up the milk. You don’t want it to burn or boil over. Next, make sure you whisk the cornstarch, sugar, and egg yolks until lighter in color and frothy. This will help make sure there are no clumps of egg or corn starch. Compare the two pictures below. The one on the left has not been whisked thoroughly enough. It should look like the picture on the right.

Make sure you temper your eggs! This is the process of gradually increasing the temperature so the eggs don’t scramble when cooked. To temper the eggs gradually add at least one cup of the hot milk to the eggs a trickle at a time while whisking furiously. Then add the egg mixture into the pan with the hot milk, again while whisking furiously.

The next trap to avoid is overcooking the custard. Overcooked custard will curdle and have a grainy texture. Heat the custard mixture over medium-high heat, whisking continuously until it starts to thicken. Cook for 1-2 minutes more and then immediately remove the custard from the heat.

Put the custard in a heat proof bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Push the plastic wrap against the surface of the custard so none of the surface is exposed to air. This will prevent a skin from forming while the custard chills. Put the custard in the fridge and leave it until it is completely chilled.

Assembling the Pie

One of the easiest ways to avoid a soggy bottom (other than blind baking the crust) is to put a thin layer of custard between the crust and the first layer of bananas.

And the best way to prevent the banana slices from oxidizing and turning brown is to make sure you place the bananas in a single layer and fill in the spaces between and cover the tops of each banana slice evenly with custard. You should have at least three separate layers of banana slices. So the final line up should be custard, banana, custard, banana, custard, banana, custard, whipped cream.

The Best Banana Cream Pie Recipe

Rich custard paired with light whipped cream and a crunchy vanilla crust makes this the best banana cream pie you will ever eat.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Chill 2 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 515 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 9" Pie Tin

Ingredients
  

For the Filling

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large bananas (thinly sliced)

For the Crust

  • 1 ½ cups Nilla Wafer crumbs (should be about half a box)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tbsp butter (melted)

For the Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy cream (or ½ pint)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
 

For the Filling

  • In a small, heatproof bowl whisk together the 5 egg yolks, 6 tablespoons sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ cup corn starch until the mixture is fully incorporated and a light golden color. Set aside.
  • In a large saucepan bring 2 cups of whole milk to a simmer. Stir occasionally to prevent it from burning on the bottom.
  • Carefully pour 1 cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture a ¼ cup at a time while whisking furiously. This will temper the eggs and prevent them from scrambling.
  • Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and whisk constantly over medium heat until the custard thickens. When it thickens it will happen quickly and you will need to whisk quickly to prevent lumps from forming.
  • When the custard thickens immediately remove it from the heat. Stir in the 3 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. Pour the custard into a heat proof bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pushing the plastic wrap against the custard's surface. This will prevent a skin from forming. Put the custard in the fridge and allow it to chill until completely cool (about an hour)

For the Crust

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  • Put the Nilla Wafers into a sealable bag and pound with a rolling pin until they are reduced to fine crumbs (you can also use a food processor).
  • Mix the Nilla Wafer crumbs, ¼ cup of sugar, and 6 tablespoons of melted butter in a bowl until well combined. Scoop it into a 9" pie tin and firmly tamp it down on the bottom and sides to form an even crust.
  • Blind bake the crust for 10 minutes or until golden. Set on a wire rack to cool.

For the Whipped Cream

  • In a small bowl, beat 1 cup of heavy cream, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until stiff peaks form. Put it in the fridge until the pie is ready to assemble.

Assembling the Pie

  • Spread a very thin layer of custard on the bottom of the pie crust. This will prevent the bananas from making the crust soggy.
  • Next place banana slices in a single layer. Spread enough custard over the banana slices that all of the spaces between the slices are filled and the bananas have no exposed area (this will prevent the bananas from oxidizing). Repeat two more times and spread any remaining custard over the top. You should have at least sets of layers (custard, bananas, custard, bananas, custard, bananas, custard).
  • Spread the whipped cream evenly over the top of the pie.
  • Put the pie in the fridge and chill for at least an hour to allow the pie to set.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

Please Note: Calories per serving is an estimate for your convenience. 

1 Comment

  1. Roger Baker

    Can’t wait to give it a try. I really don’t like store-bought banana cream pies, for the chemical banana flavoring, the fake whipped cream, and awful crusts, and the package pudding. Yours looks and sounds amazing.

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