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The best banana pudding ice cream

Banana pudding ice cream is everything you love about the dessert in true special occasion form. Made totally from scratch with a custard-based ice cream, real bananas, and yes, a few ‘Nilla Wafers, it’s something to celebrate!

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a bowl with three scoops of banana pudding ice cream

Banana pudding can be an art to make with the unmistakable blend of vanilla custard and banana topped off with the perfect vanilla cookies. We all know it’s delicious.

There’s a shortcut banana pudding we love here (meaning no custard to make) but I know you’re ready for something better: the real deal in ice cream form.

Here’s what makes this ice cream recipe the best:

  • It’s all from scratch except for the cookies which you could make with this recipe. No canned sweetened condensed milk, banana flavoring or cheats.
  • We’re using a lot of eggs in this, which makes it custard and not really ice cream–but the final result will be smoother and richer.
  • It’s churned to achieve the perfect texture without icy chunks. This is not a no-churn recipe and there is not a variation to do so.
  • This version is refined sugar free but I will give you measurements for using sugar if you decide to. I used honey here to avoid the negative health effects of white sugar.

True to everything we do around here, I’d rather show you how to do something well with more work and have a delicious result than to half-do it and leave you with recipes that don’t taste or perform as they should.

Plan ahead: this recipe takes time

Your ice cream base (custard) needs to be made and chilled in the refrigerator at least 24 hours in advance. You can make it up to two days ahead.

If you are using an electric ice cream maker (I use this Cuisinart and love it) then you’ll need to freeze the insert solid before churning. That can take 24-48 hours.

Your ice cream will also need overnight in the freezer to firm up before you serve it unless you like it more like soft serve.

Ingredients count so choose wisely

When you’re making a recipe that doesn’t have a lot of ingredients, you will taste every single one. That’s why they need to be as quality as possible. For this recipe you’ll need:

  • Heavy cream/heavy whipping cream–I like Horizon organic so I can skip the stabilizers in regular versions.
  • Milk–I used 2% because that’s what I had but whole milk would be better. This is not a recipe for coconut, almond, or oat milk alternatives.
  • Eggs–we eat farm raised pastured eggs and you’ll notice that my ice cream is quite yellow because of it. Happy chickens make orange yolks!
  • Vanilla–This is key. I used a vanilla paste with bits of the bean in it but vanilla extract is fine. Just don’t use imitation vanilla.
  • Honey or sugar–Honey will impart flavor to your ice cream. If you want a mild flavor use a light honey. I used a dark wildflower honey and would probably go lighter next time myself. Sugar measurements are in the recipe.
  • Bananas–Make sure they are ripe for the most sweet flavor. I used 3 large bananas in this recipe.
  • Nilla Wafers-One of the rare times I buy a processed ingredient like this but life is balance. You can easily make your own.
ingredients for banana pudding ice cream labeled

How to make banana pudding ice cream step by step

Step 1: Separate 8 eggs and add the yolks to a bowl. You can freeze the whites for later or make an angel food cake. Add the honey or sugar and whisk 2 to 3 minutes until lighter in color. Set aside.

egg yolks and honey in a bowl
Whisked egg yolks and honey in a bowl

Step 2: In a heavy bottomed pot, (I love Made In pots and pans) heat the milk and cream over medium heat stirring often so it doesn’t scorch. Bring it to a simmer and turn off the heat.

a pot with hot milk and cream

Step 3: While whisking constantly, add 1 cup of the hot milk and cream mixture to the eggs in a slow steady stream. Never stop whisking. Add one more cup of milk the same way (this brings the eggs up to temperature without scrambling them).

a bit of hot cream added to eggs in a bowl

Step 4: Then pour the egg mixture back into the main pot, whisking the whole time.

egg mixture poured back in to main pot

Step 5: Return this mixture to the heat and cook, whisking almost constantly over medium heat until the mixture thickens and reaches about 175 degrees. Maybe 5 to 6 minutes. It should not boil. It should be thick enough to hold a line on the back of a spoon. Pour it through a strainer to catch any bits of egg that may have cooked. Cool 30 minutes.

a spatula dipped in cooked custard and a line drawn through holds its shape
a strainer over a bowl

Step 6: Add the vanilla once the mixture has cooled for 30 minutes. Otherwise the heat will make the flavor evaporate. You can add more vanilla if you want to. Allow to cool until there is no steam and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin. Refrigerate until very cold throughout–8 to 24 hours is best but it can sit for 2 days in the fridge just fine.

a bowl of cooling custard with dots of vanilla on top

How to churn banana pudding ice cream

  • Follow your ice cream maker’s instructions. You can buy my ice cream maker here.
  • Churn until starting to thicken then add the mashed bananas.
  • Churn 20 minutes or no more than 35 to 40 but be careful not to make butter!
  • Transfer the soft ice cream to a loaf pan or other container.
  • Stir in crushed Nilla wafers. Cover and freeze 24 hours to harden.

Can I make this without an ice cream maker?

No. There are lots of “no churn” ice creams out there but the recipes are based on using whipped cream as a way to lighten the texture. There’s no whipped cream in this version and the custard requires churning to add air. If you froze it like it is, it would be a big yellow ice cube.

What can I swap for the cream?

You could use all whole milk but it will certainly be less rich. The reduced fat and higher water content could also make your final result icy.

What size should the bananas be?

Mashing the bananas gives you the most uniform banana flavor throughout the recipe. If you want big slices of banana or chunks, remember that they will be frozen and may not be pleasant to bite in to.

If you want to add large pieces, wait until after your ice cream is churned to add them so they don’t sink to the bottom. Add them before placing the ice cream in the freezer to harden.

a loaf pan of set ice cream with a scoop

Looking for more frozen treats or banana goodness? Try these recipes:

a bowl with three scoops of banana pudding ice cream

The Best Banana Pudding Ice Cream

Print Pin Save Recipe
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Cooling Time: 1 day 1 hour
Total Time: 1 day 1 hour 17 minutes
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 416kcal
Author: Rachel Ballard

Ingredients

  • 8 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup light honey or 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups milk 2% or whole
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream also called heavy whipping cream
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla no imitation vanilla
  • 3 bananas mashed, about 1 3/4 cup total after mashing
  • 3/4 cup Nilla wafers broken in to chunks

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and honey or sugar 2 to 3 minutes until lighter in color. Set aside.
  • In a heavy bottomed pot add the milk and cream and heat over medium, whisking often until the mixture begins to simmer. Turn off the heat.
  • While constantly and rapidly whisking the eggs, add 1 cup of the milk mixture to the eggs in a slow steady stream. You can use a ladle for this if it's easier. Add one more cup of milk while whisking then transfer the egg mixture back to the main pot.
  • Return to medium/medium low heat and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and reaches about 175 degrees. It should not boil or even simmer, but should thicken enough that you can draw a line through it on the back of a spoon and it doesn't run back together.
  • Cool 30 minutes then add the vanilla.
  • Allow to cool until no longer steaming and transfer to a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly against the surface and refrigerate for 8 hours minimum, but 24 hours is best, but it can stay for up to 48 hours.
  • When ready to churn, first peel and mash the bananas; crush the cookies and set aside.
  • Follow the instructions for your ice cream maker; Churn 25 minutes and no longer than 40 to avoid over churning. During the last 10 minutes, add the bananas and cookies and churn to mix in.
  • Transfer to an air tight container and freeze 3 to 4 hours until fully firm.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 416kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 241mg | Sodium: 80mg | Potassium: 256mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 1164IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 1mg

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