This homemade banana cream pie recipe makes the ultimate dessert to share with your loved ones. The buttery crust is layered with fresh fruit slices and then filled with a delicious vanilla bean custard. Each slice is topped with fluffy whipped cream and crunchy almonds.
Table of Contents
Making banana cream pie from scratch is worth the effort. I like to break the recipe down into three parts; flaky crust, custard filling, and whipped cream. This makes each task more straightforward and doable. I usually make the pie dough a day in advance, so that you can just roll and shape the next day.
The luscious custard can be a little tricky, but don’t worry. I’ll guide you along to prevent the delicate eggs from curdling with tips guaranteeing a smooth and sliceable filling. Adding a blanket of fresh bananas over the crust produces bursts of sweet fruit flavors. Generously covering the filling with a mound of cream provides for a pleasant surprise underneath.
Making a sturdy pie crust
To hold the heavy, decadent filling, I use a classic pie dough called Pâte Brisée that consists of just flour, butter, salt, and water. I even use it for my double crust apple pie recipe. It yields a tender and buttery texture, pairing perfectly with the custard.
It’s crucial to let dough rest, chilled for 4 hours before rolling. This allows the gluten proteins that form to relax, preventing a tough bite. After shaping the crust, freeze it for 20 minutes to chill the butter. I like to use a 9-inch glass pie plate, it makes it much easier to monitor the browning on the sides when baking.
Fully bake the pie dough
Since you don’t bake the filling, the crust needs to cook in two stages to create a sturdy shell. First, the shell is blind-baked with pie weights for 20 minutes. This process helps to set the shell’s hollow shape and keep the bottom from puffing up in the center, which would make it hard to fill.
Afterward, you remove the weights and bake the crust until golden brown. It will shrink slightly on the edges, but that’s normal as the proteins contract when heated up. Before filling the crust, it needs to cool down completely.
Make a creamy vanilla custard
I know it can be pricey, but I use whole vanilla beans and infuse them into hot milk. A little bit of rum adds depth and complements the vanilla. This recipe uses whole eggs and egg yolk, milk, and butter to create a velvety texture. Cornstarch is used to quickly thicken and set the custard. The trickiest part is not curdling the eggs, so I use a tempering technique.
Temper to prevent curdling
Making the custard is simple but requires constant attention. Add just a small amount of warm milk into the egg, sugar, and cornstarch mixture. This process allows the eggs to gently rise in temperature and mix with the hot liquid without shocking the eggs’ albumin proteins.
The custard then cooks on the stovetop, continually stirring until it thickens. It’s normal to see some small clumps. I always strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve when it’s still hot to achieve a smooth consistency. You can cool it slightly, so it’s not steaming hot, but don’t let it reduce too much. Otherwise, the starches will become rigid and solidify, making it harder to spread.
Fill and chill
For a strong banana flavor, cut pieces into ¼-inch thick slices and layer them on the crust’s bottom and sides. Evenly spread the warm custard on top, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The starches and butter in the filling will set after about 3 hours, or you can also just let it sit overnight.
Pull the pie out when you’re ready to make the whipped cream so the butter in the crust can come to room temperature so it’s more tender, making it much easier to slice.
Making the whipped cream
Everyone loves digging into the fluffy topping. I use a stand mixer to make a lightly sweetened whipped cream for this recipe, but there are other techniques, like the blender or hand whisking. Use heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract to flavor the dairy. Whip until very smooth stiff peaks form.
From here, you can spread it on top of the filling, or I like to add it to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip to make designs. You can add a few more banana slices and even sprinkle sugar on the sliced fruit and torch it for a caramelized surface. For more garnish, almond slices add extra crunch and contrast to all of the pie’s creaminess.
What to serve this with
Preventing the milk from curdling
Whole eggs coagulate and form curds at 144ºF (62.2ºC) and above. When tempering, the milk should not go above 185ºF (88ºC). This prevents the milk proteins from curdling as well. You’re only adding in a small amount of hot liquid at a time, so it should not exceed 144ºF. Once the tempered eggs are added to the remaining milk, it can then be safely cooked to around 203ºF (95ºC). This properly cooks the cornstarch so it thickens and gels once cooled.
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Banana Cream Pie
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes, chilled
- ½ cup ice-cold water, chilled
- 3 bananas, ripe but not brown and spotted
- ½ cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
- 5 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon dark rum, optional
- ½ whole vanilla bean, split down the middle and scraped
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
- ¼ cup powdered sugar, sifted
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, optional
- Keep the diced butter and ice water in the refrigerator until ready to use. Using a stand mixer bowl, weigh out the flour and add the salt. Mix using the paddle attachment on the lowest speed (stir) for about 10-seconds.
- Add chilled diced butter to the bowl. On the lowest speed, turn the mixer on and off quickly for a few seconds to coat. This helps to prevent the flour from spilling over. Continue to mix on low speed until a mealy texture forms like wet sand and pea-sized butter pieces are evenly throughout the flour, about 60 to 70-seconds. Do not overmix. The dough should not bind together before the water is added. Alternatively, use a dough/pastry blender or your fingers to break the butter into the dough.
- Gradually add 1 tablespoon of ice-cold water to the bowl. After each addition, turn the mixer on for 2 to 3-seconds. Only add enough water until the dough looks lumpy and hydrated, but not wet or sticky. It should just begin to clump together with small crumbles on the bottom of the bowl. You may not need all of the water, about 5 to 7 tablespoons is typical. When the dough is pinched together, it should compress and hold, not be dry or crumbly. Do not over mix.
- Press the dough into a 1” thick round disc and wrap in plastic wrap and place in a resealable bag. Store in the refrigerator to rest for at least 4 hours, overnight, or up to 2 days.
- Once removed from the refrigerator, allow the crust to sit at room temperature for about 5 to 10 minutes to make it easier to roll. If it’s still too hard, let it sit longer until more pliable.
- Dust the counter and dough with flour. When rolling out, make sure to rotate and dust with flour. This will prevent sticking and make it easier to transfer to the pie dish. Roll the dough into a 14-inch circle, slightly less than ¼-inch thick.
- Place the rolled out dough into a 9-inch pie dish and gently press against the sides and bottom. With a paring knife, trim the excess dough leaving a ½-inch overhang. Tuck the excess underneath the bottom crust edges. Crimp by pinching the dough using the pointer and thumb fingers. Place the crust in the freezer for 20 minutes.
- Place the oven rack in the center position. Preheat to 375°F (190°C). Place the pie dish on a sheet pan. Place a piece of parchment paper inside the pie dish and add the pie weights to cover just the bottom and sides, do not overfill.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the weights to sit in the crust for a few minutes to press down any puffed-up areas. Carefully lift the parchment paper filled with weights out of the dish and set aside, it will not be used again.
- Bake again for 15 minutes. Check to see if the bottom and sides have shrunk slightly. Use a spoon to press the base down gently and sides up, don’t force it too much.
- Bake for a 3rd time until golden brown and dry, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and until completely cooled, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Cut the bananas into ¼-inch slices. Layer them on the bottom and sides of the pie shell, about 46 slices. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the bananas and press against it to keep the air from browning, set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and cornstarch, set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole eggs and yolk. Add the cornstarch mixture to the eggs, whisk until combined.
- In a medium pot, add the milk, rum, and whole vanilla bean with the scrapings. Heat over medium-low heat until it reaches 180 to 185ºF (82 to 88ºC). It should not be bubbling, 7 to 8 minutes. Turn off the heat, place the pot on a towel beside the bowl with the egg mixture.
- Slowly whisk in ¾ cups of the hot milk, ¼ cup at a time into the bowl of egg mixture. Whisk vigorously after each addition. This process tempers the eggs without curdling. Slowly whisk in the tempered eggs into the remaining pot of milk. Heat over medium heat, whisk constantly and vigorously until the custard thickens, about 2 to 3 minutes. There may be small lumps. Turn off the heat and whisk in the softened butter.
- Strain the custard through a fine-mesh strainer placed over a bowl, use a spatula to press the it through. This will remove any lumps. Add strained custard into the prepared pie shell. Use a spatula to smooth out. Immediately put a piece of plastic wrap directly on top to prevent any film from forming.
- Place the pie in the refrigerator and let it chill for at least 3 hours or overnight to firm up the filling. It can also be chilled in the freezer for 1 ½ to 2 hours before adding the whipped cream.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla to the bowl. Alternatively, if using a hand mixer, use the whisk or beaters attachment and a large bowl or whip by hand. Processing times may vary.
- Whip the mixture on medium-low speed (setting 4), until the cream is frothy with bubbles on the surface, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium-high (setting 8), and whip until a fluffy and smooth consistency is reached, about 75 seconds for soft peaks. Continue to beat in 5-second intervals until stiff peaks form. Be careful as the texture will change quickly.
- Use a spatula to spread the whipped cream over the entire pie. Be careful not to overspread, as more agitation can cause the consistency to change. Alternatively, transfer whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a tip and make a design.
- Sprinkle almond slices on top if desired. Refrigerate the pie until ready to serve.
- Rolling Pin
- Whole Vanilla Bean: Can be substituted for 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.
- Banana Garnish: Add sliced bananas on top of the whipped cream if desired. Alternatively, place bananas on a foil-lined sheet pan. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and use a mini torch to caramelize the surface.
- Storing: Loosely cover the pie with foil or transfer leftover slices to an airtight container for up to 3 days.
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