This winning “Best Banana Cream Pie Recipe” is a banana lover’s dream come true. You use 5 bananas to make it, including an early step of making a “banana milk.” You use that banana milk to create a custard thickened with egg yolks and cornstarch. This amps up the flavor, as does using both vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds. Also, using both heavy whipping cream and whole milk gives the pie the richness it deserves.
This creation is adapted from a best cream pie winning recipe at the Iowa State Fair. Jessica Denner won 3rd place for her banana cream pie back in 2015. She split her filling into multiple layers and used a different crust. I simplified the layering, reduced the chill times needed and swapped out the winner’s dough crust recipe (which you can find here) for a graham cracker version. I like the texture a cookie-like crust adds, especially when you crumble some crunchiness on top.
Save the smashed bananas used for making your “banana milk” and put them into smoothies, banana bread or muffins.
The winner’s tip of doing a quick lemon juice soak with the banana slices is genius.
With that step, plus a quick rinse and a pat dry, your fruit will hold its bright color and avoid turning brown. Doing such a step, helps this “Best Banana Cream Pie Recipe” have a winning presentation.
The filling resembles a thick pudding. It comes together easily. Be sure to cook the custard until it thickens. As a result, the pie will set up properly and not be runny. Avoid overcooking it as well. Hint: the filling should thickly coat the back of a spoon and stay separate if you run your finger down the center of the spoon.
You also want your whipped cream on top to be thick, almost firm. Whip it until moderately stiff peaks form and it can hold its shape. This is the consistence you want.
Crazy for Crust? If you prefer a dough crust instead of a graham cracker crust, use the winner’s butter-lard pie crust found here. Our tasters loved that version as well. Plus, we had fun with the whipped cream presentation.
A Pie in the Sky: keep an eye out for even more cream pies as we’ve been testing and tasting loads of them. We’ll share more soon!
Best Banana Cream Pie Recipe
Graham Cracker Crust:
10 graham crackers, finely crushed (plus extra for garnish)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 bananas, diced to 1/4 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4 to 5-inch vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 large egg yolks
5 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine graham crackers, sugar, and butter in a bowl, then press into 9 or 10 inch pie plate. Bake 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Slice 3 bananas into bowl with lemon juice. Stir to coat the slices. Let sit one minute. Drain lemon juice from the bowl, rinse the slices with fresh cold water. Dry slices on paper towels, gently patting both sides dry. Place in fridge to chill.
- In large heavy sauce pan, over medium-low heat, combine diced bananas, cream, and milk. Steep 30 minutes, stirring often. Strain into a bowl, pressing all excess milk from banana with a spatula. Chill this “banana milk” in fridge until cooled. Discard the pressed bananas or re-purpose in smoothies, banana bread etc.
- In a bowl, whisk egg yolks, cornstarch, and sugar until smooth. Place in large saucepan with chilled banana milk. Whisk until smooth. Add seeds from vanilla bean. Over medium-high heat, cook and whisk constantly until large bubbles form and custard thickens. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter and vanilla extract. Set aside.
- Place 1/2 the sliced bananas onto prepared pie crust. Top with pie filling/custard. Chill pie (and remaining sliced bananas) in fridge until filling/custard is set, as least 2 hours.
- In a chilled mixing bowl, beat cream, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until moderately stiff peaks form. Spread on pie with slices of remaining banana and graham cracker crumbs. Chill until serving.
Makes 8 slices