It’s peanut butter-nanner time.

By Darcy Lenz
June 04, 2021
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Peanut Butter Banana Pudding Pie
Credit: Darcy Lenz

If we cannot agree on anything else, I think we can all see eye-to-eye on at least this one thing: the banana pudding is a non-negotiable staple of any decent summer picnic or potluck

You know the one

It's typically contributed by a grandmother or a certain auntie… and they're not so keen on sharing the exact recipe? Yeah, it's the good stuff. There was a time when summer would hardly be complete without it.

But then, we get older. And we make it "home" less often. Oftentimes, we end up crafting our own seasonal traditions — something new, but not unfamiliar. It's just slightly different, an evolution, if you will. I'm kind of hoping this Peanut Butter and Banana Pudding Pie can be that for me (and maybe for you) this summer. 

It's no secret that peanut butter and banana are an iconic duo. Peanut butter pie is a crowd favorite. And as we've already established, summer wouldn't be summer without the banana pudding. So how can you go wrong with all of it wrapped into one?

Spoiler: You really can't.

Here are the details that will set this dessert apart, and set you up for success: 

Pick the Right Pie Plate

This recipe calls for a deep-dish pie plate, and you should use a deep-dish pie plate. Some folks might consider this a "gimme," but if you've never skimmed over a recipe and missed a crucial detail, you're better than I am. The thing is, the ingredient amounts here would overfill a standard 9-inch pie pan (which has a depth of roughly 1 ¼ to 1 ½ inches), and no one wants to deal with that mess. Personally, I love the ceramic Emile Henry Modern Classics Pie Dish — it's one of our top-choice baking dishes for pie

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Don't Shy Away From Salt

Some of you will see a half teaspoon of salt called for in the crust, and assume it's a mistake. (After all, Granny's banana pudding didn't even call for salt!) But it's not. Salt enhances sweet, and this seemingly generous amount of salt brings forth the full flavors of the buttery, vanilla cookie crust. Just be sure that you're using kosher salt, as ½ teaspoon of table salt will taste saltier than the same amount of kosher salt (due to the difference in granule size). 

Pack In the Peanut Butter

Alright, now for the fun part! We're bringing the banana's perfect counterpart into this pie in two different forms (because you can never have enough peanut butter). First is a very simple peanut butter layer in the bottom of the Nilla Wafer crust that involves nothing more than melting peanut butter with unsalted butter in a saucepan. Next, you're going to create an equally simple, two-ingredient peanut butter crumble by cutting peanut butter into powdered sugar with a fork, until peanut butter "pebbles" form. 

The wisdom I wish to pass along to you is that before measuring out peanut butter, you should absolutely spritz your measuring cup with nonstick spray. This little trick will prevent the nut butter (or any sticky ingredient — like honey or corn syrup) from clinging to your measuring cup. Also, when you make your peanut butter crumble…that's one of those moments when you really do want to bother sifting the powdered sugar. 

Stir It Up

When making a stovetop custard base (i.e. a pudding), I like to start off the stirring using a good silicone spatula, creating a figure-eight motion along the edges and bottom of the pan — making sure I'm scraping those areas really well. I find that it can be easy to miss lumps forming around the edges of your saucepan if you're just lightly whisking for the duration of the cook/thickening time, but this method ensures that you're getting in every nook and cranny, keeping the forming custard moving. Once all of the pudding's ingredients are well incorporated, I'll give it a good whisking as it finishes thickening.

Embrace the Banana Pudding Essence 

I opted to mix a teaspoon of banana extract into this pudding in order to give it a full-on banana flavor. (Typically, banana pudding consists of a vanilla custard, with the sliced bananas being the sole source of banana flavor.) That said, if you don't have banana extract on hand or if you prefer a more mild banana presence, you can substitute in an additional teaspoon of vanilla extract instead. 

Another signature of banana pudding is a heavy presence of Nilla wafers, soaking up the pudding, creating a texture that is unique to this classic dessert. If that texture is important to you, I totally get it. And you can most assuredly add more wafers than the recipe calls for into the filling of your pie. 

With that, I wish you all the best in forging the sweetest summer traditions. 

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