The Absolute Best Banana Pudding In The U.S., According To Dessert Lovers

Banana pudding in glasses
Banana pudding in glasses - Bonchan/Getty Images

Banana pudding is the quintessential Southern dessert. It's cool and creamy, making it the perfect refreshing treat on a hot day. In addition, the combination of sweet pudding, fresh bananas, and vanilla wafers is the perfect complement to rich, meaty dishes like barbecue. It's also relatively easy to make, especially if you use a no-bake banana pudding recipe. With all that in mind, it's no wonder banana pudding is a staple at so many Southern-style restaurants.

The connection between banana pudding and the South dates back to the late 1800s when trade routes were expanding and steamships started bringing more food products from Central America and the Caribbean into Southern ports. Fruits like bananas became available to wider markets, and that sparked new recipes. Original versions of banana pudding recipes call for bananas, custard, sponge cake, and whipped cream. By the 1920s, many people were using vanilla wafers instead of sponge cake.

Today you can find variations of banana pudding at restaurants, cafes, and bakeries across the country. But which spots are worth seeking out for this silky, banana-infused dessert? These are the restaurants that serve the absolute best banana pudding in the U.S. according to nanner puddin' fans.

Read more: 12 Popular Ice Cream Brands, Ranked Worst To Best

Miss Myra's Pit Bar-B-Q In Birmingham, AL

Banana pudding at Miss Myra's Pit Bar-B-Q
Banana pudding at Miss Myra's Pit Bar-B-Q - jcstrutz / Instagram

Ask Birmingham locals where to find the best barbecue and many will point you towards Miss Myra's Pit Bar-B-Q. This family-run spot has been in business since 1984 and has a slew of fans who love the smoked meats served with Alabama white sauce and the Southern desserts. Andrew Zimmern is a big supporter of the spot and has a particular affinity for the banana pudding, advising that you save room for dessert here as it's the "best banana pudding in the world."

Miss Myra's banana pudding is pretty classic with layers of Nilla Wafers and sliced bananas topped with custard. The restaurant also adds a layer of meringue to the top, which adds a fluffy contrast to the creaminess of the pudding and bananas. You can buy a half pint for $3.79 or a full pint for $7.49. The restaurant also sells banana pudding by the pan. You may want to consider the pan, as numerous diners say the pudding really is that good. As one Google reviewer said, "I can't stress this enough, get the BANANA PUDDING. Even if you think you don't need it, get it."

Magnolia Bakery In New York City, NY

Banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery
Banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery - magnoliabakery / Instagram

Magnolia Bakery is a beloved New York City institution. The first shop opened in the West Village in 1996, and there are now locations across the country and around the world. The bakery chain has many claims to fame, including appearing on an episode of "Sex and the City." People line up to buy baked goods like cupcakes and brownies, but it's the banana pudding that has really put Magnolia Bakery on the map.

What makes Magnolia Bakery's banana pudding unique is the vanilla pudding is blended into whipped cream to create luscious layers that are sandwiched between vanilla wafers and bananas. It's smooth and slightly airy but utterly indulgent. According to one Yelp reviewer, "The creamy layers with vanilla wafers and fresh bananas are like eating a delicious cloud." The bakery sells it by the cup both in-store and online, and it can ship the pudding nationwide. For those who want to attempt creating the dish at home, Magnolia Bakery's famous banana pudding is easier to make than you'd think, thanks to the chain's DIY Banana Pudding Kit.

Rodney Scott's BBQ In Charleston, SC

Banana pudding at Rodney Scott's BBQ
Banana pudding at Rodney Scott's BBQ - rodneyscottsbbq / Instagram

Barbecue enthusiasts should be familiar with Rodney Scott. After all, the master barbecuer won a James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Southeast, appeared on Netflix's "Chef's Table: BBQ," and was inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame. He specializes in Carolina-style, whole-hog barbecue. At Rodney Scott's BBQ, you can tuck into plates of pork with an array of sides, try a pulled pork sandwich, or go for the decadent whole-hog pork sandwich. While pork is the star of the menu, many diners say you shouldn't sleep on Ella's banana pudding for dessert.

In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Scott told us that many of the dishes at the restaurant remind him of his childhood. The banana pudding takes traditional elements like Nilla Wafers, rich vanilla pudding, and sliced bananas, but elevates the dish with vanilla-infused Chantilly cream. Many diners say the banana pudding is just as good as, if not better than, the versions they had growing up. One patron left a Google review that said, "I would never [have] thought I would find a banana pudding better than my grandmother's until now. Ella sure knows how to make banana pudding!"

Pecan Lodge In Dallas, TX

Banana pudding at Pecan Lodge
Banana pudding at Pecan Lodge - pecanlodge / Instagram

Pecan Lodge is often shouted out for being one of the best barbecue restaurants in Texas, and for good reason. Owners Justin and Diane Fourton draw on family recipes and traditions to create delicious smoked meats, sides, and desserts. Everything at the restaurant is made from scratch, from the juicy brisket cooked low and slow over a pit to the mac and cheese -- and Aunt Polly's banana pudding. It's often jam-packed, but it's one of those restaurants with extremely long lines that are totally worth the wait.

If you want to end your meal at Pecan Lodge on a high note, many diners say the banana pudding is the way to go. It features layers of Nilla Wafers, bananas, and a rich pudding flavored with standard vanilla and Mexican vanilla. Customers say the banana pudding is creamy, flavorful, and has just the right amount of bananas. One Yelp reviewer said, "It was silky and sweet (but not too sweet) with the perfect crunch from the cookies." Another diner left a Google review that said, "Banana pudding: OMG! Order the pint or larger."

Sweet Potatoes Kitchen In Savannah, GA

Banana pudding at Sweet Potatoes Kitchen
Banana pudding at Sweet Potatoes Kitchen - dirtysoufyankee / Instagram

Located in Midtown Savannah, Sweet Potatoes Kitchen is a casual dining spot that serves Southern comfort food dishes like blackened catfish, peach-glazed barbecue chicken, cheese grits, and black-eyed peas. All of the desserts are made in-house, including the famous banana pudding. When Adam Richman of "Man vs. Food" visited the restaurant for the Travel Channel, he said the banana pudding was "quite possibly the best you'll find anywhere."

There are a few things that make the banana pudding at Sweet Potatoes Kitchen stand out from other spots. First, the restaurant uses condensed milk to add richness and sweetness to the dish. Vanilla wafers are also crumbled into the mix and added whole to give varying textures throughout the pudding. The final touch is a dash of chopped pecans. Most diners agree with Richman that it's a stellar dessert that's worthy of the hype. As one Yelp reviewer said, "The banana pudding is the best I've had anywhere in the country. No exaggeration."

Parkway Bakery & Tavern In New Orleans, LA

Banana pudding at Parkway Bakery & Tavern
Banana pudding at Parkway Bakery & Tavern - parkwaypoorboys / Instagram

Parkway Bakery & Tavern has a long history that is intricately tied to New Orleans' food scene. It opened as a bakery in 1911 and became famous for its fresh bread and sweet rolls. When Bennie and Clovis Martin invented po'boy sandwiches in 1929 as a way to feed striking streetcar drivers, the Parkway owners set up a po'boy shop and also gave out sandwiches to union members. Today the restaurant is famous for its tasty po'boy sandwiches and desserts like banana pudding.

Unlike many restaurants that use store-bought pudding for their version of the dessert, Parkway Bakery & Tavern makes its pudding from scratch. The creamy vanilla pudding is packed with slices of fresh banana and Nilla Wafers. There's nothing fancy or gourmet about the pudding — it's just old-school comfort food made with fresh ingredients in-house. Customers rave about the ample amount of bananas and wafers and how the pudding tastes homemade. One patron on Yelp said the pudding "Hit the post-dinner sweet craving without being overly sweet."

Pinky's Westside Grill In Charlotte, NC

Banana pudding at Pinky's Westside Grill
Banana pudding at Pinky's Westside Grill - pinkyswestsidegrill / Instagram

If you love classic diner fare, Pinky's Westside Grill is your spot. Located in an old automotive garage, the spot is easily recognizable for the Volkswagen Beetle on the roof painted in the stars and stripes. The restaurant made an appearance on "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" when Guy Fieri stopped by to try the corn dog shrimp and triple chili burger. Based on the customer reviews for the banana pudding, that should have been on Fieri's bucket list as well.

When a Reddit user asked where to find good banana pudding in Charlotte, multiple users enthusiastically recommended Pinky's Westside Grill. The restaurant makes the dessert with creamy vanilla pudding, crisp vanilla wafers, and fresh bananas. According to one Google reviewer, "It tastes like a Southern grandmother's from-scratch pudding. With quality ingredients and cookies in every bite, the perfect amount of sweetness and bananas!" Be warned, though — the portions are massive. As another Reddit commenter said, "It's as big as your head." Considering it's just $5.95, that's not a bad deal.

Stiles Switch BBQ In Austin, TX

Banana pudding at Stiles Switch BBQ
Banana pudding at Stiles Switch BBQ - stilesswitchbbq / Instagram

Step inside Stiles Switch BBQ in Austin's Violet Crown Shopping Center and you may feel like it looks vaguely familiar. That could be because the space was used to film the pool hall scenes in the movie "Dazed and Confused." Nowadays it's a laid-back barbecue joint serving smoked meats and Southern dishes like Frito pie and corn casserole. It's hard not to go to town on the meat plates, super stacked sandwiches, and enticing sides, but you'll want to save some room for the much-lauded banana pudding.

According to Austin Stays Weird, Stiles Switch BBQ fries the bananas in butter, then tops them with vanilla pudding, and whipped cream. The pièce de résistance is the crumbling of homemade vanilla wafers on top. Although it's not listed on the online menu, there is also a chocolate banana pudding on offer with bits of Oreo cookies in the mix. Both get great reviews from diners. One customer left a Google review that stated, "I don't even like banana pudding and that Oreo one is like Jesus reaching down and touching your brow."

Edley's Bar-B-Q In Nashville, TN

Banana pudding at Edley's Bar-B-Q
Banana pudding at Edley's Bar-B-Q - edleysbbq / Instagram

Nashville is no stranger to banana pudding. In fact, the annual National Banana Pudding Festival takes place not too far away in the town of Centerville. It stands to reason then that Nashville has some pretty sweet spots to indulge in the dessert. Edley's Bar-B-Q is often listed as one of Nashville's best BBQ restaurants and a top spot for nanner puddin'. The chain has several locations in Nashville, as well as other Tennessee cities like Chattanooga and Franklin, where you can try the dish.

Edley's Bar-B-Q adds some interesting ingredients to its banana pudding, which may be the reason why so many people find it irresistible. These include sweetened condensed milk, cream cheese, vanilla pudding mix, and whole milk. Edley's folds freshly sliced bananas, Nilla Wafers, and whipped cream into the pudding mix, then the whole thing is topped with more whipped cream and wafers. It's a thick, creamy dessert diners can't get enough of. As one Google reviewer proclaimed, "I could legit eat a gallon of their banana pudding." Another diner left a Google review that said, "Talk about some tongue-coating fantasticness. The texture of it when it hits the mouth, yum!"

The Buttercup Bake Shop In New York City, NY

Banana pudding at The Buttercup Bake Shop
Banana pudding at The Buttercup Bake Shop - Buttercup Bake Shop / Facebook

Magnolia may get a huge amount of hype for being the top spot to go in New York City for banana pudding, but Buttercup Bake Shop does an equally impressive job with the dessert. That may be because owner Jennifer Appel was one of the original owners of Magnolia. She left in 1999 and went on to open Buttercup. Her version of the dessert is a bit more classic with creamy vanilla pudding sandwiched between layers of whole Nilla Wafers and sliced bananas.

Like Magnolia, Buttercup Bake Shop has legions of loyal fans who come just for the banana pudding. One patron said on Yelp, "Listen y'all ... I am from the South so I know good banana pudding! This place has legit the best banana pudding I've ever had. So rich and creamy! ... I get it every single time I am in NYC." Thanks to the popularity of Buttercup's banana pudding and other sweet treats like cupcakes and pies, the bakery has expanded to four locations in New York. There is also talk of the chain going global.

Dreamland Bar-B-Q In Multiple Locations

Banana pudding at Dreamland Bar-B-Q
Banana pudding at Dreamland Bar-B-Q - dreamlandbbq / Instagram

When the votes came in for the 2024 South's Best Awards, Southern Living announced that Dreamland Bar-B-Q had taken the top spot for best banana pudding in the South. The chain began in 1958 as a small barbecue restaurant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and soon grew famous for its barbecue ribs served with a tangy sauce. There are now Dreamland restaurants all over the South serving smoked meats and sides like mac n' cheese and fried okra. The banana pudding is one of just two desserts on the menu, and it's one of the chain's top sellers.

Dreamland Bar-B-Q serves a classic version of banana pudding with one slight difference — the chain uses Bud's Best Vanilla Wafers instead of Nilla Wafers. As far as we can tell, Dreamland has never released its secret recipe for the dessert. However, numerous food bloggers have created copycat recipes suggesting the use of condensed milk, heavy cream, and vanilla pudding mix. Customers love the restaurant version, saying it tastes homemade just like grandma would make it. One smitten fan left a Google review that said, "Their banana pudding was just amazing. I still think about that pudding months later, never had anything like it before."

Ben's Chili Bowl In Washington, DC

Banana pudding at Ben's Chili Bowl
Banana pudding at Ben's Chili Bowl - benseverything / Instagram

Ben's Chili Bowl has been a fixture on DC's U Street since 1958, and an integral part of the community. From the beginning, owners Ben and Virginia have supported social movements, donating food to causes like the Poor People's Campaign and the March on Washington. The restaurant has also hosted luminaries like Ella Fitzgerald, Martin Luther King Jr., and Barack Obama. To this day, people from all walks of life love Ben's for its famous chili, half-smoke sausages, and comforting desserts like banana pudding.

Virginia Ali's homemade banana pudding is a luscious mix of fresh bananas, vanilla pudding, cream, Nilla Wafers, and Biscoff cookies. It's best eaten in-house, but the restaurant will also ship it nationwide. The dessert is the perfect cooling treat after a spicy chili dog or chili burger. It's a bit pricier than some other spots at $10.99, but most diners say it's well worth the price. Most diners praise it, calling it "scrumptious," "amazing," and "the real deal." One Yelp reviewer called it "So good it will knock your socks off."

Fox Bros Bar-B-Q In Atlanta, GA

Banana pudding at Fox Bros Bar-B-Q
Banana pudding at Fox Bros Bar-B-Q - foxbrosbarbq / Instagram

Fox Bros Bar-B-Q offers a taste of Texas in Atlanta. When twin brothers Jonathon and Justin Fox moved from Fort Worth to Georgia's capital over two decades ago, they weren't overly impressed with the barbecue scene. After testing out their Texas-style 'cue at numerous backyard barbecues, they opened their first restaurant in 2007. It's now one of the most popular spots in Atlanta to get pulled pork, smoked chicken, and brisket. Diners also say the banana pudding is to die for.

Freshness is the key to the banana pudding at Fox Bros Bar-B-Q. The dessert is made in-house every day with fresh bananas, homemade vanilla pudding, and Nilla Wafers. It's a classic dish that many say is about as Southern as you can get. A fan on Instagram commented, "I have been making banana pudding from scratch since I was 12. This is by far the best cold banana pudding I have tasted. So authentic in flavor!" Another supporter on Reddit said, "I dream about Fox Bros banana pudding. I almost had it for a dessert at my wedding party instead of cake. It's sooooo good!"


Banana pudding in a jar
Banana pudding in a jar - Enez Selvi/Shutterstock

To uncover which spots in America serve the absolute best banana pudding, we took to the internet to see what diners, food reviewers, and bloggers were saying. We took into consideration the freshness of the ingredients, whether the dessert was made in-house, and how well it was executed. We realize that everyone's tastes are different, so we considered both traditional versions and unique recipes that put an innovative spin on the dish. At the end of the day, it really came down to whether customers loved the banana pudding. Based on reviews from Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor, as well as recommendations on platforms like Reddit, these are the banana puddings that are rated the highest by dessert lovers.

Read the original article on Mashed