How To Make a Classic Banana Split

updated Jul 3, 2021
4th of july
How to Make a Classic Banana Split

The ultimate guide to the an over-the-top ice cream parlor sundae — a classic banana split.

Serves1 to 2

Prep5 minutes

Cook10 seconds

Jump to Recipe
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banana split in a  dish topped with cherries
Credit: Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

If you’re looking for an over-the-top dessert to celebrate summer, look no further than a classic banana split. It’s easy to assemble the old-fashioned ice cream treat at home: All you need is a trio of ice cream flavors, a few fun toppings (sprinkles are a must!), and a ripe banana for the base.

While the classic version starts with scoops of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice creams, once you have the formula down, the possibilities are endless. Here’s how to do it.

Credit: Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

What Is a Banana Split Made Of?

Banana splits consist of three primary components: a ripe banana, three flavors of ice cream, and a bevy of toppings. Here’s what you need to know about each.

  • The banana: Ripe bananas with no brown speckles are best for banana splits. Super-speckled bananas are too soft, since the fruit’s firm texture should contrast the creamy ice cream.
  • The ice cream: For the classic look, opt for a pint each of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice creams. If you’re making sundaes for one, a carton of Neapolitan ice cream works just fine.
  • The toppings: First up is hot fudge, which is a better choice than chocolate sauce because it’s thicker and more indulgent. Whether you make it from scratch or buy it is up to you — just be sure to warm it until it’s pourable, but not hot. Next, add colorful sprinkles and chopped peanuts for crunch, then dollop on whipped cream and top with stemmed maraschino cherries.

These toppings and ice cream flavors are classic, but there’s no reason not to make this sweet treat your own. Spoon salted caramel sauce or simmered summer berries over the ice cream, or swap peanuts for macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts, or almonds. Alternatively, skip the nuts altogether and sprinkle with crushed cookies, toffee bits, or sweet cereal.

Credit: Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

The Best Serving Dish for Banana Splits

Old-fashioned soda fountains served banana splits in oblong glass dishes designed specifically for these sundaes. Their narrow shape cradles the banana, forming a fruity futon for a trio of ice cream scoops.

But instead of investing in dishes that serve a single purpose, I recommend serving the splits in individual au gratin dishes. These dishes have the ideal oval shape and shallow form for banana splits, but can be used year-round for potato sides, vegetable gratins, or baking individual chicken breasts.

More Ways to Enjoy a Banana Split

We’re loving these fun twists on the classic

Credit: Food Styling: Amelia Rampe
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Here's how to make a classic banana split.

How to Make a Classic Banana Split

The ultimate guide to the an over-the-top ice cream parlor sundae — a classic banana split.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 10 seconds

Serves 1 to 2

Nutritional Info


  • 2 tablespoons

    homemade or store-bought hot fudge sauce

  • 1 tablespoon

    roasted, salted peanuts or nuts

  • 1

    medium banana

  • 2 scoops

    vanilla ice cream

  • 2 scoops

    chocolate ice cream

  • 2 scoops

    strawberry ice cream

  • 1 teaspoon


  • 1 cup

    homemade or store-bought whipped cream

  • 3

    maraschino cherries with stems


  • Banana split boat or small oval au gratin baking dish

  • Chef's knife and cutting board

  • Ice cream scoop

  • Spoon

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Small microwave-safe bowl


  1. Prepare the toppings. Microwave 2 tablespoons hot fudge sauce in a small microwave-safe bowl until warm and pourable, about 10 seconds. Coarsely chop 1 tablespoon roasted, salted peanuts or nuts.

  2. Slice the banana. Peel and slice 1 medium banana in half lengthwise. Place in a banana split boat or small oval au gratin baking dish.

  3. Add the ice cream. Place 2 scoops vanilla, 2 scoops chocolate, and 2 scoops strawberry ice cream between the banana halves.

  4. Top the ice cream. Sprinkle the chopped nuts and 1 teaspoon sprinkles over the ice cream. Use a small spoon to drizzle the warm hot fudge over the entire sundae.

  5. Finish with whipped cream and cherries. Dollop 1 cup whipped cream over the ice cream. Top with 3 maraschino cherries.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: Whipped cream can be made a few hours in advance and refrigerated. Rewhip with a whisk just before serving.