Bananas Foster

published May 13, 2022
Bananas Foster Recipe

This classic dessert is as much fun to prepare as it is to eat.

Serves2

Prep5 minutes

Cook10 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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a plate with grilled bananas and vanilla ice cream (bananas foster)
Credit: Maria Do

Bananas foster — caramelized brown sugar bananas served with vanilla ice cream­ — is a classic New Orleans dessert bursting in banana flavor and literal flambé flames. Invented by the famous Brennan’s restaurant group, this dessert is a showstopper and has earned its spot on the list of best New Orleans desserts. As a NOLA girl myself, bananas foster is my quick and simple go-to dessert to make when I’m missing home. 

This recipe stays very close to the original at Brennan’s with a few minor tweaks. To amplify the flavor and texture, this recipe incorporates a little kosher salt to balance out the sweetness and optional pecans for a nutty crunch.

What Is Bananas Foster Made Of?

  • Bananas 
  • Brown sugar
  • Butter
  • Rum
  • Banana liqueur
  • Cinnamon
  • Served with vanilla ice cream

For the perfect texture, the bananas in bananas foster should be underripe (meaning they should have some green on the peel) so they can hold their shape after a simmer and flambé. If you’re concerned about setting your kitchen on fire, don’t fear. The flames are the tame blue kind that go out and extinguish themselves. It’s so quick and simple, in fact, that when you order this dish at a Brennan’s restaurant, they roll out a cart and flambé it in front of you.

Banana liqueur can be found at most specialty liqueur stores — it adds extra banana flavor, which is needed because the recipe requires underripe bananas that are less fragrant than ripe ones. Leftover banana liqueur can be used in banana bread and various tropical cocktails or split into small bottles as gifts. If you’d prefer to save a trip or skip it altogether, banana liqueur can be replaced with vanilla extract and rum.

Credit: Maria Do

What’s the Origin of Bananas Foster?

Bananas foster was invented in the 1950s at the classic New Orleans restaurant Brennan’s. At the time, the New Orleans port was the major point of entry for bananas shipped from Central and South America. So Brennan’s chef Paul Blangé created bananas Foster to celebrate the imported fruit. Today, bananas Foster is world-famous and is the most requested dish at Brennan’s.

What’s the Difference Between Bananas Foster and Bananas Flambé?

Bananas foster is a dessert dish, while flambé is a method of cooking where alcohol is added to food and ignited. Since bananas Foster incorporates the flambé method, it is often referred to as “bananas Foster flambé.”

Does Alcohol Burn Off in Bananas Foster?

Some of the rum and banana liqueur will burn off, but not all. A majority of the alcohol content will remain in the dish because it only simmers for a short period.

Bananas Foster Recipe

This classic dessert is as much fun to prepare as it is to eat.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes

Serves 2

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2

    underripe bananas (still some green on the peels)

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup

    packed light or dark brown sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons

    banana liqueur (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract mixed with 1 tablespoon dark rum)

  • 3 tablespoons

    dark rum (90 to 100 proof)

  • 2 to 4 scoops

    vanilla ice cream

  • 1/4 cup

    chopped pecans (optional)

Instructions

  1. Peel 2 green bananas. Cut the bananas in half crosswise, then halve each piece lengthwise to create 8 long banana slices.

  2. Place an 8- to 10-inch skillet over low heat. Add 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts and combines evenly with the brown sugar, 3 to 4 minutes. The mixture will look broken in the beginning but will become smoother as the sugar melts.

  3. Add the bananas and 2 tablespoons banana liqueur. Stir gently to coat the bananas in sauce, then simmer, stirring occasionally, until the bananas start to slightly soften around the edges, about 1 minute. Meanwhile, measure out 3 tablespoons dark rum (do not pour the rum directly from the bottle into the skillet).

  4. Place a long lighter and a lid for the skillet next to the stove. Drizzle the rum over the bananas and do not stir. Immediately ignite the rum with the lighter to flambé. Swirl the skillet to incorporate the rum and coat the bananas. If the flames don’t subside on their own, cover to put the flame out and turn off the heat.

  5. Transfer the bananas and sauce with a large spoon to 2 bowls. Top with 2 to 4 scoops vanilla ice cream and 1/4 cup chopped pecans if desired. Serve immediately.