Overripe bananas live their best lives yet when you make a big pan of Banana Bars, slathered edge to edge with Cream Cheese Frosting. One of the best banana desserts ever. They’re irresistibly moist and fluffy—just the thing for a mid-afternoon snack.
Family and friends are the best! My Aunt Tammy shared this ripe banana recipe with me, and my grandma is the genius behind No Bake Peanut Butter Bars. Another good friend created a giant cake version of the Ding Dong, which is absolutely worth a try at your next party. Celebrate your kid—or just your inner child—with other fantastic desserts of all kinds at Culinary Hill.
Are you the type of person who has the ideal point of ripeness for your banana, but won’t eat it even if it’s just one minute past its prime? Unless you buy only one perfect banana at a time, that probably means you have a never-ending supply of overripe fruit sliding into the darkness and nowhere to go with it all.
Don’t throw them out. Homemade banana bars to the rescue!
As soon as your bananas hit the point of no return, just peel them, bag them up, and stow them in the freezer. Add those overripe bananas to a smoothie, homemade pancake batter, or this amazing dessert.
No matter what your number on the ripeness scale, you’ll probably go B.A.N.A.N.A.S for this dessert. It’s light, fantastically banana-flavored, and ridiculously easy to bake. And the Cream Cheese Frosting adds even more next-level deliciousness. Fair warning, though: it’s impossible not to sneak sliver after sliver as you walk through the kitchen.
As it’s written, this recipe uses up three whole bananas in your stash. And hopefully, by the time you finish the cake, you’ll have three more ripe bananas ready to go. But that’s okay. Like all good bar recipes, this dessert is made for sharing, so don’t be stingy—spread the love!
Making Banana Bars for all your co-workers? Smart. Just click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
Banana Bars vs. Banana Cake vs. Banana Bread:
With three eggs, this recipe definitely has more of a softer cake texture than the bars you may be used to. It’s old-fashioned and, in my humble opinion, handles the frosting perfectly.
What it’s not is a firm, chewy, crumbly sort of bar. Nor is it a dense and solid like banana bread.
Making different sizes/styles of banana bars:
To maximize the number of bars in this recipe, the batter is spread out in a large 15-inch by 10-inch jelly roll pan.
If you don’t have a large jelly roll pan, you can use two 8-inch by 8-inch pans baked in the oven side-by-side.
That said, if you want to turn this recipe into cupcakes, or you prefer a thicker sheet cake, you can do that, too.
For banana sheet cake, pour the batter into a prepared 13-inch by 9-inch pan. Then bake a little longer (35 minutes or more) until a toothpick inserted into the center comes clean.
For cupcakes, line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners, then line a second pan with 6 liners as this recipe may yield up to 18 cupcakes. Pour/spoon the batter into the liners, until about 2/3 full, avoiding spilling over the sides. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
What you need to make Banana Bars:
- Baking soda. Helps the bars rise.
- Butter. Softened, please.
- Mashed ripe bananas. (Three, to be precise.) If frozen, let them thaw on the counter while you get things ready. If you need a fast hack for ripening bananas STAT, see the tip below.
- Vanilla extract.
- Cinnamon. Or any warming spice (like nutmeg, ginger) might be nice.
- Chopped walnuts or pecans. A couple handfuls of chopped toasted nuts adds lots of texture to the bars. You could also sprinkle the nuts over the frosting layer, if you choose.
- Chopped candied ginger.
- Mini chocolate chips. Chocolate chip banana bars, anyone? I thought so.
What you need for Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Cream cheese. One package per recipe.
- Butter. Softened, please. One stick per recipe.
- Powdered sugar.
- Vanilla extract.
How to make the best Banana Bars:
This recipe walks you through the steps, but if you need exact ingredient amounts, take a look at the recipe card below; it has all the deets.
- Turn the oven on to 350 degrees, then bust out your stand or handheld mixer and a paddle attachment. Next, coat the inside of the baking pan with non-stick cooking spray or a thin layer of butter.
- Then whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda in a medium bowl. (If you’re using cinnamon or another spice, add it here.)
- Next, beat the softened butter and the sugar together using the paddle attachment. Continue until the mixture turns pale and fluffy.
- Then mix in the mashed ripe banana and the vanilla, beating until well incorporated.
- Next, add the eggs one at a time, beating well in-between each one.
- Gradually add the flour/dry ingredients and mix just until the batter is uniformly combined. (Any nuts, candied ginger, chocolate chips go in at this step.
- Then pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. When finished baking, a toothpick inserted into the middle of the batter should come out cleanly, with only a few crumbs on the toothpick.
Then, patience. Before you frost the bars, they must be absolutely cool to the touch.
How to make the cream cheese frosting:
Sweet, rich, and indulgent, this homemade vanilla frosting tastes incredible on almost anything—but especially banana bars.
- Wash out the mixer bowl and rinse off the paddle attachment. You’ll need it again to make the frosting.
- With the mixer, beat the cream cheese and softened butter until smooth. Then add the powdered sugar in small amounts (a sifter or mesh sieve works well for this) and the vanilla, and continue to beat.
Frosting the bars:
After you’ve channeled the patience of a saint and the freshly-baked banana bars are completely, 100% cool, you’re ready to slather on the frosting.
Spread a thick layer over the uncut bars. That’s it!
Making healthy banana bars:
- Lower the sugar. Cut the sugar in the recipe in half and add 1/8 cup of honey. Or, substitute a sugar-free baking product for the granulated sugar in the recipe.
- Make gluten-free banana bars. Switch out the all-purpose flour for your favorite GF baking flour blend.
- Use banana flour. Green banana flour is a gluten-free option that has banana flavor, too! It may result in a denser end product, though, so use 3/4 cup banana flour for every cup of flour in the recipe.
- Raise the fiber. Substitute 1 cup of whole wheat flour and add 1/2 cup of flaxseed meal to the recipe for added nutrition, heart healthy benefits, and dietary fiber.
- Add more bananas. Adding one or two extra bananas ups the flavor, but may effect the overall consistency of the bars. You might have to bake the bars a little longer, too.
Can’t wait? Here’s how to ripen bananas quickly:
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Then line a baking sheet with foil.
- Arrange the number of unpeeled bananas you need on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until banana skins are completely black all over, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Cool. Scoop the banana pulp from the peel, then mash.
Toting, storing, and freezing Banana Bars:
To bring frosted banana bars to a party, keep them in the pan. Stick toothpicks at regular intervals into the frosting, then drape plastic wrap lightly over the toothpicks. This looks funky while you’re on the road, but it prevents the plastic from sticking to the frosting.
When you’ve arrived at the office/party/shower, you can remove the wrap, then the toothpicks and serve ‘em up!
Will you be storing leftover banana bars? Well, this is going to have to be heavily researched, because around here, banana bars just don’t last that long—they’re always eaten.
If you’re going to eat the bars in the next day or two and your house hovers around 70 degrees or cooler, the bars should be fine to sit on the counter, even with cream cheese frosting.
To freeze banana bars, tightly cover unfrosted or frosted bars and freeze them up to 2 months. When ready to eat, let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
For the bars:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter softened (1 stick)
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 medium, see notes)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the frosting:
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup butter softened (1 stick)
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the bars:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 15” x 10” x 1” pan (jelly roll pan) with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In an electric mixer fit with the paddle attachment, or with an electric hand mixer, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add eggs and beat until incorporated. Beat in banana and vanilla until incorporated. Gradually add flour mixture and mix until uniformly combined.
- Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean with a few crumbs attached. Let cool completely, at least 30 minutes.
To make the frosting:
- In a standing mixer fit with the paddle attachment, or with an electric hand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.
- Gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat well. Spread evenly over cooled bars.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.
- Arrange unpeeled bananas on prepared baking sheet. Bake until banana skins are completely black all over, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Cool. Scoop banana pulp from peel and mash.