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Banana Bars with Brown Butter Frosting

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This is the best Banana Bars Recipe. Soft, moist banana cake with a drool worthy brown butter frosting. This is the best way to use brown bananas and ideal for breakfast, desserts, and gatherings!

This recipe is best with overripe bananas. Bananas not quite ready? Try my Classic Banana Cream Pie instead!

banana bar on a white plate with a bite sitting to the side on a fork

RECIPE FEATURES

  • Quick and Easy: No mixer required and ready for the oven in minutes!
  • Crowd Favorite: I bake these on a sheet pan and it makes enough for a crowd, which is ideal for parties, potlucks, and holidays.
  • Family Favorite: I buy bananas just so I can make this dessert recipe.

THIS recipe. You guys, I cannot even begin to tell you how in love with it I am. It came to me from a friend and I have made it DOZENS of times. The banana cake itself is addicting, think banana bread but in cake form, but the real star of the show is the thin layer of brown butter frosting.

When you brown butter it releases a nutty sort of caramel flavor. I had never tried it before in a frosting, and boy-oh-boy am I addicted now. It is delicious and one of the top requested recipes for me to bring to family functions!

In short, this is a MUST MAKE RECIPE.

spatula removing bar from a sheet pan

INGREDIENTS FOR FROSTED BANANA BARS

Bonus for these banana bread bars? The ingredient list is fairly basic. Most items are pantry staples, which means you might already have all you need to get started!

  • Sugar: Granulated, or white sugar, is perfect for adding just a touch of sweetness. Depending on how ripe your bananas are, you can even reduce this slightly if you would like.
  • Butter: I always opt for salted butter in my baked goods. Salted butter has a longer shelf-life and is what we typically have on hand.
  • Sour Cream: This is key to adding a slight tang to the cake that really sneds the flavor over the top. Plain Greek yogurt can be used in place of the sour cream in a pinch.
  • Eggs: Large eggs, at room temperature to help with easy mixing.
  • Vanilla: Try to stick with pure vanilla extract. While a little more expensive than imitation, it will leave your cake with a nice flavor without the chemical aftertaste you get with imitation.
  • Bananas: Overly ripe bananas will be sweeter and give you a more full banana flavor.
  • Flour: All-purpose, or regular white flour, is ideal for this cake.
  • Salt and Baking Soda: Always double check the expiration date of your leavening agents. If you have had your baking soda open for a while, it might be a good idea to swap it for a new box.
  • Powdered Sugar: Just enough to give your frosting a slightly thicker texture.
top down photo of a bar topped with fresh sliced bananas with a bite on a fork to the side

HOW TO MAKE BANANA BARS

The secret to the moist cake was sour cream! Can you believe that? While sour cream is ideal, we have also substituted with Greek yogurt with great success! You really can’t go wrong either way.

But let’s dig into the nitty gritty: The Frosting.

BROWN BUTTER FROSTING

Make this frosting. Even if you don’t make the bars. My niece scraped it all off of her cake and announced to the room that it was so tasty. That really is saying something when you get the approval of a picky three year old.

  1. Gather your ingredients. You want to use about 1/2 cup of butter, 4 cups of powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract, and 6-ish tablespoons of milk.
  2. Place your butter into a medium sized pot. Heat until it just starts to brown, stirring occasionally. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. Browning the butter gives you that caramel taste that is killer when paired with the banana cake.
  3. Next you want to whisk in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk. I used a metal whisk and stirred until smooth.
  4. Spread onto cake or bars and enjoy!
banana bar on a white plate with a bite sitting to the side on a fork

RECIPE TIPS AND FAQS

What should ripe bananas look like for baking?

Let’s take a quick detour and talk about bananas. Make sure you use SUPER ripe bananas that are about medium in size. This will add not only flavor but sweetness to the cake. IT also makes your house smell divine while you are baking the bars.
This is a personal preference, but I like mine to be heavily spotted, soft, and super fragrant.  This produces a sweet and bold banana flavor that is ideal for breads and cakes.

How to freeze bananas:

Show of hands, who always buys bananas with the intent of making bread and ends up waiting a bit too long? Those mushy fruit eventually get tossed in the garbage instead of turning into dessert, but what if I told you there was a way to save them??
At their peak ripeness, place in a ziplock bag and freeze. You can leave it in the peel OR remove it and slice the bananas. That way you won’t miss out on making bread when to mood strikes and can always have ripe bananas on hand for baking or smoothies!

What is browned butter?

So, what exactly is brown butter and why is it so important? Browning butter is slowly cooking butter over a low heat until a golden brown color, and slightly nutty aroma, is achieved. This gives your treat a wonderful caramel like taste and is 100% worth the single extra step. Fast, easy, and adds a complex flavor that will have people begging for this recipe.

How do you store banana bars?

Keep these bars stored in an airtight container on the counter for the best flavor. You can also keep them stored in the pan they were baked in and covered with plastic wrap.

How long does this recipe last?

This banana cake will last up to 4 days if stored properly.

MORE MUST-TRY BANANA RECIPES

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Banana Bar Recipe

Banana Bar Recipe

Yield: 12 people
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This is the best Banana Bars Recipe. Soft, moist banana cake with a drool worthy brown butter frosting. This is the best way to use brown bananas and ideal for breakfast, desserts, and gatherings!

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1-1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, soft
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 Tablespoons milk

Instructions

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Prep a large jelly roll pan by greasing generously with butter, or lining with parchment, and set aside.
  3. Combine the sugar and butter in a mixing bowl. Whisk 1 minute, or until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the sour cream and stir until combined, roughly 30 seconds. 
  5. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, along with the vanilla extract.
  6. Gently mix in the mashed bananas. 
  7. Whisk in the flour, salt, and baking soda. Stir until fully incorporated.
  8. Spread the batter into your prepared pan and bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For the frosting:

  1. Add the butter to a pot. Cook, mixing occasionally, until the butter turns a light brown color. Remove from the heat. 
  2. Whisk in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk until smooth. Spread onto a cooled cake. 

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pinterest graphic image showing a bar with text overlay reading "brown butter frosting banana bars"

Kelly

Sunday 21st of April 2019

SO GOOD! I needed a quick dessert to take to an Easter party and this popped into my pinterest feed. These bars are delicious! We made them in a large cookie sheet with a lip. Not sure if that is the same as a jelly roll pan? Cut it into 24 bars. Everyone gobbled them up. Will be making them again and again. It has already been requested for our 4th of July party!

kajse

Sunday 21st of April 2019

I would love to try this, but somehow I can't find the bananas in the actual recipe part?

Jesseca

Monday 22nd of April 2019

Well, that's embarrassing! Thanks for catching my mistake. I added the bananas to the recipe.

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