Bananas foster is an easy and elegant dessert made to impress and entertain! Freshly sliced bananas are coated in a buttery brown sugar caramel sauce, then flambéed—lit on fire on purpose! The trickiest part is igniting the rum. But don’t worry, I’ll show you how step-by-step.
You’ve most likely seen this delicious dessert on restaurant menus—I always order it. It’s a classic American dessert that originated in New Orleans. I always serve mine with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream to deliver on its delightful sweetness and restaurant-quality drama.
The (Simple) Magic of Bananas Foster
Bananas foster may look intimidating, but it’s SO simple! First, make the sauce by caramelizing butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Then, coat freshly sliced bananas in the sauce. Add dark rum and carefully ignite it to burn off the alcohol, leaving behind a noticeable rum flavor. The bananas and sauce are then served with vanilla ice cream for the best contrast of hot and cold. It’s magic!
How to Flambé at Home Like a Pro
Flambé simply means to add a little alcohol, like rum, to food and set it alit very briefly. Sure, it’s mainly for fun and to impress, but it also leaves behind a subtle rum flavor without the alcohol.
If flambéing at home makes you nervous, don’t worry, I have tips! These are not meant to intimidate you, but rather to arm you with the skills to do it safely. Even experts use precautionary measures when flambéing.
- Roll up your sleeves and keep loose clothes and kitchen towels away from the flame.
- Turn off all the other burners on the stove top.
- Turn off the kitchen ventilator or fan. It can suck up the alcohol vapors and make the flame burn higher.
- Turn off the burner first. Then and only then, pour the rum into the pan. This is especially important if you are working with a gas stove. You don’t want the alcohol to catch on fire as you pour it into the pan.
- Use a stick lighter or long matchstick. This will help you keep a safe distance to the pan.
- Never lean too close to the stove when lighting the alcohol as it will ignite immediately.
- Maintain a safe distance between the pan and others in the kitchen. The flambé should always be done at the stove top, not at the table.
- Have a large metal lid or fire extinguisher handy to smother and extinguish the flame if it gets out of control.
Still apprehensive? It’s okay not to flambé! Whisk the rum into the sauce and cook it until the alcohol burns off, before adding the bananas.
Tips for the Best Bananas Foster
- Bananas should be ripe, but not too ripe: I buy bananas when they’re green and wait until they are perfectly yellow or even with a few brown spots. Bananas that are too ripe are soft and won’t maintain their shape and will become mush when cooked.
- Rum: You’ll notice the flavor of rum in the sauce, so I recommend using a high-quality brand like Bumbu Rum Company or Cruzan Rum.
- Play with the flavors: This dessert is versatile and can be made with flavored rum and other warm spices. Aged or spiced rums, extra cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ginger, or cardamom would be delicious.
- Serve it with ice cream: Bananas foster served hot over ice cream makes all the difference—ice cream takes it from great to amazing.
Make it Your Own Bananas Foster
- For an alcohol-free bananas foster use rum extract, grape juice, orange juice, or vanilla extract. This means you can skip the flambé too!
- Instead of rum, use bourbon, brandy, or whisky.
- Dark brown sugar works just as well as light brown sugar.
- Top your bananas foster with chopped walnuts or almonds for more texture.
- Vanilla ice cream is a classic, but you do you and go for chocolate, caramel, or banana flavor.
- This recipe calls for unsalted butter. Use salted butter for an extra salty caramel flavor.
How to Plan Ahead
You can make the bananas and sauce—without the rum—ahead of time. Cool it and refrigerate it tightly covered for up to 3 days. When you’re ready to serve it, heat it up in a pan and flambé.
Bananas for Bananas
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup (150g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 medium ripe bananas
1/3 cup (about 3 ounces) ounces rum
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Melt the butter and sugars:
In a medium skillet set over medium heat, add the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Use a wooden spoon to stir occasionally until the butter is fully melted and the sugars are dissolved, about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the bananas:
Peel the bananas. Slice them in half lengthwise and then into about 2-inch chunks. Don’t cut them too small—they will turn to mush as they cook.
Cook the bananas:
Add the sliced bananas to the skillet and stir gently to coat them in the sugary butter. Cook them for about 2 minutes until they just start to soften.
Flambe the bananas:
Turn the burner off and then pour in the rum. Be careful not to spill any rum on the stovetop.
Use a long stick lighter to ignite the rum in the skillet. Do not stir or swirl the skillet after igniting. You’ll see blue flames that will light, grow, and then diminish in size after 30 to 60 seconds. As the flame works its way around the pan to burn off the alcohol, the caramel will bubble and foam—this is completely normal!
Once the flames burn out, turn the burner back on to medium heat. Cook the mixture for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally, then remove it from the heat.
Serve with ice cream:
Add a scoop of ice cream to a bowl and top it with the bananas. Spoon the sauce over the top and enjoy!
Bananas foster should be served right away. If you have leftovers, refrigerate it in a tightly covered container for 3 to 4 days. Gently reheat it in saucepan on the stovetop until warmed through.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 18g||23%|
|Saturated Fat 11g||56%|
|Total Carbohydrate 52g||19%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||6%|
|Total Sugars 44g|
|Vitamin C 5mg||26%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|