These Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting are the ultimate sweet treat: a moist banana-bread-type bar covered in rich cream cheese frosting. The recipe makes a big pan so it’s perfect for large gatherings, or to keep for yourself!
I grew up eating these banana bars with cream cheese frosting.
They’re actually one of my brother’s favorite desserts so my mom would make them often.
Little did I know until I went to write this post that they’re actually the same recipe as the Taste of Home frosted banana bars! (My mom got a lot of her recipes from Taste of Home when I was growing up, ha ha).
While it may be the same recipe, I’ll be sharing lots of tips and several substitutions you can make to take these banana bars to the next level.
This recipe works because it’s:
- Perfectly sweet. The flavor of this bars is so good and almost impossible to describe. You’ll have to try one for yourself!
- Great for a crowd. This recipe makes 30 bars (even more if you cut them smaller) so it’s great for parties, potlucks, and get-togethers.
- A good way to use ripe bananas. I hate letting food go to waste, so this is a great way to use up those overripe bananas you have sitting on your counter.
- Easy to customize. Switch up some of the ingredients to make these bars your favorite flavors (see ideas below).
PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees.
IN a large mixing bowl cream together 1/2 cup softened butter and 2 cups of sugar until light and fluffy.
ADD 3 room temperature eggs, 1½ cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 bananas), and 1 teaspoon of vanilla to the sugar mixture and beat well.
COMBINE 2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and a pinch of salt in a small mixing bowl.
ADD the flour mixture to the creamed ingredients and mix until just combined.
POUR the batter into a greased half sheet pan (15x10x1 inch) and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
WHILE the bars are cooking, cream together 1/2 cup softened butter and 8 ounces of softened cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl.
ADD 4 cups of powdered sugar a little at a time until well combined. Mix in 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.
FROST the cooled bars with cream cheese frosting and store any leftover bars in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Recipe Tips and Substitutions
The butter, cream cheese, and eggs should be at room temperature to get the best results. If you need to quickly bring the ingredients to room temp, see my tricks in the FAQ section below.
When you test the cake to make sure it’s cooked all of the way, you should check a few spots in the center. You may hit a piece of banana on your first try, which could incorrectly show the doneness of the bars.
Try these additions from fellow bakers to make this recipe your own:
- Add half a mashed banana to the icing.
- Sprinkle the bars with chopped walnuts or pecans after frosting.
- Add 2 tablespoons of heavy cream to the frosting.
- Add fresh cooked apples, nuts, minced dried apricots, candied ginger, or raisins to the batter.
- Make the recipe in a 9×13 and serve as a cake. It will take 35 minutes to cook.
- Add in 1 cup of sour cream (or Greek yogurt) and reduce the sugar to 1½ cups and the eggs to 2.
- Use only 2 cups of powdered sugar and add 2 tablespoons of chocolate hazelnut spread in the frosting.
- Use 1 cup white sugar and 1 cup brown sugar in the batter.
- Add half a bag of semisweet chocolate chips into the batter.
- Cut the sugar to 1½ cups in the batter.
- Add an extra banana to the batter for extra moist banana goodness!
- Add some cinnamon and nutmeg to the batter or frosting.
- Use 1 teaspoon of banana extract and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract in the frosting.
- Use only 1 cup of sugar and 4 ripe bananas in the batter.
- While still warm, drizzle with a cardamom glaze made of butter, milk, powdered sugar, vanilla, and ground cardamom.
- Dust with a little powdered sugar instead of frosting.
- Add a tablespoon of corn syrup and honey to the frosting.
These bars will freeze well either frosted or unfrosted. However you choose to freeze them, make sure they are covered to avoid freezer burn.
If you need any dairy-free or vegan substitutions for the ingredients, try these:
More Like This
Looking for more delicious desserts? You’ll love these!
- Peach Crisp with Oats
- Cherry Bars
- Raspberry Jello Pretzel Dessert
- Mini Cherry Cheesecake Bites
- Apple Streusel Bars
We all know that you should let butter and cream cheese sit out at room temperature for about an hour before using it in baking recipes. But sometimes you just forget! So here are a few tricks for quickly softening butter and cream cheese.
For cream cheese, I like to put it on my stovetop while the oven is preheating. I have a gas oven so the heat comes through to the stovetop and makes the cream cheese nice and soft by the time I need to use it.
Alternatively, you can put the cream cheese completely unwrapped on a microwave-safe plate and microwave it on high for 10 seconds at a time until you can easily press your finger in the center and it feels warm, not hot.
For butter, you do not want to place it on the stovetop as it will melt and make for a poor candidate for creaming. You’ll want to follow this tutorial and heat 2 cups of water in the microwave. Place the cut butter in a bowl and then place the bowl in the microwave. The heat from the boiling water will soften the butter in about 10 minutes.
Unlike butter and cream cheese, you should not leave eggs on the counter to come to room temperature as this can promote bacteria growth in the eggs.
Instead, you can place the eggs in a bowl and fill it with warm water (like what you would want for a shower) and let them sit for 5-10 minutes. When they’re warm to the touch and no longer cold, they’re ready to use.
You’ll want to defrost the bananas before adding them to the batter. You can do this by leaving them on the counter for a few hours, or you can microwave them in a microwave-safe bowl on low for 3-4 minutes.
To quickly ripen bananas, place unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet in a 250° oven for 15-20 minutes. They’ll be soft and ready to go for these banana bars!
I hope your family loves these banana bars! If you make them, be sure to take a picture and tag me on Instagram with @ashcroftfamilytable and use the hashtag #ashcroftfamilytable!
And if you’d like to get a 4-week meal plan featuring my recipes, just enter your email in the form above and you’ll get it straight to your inbox!
Perfectly Sweet Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups mashed bananas, about 3 ripe bananas
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large mixing bowl cream together 1/2 cup softened butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs, mashed bananas, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla to the sugar mixture and beat well.
- Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small mixing bowl.
- Add the flour mixture to the creamed ingredients and mix until just combined.
- Pour the batter into a greased half sheet pan (15x10x1 inch) and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- While the bars are cooking, cream together 1/2 cup softened butter and softened cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl.
- Add powdered sugar a little at a time until well combined. Mix in 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.
- Frost the cooled bars with cream cheese frosting and store any leftover bars in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.