These banana bars with cream cheese frosting are a perfect way to use up those 2 brown bananas on your counter. They're super flavorful, moist banana cake bars topped with smooth, decadent brown butter cream cheese frosting. This is an easy, incredibly delicious dessert recipe that everyone will love!
If you have some overripe bananas laying around, you have to make these delicious banana bars with cream cheese frosting! These banana cake dessert bars are soft and moist, just like banana bread, but baked in a square pan.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- These banana bars are soft and moist! This recipe calls for 2 overripe bananas, which makes them extra moist and super flavorful.
- The batter for the cake bars is made with simple, pantry staple ingredients and only requires one mixing bowl. Everything comes together in under an hour!
- I love cream cheese frosting (have you made my brownies with cream cheese frosting or chocolate cream cheese cupcakes yet?), but this specific cream cheese frosting is brought to the next level by browning the butter! This adds a nutty flavor that complements banana perfectly.
Here are notes about some of the ingredients used. The full list of ingredients, quantities, and instructions are in the recipe card below.
For the bars.
For the frosting.
- Bananas- Use bananas that are very ripe with lots of brown spots or speckles. Brown bananas have the sweetest flavor! Avoid green bananas or stiff yellow ones because they're bitter.
- Neutral oil- Make sure to use a flavorless oil so the banana flavor shines. Vegetable oil or canola oil work well.
- Egg- A large egg binds the ingredients together. Make sure it's room temperature so it's easy to mix in.
- Apple cider vinegar- This ingredient is unexpected, but its acidity helps tenderize the gluten, making the banana bars super soft! You can't taste it at all.
- All purpose flour- This flour is perfect for a hearty yet fluffy texture. Measure it in grams for the most accuracy or use the spoon and level method.
- Sugars- White and brown sugar sweeten the batter and also add moisture and a warm flavor. You can use light or dark brown sugar.
- Leaveners- Baking powder and baking soda react with heat and acid to help the bars rise and get fluffy.
- Ground cinnamon- This adds a lovely warm flavor. You can use ground nutmeg or ginger instead if you're out.
- Unsalted butter- Butter adds stability to the cream cheese frosting. In this recipe, the butter is melted down and the milk solids are toasted. Tips for how to brown butter can be found in the instructions below!
- Cream cheese- Use room temperature full-fat cream cheese that comes in a block. Don't use cream cheese spread or any cream cheese that comes in a tub because it'll make your frosting runny.
- Powdered sugar- Also known as icing sugar or confectioners sugar, this sweetens and thickens the frosting.
Substitutions & Variations
- To make gluten free banana bars, use a good quality 1-to-1 gluten free flour.
- You can use white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar.
- If you want to save some time and skip browning the butter, feel free to frost the bars with small batch cream cheese frosting. You can also try whipped ganache, coffee cream cheese frosting, or amp up the banana flavor with this banana buttercream I used on these banana chocolate cupcakes! The bars are also delicious unfrosted or drizzled with peanut butter or Nutella.
- For extra texture, fold some toasted and chopped pecans, walnuts, pistachios, or almonds into the batter. Chocolate chips or dried fruit would be delicious too!
Helpful Equipment & Tools
Bake the cake bars in an 8X8" or 9X9" square baking pan. I baked mine in a 9X9 pan, so they'll be thicker if you use an 8X8. I recommend metal pans because they heat more evenly than glass or silicone.
Step by Step Instructions
Before you start, preheat a conventional oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a square baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
STEP 1: First, mash the bananas in a large bowl using a fork or potato masher. They can be as smooth or chunky as you want.
STEP 2: Whisk the oil, egg, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar into the mashed bananas until well combined.
STEP 3: Next, fold the flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into the wet ingredients with a rubber spatula or whisk until the dry streaks of flour disappear. Don't overmix.
STEP 4: Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. The bars are done when a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean with a few moist crumbs attached.
STEP 5: Take the pan out of the oven and let the bars cool in it for 5-10 minutes. Then transfer them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely while you make the frosting.
STEP 6: To make the cream cheese frosting, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat stirring constantly. The butter will foam and sizzle. After 5-8 minutes, white milk solids will separate, sink to the bottom, and turn golden brown. Once this happens and the butter smells intensely nutty, take off the heat.
STEP 7: Pour the brown butter into a heatproof bowl to stop the cooking process. Chill the butter in the refrigerator for 60-90 minutes until it reaches a soft, pliable consistency.
STEP 8: Next, cream the softened butter and cream cheese together in a stand mixer on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy.
STEP 9: Gradually mix in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time on low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Then, mix in the vanilla and salt on low and increase the speed until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.
STEP 10: Spread the cream cheese frosting all over your banana bars. Garnish with fresh banana coins, slice, and enjoy!
Expert Baking Tips
- Bring cold dairy ingredients to room temperature. Room temperature ingredients mix together more evenly, creating super soft bars and creamy frosting.
- Measure the flour accurately. Flour is easy to over-measure, so I recommend measuring it in grams with a kitchen scale for the best results. If you don't have one, fluff the flour up in the bag and gently spoon it into your measuring cup without packing it in. Once overflowing, swipe off the excess. This is called the "spoon and level method".
- Check for doneness. Because all ovens are different, use the bake time as a guide and look for signs of doneness. The center should bounce back when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted should come out clean with no wet batter.
- Cool the banana bars before frosting. I know it's tempting to frost the bars while they're still warm, but the cake needs to be completely cool. Otherwise the frosting will melt and slide off!
Storage & Freezing
Store unfrosted banana bars in an airtight container for up to 5 days. If your bars are frosted, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. They can be left out on the counter for 2 hours but need to refrigerated beyond that because of the cream cheese.
If you have leftover cream cheese frosting, store it in a separate airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Give it a good whisk before using to make it smooth and creamy again.
Place unfrosted or frosted bars in a sealed, freezer-safe container and freeze them for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before eating.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can bake these in a 9X5" loaf pan or an 8" round cake pan. Double the recipe (only the bars- not the frosting) to make them in a traditional 10X15" jelly roll pan or 9X13" sheet cake pan.
If your bananas aren't ripe yet, you can easily ripen them in oven in about 20 minutes! Preheat the oven to 300°F and place the unpeeled bananas on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes until banana skins are black. Let cool and scoop the banana pulp out of the peel.
If the bars are dry, you probably over-baked them. If they're dense or gummy, you may have over-measured the flour or over-mixed the batter. Overmixing makes too much gluten develop, creating overly chewy cake bars.
More Brownies & Bars to Try
Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 225 grams overripe bananas 2-3 bananas
- 56 grams neutral oil
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 120 grams all purpose flour
- 50 grams granulated sugar
- 50 grams brown sugar light or dark
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
- 170 grams unsalted butter softened
- 227 grams full fat cream cheese room temperature
- 480 grams powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line your square baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- Mash the bananas in a large bowl with a fork or potato masher as chunky or smooth as desired.225 grams overripe bananas
- Whisk the oil, egg, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar into the banana puree until well combined.56 grams neutral oil, 1 large egg, 2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Fold the flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into the wet ingredients with a rubber spatula until the dry streaks of flour disappear.120 grams all purpose flour, 50 grams granulated sugar, 50 grams brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon salt
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Take the bars out of the oven and let them cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat stirring constantly. The butter will begin to foam and sizzle.170 grams unsalted butter
- After 5-8 minutes, white milk solids will sink to the bottom of the pan and turn golden brown. As soon as the butter is brown with an intense nutty aroma, take off the heat and pour into a heat-proof bowl.
- Place the bowl of brown butter in the refrigerator to solidify to a pliable consistency. This takes about 60-90 minutes.
- Cream the cooled brown butter and softened cream cheese together in a stand mixer on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy.227 grams full fat cream cheese
- Gradually mix in the powdered sugar on low speed until fully combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.480 grams powdered sugar
- Mix in the vanilla extract and salt on low until fully combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip until the frosting is light and fluffy.2 teaspoon vanilla extract, ¼ teaspoon salt
- Spread the frosting on the cooled banana bars, garnish with banana slices and cinnamon, and enjoy!