Soft, slightly chewy banana bars with cream cheese frosting! The bars are seasoned with ripe banana, cinnamon and brown sugar! They are easy to bake, frost and slice in a 9x 13 inch baking dish!

sliced banana bars with cream cheese frosting on board.

These easy banana bars are slightly chewier and more dense than banana bread. Try these bars as a fun, new way to use those ripe bananas! They bake in just 25 minutes compared to the 60 minutes for old fashioned banana bread.

When developing this recipe, I started with my chewy blondie recipe rather than my favorite banana bread with crumb topping recipe. This was to give us the chewiest base possible! Adding banana to any baked goods will make them more cakey but my goal was to balance to perfect banana flavor with as chewy a bar as possible. Otherwise you could just pour vegan banana bread or banana bread muffin batter into a 9×13 dish and bake it. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Why These are the Best Banana Bars

  • All the flavors of banana bread in a fraction of the time. Mix this easy recipe in one bowl, then bake it in a 9×13 inch baking pan. It bakes in about a third of the time as typical banana bread.
  • A professional recipe for a slightly chewy banana bar. Unlike other recipes out there, which are just banana bread baked into bars, I started with my blondie recipe. Using an egg yolk rather than a whole egg helps balance out the added moisture from the bananas!
  • Moist, soft and flavorful. The brown sugar adds moisture and flavor to these super moist, tender bars. They are generously flavored with cinnamon and the perfect amount of banana.

Professional Tips for Making Banana Bars

  • Use melted butter that is still warm but not hot. I have found that warm, melted butter produces bars (and one bowl brownies) with the best texture.
  • Be careful not to over-bake. I bake these bars exactly 25 minutes. The very center of the bars still looks a little glossy but underneath it is fully baked. This keeps them moist for 4 days at room temperature without frosting.
  • The cream cheese frosting is optional. I’m not ashamed to admit that my 3 person family devoured almost a full batch of these bars without the frosting! It is totally optional. Not only was it faster but just a little less decadent.
banana bars slice on white plate with fork.

Ingredients & Possible Substitutions

banana bars with cream cheese frosting ingredients.

For the Banana Bars:

  • All-Purpose flour: I use all-purpose flour for this recipe like I do in my fudgy brownie recipe, but you could use cake flour. The resulting texture will be light and more like cake.
  • Baking Powder: Baking powder provides a more even rise in this recipe than baking soda.
  • Kosher Salt
  • Ground Cinnamon
  • Large Eggs: I use a combination of one egg and one egg yolk for a balance between chewy and cakey, but you could use 2 egg yolks instead.
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Ripe Banana: One cup of mashed banana is about 3 medium-small bananas. Use bananas that are anywhere between spotted to completely brown. I prefer the flavor somewhere in between.
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Dark Brown Sugar: You could use light brown sugar instead but the extra molasses and richness in the dark brown does make a difference in these bars like it does in butterscotch brownies.
  • Unsalted Butter: The butter is melted so you could substitute coconut oil if you would like. This substitution will also make the banana bars dairy free because there is no sour cream or buttermilk like other recipes.

For the optional frosting:

  • Cream Cheese: I find the brick-style full fat cream cheese to be best in frostings like my cream cheese frosting recipe. Low fat or whipped become too loose.
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Lemon Juice
  • Vanilla Extract

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

Possible Variations

  • Add a Nutella or peanut butter swirl: Add some dollops of softened Nutella or your favorite nut butter then swirl like I did in this Nutella banana bread recipe.
  • Bake the cream cheese in the bars instead! Why not just get all that flavor in one step. Mix the cream cheese with an egg and ¼ cup powdered sugar then swirl into the batter. It might bake just a little longer. You want to ensure the cream cheese swirl is set.  
  • Use a different frosting. Try spreading them with this cream cheese frosting for cookies, loosened slightly with cream or milk, or use a rich chocolate buttercream frosting! You can also use browned butter in the cream cheese frosting recipe below or in my cream cheese frosting recipe!
  • Mix in some chopped nuts, chocolate chips and more! These bars would be nice with chopped walnuts, pecans or macadamia nuts, or make them more decadent with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, or butterscotch chips like I did in these chocolate chip banana muffins or whole wheat chocolate chip banana bread.

How to Make Moist Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Use these instructions to make soft banana bars with cream cheese icing! Further details and measurements can be found in the recipe card below.

Bake the Bars:

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 325°F (no fan). Line a 9 x 13-inch pan with a piece of parchment paper overlapping up two sides.

Step 2: In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon). Set aside.

Step 3: In another large bowl, whisk the egg and yolk until no streaks of whites remain. Add the bananas to the eggs and whisk to combine.

Step 4: To the banana mixture add the sugar and vanilla. Whisk until smooth then pour in the butter. Whisk until combined. Once you add the butter, the mixture will thicken slightly.

dry ingredients in bowl.
whisked wet ingredients.

Step 5: Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and stir just to combine. Just like with cake and cookies, you don’t want to over-mix the batter at this stage.

Step 6: Pour the banana batter into the prepared baking dish, spread out with an offset spatula and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. The top will begin to brown. The very center of the bars will still appear a little glossy and a toothpick will come out with a few clinging crumbs.

banana bars batter in white bowl.
baked banana bars.

You can continue baking for an additional 3-5 minutes but the resulting bars will be less chewy.

Step 7: Cool completely and prepare frosting while the cake cools.

Prepare frosting & frost the bars:

Step 1: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer, beat together softened butter and cream cheese until smooth. It is important that both are softened or the resulting buttercream will be lumpy.

Step 2: Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. If your confectioner’s sugar is unusually lumpy, sift it into the cream cheese mixture. Add the vanilla extract and lemon juice and beat to combine.

Step 3: Dollop the frosting on the cooled cake and then spread with an offset spatula. You can make it perfectly smooth or swirl it decoratively.

cream cheese frosting for bars.
cream cheese frosting swirled on top of banana bars.

Step 4: Slice into bars and serve.

sliced banana bars with cream cheese frosting.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to store banana bars with cream cheese frosting?

Once frosted, store in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can wrap well and store at room temperature, unfrosted, for up to 5 days. I found it tasted best for 3 days.

Can you freeze banana bars?

Freeze the unfrosted banana bars in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap for up to a month. I find the delicate flavors absorbs the “freezer taste” faster than other baked goods. I do not recommend freezing the frosting. Cream cheese doesn’t thaw nicely.

How to serve banana bars?

They are delicious on their own but my family loved them served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! I also recommend a drizzle of salted caramel sauce.

sliced banana bars with cream cheese frosting on white plate.

If you enjoyed this recipe, please leave a star rating and let me know how it goes in the comments below! I love hearing from you and your comments make my day!

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Partially eaten vanilla pudding in a cup.

vanilla pudding

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star No reviews
  • Author: Lindsey Farr
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cooling: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Cook
  • Cuisine: British

Description

This Vanilla Pudding is a rich, silky custard with full vanilla flavor. Make pastry chef-level pudding in under 30 minutes with this straightforward recipe and pantry ingredients! It is all made in one pot without any tempering needed!


Ingredients

Scale

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and kosher salt. 
  • Whisk in the eggs until smooth and homogeneous. There should be no streaks of eggs and no lumps of cornstarch. Once the mixture is fully incorporated, add the milk, vanilla seeds, and scraped pod, and whisk. 
  • Before turning the heat on, measure your butter and vanilla extract. Stirred custards wait for no one. 
  • Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until bubbly and thickened. Once the pudding has started to bubble, you will need to whisk for at least 1 minute to thicken it and cook away the cornstarch flavor. Improperly cooked cornstarch also has an unpleasant mouthfeel. 
  • Remove the pot from the burner and stir in the butter and vanilla extract. Whisk until there are no streaks of butter. We add the vanilla extract at the end because cooking vanilla extract will actually dilute the flavor. 
  • Pour the pudding into a bowl, plastic-lined sheet tray, or individual cups. Cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin. Then, poke a few holes to allow the steam to escape. Refrigerate until set. 
  • For the pudding pictured in the photos I cooled the pudding on a sheet tray as pictured above, whisked it once cool and then spooned it into the cups. You can also use a piping bag to keep the sides perfectly clean. Okay, you caught me. That’s totally what I did!

Notes

Presentation – Serve with some crushed-up chocolate chip cookies for a fun take on cookies and milk. 

Flavor Tips—Use good-quality vanilla extract. Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract has the best flavor, in my opinion. 

Storage—If you have pastry bags, you can store your pudding in them. That way, you can pipe your pudding into any dish you desire.

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
slice of banana bars with cream cheese frosting on white plate.

banana bars with cream cheese frosting

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star No reviews
  • Author: Lindsey Farr
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 25
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 20 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Soft, slightly chewy banana bars with cream cheese frosting! The bars are seasoned with ripe banana, cinnamon and brown sugar! They are easy to bake, frost and slice in a 9x 13 inch baking dish!


Ingredients

Units Scale

For the banana bars:

  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (280g)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup ripe banana, mashed (250g or about 3 medium-small bananas)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (115g)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted

For the frosting:

  • 5 ounces cream cheese, brick style, full fat, softened (150g)
  • 4 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened (62g)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (55g)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F (no fan). Line a 9 x 13-inch pan with a piece of parchment paper overlapping up two sides.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon). Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and yolk until no streaks of whites remain. Add the bananas to the eggs and whisk to combine.
  • To the banana mixture add the sugar and vanilla. Whisk until smooth then pour in the butter. Whisk until combined. Once you add the butter, the mixture will thicken slightly.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and stir just to combine. Just like with cake and cookies, you don’t want to over-mix the batter at this stage.
  • Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. The top will begin to brown. The very center of the bars will still appear a little glossy. You can continue baking for an additional 3-5 minutes but the resulting bars will be less chewy. ? In both of my tests I pulled it at exactly 25 minutes.
  • They don’t even need frosting. We ate amost an entire pan just on their own, but tis not the keyword.
  • Cool and then prepare frosting as directed.
  • Prepare the frosting while the cake cools.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl, beat together softened butter and cream cheese until smooth. It is important that both are softened or the resulting buttercream will be lumpy.
  • Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. If your confectioner’s sugar is unusually lumpy, sift it into the cream cheese mixture.
  • Add the vanilla extract and lemon juice and beat to combine.
  • Dollop the frosting on the cooled cake and then spread with an offset spatula. You can make it perfectly smooth or swirl it decoratively. Slice into bars and serve.

 


Notes

Yield – 9 x 13 inch baking pan; 15 bars

Presentation – Spread the cream cheese frosting over the bars and swirl or spread smooth. You could also top them simply with powdered sugar.

Flavor Tips – Use bananas that are anywhere between spotted to completely brown. I prefer the flavor somewhere in between.

Storage – Once frosted, store in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can wrap well and store at room temperature, unfrosted, for up to 5 days. I found it tasted best for 3 days.

Before You Go

I hope you enjoyed this professional chef tested dessert. Check out our other brownies and bars recipes or use up the rest of those bananas with this decadent chocolate banana bread, chocolate chip banana muffins or banana pudding!