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Banana Bars with Browned Butter Icing

Take a break from your usual banana bread and bake these Banana Bars with Browned Butter Icing. You’ll love the moist banana cake paired with the rich, nutty flavor of brown butter!

Banana bar topped with sliced bananas

Moist Banana Bread Bars

We are all guilty of throwing out food. Those leftovers you thought you’d eat. That mystery container well past its due date. But, I have a hard time throwing out bananas. Overripe bananas can be the beginning of far too many good things to let them go to waste.

This weekend, I found myself with several super-ripe bananas and took to the internet to find something a little different to do with them. That’s when I found these Banana Bars with Browned Butter Icing.

The bars themselves are essentially banana bread in flavor and texture. In this case, though, the batter is poured into a sheet pan and baked into thin bars.

I suppose you could stop there if you want. It’s banana bread, after all. We love banana bread, right?

But, with a few more minutes of effort, you can make these something truly special by browning some butter, mixing in some sugar and such, and making a super-extra-good icing to top off your banana bars. The icing is more than a bit on the sweet side, but it is a great complement to the banana bars.

Overhead view of ingredients for banana bars with browned butter icing

What You’ll Need

Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

For the bars:

  • All-purpose flour – Learn more: How to Measure Flour
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter – Learn more: Unsalted or Salted Butter: Which is Better for Baking?
  • Granulated sugar
  • Light brown sugar – Stick with light brown sugar for this recipe. The flavor of dark brown sugar is a little too much.
  • Eggs – Let these come to room temperature.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Sour cream – If you’d like, you can use plain Greek yogurt.
  • Mashed ripe bananas – You’ll need about 3 to 4 bananas.
  • Chopped toasted pecans – If you’re not a fan of nuts in baked goods, you can omit these.

For the icing:

  • Unsalted butter
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Milk – Use as much as you need to make the icing spreadable.
  • Vanilla extract

How Do You Toast Pecans?

You can either toast the pecans on a sheet pan in a 350ºF oven for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring halfway through the cooking time, or in a skillet on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring constantly. The oven method is more hands-off, but the skillet method lets you keep a closer eye on the pecans so they don’t burn.

Banana bar with browned butter icing on plate

How to Make Banana Bars with Browned Butter Icing

Grab your over-ripe bananas—it’s time to start baking! Here’s what you’ll need to do to make these banana bars. 

To make the banana bars:

Prepare. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 10″x 15″ sheet pan (jelly roll pan), then dust it with flour.

Mix the dry ingredients. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. 

Mix the wet ingredients. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to cream the butter and sugars until they’re light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla, mixing well, followed by the sour cream and bananas.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Slowly add the flour mixture to the bowl with the wet ingredients, mixing just until combined. Fold in the pecans.

Overhead view of banana bar batter in pan

Bake. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it into an even layer. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the banana bars are golden brown. 

Overhead view of unfrosted banana bars in pan

Cool. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool slightly while you prepare the icing. (Learn more: Why Every Baker Needs Wire Cooling Racks)

To make the icing:

Overhead view of browned butter in pan

Brown the butter. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the butter foams and brown specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan.

Finish the icing. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and about 1 tablespoon of milk. Add the remaining sugar and milk in 2 to 3 additional portions, working quickly.

Ice the bars. Spread the warm icing evenly over the warm bars. Let the bars and icing cool, then cut into squares and serve.

Banana bars on cooling rack

Tips for Success

These banana bars are simple, but a few hints and tips will help you make sure they turn out perfect.

  • Use room temperature ingredients. Letting the butter, eggs, and sour cream sit at room temperature to warm up a bit will help you make sure your banana bars have a nice, light texture.
  • Measure the bananas. Although you’ll need 3 or 4 bananas here, don’t just rely on that count—you need to measure the mashed banana to make sure you’re using the correct amount. This can make or break a banana bread (or banana bar, in this case) recipe!
  • Work quickly to ice the bars. Before you start making the icing, have all the ingredients ready to go so you can work quickly to mix the icing. Sifting the confectioners’ sugar would be ideal for a smooth texture, but it’s not necessarily required.
Overhead view of banana bar topped with sliced banana

How to Store

Because of the butter in the icing, these banana bars are best stored in the refrigerator, where they’ll keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Let them sit at room temperature for a few minutes before serving.

Can This Recipe Be Frozen?

You can freeze these banana bars in an airtight container for up to 3 months. To keep the icing intact, you can freeze the bars on a sheet pan until the icing is solid, then wrap them or stack them in an airtight container or freezer bag with parchment paper between the layers.

Banana bar topped with sliced bananas on plate
Find more banana recipes in the Recipe Index.

More Banana Bar Recipes

Banana Bars with Browned Butter Icing

Yield 35 2-inch squares
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

These Banana Bars with Browned Butter Icing are like dressed up banana bread!

Banana bar topped with sliced bananas

Ingredients

For the bars:

  • 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (226g) sour cream
  • 1 & 3/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (3-4 bananas)
  • 3/4 cup (148g) chopped pecans, toasted

For the icing:

  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter
  • 4 cups (440g) confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk*
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

To make the bars:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 10"x 15" sheet pan (jelly roll pan) and dust with flour.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, mixing well. Mix in the sour cream and bananas.
  4. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until combined. Stir in the pecans.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
  6. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool slightly while you prepare the icing.

To make the icing:

  1. Place the butter in a medium saucepan. Melt the butter over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter foams and brown specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan.
  2. Remove from heat. Add about 1 cup of confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and about 1 tablespoon of milk. Stir into the butter. Add the remaining sugar and milk in 2-3 more portions, working quickly to mix well.
  3. Quickly spread the icing evenly over the warm bars. Allow the bars and icing to cool before cutting into bars.

Notes

*The amount of milk you'll need may vary. Use as much as you need to make the icing spreadable. It shouldn't be as thick as frosting, but thicker than a glaze. 

Recipe adapted from several sources, including Life’s Simple Measures and The Girl Who Ate Everything.

These banana bars are best stored in the refrigerator, where they’ll keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Let them sit at room temperature for a few minutes before serving.

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    24 Comments on “Banana Bars with Browned Butter Icing”

  1. What a great way to change it up a bit when using up ripe bananas. Love it!

  2. Oh, yum! I wish I had some of that now. I’d eat it for breakfast!

  3. Yum, these look so good! It’s been WAY too long since I’ve baked anything with bananas…my boyfriend keeps eating them up too fast! 🙂 I will have to snag some to try this! 🙂

  4. Ooooh mama I want these. Off to buy bananas to overripen!

  5. These look wonderful! Great idea- I NEVER throw out bananas either.

  6. Wow, I should definitely try this out.
    Though I’m kind of cautious with baking soda, since I don’t like the taste it might give.. is it possible to replace it with baking powder?

  7. I’ve been craving something that sounds just like this! Great idea too. It really changes it up a little and I needed that, since I have trouble throwing away bananas too.:)

  8. Kate, you shouldn’t taste any baking soda. You need baking soda instead of baking powder because of the acidity of the sour cream.

  9. Oh. My. Word. I can not even begin to tell you how excited I am that you used a recipe from my blog [and others, of course]!! I think I’ve commented several times before telling you that you are my baking blog idol, bar none. When I first started blogging your blog was one of the first I stumbled upon and I fell in love from the first click. My first recipe was actually a recipe from your blog!

    Anyways, I hope these bars stood up to your standards. I personally love these and that brown butter icing is so yummy! Hope you enjoyed!! 🙂

  10. Perfect for weekend coffee! Thanks!

  11. These are *bananas* delicious! Very moist, and the toasted pecans add a lovely texture and flavor. Love love love the brown butter (anything, really) icing! Thank you for sharing!

  12. I want to make these just for the edge pieces!

  13. these bars look delicious! I love how quickly they cook!

  14. Banana bread is my weakness, and these bars look fantastic- but the browned butter icing! #swoon.

  15. Made these and when I brought them to work to share a nurse on my unit (I am a doc) was unequivocal: the frosting is “sinful”.

    Amazing recipe…easy and baked up moist and so very flavorful..my three boys love me a little more this week!

    Just discovered this site and am delighted; my husband cooks all our meals and is a gourmand of sorts so I am relegated to the baking and never without mouths to feed am thrilled to try more like these to prove my merit in the kitchen next to hubby’s superstar cookery!

  16. Made these today…5 stars…great!

  17. I am always looking for something new to do with 3-4 bananas! Thanks for the recipe.

  18. I don’t have a pan that size.  Can you suggest any alternative size? Thanks.

    • You can try a 9″x 13″ pan instead of a jelly roll pan. The bars will be thicker, so they will likely need more baking time. You’ll also get a little more frosting per bar if you don’t scale the icing recipe.

  19. Can I freeze the banana bars without the brown butter icing.And eat some at later date. How long can they be frozen for. Thank you! 

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