Banana Bars with Browned Butter Frosting

I promised things were going to get awfully yummy after the simple little tutorial on browned butter. And here’s where I fulfill that promise, Part 1.

Banana bars are a funny thing. They are often the last treat I think to make when I need to bring bars to a potluck or event, because, well, brownies. But when I do make them (or rather, when Brian begs me to make them since they are one of his favorite treats in the history of ever), I’m reminded why they are so amazing. That revelation usually comes after I’ve sliced off thin nibbles of the finished bars over and over until before I know it, too large a chunk is gone to blame it on a mishap during baking.

Banana Bars with Browned Butter Frosting

Banana bars are so easy to make, they use up the pesky spotted bananas sitting on your counter, and I’m telling you, they make people really, really happy. Like, give you warm hugs you don’t really want kind of happy. It’s weird. Similar to the banana cream pie phenomenon with many men I know. Because I still have my pride, I’m not even going to go there with a “going bananas” remark but I’m not going to lie, I kind of want to because it seems so appropriate right now. You can thank me later for resisting.

These banana bars skyrocket in deliciousness because the frosting – a creamy, smidgeon of a layer – starts with browned butter. So you get the soft, moist, cakey banana bar topped with a creamy, almost caramelly layer of sweet frosting and each bite will make you so, so happy banana bars are in your life.

Banana Bars with Browned Butter Frosting

My Aunt Marilyn is the genius behind this recipe and since she passed it on to me a month or so ago, I’ve made these bars at least half a dozen times. They are so easy to whip up that it’s almost more work not to make them.

Plus. Browned butter. I’m telling you. It’s the key to success here. And if you want to get all wild and crazy, why don’t you go ahead and brown the butter for the banana bar layer, too. And then let me know and I’ll stop by for a bar or five…and in return, perhaps a hug?

Banana Bars with Browned Butter Frosting

One Year Ago: Thin and Chewy Butterfinger Cookies
Two Years Ago: Pesto and Sausage Baked Ziti
Three Years Ago: Sweet and Spicy Pork Tenderloin

Banana Bars with Browned Butter Frosting

Yield: Makes a 9X13-inch pan of bars

Banana Bars with Browned Butter Frosting

This recipe doubles beautifully for a large, rimmed baking sheet (around 11X17-inches). However, if you want thicker layers (of both the bars and the frosting), when doubled, use a 15X10-inch pan (I don't have one so I always opt for the larger size). Same goes for the regular recipe - if you have an 11X7-inch pan, that will work, too, for slightly thicker layers. I happen to like the thinner layers myself, easier to justify a couple more nibbles.

I prefer the frosting with cream instead of milk because it adds a rich creaminess to the frosting that offsets the sweetness but obviously milk will work too. The frosting sets up a little after the bars cool which is why I could get away with stacking them for the photos but they do better in a single layer especially if it's warm when serving.


    Banana Bars:
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened or even melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 - 1 cup mashed, ripe bananas (about 2 large bananas)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Browned Butter Frosting:
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk or cream (see note above)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch pan (see note above) with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. For the bars, in a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown and granulated sugars, sour cream, egg, and vanilla until well-mixed, 1-2 minutes.
  3. Blend in the bananas and mix.
  4. Stir in the flour, baking soda and salt and mix for just a minute or two until combined.
  5. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top springs back to the touch.
  6. While the bars are baking, make the frosting by melting the butter in a saucepan or stainless steel (not nonstick) skillet over medium heat (here's a quick tutorial on browning butter). Bring the butter to a gentle simmer, turning the heat down if needed, until the solids lightly brown and the butter smells caramelly and fragrant. Immediately remove from the heat and add the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk, whisking until smooth and creamy. Add more milk if needed to achieve a thick but spreadable consistency.
  7. Let the bars cool for 5-10 minutes and then dollop the frosting over the warm bars and spread in an even layer.
  8. Cool the bars to room temperature. Cut into squares and serve. These keep well-covered for 1-2 days at room temp or refrigerated.

Recipe Source: adapted from a recipe my Aunt Marilyn gave me (reduced the sugar, added in a bit of brown sugar instead of all granulated sugar, made a few minor other changes)

42 Responses to Banana Bars with Browned Butter Frosting

  1. ellevee says:

    Those bars look so delicious! I happen to have some spotted bananas on hand and am hoping to add this recipe to my list of things to do today.

  2. ellevee says:

    Brown butter scares me a bit but I may throw caution into the wind and give that a try too since it’s in the title of the recipe and comes so highly recommended from you.

    Glad to see your post which means you must have survived the half marathon? Hope it all went well!

  3. Sheila says:

    Looks and sounds so good! Thought of you all weekend. And now as I go off to work I know you must be exhausted after all the activity of the last 2 weeks.

  4. Liz says:

    Thank you Mel and Aunt Marilyn for the nice recipe. Have a great week!

  5. Jen T says:

    I have a recipe very similar to this that my family loves. It uses the browned butter in the frosting too and is to die for. In fact we just made them yesterday for our Sunday night treats. Yum!!

  6. Laurel says:

    I’ve had these before! Yum! super moist!
    The browned butter totally makes it over the top! Tastes like another banana treat and then “oh wow! What is that!” Amazing!

  7. Lenn says:

    These were fabulous with the browned butter. Son requested them for his birthday cake. Know what else? Snickerdoodles with browned butter are amazing. And I don’t like Snickerdoodles.

  8. Rachel says:

    Well, now I am really regretting using up my old, dark bananas on muffins a few days ago. These bars look amazing! Hope you’re recovering nicely from the race!

  9. Debbie K says:

    These sound amazing! Do you think they would freeze well?

  10. Aileen says:

    These banana bars look so yummy. It’s nice to have another option other than banana bread!

  11. Yes! Why do I always forget about banana bars when my bananas go black?! These look like perfection and that brown butter frosting – OMG!

  12. Lindsey R says:

    Can I count eating one of these as eating a banana as a post running recovery food? Speaking of running I can’t wait to hear how the half marathon went. The suspense!

  13. nosh says:

    I tried your sweet molasses bread . And almost all the rolls and bread recipes. They r the best i must say. Can you pleasecshare some other varieties like sourdough and oatmeal honey etc its just that the recipes you share are so easy yet very professional results .

  14. Sara says:

    Just made these! Thanks for the inspiration. I was looking up your sour cream banana bread recipe to make for an office breakfast tomorrow and these looked too good to pass up. I made a double batch in a 15 x 10 pan. They took about 35 minutes to bake. I doubled the frosting recipe, and it was just enough for a thin layer. Next time, I think I’ll triple the frosting so there is a wee bit more on top. These will be awesome with coffee and tea in the morning!

  15. Heather Burcham says:

    We love banana bars at our house! They get gobbled up quickly. We like to sprinkle chopped pecans on top of the browned butter frosting. Yum!

  16. Heather Burcham says:

    We love banana bars at our house! They are gobbled up super fast, but we have been known to freeze them on occasion. They come out a little sticky when you do this, but still super tasty. We love to sprinkle chopped pecans on the browned butter frosting. Yum!

  17. Reenie says:

    I made these yesterday and they are delicious. It was my first time using brown butter and it was so easy and really does make a difference in the taste. Everyone thanks you especially me!

  18. Linda Turco says:


    These look,delicious, especially the frosting ! I’m just wondering what the difference is between these and your other banana bars that are on your site.

    Thanks !

    • Mel says:

      Good question, Linda – the old banana bars recipe is delicious, too. It’s slightly thicker (the bar layer) and this newer version has a little less oil and sugar.

  19. A Different Sheila says:

    I’m not a baker, so please forgive my ignorance. I really prefer turbinado sugar over white for flavor. Can I use it for the granulated sugar part of the recipe? I can’t wait to try these!

  20. Evans says:

    Looks delicious. Will give it a try.

  21. Heather B. says:

    We had these tonight. Oh my deliciousness!!! I worried I’d over browned the butter for the frosting so I had to taste. And re-taste, and some more to make sure! It almost didn’t make it on the bars! My 6 year old didn’t want frosting until she licked the spoon. She wanted it then! So yummy!!!!

  22. Jodi says:

    I made these the other day, and they were so delicious! That browned butter frosting is amazing, and so simple. I couldn’t believe how fast the whole recipe came together! Thanks so much for this one!

  23. Andrea says:

    Can I just say – WOW!! These are incredibly easy to make and incredibly delicious to eat. We all devoured them. (AND – thank you for pushing me over the edge and finally getting me to try out making brown butter! It’s fabulous!) This is now my go-to use-up-those-old-overripe-bananas recipe. 😀

  24. Michelle says:

    I made these for our company tonight, and I just “sampled” one, to make sure I was offering them good food. 😉 Like there was really any question! These turned out so fabulous! The banana part is soft and banana-y, and the frosting is great, but not too thick!

    My only question is how thick is the frosting supposed to be before putting in on the warm cake. I think I made mine a little too thick. I dolloped it on the cake, then had to wait for it to soften a bit before I could spread it. I wasn’t measuring after the 2 tbsp. of cream, but it seems like it took a bit more than that?

  25. Grace says:

    Made these today, and the only reason I did was the ‘browned butter frosting’. You’ve made me a believer of it! I must say though, the banana cake part can totally hold it’s own. Moist, the banana flavor really comes through, and great texture. Overall, just the right balance of cake and frosting. So delicious! Thank you Mel, for sharing your recipes…..your site has become my go to for cooking and baking! 🙂

  26. Heather says:

    Made these tonight – the bars are delicious! I think the frosting is a little too sweet for me (that actually might be the first time I have ever said that). If I make them again I would make them in a smaller pan so the bars are thicker (I used a 9×13) and would reduce the frosting (and maybe make it more of a glaze). The flavours were great though!

    • Heather says:

      Just wanted to re-comment… I LOVED these after a day or two in the fridge and then brought up to room temp in my hot hot apartment – fudgy texture and soft and amazing flavour!

  27. Brittany watt says:

    I was skeptical but I had all the ingredients and a raging sweet tooth SO I made these. They were fantastic!!! They were so quick and easy and I can’t wait to make them again. The banana makes it healthy, right?

  28. Cheryl says:

    Just made these bars & they are really good! The browned butter frosting is what makes them, very tasty. My husband loved them too, especially the frosting, he said it has a butterscotch flavor.

  29. Nancy says:

    These are officially BANNED at my house! They were so incredibly delicious that I ate almost the entire pan by myself! I just couldn’t stay away from them. I even put them in the garage fridge to keep from seeing them and still couldn’t help but sneak a bite. Several times. All day. From now on, I will plan to make these only when we have company over that can take them home with them.

  30. Aubrey says:

    Success. So fabulous. The frosting is definitely sweet. The recipe gives the perfect amount.

  31. Jennifer says:

    I’m so bummed Mel, this is the first recipe of yours that hasn’t turned out for me! Despite overbaking them 10 minutes the bars are totally raw and underdone. I wonder if it’s my oven. The frosting is delicious, however.

  32. Ketz says:

    What could I use as a substitute for sour cream ?
    Thanks !

  33. Kristin Castleton says:

    Made these for Super Bowl Sunday and they were a huge hit!! My husband was a little irritated that I had not made them before 🙂 since bananas are his favorite! Everyone said they were melt in your mouth delicious! I did the browned butter in both the bars and the frosting.
    Thanks for this yummy recipe…glad I had to share or it might have all been eaten by me!

  34. Mariah says:

    I made these today and they turned out great!

  35. Heather says:

    We make these often. They are so easy and yummy! Love the frosting!!!

  36. Jacob says:

    What a wonderful recipe! Even without the frosting, it is much better than any banana recipe that I have ever made! First time through I tried adding a little salt to bring out the flavor of the frosting, and the second time I didn’t, and found that it wasn’t even necessary! Well done, indeed.

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