It’s Carnival season in New Orleans: a period of celebration, indulgence, and debauchery leading up to the big throwdown—Mardi Gras—all in preparation for Lent’s 40 days of penance, fasting, and denial. King cake is the traditional sweet of choice during Carnival, but the classic sugared brioche ring is practically puritan compared to the boozy, flaming bananas Foster, New Orleans‘ other renowned dessert. If you’re looking for a splurge to really repent the day after Mardi Gras, try the liquor-flambéed original or one of these oddball riffs on the classic found around town and beyond.
One note of caution: Please be careful if you plan to flame your ‘nanas. Have a kitchen fire extinguisher handy and keep your hands and eyebrows clear of the pan if you’re new to flambéing. The liquor burns off quickly, but it does flare up.
If you have issues with open flames, animal ingredients, and/or alcohol and need to adapt any of these recipes, here are a few additional tips:
- If you don’t want to flambé, try making baked bananas Foster in the oven; they’ll still be soft, sticky, and delicious.
- If you need a vegan bananas Foster, just swap in coconut oil for the butter; luckily, any coconut flavor works perfectly with banana!
- If you don’t want to use rum, you can add that classic flavor with rum extract—which is not 100 percent alcohol-free, but does contain just a tiny fraction of the usual amount. If that’s still a deal-breaker, try this paleo bananas Foster recipe that’s free of booze.
Now, on to the recipes!
1. The Original: Brennan’s Bananas Foster
No mention of bananas Foster is proper without crediting Brennan’s restaurant and the siblings who started a family restaurant dynasty in New Orleans, Owen and Ella Brennan. Ella, matriarch of the Commander’s Palace family of restaurants, recalled in 2014 how the dish was created for her brother’s first restaurant, the Vieux Carre on Bourbon Street.
- 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 ounces (1/4 cup) banana liqueur
- 1/2 banana per diner, peeled and sliced in half
- 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) aged rum
- Vanilla ice cream, for serving
1. Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a flambé pan set over medium heat. As the butter melts, add the banana liqueur and stir to combine.
2. As the sauce starts to cook, add the bananas to the pan. Cook the bananas until they begin to soften (about 1 to 2 minutes).
3. Tilt the pan back to slightly heat the far edge. Once hot, carefully add the rum and tilt the pan toward the flame to ignite the rum. Stir the sauce to ensure that all of the alcohol cooks out.
4. Serve the cooked bananas over ice cream and top with the sauce in the pan.
Tramontina Gourmet Stainless Steel Frying Pan, $16.25 at Walmart
Any stainless steel pan that's not too shallow is suitable for flambeing, but be wary of nonstick coatings and cast iron (you don't want to damage the finish or seasoning).
2. Langlois Culinary Crossroads Bananas Foster Bread Pudding
Langlois, New Orleans’ Cajun/Creole cooking demo restaurant, gilds this decadent dessert by folding the caramelized bananas and sauce into a rich, custard-y bread pudding that’s crisp outside and creamy inside.
- Nonstick spray
- 9 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups sugar, light brown, packed and divided
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 6 firm, ripe bananas, sliced
- 1/4 cup banana liqueur
- 1/2 cup dark rum
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole milk
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 15 cups day-old French bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat the muffin pan with nonstick spray. Melt the butter in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1 cup of the brown sugar and the cinnamon. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the bananas and cook on both sides, turning until they start to soften and brown, about 3 minutes.
2. Add the banana liqueur and stir to blend. Carefully add the rum and shake the pan back and forth until the mixture flames. Carefully spoon the sauce over the bananas until the flame burns out. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool.
3. Combine the heavy cream, eggs, vanilla, milk, salt, and remaining brown sugar in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the bread cubes. Pour the banana caramel mixture over the bread and gently fold the ingredients until the bread is thoroughly soaked. Fill the muffin pan cups three-quarters full. Bake at 350°F for 20 to 30 minutes.
Mainstays 12-Cup Muffin Pan, $4.96 at Walmart
Make individual servings of bread pudding in your muffin pan.
3. Cafe Noma Boozy Bananas Foster Mini Cupcakes
The hooch used in classic bananas Foster goes up in flames, but these one-bite cupcakes inspired by the dessert get their name honestly: The rum syrup doesn’t cook off. It soaks into the cupcakes and is a key component in the frosting. If you want to make a G-rated version, try the Bananas Foster Cupcakes from Louisiana Cookin‘—the brown butter frosting makes up for the lack of liquor.
Rum Syrup Ingredients:
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup dark rum
- 1/4 cup banana liqueur
1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat and cook until the alcohol evaporates, about 5 minutes. This syrup will ignite as it heats—be sure to keep arm’s distance from the saucepan.
Fosters Butter Cream Icing Ingredients:
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup rum syrup
1. Combine the powdered sugar, butter, and rum syrup in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip the mixture until it is light and airy.
Bananas Foster Cupcake Batter Ingredients:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups ripe banana
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the banana and sugar and mash until smooth. Add the vegetable oil and eggs to the banana mixture and stir until smooth and blended. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and stir until combined.
2. Line a mini muffin pan with paper baking cups and fill each cup three-quarters full with the cupcake batter. Bake at 300°F until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean, about 12 to 14 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the muffin pan and allow them to cool. Dip the tops of the cupcakes into the rum syrup (the syrup can be drizzled on top for an extra kick). With a pastry bag, pipe a dollop of the icing onto each cupcake. The cupcakes can be finished with chopped banana chips.
Suntake Silicone Mini Muffin Pans, 2 for $13.99 on Amazon
Non-stick silicone baking cups mean your mini muffins pop right out.
Instead of serving bananas Foster over ice cream, why not mix it right in? Use coconut rum for a tropical twist if you like; either way, flaming it is optional. Would it be too over the top to use this in our Bananas Foster Milkshake recipe? Maybe not for Mardi Gras, since it is a celebratory occasion… Get the Bananas Foster Ice Cream recipe.
You’ll find bananas Foster French toast on a few breakfast menus around New Orleans, but The Ruby Slipper café, where it’s called bananas Foster pain perdu, does it best. If you don’t live in New Orleans, you can still hack it at home; just don’t skimp on the rum, butter, or sugar. Get the Bananas Foster French Toast.
All the flavors you love in bananas Foster, but reimagined again for breakfast—and the doughnuts are baked, which makes them easier and a little healthier too. Plus, using non-alcoholic butter-rum syrup means they’re okay to eat on the way to work. Get the Baked Bananas Foster Doughnuts recipe.
Proving there’s pretty much no genre of breakfast or dessert you can’t bananas Foster–ize, Spicy Southern Kitchen ups the ante with a crumbly, crunchy pecan topping to go along with the rum sauce icing on this NOLA-accented coffee cake. Get the Bananas Foster Coffee Cake recipe.
Okay, this is one of those decadent banana bread recipes that straddles the line between bread and banana cake, but it’s delicious, so who really cares what you call it? (Although, for something a bit more restrained, try this simpler, streusel-topped bananas Foster banana bread recipe.) Both of them do include rum, so maybe don’t have too big a slice for breakfast unless it’s the weekend. Get the Bananas Foster Banana Bread recipe.
Clearly a dessert and making no bones about it, witness the cultural mashup of this bananas Foster-influenced gooey butter cake—it’s New Orleans meets St. Louis. And it’s swoon-worthy for sure. Get the Bananas Foster Butter Cake recipe.
What’s better than a flaming pan of rum- and sugar-soaked bananas? For the Love of the South’s tower of bananas Foster crepes. It’s one of the best uses for slightly overripe bananas because the mixture is puréed before it’s layered between the crepes. Get the Bananas Foster Crepe Cake recipe.
11. Tableau’s Bananas Foster Cocktail
Let’s just skip the part where you burn off the booze and add even more liquor and some heavy cream, m’kay? Tableau in the French Quarter shook up this adult dessert beverage in 2015, but it still tastes good.
1 1/2 ounces Giffard Banane du Bresil
1 ounce heavy cream
1/2 ounce Bayou Satsuma Rum
6 drops ‘Elemakule Tiki Bitters
Shake all ingredients and strain into a coupe glass rimmed with turbinado sugar. Garnish with a slice of banana cut on the bias.
Giffard Banane Du Bresil Liqueur on Drizly (price varies)
An intensely aromatic Cognac-based spirit well worth adding to your bar cart.
Check out some more traditional New Orleans cocktails, and more Mardi Gras recipes—plus other great bites, tips, and tricks at our Mardi Gras headquarters. And let the good times roll!
Related Video: Get the Party Started with These Mardi Gras Cocktails
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This post was originally published on February 6, 2015 and was updated with new images, links, and text on February 27, 2019.