Bananas for Bananas

Our love of bananas knows no bounds. Join us as we celebrate the versatile fruit through recipes and stories.

Animated Banana Header Gif
Serious Eats / Sabrina Tan

A year ago, I presented the Serious Eats team with what I thought was a bizarre idea: an immersive collection of recipes and articles celebrating my love of bananas. I was so enthusiastic—practically exclaiming at the top of my lungs—that our editorial director Daniel Gritzer fell backwards off his chair with excitement. It turns out the rest of the Serious Eats team loves bananas just as much as I do (well, almost). 

Serious Eats Sticker


A year later, I find myself here sharing this labor of love. For the past few months, I have immersed myself so deeply in the world of bananas that my husband has basically banned the fruit from our household after too many bowls of banana pudding, slices of banoffee pie, and buckets of banana smoothies as I worked on those recipes. My love of bananas, however, knows no bounds, and I won’t rest until you’re all as enthusiastic about bananas as I am.

It's easy to take bananas for granted—the fruit is everywhere. Once though, before early 20th century advancements in shipping and agriculture made it possible to transport the fruit outside its native tropical zones, bananas were a luxury..

To me, bananas are still a luxury, and one I get excited about even though I eat them at least once a day. It’s an ingredient so versatile that you could, if you so desired, prepare a delicious meal with almost all of the plant. In the West, bananas are mostly prized for their fruit and reserved for the realm of desserts, where they star in classics like banana bread, banana pudding, and banana cream pie. In other parts of the world, though, the fruit, leaves, blossoms, and sometimes even the root are used in both sweet and savory dishes. 

In Myanmar, cooks incorporate banana stems into refreshing salads and mohinga, a fragrant fish soup. In the southwestern Indian state of Kerala, banana peels feature in thoran, a spiced stir-fry. Throughout Thailand, crisp banana blossoms are used as a base for dishes like this spicy chicken, banana blossom, and herb salad. And while not edible, banana leaves make an excellent cooking vessel: In the Philippines, they’re used to wrap a bibingka, a coconut-flavored rice cake; and in the Mexican state of Yucatan, cooks wrap pork tightly with the leaves to make cochinita pibil, tender barbecued pork. 

Below, you’ll find a slew of informative articles and pitch-perfect recipes that celebrate the banana as it deserves to be. 

We are, simply put, bananas for bananas—and hope you are, too.

Graphic of banana varieties

A Guide to Banana Varieties Around the World

The more you think about bananas, the stranger a concept they seem: Almost all bananas are grown in tropical climates, yet they feel as much a staple in North American grocery stores as our native apples. In the United States, most people only have access to the Cavendish, a slender, slightly curved banana with a cheerful shade of yellow. Around the world, however, there are thousands of varieties to know and love—here are a few.

Meet Isoamyl Acetate, the Banana-Flavored Molecule You Love to Hate

Why do banana-flavored candies taste so odd? The fascinating answer involves a global plant plague and this fruity-smelling organic chemical.

How to Store and Ripen Bananas

The sad fact is, bananas don't care one bit whether they fit into your personal snacking schedule. They're either not ready to eat, suddenly ready to eat, and then too ripe to eat...but still great for baking. In our attempt to solve the banana dilemma, we tested numerous methods to both slow and speed ripening. Here are the best ones.

No-cook Banana Page Break gif

Banana Split

Relive your childhood summers with this retro banana split, complete with strawberry, chocolate, and fudge sauces, dollops of whipped cream, and maraschino cherries.

Banana Smoothie Graphic

Banana Smoothie

This salty-sweet peanut–butter banana smoothie takes all of five minutes to whizz up and gets extra creaminess from whole milk, nut butter, and frozen bananas.

Banana Ice Cream Graphic

Banana Ice Cream

You can make our creamy banana ice cream with just one ingredient—but a couple of pantry ingredients make it so much better than any other "nice" cream.

Stovetop Banana Page break animated gif

Turon (Filipino Fried Banana Rolls)

Turon—a sweet, banana-filled rendition of lumpia—are delightful any way you serve them. Eat them all by themselves, dunked into caramel or chocolate sauce, or with a scoop of your favorite ice cream..

Banana Pudding graphic

Banana Pudding

Made with a luscious vanilla pastry cream, ripe bananas, and vanilla wafers, this simple banana pudding is the very best version you can make at home.

Banana Foster Graphic

Banana Foster

This classic flambéed banana-and-caramel dessert comes together in minutes in a single skillet, making it both impressive and easy.

The Top 10 Banana Moments in Pop Culture History

Bananas have made prominent appearances in music, movies, and TV shows and might just be the most popular fruit ever—even beyond the grocery basket. Here's our list of the top 10 most impactful banana-related pop culture moments.

Collage of pop culture Moments
Animated gif of banana bread animation

Quick & Easy Banana Bread

For a striking loaf with a deep mahogany crust, tender crumb, and the most intense banana flavor, cram six bananas into the batter. Yes, six bananas.

Banana Cookie graphic

Brown Butter Bananarama Cookies

These cookies get their rich banana and toffee flavor from caramelized bananas and brown butter.

Banoffee Landing page graphic

5-Ingredient British Banoffee Pie

This low-effort dessert with gooey dulce de leche, sliced bananas, and whipped cream is a British classic—and one fitting for both dinner parties and casual gatherings.

Leaves and Blossoms pagebreak

Puto (Filipino Steamed Rice Cakes)

Americans have cornbread and dinner rolls—Filipinos have puto, a fluffy savory cake covered and served with banana leaves.

Banh Nam graphic

Bánh Nậm (Vietnamese Steamed Rice Dumplings With Shrimp and Pork)

Studded with a seasoned mixture of ground pork and wood ear mushrooms, these tender rice cakes wrapped in banana leaves make a great snack.

Bibingka Graphic

Bibingka (Filipino Rice Cake)

Topped with caramelized coconut strips and scented with banana leaf, this coconut-flavored rice cake is associated with Christmas—but it's delicious any time of the year, and best enjoyed warm with a steaming hot cup of coffee or tea.

Essential French Desserts for Every Skill Level

We have classic French dessert recipes for everyone—regardless of whether you’re just starting out or are already a pastry pro.

Gif of French Desserts

The world of French desserts is vast. Look into the window of a pâtisserie, and chances are you’ll see an assortment of éclairs, madeleines, financiers, cream puffs, macarons, tarts, and cakes like the Opera or Fraisier. Your favorite bistro likely has a crème brûlée or chocolate mousse on their dessert menu, if not both. And if you enjoy eating ice cream, then you’ve likely had crème anglaise, the custardy sauce that's also used as a base used to make French-style ice creams. Add to that towering soufflés, meringues that are light as air, and the chocolate ganache essential for making your favorite truffles, and it can be hard to know where to start.

Constructed set up of French desserts
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez


Over centuries, the French have mastered the art of pâtisserie and created some of the world’s most popular desserts. Some of their contributions to the world of pastry, like the croquembouche, are a little more extravagant and time-consuming to make. Others, like clafoutis, are simple enough to whip up on a busy weeknight. You don’t have to be a trained pastry chef to tackle either of these—all you need are a few essential techniques and recipes to use as building blocks. Master meringue, and you’ll be able to make macarons, chocolate mousse, and sweet soufflés. Learn how to make choux pastry, and you’ll have opened the door to cream puffs, éclairs, croquembouche, and more. Overcome your fear of making crème anglaise, like I did, and the world of custard-based ice creams is yours—not to mention easy desserts like fresh berries with chilled crème anglaise as the sauce. 

Gif showing difficulty level of recipe via a Marie Antoinette illustration


The beauty of French pastry is that once you feel comfortable with the basic techniques and understand the science behind them, you’ll be able to mix and match recipes to create a laundry list of classic confections—or even a dessert of your own. No matter the skill level, there’s something sweet and celebratory for everyone. Here, we’ve highlighted our favorite French desserts, organized by the skill level required to make them. To be clear, all the recipes are thoroughly tested, clearly written, and doable by anyone—if you're feeling ambitious, go ahead and jump into the deep end, we're right there with you. Or follow the progression we've outlined here, starting with recipes for beginners (or whatever you think your current skill level is), then work your way up. By the time you’ve finished with the advanced recipes, you'll have gained much of the fundamental skills required in even the most elite French pastry kitchens.

Beginner Recipes headline
Madeleines and a easy sticker graphic

Madeleines

With whisper thin, crisp exteriors, light-yet-buttery centers, and those signature humps, these are madeleines that Proust would be proud of. Not only are these cakes easy to whip up, but they're also extremely versatile: The batter can be flavored with nuts, cocoa powder, warm spices, citrus zest, herbs, and extracts.

Once baked, they can be glazed, filled, or served plain. Start simple, then play around with different flavors.

Financiers on a blue background

Financiers

Deeply satisfying to eat, these tender-crisp financiers benefit from nutty brown butter and ground toasted almonds.

Resting the batter in the refrigerator allows the ingredients to hydrate, yielding moist, tender cakes. And while they're delicious on their own, you can dress them up with a glaze or dip them into melted chocolate.

A slice of Cherry clafoutis next to the remainder of the pie

Cherry Clafoutis

Cherry clafoutis is a dessert that's guaranteed to impress and please. Its simplicity can't be overstated: Pour a simple batter made from egg, milk, sugar, and flour over cherries, bake, and serve. Butter in the batter adds extra flavor and helps crisp the edges more, while balanced amounts of egg and sugar produce a light-textured clafoutis that's just sweet enough and not too eggy.

Overhead view of two coeur a la creme with strawberry sauce

Coeur à la Creme With Strawberry Sauce

Sweetened dairy stars in this dessert that’s shaped into a heart and served with strawberry sauce. All you have to do is beat cream cheese and cream with powdered sugar, the seeds of a vanilla bean, and lemon zest before allowing the mixture to set overnight. To successfully unmold your dessert, line your dish with a damp paper towel or cheesecloth and invert.

Creme Anglaise in a bowl

Crème Anglaise

Crème anglaise is many things: It's a sauce. It's a custard. It's a sauce and a custard you can churn into ice cream. At its most basic, crème anglaise is a mixture of milk and/or cream, egg yolks, sugar, and a vanilla bean that has been cooked until just thick enough to coat a spoon. Though cooking an egg-based custard can be anxiety-inducing, a bit of care and good technique is all you need to prevent scrambled sauce is an unlikely outcome.

Intermediate Recipes with a squiggle under it
Gataeu Basque with a medium sticker graphic

Gâteau Basque

The grown-up version of a Pop-Tart, gâteau Basque combines elements of a cookie, a tart, and a pie, with a filling of pastry cream or cherry jam. The tender, slightly crumbly crust—which is easily rolled out once chilled—comes together easily in a stand mixer.

Here, the addition of almond flour and extract in both the dough and pastry cream adds a rich, nutty flavor.

Flan Pâtissier on a pink marble plate

Flan Pâtissier

Vanilla bean-flecked pastry cream meets flaky pie crust in this cake on an essential French pastry.

Here, pie dough makes for a tender, flaky crust that's sturdy enough to support the pastry-cream filling, and brushing the surface of the flan with egg yolk produces a glossy, deeply bronzed finish.

Plate of Chouquettes on a pink background

Chouquettes

Chouquettes are small choux pastry puffs topped with snowy white grains of pearl sugar. They bake up quickly and make a delicious snack or after-dinner treat. The secret to choux pastry that develops good color without over-baking?

Use milk—which has additional proteins and sugars that promote browning—in the choux paste.

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse

Rich with bittersweet flavor and light as a cloud, chocolate mousse is a simple, elegant dessert that's deeply satisfying to eat. For an easy mousse that won't seize or deflate, melt your chocolate together with the cream. This stabilizes the chocolate and prevents it from seizing and also lightens up the chocolate mixture, making it easier to fold together with the egg whites without deflating the mixture.

Creme Brulee

Crème Brûlée

Made well, crème brûlée is a magnificent dessert of silky, vanilla-scented custard beneath a shatteringly crisp topping of caramelized sugar. For a velvety custard that doesn't curdle, be sure to bake your crème brûlée in a water bath.

Got a blowtorch? This is the time to pull it out. Using it to caramelize the raw sugar topping results in an evenly caramelized crust that shatters easily.

Overhead view of ile flottante

Île Flottante

This simple, elegant dessert of "floating islands" suspended in a pool of crème anglaise is a French classic. For a more stable meringue that's less likely to deflate, whisk your egg whites at a lower speed for longer, and slowly add the sugar to ensure it'll dissolve properly. Don't feel like making crème anglaise from scratch? You can melt a pint or two of good quality, egg-free vanilla ice cream in a saucepan or microwave instead.

Overhead view of cream puffs

Cream Puffs

Light and crisp cream puffs, filled with your choice of rich pastry cream, whipped cream, or crème légère, will satisfy dessert lovers everywhere.

Our easy recipe for choux pastry takes almost all the guesswork out of the traditional technique, producing puffs that are golden and crispy on the outside and hollow within.

Chocolate souffle

Chocolate Soufflé

Served à la minute, chocolate soufflé is the go-to classic dessert for chocolate lovers everywhere. For a soufflé that rises successfully, you'll want to liberally butter and sugar your ramekins, which will ensure that the soufflé rises up without any cracks. For maximum loft, you'll want to whip egg whites and sugar until they reach stiff, glossy peaks before folding it into chocolate ganache. Just make sure your egg whites and your mixing bowl are clean!

Advanced Recipes header
Caneles with hard sticker graphic

Canelés (Cannelés de Bordeaux)

Canelés require plenty of patience, but it's well worth it for the glassy, caramelized exterior and custardy center you get.

To make this southwestern French specialty, you'll want to coat your molds in a mixture of beeswax and butter, and start baking at a very high temperature to encourage a crisp skin to form.

Time and temperature are both key to mastering this dessert, and as long as you keep an eye on both, you'll be able to make a canelé worthy of a French bakery.

Éclairs

Éclairs

Crisp choux pastry, a rich vanilla bean-infused pastry cream, and an intense chocolate glaze? It's easy to see why éclairs remain one of France's most beloved treats. With éclairs, how they're piped is how they bake, so it's crucial to take your time and do it well. After they're baked, you'll use a sharp paring knife to poke holes in the bottom of each éclair while they're still hot. This will dry out the insides of the pastries and keep them crisp.

Croquembouche

Croquembouche

A towering masterpiece of caramel-covered cream puffs surrounded by golden threads of spun sugar, the croquembouche is the celebration cake of France. Making it is a labor of love and requires a bit of advance planning and plenty of organization.

You'll want to make a template for your puffs to ensure they're all uniform in size, then prepare all the mise en place for the choux pastry, the pastry cream, and the caramel before assembling.

Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin can be a tricky dessert to make and involves a nuanced culinary dance that requires a fine-tuned sense of just about... everything.

The key to success is breaking the recipe down into more discrete parts, and understanding the science of how apples cook and soften. With the right technique, you can make a stellar tarte Tatin that rivals even those served in a French bistro.

Paris–Brest

Paris-Brest (Pâte à Choux With Praline Crème Mousseline)

Almond-studded choux pastry and rich, nutty praline crème mousseline join forces in this impressive French dessert. Piping and building the Paris-Brest may seem like the most intimidating part, but there's no wrong way to do it as long as the filling sits tall inside the bottom half. We promise it'll be delicious, no matter how professional the filling looks.

Invisible Apple Cake

Gâteau Invisible (Invisible Apple Cake)

This French dessert gets its name from the way its layers of thinly sliced apple seem to disappear into the light batter that binds them. In a nod to the popularity of gateau invisible in Japan, this version is subtly flavored with salty-sweet white miso, and served with a miso caramel sauce. Despite its impressive layers, all you really have to do is whisk eggs and sugar until glossy, add in the flour, then gently fold in apples until they're evenly coated. The hardest part may very well be slicing the apples thinly and layering the cake. The thinner the apples, the more layers you'll get, and the more cohesive the baked cake will be.