These old-fashioned Banana Bars with chocolate chips are the epitome of snack-meets-dessert (or is it dessert-meets-snack?) stardom.
Wholesome enough to fly as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up but scrumptious enough to satisfy sweet cravings, this healthy-dessert-meets-anytime-munchie is a recipe you can feel great packing for your kids’ lunches or rewarding yourself with after (or during!) a long day.
They travel well for potlucks and picnics too.
One of the reasons I adore banana recipes like these banana bars so much is that they allow me to sweeten up my baked goods more naturally.
And when a dessert is better for you? You can feel great eating it more often.
These banana bars are made from less processed ingredients and offer nutritional benefits too (just like the recipes on this list of 50 Healthy Desserts).
A happy handful of chocolate chips on top certainly doesn’t hurt their appeal either!
5 Star Review
“These are brilliant. The bars are not too sweet and have a great banana taste. Thank you for sharing such a genius creation.”
— Tracy —
The ingredient lineup here is a more wholesome one.
In addition to being naturally sweetened primarily with mashed banana, these banana bars are made without brown sugar. (I use coconut sugar, though you can swap in brown sugar if that is what you have on hand.) The banana bars are also 100% whole wheat.
Even with these healthy swaps, however, this banana recipe will still satisfy any sweet tooth. I found a good reason to eat them at any time of day.
- In the morning, I topped one of the banana squares with a generous portion of Greek yogurt and side of berries.
- After a workout, I grabbed one right out of the container and munched it while I finished off my water bottle. <—SUCH a perfect post-workout reward!
- For a mid-afternoon snack, I enjoyed these banana bars with applesauce.
- After dinner, I replaced the Greek yogurt with vanilla ice cream and—since we are all friends here—more chocolate chips.
How to Make Banana Bars
As written, these baked banana bars are sweet, but not overly so.
Like these Strawberry Oatmeal Bars, and honestly the majority of the healthy dessert recipes on my site, they’re well balanced, nutritious, and hit the spot whether you need a 3 p.m. energy boost or a late-night treat.
- Banana. If you’re wondering what you can do with old bananas, this recipe is the answer! Overripe bananas are safe to eat, naturally sweet, and they’re truly scrumptious too. Plus, bananas are rich in potassium and fiber.
- Coconut Sugar. Coconut sugar is a more natural way to sweeten these bars.
- Milk. Helps keep these bars moist. I used unsweetened almond milk, but any milk you have on hand will work well.
- Vanilla. Enhances all the other flavors in the bars.
- Whole Wheat Flour. Whole wheat flour adds extra nutrition and a slight nuttiness that’s truly delicious.
- Cinnamon + Nutmeg. Warm and cozy spices that pair wonderfully with the banana.
- Chocolate Chips. Because chocolate chips are always a good idea!
You can also make these banana bars for a crowd. Double the recipe, then bake it in a 9×13-inch pan. The 9×13 banana bars recipe will be thicker, so you will need to extend the baking time by several minutes.
- Mash the bananas in a bowl, then add the sugar and wet ingredients.
- Stir the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Add the chocolate chips.
- Pour the batter into a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees F for 16 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely, then cut it into bars. ENJOY!
Banana Bar Recipe Upgrades
If you’d like to turn these light banana bars into a truly indulgent dessert, check out a few suggestions below.
- Banana Bars with Peanut Butter Frosting. Peanut butter banana bars sound delish! Make the bars as directed. Let cool, then top with a peanut butter frosting.
- Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting. Make the bars as directed. Let cool and top with the cream cheese frosting from this dreamy Cranberry Cream Cheese Banana Bread.
- Banana Bars with Brown Butter Frosting. Top these bars with the scrumptious brown butter frosting from this Banana Bread Brownies recipe.
- Banana Bars with Glaze. Keep it sweet and simple. Drizzle the bars with a simple glaze like the ones on these Blueberry Oatmeal Bars.
- EVEN MORE ICING IDEAS. Banana bars with chocolate frosting or maple frosting would also be delightful.
- To Store. Store bars in an airtight storage container at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days.
- To Freeze. Freeze bars in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. If I’m trying to exercise serious self-control, I like to wrap and freeze my banana bars individually, then thaw them as cravings strike.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
The Best Baking Pan
This high-quality baking pan is easy to clean and creates perfect corners every time. It’s a kitchen tool you’ll use for years to come!
- 1 cup mashed ripe banana about 3 medium bananas
- ⅓ cup coconut sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled to room temperature
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup white whole wheat flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoons dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips divided
Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper so that the parchment overhangs two opposite sides like handles. Lightly coat with nonstick spray and set aside.
Mash the bananas in a mixing bowl. Double check the measurement to ensure you have 1 cup (less will make the bars dry; more and they may not bake all the way through). Stir in the coconut sugar, butter, milk, egg, and vanilla until well blended.
In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients. With a wooden spoon or spatula, stir to combine, stopping as soon as the flour disappears. Fold in ⅓ cup chocolate chips.
Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons chocolate chips on top. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Place the pan a wire rack to cool completely, then using the parchment handles, lift the bars onto a cutting board. Slice into squares of desired size and enjoy!
- TO STORE: Store bars at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days.
- TO MAKE DAIRY FREE: Use almond milk or coconut milk and replace the butter with the same amount of a vegan butter substitute or coconut oil.
- TO MAKE VEGAN: Follow the dairy-free directions in the note above; For the egg, you can experiment with a flax egg, but I haven’t tried this yet. If you do decide to play around, I’d love to hear how it goes!
- TO MAKE GLUTEN FREE: Replace the wheat flour with the same amount of a 1:1 all-purpose baking flour blend, such as this one.
Serving: 1(of 16)Calories: 98kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 1gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 18mgFiber: 1gSugar: 8g
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