Banana Cookies Recipe

Why It Works

  • Browning the butter and caramelizing the bananas gives the cookies a strong toffee and banana flavor.
  • Refrigerating the dough for at least 30 minutes ensures the cookies hold their shape when formed and also develops deeper flavor in the cookies.

When you’ve got a bunch of bananas slowly turning spotty on the countertop, the common course of action is to mash them up and turn them into banana bread, right? But the next time this happens to you, I suggest making banana cookies instead. 

Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

I understand why banana cookies, or bananaramas as I playfully call them, don’t have the same level of fame as banana bread: They’re usually too cakey or gluey in texture and the banana flavor is so dull that the fruit tastes more like an afterthought than a showcased ingredient. Unlike those subpar banana cookies, these cookies have the same rich banana flavor as the very best banana bread but with a chewy, tender cookie texture that makes them perfect for dunking into a cold glass of milk. 

After baking batch after batch of cookies with countless bunches of bananas, I’ve developed a recipe for cookies that have a pronounced banana flavor with notes of butterscotch and toffee.They also have my ideal cookie texture: soft and chewy with lightly crisp and browned edges. I think they’re perfect just as they are, but I’ve also included options for gussying them up with coconut flakes or chocolate chips. Here are my tips for making the best banana cookies at home.

Key Steps for the Most Banana-y Cookies Ever

1. Use perfectly ripe bananas. As with banana bread, the ripeness of the fruit has a large impact on banana cookies’ texture and flavor. Underripe or green bananas are so high in starch and low in sugar that they result in dry and cakey cookies that not only lack sweetness, but also have a vegetal and slightly astringent flavor due to the abundance of starch. On the other end of the ripeness spectrum, bananas that are completely black make for dense, somewhat gummy cookies. So instead using overripe or underripe fruit, reach for yellow bananas that are just beginning to turn spotty brown. At this stage of ripening, the bananas have a mix of sugar and starch that will produce cookies with a welcome light texture and sweet, well developed banana flavor. 

If you find yourself with underripe bananas, you can speed ripening by a day or two by putting them in a paper bag to trap their ethylene gas, which speeds ripening. To speed the process even more, add a ripe banana or any other ripe ethylene-emitting fruit to the bag (avocados, apples, and oranges all work well). Or if you have no fresh bananas on your counter, this recipe works well with frozen ripe bananas. Just be sure to thaw the bananas on the counter for about 15 minutes before cutting into them.

2. Brown the butter and bananas for a deep, banana-toffee flavor. Brown butter makes most baked goods taste better and these cookies are no exception. The key to the cookies’ rich banana-forward flavor is the combination of brown butter and caramelized bananas in the base of the dough. 

It takes only a few minutes on the stovetop to do this. The three key stages to this process are searing the bananas, browning the butter, and frying the bananas in the brown butter until it forms a homogenous, deep brown, syrupy mixture. It’s important to brown the butter on its own—if you try to brown the butter with the bananas, the solids in the butter will never brown properly due to the moisture from the bananas. Once the bananas and butter are fully cooked, your kitchen will smell like caramelized bananas and you might be tempted to eat them right out of the pan, but hold out. 

3. Let the dough rest before shaping. It’s important to refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes before trying to portion and shape the cookies for baking. Refrigerating the dough not only cools it down to the proper temperature for rolling and shaping, but—as Kenji explains in his chocolate chip cookie recipe—resting the dough also further develops the cookie’s flavor. So how does it work? Harold McGee explains in Keys to Good Cooking that during the resting process, both flour proteins and starches break down a bit, which leads to more browning and caramelization as the cookies bake. Also, as the dough rests, the flour in the dough hydrates, and the ingredients meld together, resulting in a richer flavor. Even just a 30 minute rest will enhance the cookie’s flavor, but if you have the patience and time, I recommend refrigerating the cookie dough overnight for the most flavorful cookies possible.

Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

4. Press each cookie into a round disc. After the cookies are portioned and rolled into round balls, use wet fingers to press them into flat 3-inch round disks. The glue-like starches in the bananas cause the dough to spread less than other types of cookie dough, so patting the cookies flat ensures they will have the right thickness and will bake evenly.

5. Bake until the cookies are just set. You can mix, rest, and manipulate the cookie dough all you want, but if you don’t bake the cookies properly, they will never have the perfect chewy texture. Pull them too early and you’ll have a doughy mess on your hands, bake them too long and they will dry out. The key to cookies that remain moist and chewy once cooled is to bake the cookies until the edges are just set and golden brown. The cookie centers will be slightly puffed (they’ll deflate slightly once cooled) and still soft when removed from the oven. If left in the oven until the tops firm up, the cookies will be overcooked and dried out. 

6. Make the recipe your own with add-ins and toppings.These cookies are great as-is, but they also pair well with some crunchy toasted coconut flakes or gooey chocolate chips folded into the batter. For a fun decoration, try topping each cookie with a thin banana round that’s been tossed in sugar. The sugar will lightly caramelize the banana slice while baking for a pretty final presentation. 

7. Let the cookies cool briefly. Once the cookies are baked, just make sure to wait at least 15 minutes for them to firm up before biting into one, otherwise they will fall apart. But they’re worth the wait. I guarantee you’ll go bananas over these cookies.


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