Bananas Foster, On the Grill

Julia Bainbridge
Food Editor
May 27, 2014

For two weeks, we’ve got top chefs sharing their little-known tricks for backyard cooking.

bananas on the grill with whipped cream
bananas on the grill with whipped cream

Wrong! It’s essential that you leave the skins on. Photo credit: © StockFood / Eising Studio - Food Photo & Video

“I am bananas for grilled bananas! I make them all the time.” That enthusiastic comment comes from Elizabeth Karmel, executive chef of Hill Country Barbecue Market and Hill Country Chicken in New York City.

Years ago, at the Memphis in May barbecue festival, Karmel discovered her breakfast banana, uneaten, and wondered what would happen if she threw it on the grill. So she did. “Once it was done, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this tastes like Bananas Foster!’ But you don’t have to pan to clean or the butter to deal with.”

“That’s what started my love affair with grilling bananas,” says Karmel, “and it doesn’t take long to perfect.” Here’s her best and simplest method:

You want sturdy bananas. “I prefer grilling a banana that’s slightly green,” says Karmel. “You don’t want one that’s brown and spotty—not the kind you use for banana bread.”

Leaving the skins on, cut each banana length wise and then again in half crosswise. Make a dessert rub consisting of cinnamon, sugar and a pinch of salt. Sprinkle the rub onto the cut sides of the banana and let sit for 5 minutes.

Grill them, cut side down, on a very clean cooking grate on medium-low direct heat just long enough to get grill marks, about 1-2 minutes.

Turn them over with a pair of tongs and move them to an area of the grill with indirect heat. “I let them continue to cook, slowly, while I’m having dinner,” says Karmel. When the skin starts to pull away from the flesh of the banana, they’re finished. “That’s the best way to test for doneness. No one can fail that. You can see when the skin pulls away.”

Remove the peel and serve with vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche, and a little sprinkling of the dessert rub.