When you hear the words banana and dessert, a few things may come to mind. Perhaps a sweet banana split topped with cherries, a creamy banana pudding folded with crispy Nilla wafers, or a slice of chocolate and banana cream pie? Whatever sweet your brain conjures, it’s clear that any dessert that features bananas is always an instant recipe for success. So, when we heard “bananacue,” we knew good things were in store.
Aside from its health benefits, bananas have a uniquely sweet taste and luscious texture that adds richness to any recipe. Exhibit A: this classic Filipino dessert known as bananacue that’s made with just a few pantry ingredients. It’s the perfect treat to whip up when you crave something sweet, creamy, and decadent.
So, what exactly does bananacue mean, and what does it taste like? Keep reading to discover why so many people are in love with this dish.
So, what exactly is bananacue?
Bananacue, otherwise known as banana cue, is a popular street or snack food from the Philippines. Although the name might make you think you’re about to start grilling some bananas, it actually involves deep-frying them. Bananacue is usually made with deep-fried bananas coated with a layer of caramelized brown sugar that forms a crunchy crust on the outside that’s skewered together like a veggie kebab. When making bananacue, vendors typically skewer the fruit to make holding and eating it (like a popsicle) on the go much easier.
Although you can use a regular banana to make this dish, in the Philippines, it’s traditionally made using saba bananas, which are native to the country and an important part of the local cuisine. This type of banana has a white, dense, starchy consistency (though not quite as firm as a plantain) and they taste like cooked sweet with deliciously fruity hints of citrus potatoes and peach.
The many things we deeply love about this dessert
For starters, bananacue is beyond easy to make and tastes like a carnival fair dessert. Plus, the star of the show—the bananas—are filled with fiber and great for your gut. Although the recipe calls for saba bananas, if you can find them locally (frozen or fresh), you can always opt for what you do have on hand, like plantains or Thai bananas. No matter the type, the fiber in bananas helps regulate your digestive system and can reduce inflammation. Additionally, bananas are packed with vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium, which is always a win, especially when it comes to dessert time.
In a recent TikTok video by @iankewks, Ian demonstrates how effortless it is to make bananacue when using the right technique. It starts by cutting the saba bananas into large chunks, which makes frying them even easier (although you can also keep them whole as they typically do in Filipino street markets). Next, he adds about half a cup of brown sugar into a pot with hot oil. Now, here’s the most critical step in nailing the perfect bananacue consistency. Ian recommends waiting until the sugar begins to caramelize and starts to float to the top before adding the bananas.
@iankewksIts called bananacue btw 🥵♬ Fallin’ in a Garden – LLusion
Once the brown sugar has started to melt and rise to the surface, Ian lowers the heat to avoid burning the dessert and drops in the fruit. Next, he uses a pair of chopsticks to gently swirl the fruit in the sugary mixture to coat the bananas with a sweet, golden sugar crust. To serve, Ian uses tongs to slide the caramelized banana chunks onto a skewer to mimic the look and feel of the classic dessert. Now, prepare to indulge in one of the tastiest banana-infused treats you’ve ever had, and one you’ll want to play on repeat all summer long.
Filipino bananacue recipe
Yields 4 servings
4 cups of neutral oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 saba bananas, cut into thirds
1. Heat two inches of oil in a pan on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the brown sugar and cook until it begins to caramelize and melt.
2. Once the brown sugar begins to float to the top, add the bananas. Lower the heat to medium-low to avoid burning the sugar.
3. Using a pair of chopsticks, carefully stir the bananas and coat them evenly with the melted sugar. Once covered, let them cook until golden brown.
4. Remove the bananas from the oil, and skewer them to serve.
Another dessert to go bananas over: