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Home > Articles > The Great Banana Revival: Twists on the Tropical Fruit Trend

The Great Banana Revival: Twists on the Tropical Fruit Trend

Over the last few years, apparently, all things bananas went out of fashion, but we’re happy to say they’re finally on-trend again! One of the most popular flavours in 2024 so far, bananas are being used in desserts, sweet treats, smoothies and even in some alcoholic drinks.

Despite bananas being from tropical lands, they’re one of the most popular fruits on the planet, with an estimated 100 million consumed each year. Their sweet, soft texture makes them the perfect addition in baking, especially when they’re a little overripe. 

For many people, bananas are nostalgic – think banana split and banoffee pie. But now, we find them in crème brûlée, croissants, and even gin…

Ice Cream

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! There’s been an explosion in dairy-free ice cream in the US this year, using overripe goey bananas, which bring natural sweetness, texture and flavour.

Inspiration: Banana soft serve with peanut butter dip and Breads Bakery babka crumbs – Stretch Pizza, NYC. Banana S’mores ice cream: toasted marshmallow and banana ice cream with chocolate chunks and graham cracker pieces – Morgenstern’s Bananas, NYC. 

Fancy Desserts

In recent years, bananas have been outdone by more exotic fruits like mango, passionfruit and pineapple, but bananas are back in all their glory, in dessert form.

Inspiration: Sesame éclair, banana pastry cream, passionfruit – Mischa, NYC. Banana crème brûlée – @whisperofyum.

Beyond Banana Bread

Banana bread had a bit of a renaissance during Covid and while it isn’t still trending on social media quite the same as it used to, in its place are banana cookies, banana brownies and much more.

Inspiration: Banana, chocolate and coconut square – @thegreedymodel. Soft centred cookie with a sweet banana and chocolate chip cookie dough, topped with a gooey sea salt caramel and coconut flakes – Cross town Bakery, London. 

Perfect Pastries

Whether it’s a croissant, cruffin, brioche or Danish, banana is the flavour of the moment in these flakey treats. 

Inspiration: Doughnut filled with banana creme, and topped with peanut, coconut bacon and caramel – Delish Vegan Doughnuts, Spain. Banana cream chai cruffin – Supermoon Bakery, NYC.

Tasty Tarts

Beautifully curated banana treats are encased in buttery shortcrust pastry. Decadent, delicious and a sensory delight.

Inspiration: Banana and caramel tart, pecan praline, grand cru ‘Hukambi’, Valrhona chocolate ganache – Caractère, London. Banana confit, caramelised banana, almond sponge, soft caramel, banana, whipped ganache, @TorsArtisans.

Dreamy Doughnuts

There’s something just so delicious about a soft, sweet doughnut. And as you probably guessed, banana doughnuts are having a bit of a moment…

Inspiration: Banana cream and chocolate doughnut, with a crunchy peanut coating, Delish Vegan Doughnuts, Spain. Banana pastry cream filling, bourbon glaze, brûléed bananas with salted bourbon caramel – The Doughnut Project, NYC.

Bring Back the Banana Split

Retro banana splits are back, topped with all the nostalgic classics like whipped cream, cherries, chocolate and caramel. 

Inspiration: Banana split with chocolate sauce and cherries – Cafe Deco, London. Banana Split with ice cream, cream, caramel sauce and raspberries – Gelateria Rozetto, Chile.

Banoffee Takeover

Another nostalgic hero, Banoffee Pie. Sweet caramel, banana, cream and biscuit; so simple yet so good. But have you ever had it in a cookie, in a hot cross bun, or on a pizza?

Inspiration: Banoffee hot cross buns – Marks and Spencer. Banoffee dessert pizza – Della Verità, Santa Maria.

On the Shelves

Bakeries and bloggers aren’t the only ones following the ‘banana trend’, bigger retail brands have also noticed the recent love for all things banana. From ice cream to cakes, and KitKat, too.

Inspiration: Banana Caramel KitKat, Frosted Banana Pop Tarts. 

Drinks: Milk Shakes and Bubble Tea

Banana is a key component in most smoothies, but it’s now a very trendy ingredient in bubble tea, too – or so TikTok says – and in flavoured milks.

Inspiration: Roasted banana & cream oolong milk tea – Jardin Tea & Coffee, US. Banana milk tea with tapioca – Pop Bubble Tea, US. Shaken Udder banana milkshake, Barebells protein banana milkshake. 

Drinks: The Hard Stuff

Spirits: Part of the tropical fruit family, it’s no surprise bananas work well in spirits, liqueurs and cocktails. It lends itself to a creamy liqueur like Select Club’s Peanut Butter and Banana Whisky Cream Liqueur, and is a classic with rum like Ron Colón Salvadoreño Red Banana Rum, but it’s also making its way into other spirit styles like Whitney Neal’s Banana & Guava Gin and whisky, too.

Cocktails: In cocktails, banana pairs well with the likes of mango, passionfruit, orange and lemon. Sherry also works very well in place of a more obvious spirit. It just takes a little creativity.

Craft beer: The wonderful thing about craft beer is how creative breweries can be with the flavours. Citrus and zesty notes are the usual go-to, and now banana is being thrown into the mix too, to create ‘Dessert Beer’. Nepo Brewing created a sour beer with raspberry, strawberry and banana; Corporate Ladder Brewing offers a gluten-free dessert beer conditioned on banana, tangerine, Ugandan, Vanuatu and Mexican vanilla beans. Rebellion Brewing Co. combined vanilla and banana for a classic yet interesting craft beer combo. 

Bananas really are making a stir in the food industry. While you may not have the tools or the customer base to go quite so bold with cocktails, craft beers, cruffins or pizza, there’s nothing to stop you from bringing back a few classics like banoffee pie, banana split, banana trifle or even adding banana ice cream to your repertoire – it makes a great accompaniment to treacle tart or sticky toffee pudding.

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© Dennis Edwards for Foodservice 2022