Bananas Foster

Four bananas sliced lengthwise, cooking in alcohol lit on fire. Flambe. Flames are tinged blue and orange. On stovetop burner.

Flambe (“flamed” in French) is any dish doused in alcohol and lit on fire. There’s nothing subtle about it, and you’re sure to get ooh’s and aah’s not just for the sheer pyrotechnics but also for the flavor it imparts. Here are a few pointers to make your Bananas Foster experience memorable for all the right reasons. 

  • Look for spirits at least 40% alcohol – enough oomph to give you a flame. 
  • Pick complementary flavors – Rum (spiced or regular), banana liqueur. 
  • Quantity – Not too much liquor per serving, so the booze won’t overpower. 
  • Finish the main cooking – Flambe is just used to burn off alcohol, so get that pan away from the burner before you light up. 
  • Long-Handle Lighter – Give yourself some control, and distance from the fire. 


  • 1 stick unsalted butter 
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar 
  • 4 medium bananas, peeled and sliced lengthwise 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • ½ tsp freshly-ground nutmeg 
  • ½ tsp salt 
  • ½ cup spiced rum 
  • ¼ cup banana liqueur 
  • For serving: 1 pint vanilla ice cream 
  • Optional: 4 slices pound cake 


Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Melt butter and add dark brown sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved. 

Add bananas, cooking for 1 minute on each side. Add cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, stirring gently around the bananas. 

Pour in banana liqueur and spiced rum, shaking/swirling pan to distribute evenly. Remove pan from burner’s flame, and gently tilt it so sauce pools a little on one side. With a long-handle lighter, light the pool of sauce. Baste bananas with flaming sauce until flame goes out, gently swirling pan if flames get too high. 

Divide pound cake (if using) and ice cream between four plates/bowls and pour hot bananas and sauce over ice cream. Serve immediately.