The banana split is an over-the-top treat, piled high with fruit, scoops of ice cream, and tons of toppings. But just because the classic dessert has a lot going on doesn’t mean that improvements can’t be made. The grill is a clever way to enhance the natural sweetness and add a smoky flavor to a banana split. If you love grilling, this is a must-try!
Nothing is more satisfying than ending a grilling session on a sweet note with a cold, refreshing dessert. You’ll need to clean the grill anyway, so throw on some fruit and end your next barbecue with grilled banana splits.
Use Slightly Underripe Fruit for Grilling
Grilling fruit imparts smoky and caramelized flavors and the intense heat helps activate the fruit’s sweetness. This is particularly useful if you’re having a hard time finding perfectly ripe fruit.
This recipe is designed to celebrate almost underripe fruit so you don’t have to plan and stress ahead of time. It’s perfect if you tend to procrastinate like me, and timing the ripeness of your fruits to your next barbecue hangout seems like a logistical nightmare.
The heat of the grill will bring out the fruit’s natural sugar, so it will still have great flavor. Slightly underripe fruit will also hold up better on the grill, softening just enough as it cooks.
Choosing Bananas for Grilled Banana Splits
This recipe works best with bananas that are a few days away from ripening. They should be mostly yellow with a touch of green on the top of the stalk and along the edges of the banana peel curves. Slightly underripe bananas work great since they are a little bit firmer and can withstand the heat of the grill without softening too quickly and becoming mushy.
Luckily, these are how most bananas are sold at the grocery store, so you can make grilled banana splits without planning ahead.
Recipe Variations and Shortcuts
- Buy one big tub of Neopolitan ice cream instead of three different cartons.
- Swap one or more of the ice cream flavors but keep it simple. Try chocolate chip, cherry, coffee, or pistachio.
- Replace or supplement the grilled strawberries with strawberry sauce or strawberry jam.
- Try caramel or marshmallow sauce in addition to or in place of the chocolate sauce.
The Trick to Perfect Grill Marks
Start by preheating your very clean grill so that it is hot enough to create a beautiful sear. High heat is the key to achieving grill marks without over-cooking. A little neutral oil on the fruit and on the grill grates will help prevent sticking.
When skewering your strawberries, line them up on a flat surface so that the fruit is even and the cut sides are always in contact with the grill grates.
Ice Creamy Desserts
- Classic Ice Cream Sandwiches
- Ice Cream Cake
- Copycat Choco Tacos
- Baked Alaska
- Root Beer Float
Preheat the grill:
Preheat the grill to high heat, about 450°F. If needed, clean the grates.
Prep the fruit:
Don’t peel the bananas. Use a sharp knife to slice them lengthwise, peel and all, going through the stem.
Slice the strawberries in half lengthwise. Line up halved berries on a cutting board and slide a skewer through the center, leaving about 2 inches of the skewer uncovered on each end to make them easy to handle. Repeating with the remaining berries.
Cut the pineapple into 4-inch long spears that are roughly 1 1/2 inches wide. Brush the cut sides of the bananas and strawberries with a light layer of oil. Brush all sides of the pineapple with oil.
Grill the fruit:
Wet a folded clean paper towel with oil and grasp it with tongs. Use it to carefully oil the hot grates.
Add the fruit to the grill with the strawberries and bananas cut side down. Cook just until grill marks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the strawberries and bananas from the grill and flip the pineapple, grilling on all 4 sides for 1 to 2 minutes per side.
Let cool and chop:
Let the fruit cool for 5 minutes. Peel the grilled bananas and lightly dust with cinnamon (if using). Dice the strawberries and pineapple.
Assemble the banana splits:
Place the grilled bananas along the sides of the dishes or bowls. Add a scoop of vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate ice cream to each. Top the vanilla with diced grilled pineapple, top the strawberry ice cream with the grilled diced strawberries, and top the chocolate ice cream with chocolate sauce.
Top with whipped cream, peanuts, and maraschino cherries, if using. Add an extra drizzle of chocolate sauce, if desired. Serve immediately.
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