This cool and creamy No Bake Banana Split Cake is everything you could want for a summer picnic! An easy recipe that takes only 30 minutes and needs no baking, makes it the perfect dessert for the season.
With layers of cool, creamy custard, fresh fruit, and a topping of cool whip, this ice box treat is like a banana split in cake form. It’s the perfect dessert to whip up for summer BBQs and friendly get-togethers.
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Cool and Creamy Desserts
I love cool and creamy desserts that are simple to throw together and don’t heat up the kitchen. Recipes like No-Bake Grasshopper Pie, Coffee Ice Cream Pie, and Mango Pineapple Icebox Cheesecake fit my criteria as well as this easy No Bake Banana Split Cake. It's a family favorite I’ve been making for over 30 years.
What is a Banana Split?
A banana split is a type of ice cream dessert that is both traditional and popular in many parts of the world. It is typically composed of a lengthwise-split banana, three scoops of ice cream, various sauces or syrups such as chocolate, pineapple, and strawberry on each scoop, and then it's topped with nuts and whipped cream.
The banana acts as the base of the dessert, and the ice cream and toppings are added on top. The final touch is often a cherry on top of the whipped cream.
National Banana Split Day is celebrated annually on August 25th.
Banana Split Origin
The banana split was created by a 23-year-old apprentice pharmacist named David Evans Strickler in the town of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, in 1904. Strickler enjoyed inventing sundaes at the soda fountain in the pharmacy where he worked, and the banana split was one of his creations.
What is a Banana Split Cake?
A banana split cake is a dessert that takes the components of a banana split sundae and transforms them into a layered cake form. It's a delicious way to enjoy the flavors of the traditional banana split in a different way. It's like a giant banana split in cake form.
This dessert typically consists of several layers. The base layer is often a crust made from crushed graham crackers, cookies, or even vanilla wafers.
The next layer is a creamy filling, which can be custard, pudding, or sweetened cream cheese.
The filling is then topped with slices of bananas, crushed pineapple, and sometimes a layer of strawberry pie filling or fresh sliced strawberries.
The top layer is usually whipped topping and then garnished with chopped nuts, maraschino cherries, and chocolate syrup or hot fudge, mimicking the toppings on a classic banana split.
While the banana split cake is inspired by the banana split dessert, its structure is more akin to a no-bake icebox cake or a layered pudding dessert than a traditional baked cake. It's a popular dessert for holidays, potlucks, and parties, as it can be made ahead of time and served chilled.
Why This is the Best Banana Split Cake Recipe
This banana split cake without cream cheese has a custard filling. Traditional ice cream is made with custard and so the cake mimics the dessert.
This southern dessert offers up all the yummy flavors of your favorite banana split in an easy no-bake recipe. It’s a sweet, layered dessert that starts with a chilled graham cracker crust, followed by a creamy buttery filling, sliced bananas, crushed pineapple and all topped with fluffy Cool Whip.
And you know it wouldn’t be a banana split dessert if it didn’t have a drizzle of hot fudge, a sprinkling of nuts, and, of course, a cherry on top.
Simple ingredients are all you need to make this easy no bake layered dessert.
- Graham Crackers
- White Granulated Sugar
- Powdered Sugar
- Vanilla Extract
- Crushed Pineapple
- Cool Whip
- Toppings: Fudge Sauce, Cherries, Chopped Nuts
How to Make A No Bake Banana Split Cake
Graham Cracker Crust
- It only takes 4 ingredients to this simple crust – crushed graham crackers (these can be gluten-free), sugar, butter, and a pinch of salt.
- Mix together well.
- Press gently into a 9x13-inch pan. Note: If you press it down too firmly it will be difficult to cut and lift from the pan when serving.
At this point, the crust can be frozen for about 10-15 minutes or can be baked for a bit crunchier texture for 10 minutes at 350°F then allowed to cool.
- Combine room temperature butter with sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. Make sure the butter has softened sufficiently for a smooth mixture, about an hour on the counter will do the job.
- Whip until light and fluffy about 3-4 minutes at medium speed. The mixture should be pale yellow in color.
- Remove the crust from the freezer or use the cooled crust from the oven.
- Spread the custard evenly over the graham cracker crust.
- The next layer is the sliced bananas. You want to use ripe but still firm bananas. Make sure to cover the custard completely.
- Cover the bananas with the drained crushed pineapple. Spread evenly. This layer actually helps to prevent the bananas from browning (at least for a while).
- Spread the Cool Whip over the crushed pineapple to create a smooth top.
- Time to decorate! Sprinkle on the chopped nuts. I like to use pecans but walnuts or even peanuts would be great.
- Next comes the fudge sauce drizzle. Make it easy by heating the fudge sauce slightly then pouring it into a small ziploc bag. Clip a small corner off and squeeze the chocolate over the topping.
- Finish it off with cherries placed so that each slice or serving will have its own cherry. You can also wait until just before serving and pipe on some additional whipped cream on each serving then place the cherry on top. It’s your sundae – go for it!
This creamy dessert is super popular whenever and wherever it is served. It is great for family gatherings, holidays like the 4th of July, Christmas, and Thanksgiving, as well as summer BBQs and picnics.
It does take a little planning as it should chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours but is even better when made the day before. So indulge yourself with this easy No Bake Banana Split Layer Cake. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes and Variations
Some people get a little squeamish at the thought of a dessert with raw eggs but you can always use pasteurized eggs. I find this custard layer is lighter than a typical cream cheese filling.
Here are a few alternatives to the recipe:
- Banana Split Pie - Use 2 pie pans instead of a 9x13-inch pan. Or use 2 pre-made graham cracker crusts and you don't have to make the crust.
- Banana Split Torte - Use 2 torte pans instead of a 9x13-inch pan.
- Banana Split Trifle - Layer the graham cracker crumbs, filling, fruit, and whipped topping in a trifle dish. Top with hot fudge sauce, nuts, and cherries.
- Substitute the custard with sweetened cream cheese. Just beat together 16 ounces of softened cream cheese, 1½ cups powdered sugar, and ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- Substitute the custard with a boxed vanilla or banana pudding prepared as directed on the package.
- Use a vanilla cookie crust or Oreo cookie crust instead of a graham cracker crust.
- Use fresh pineapple instead of canned. Chop the pineapple into small diced pieces and drain them.
- Don’t care for pineapple? You can sub in some ripe sliced strawberries in their place.
- Add a layer of sliced strawberries on top of the sliced bananas.
- Make your own whipped cream in lieu of the Cool Whip. It will be a little richer but just as delicious.
- Use caramel sauce instead of fudge sauce.
- Let the kids add a few sprinkles to really up the fun factor!
A banana split icebox cake is a great dessert to make 1 or 2 days in advance. Make it, chill it, serve it, and watch the smiles appear.
How to Store and Freeze
Store the cake and any leftovers in the refrigerator. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap. The cake will last up to 3 days. After 3 days the bananas will start to turn brown and the pineapple juices will cause the cake to get watery.
To freeze: Make sure the cake is in a freezer-safe container. Wrap it with a layer of plastic wrap and then a layer of aluminum foil. the frozen cake will last up to 2 months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight.
More Delicious Summer Desserts
Fresh Fruit Tart - brings all the summer flavors to the table. An almond shortbread crust holds a layer of creamy lemon cheesecake filling topped with your favorite fruits of the summer season.
No Bake Mocha Cheesecake Minis - are small but decadent. Switch up the graham crackers to Oreo crumbs and layer with mocha cheesecake then top with whipped cream and an espresso bean to give you a gourmet dessert that only takes 20 minutes.
Frozen Raspberry Dessert from Kitchen Gidget is a cool and creamy dessert filled with ice cream, raspberries, fudge, and whipped cream.
Creamy Raspberry Lemonade Popsicles - are an easy-to-make summer treat. Just 3 ingredients (yogurt, lemonade, and raspberries) are all it takes for a refreshing healthy snack on a hot day.
No Bake Banana Split Cake
Graham Cracker Crust
- 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
- 4 Tablespoons sugar
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1 cup salted butter room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4-5 ripe bananas sliced
- 1 can (20-oz) crushed pineapple, drained or up to 3 8-oz cans, drained
- 10 oz Cool Whip
- Chopped nuts
- Maraschino cherries drained
- Chocolate fudge sauce
- Butter the bottom of a 13”x9”x2” pan.
Graham Cracker Crust
- Prepare graham cracker crust by mixing all 4 ingredients together.
- Gently press the crumbs into the bottom of prepared pan.
- Freeze for 10-15 minutes or bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees then let cool completely on wire rack. This baking process will help keep the crust crispy.
- While crust is chilling or baking, prepare the filling.
- Combine all ingredients for filling and beat for 3-4 minutes at medium speed. When the mixture appears light and fluffy and is pale yellow in color it is done.
- Pour into chilled or cooled crust.
- Layer sliced bananas on top of filling.
- Spread drained crushed pineapple on top of bananas.
- Top with Cool Whip, spreading evenly to edges.
- Decorate with a sprinkling of nuts then drizzle with fudge sauce and top with some cherries.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours but it is best when made the day before and chilled overnight.
- Cream cheese layer in place of custard - beat together 16-oz softened cream cheese, 1-½ cups confectioner’s sugar, and ½ teaspoon vanilla.
- Use a boxed vanilla or banana pudding, prepared as directed on the package, in place of custard.
- Sub ripe sliced strawberries for pineapple.
- Make your own whipped cream in lieu of the Cool Whip.
- Let the kids add a few sprinkles to really up the fun factor!
This post has been updated and was first published on June 27, 2021.