What is a Banana Boat?

Mary McMahon

A banana boat is a dessert that is designed to be made while camping. Many generations of campers have developed their own unique takes on the banana boat; the earliest published recipes for this dessert appear in Girl Scout guides. As one might imagine, the centerpiece of the dessert is a banana that is topped with an assortment of ingredients of choice and then roasted in a fire to warm the banana through and turn the dessert into a rich, gooey mass.

Banana boats are roasted over the coals of a campfire.
Banana boats are roasted over the coals of a campfire.

Making Banana Boats

To make a banana boat, campers take a whole banana and split it partway down the middle, creating a slit. The slit is stuffed with ingredients such as chocolate chips, marshmallows, peanut butter and caramel sauce. Then the banana — with the peel left on — is wrapped in foil. The foil-wrapped banana is then roasted in the coals of a campfire for five to 10 minutes, until the peel starts to blacken. It can be eaten after being allowed to cool for a few minutes.

Banana boats are made with bananas left in the peel.
Banana boats are made with bananas left in the peel.

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Customized for Taste

Like s'mores, another popular camping treat, a banana boat is a very flexible food, and people can customize their own with ingredients that they like, such as peppermint patties or nuts. Some people prefer to stick with the classic flavor pairing of chocolate and banana, leaving additional ingredients to more adventurous cooks. Banana boats can get a bit messy, because the softened, heated ingredients tend to get rather runny, but that might be part of the fun for some campers.

Caution for Young Campers

Making a banana boat involves contact with the fire, so it is a good idea for adults to supervise younger campers. The dessert can get quite hot, and the ingredients might spurt when the banana is opened, so caution also should be used when the banana is taken out of the fire. Adults also can help very young campers make the slits in their bananas, and they might want to offer advice about ingredient pairings; peppermint patties and peanut butter, for example, might not go so well together.

Other Items Needed

People who plan to make banana boats on a camping trip should pack bananas and the assorted toppings, along with foil and a set of tongs for moving the bananas around in the fire. Alternatively, a long-handled wire basket such as the kind used for grilling corn could hold the bananas in place while they roast. Banana boats can get messy, so campers might also want to bring a package of wipes or moistened dishcloths in plastic bags, which can be used to clean off sticky fingers and faces.

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