Fourth of July Dessert: Banana Split Cake

If my house was burning down, there are a few things I would grab. Family first of course, and then pictures, but I’d likely risk my life for my cookbooks. I have dozens of them, and I love them all. Down South, we have “Church cookbooks” which consist of recipes from all the old Grannies and Mee-Maws in the church. These are my favorites (Sorry, Emeril) because every single recipe submitted is good. No, really. Think about it….if were asked to submit a recipe for something, you’d send in the one everyone loves, right? So, I have six of them from six different churches, and I use them all the time. Recently, I had to make a dessert and decided to consult the church cookbooks and guess what I noticed? Every single one of them had a recipe for Banana Split Cake. Every. Single. One.


Don’t believe the church Grannies? Listen to me. Banana Split Cake could go down as one of my favorite desserts ever for several reasons. One, you don’t have to turn on the oven. Two, it’s easy ingredients and easy to make. Three, it feeds a crowd, perfect for your 4th of July BBQ. Last, did I mention it’s delicious?

Now, the weird thing is about all the church lady versions of the Banana Split Cake is that each one has raw eggs in it. And, I have no shame in admitting that I have eaten it (and made it) that way many times and I am still alive to tell about it and eat other things that are bad for me. But, salmonella, blah blah blah so I decided to play with a few different versions of it, omit the egg, and eliminate the possibility of someone spending a weekend camped out in the bathroom. This way works just fine and you’ll never miss the raw egg. That’s the weirdest sentence I ever typed.

Take a look at the ingredients:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 8 oz Cool Whip, thawed
  • bananas (about 4)
  • jar of maraschino cherries
  • 1/2 – 1 cup chopped pecans (or any other nuts you like)
  • 20 oz can crushed pineapple, drained


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1. Mix graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 stick melted butter until well combined. Resist temptation to eat all of it right out of the bowl -you need it for the crust. Press this mixture into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan. Put in the fridge while you do the rest so the crust firms up.
2. With an electric mixer, blend cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Resist temptation again to eat all of it right out of the bowl, but you have my full permission to lick the beaters. No eggs, remember?
3. Spread the cream cheese mixture you didn’t eat on top of the graham cracker crust.
4. Slice the banana into circles (thickness is up to you, but not too thick) and line those puppies up like soldiers on top of the cream cheese layer.

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5. Spread the crushed pineapple on top of the bananas.
6. Spread the Cool Whip on top of that. If you want to be all fancy pants and use real whipped cream you can but the church ladies will tell you Cool Whip works just fine.
7. Sprinkle the chopped nuts on top and add the cherries.
8. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, overnight is better.

If you want to mix it up a little, you can. You can use cut up strawberries with the bananas and pineapple, or in place of the cherries. You can also omit the nuts and add chocolate chips or drizzle chocolate syrup but I promise it’s better without chocolate and I can’t believe I just said that. Serves about 12 people.

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