Vanilla Bean and Brown Sugar Caramelized Banana Jam

Sometimes my eyes are bigger than my stomach and I wind up with too many ripe bananas all at once.

But when you just can’t make one more banana smoothie or loaf of banana bread, make banana jam.

Vanilla Bean and Brown Sugar Caramelized Banana Jam (vegan, GF) - Use up your extra ripe bananas for this fast & easy jam that's ready in 20 minutes!

It’s fast, easy, vegan, gluten-free, and comes together in about 20 minutes.

It isn’t traditional jam and there’re no water bath or canning involved, so in case ‘jam-making’ instantly sets you into panic mode, don’t worry.

Vanilla Bean and Brown Sugar Caramelized Banana Jam (vegan, GF) - Use up your extra ripe bananas for this fast & easy jam that's ready in 20 minutes!

Just mash the bananas, add brown sugar, butter (or vegan butter), lemon juice, and let the mixture boil for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it’s thickened to your satisfaction.

While it boils, make sure to keep an eye on it, stirring intermittently because you don’t want your caramelized bananas to turn into burnt bananas. That would smell hideous.

Vanilla Bean and Brown Sugar Caramelized Banana Jam (vegan, GF) - Use up your extra ripe bananas for this fast & easy jam that's ready in 20 minutes!

After the jam has thickened, add cinnamon, vanilla bean paste, and vanilla extract. I have a heavy hand with both cinnamon and vanilla, but if you don’t love them as much as I do, add them slowly, and adjust to taste.

If you don’t have vanilla bean paste, use extra vanilla extract. You won’t see the tiny little black vanilla bean seeds in your jam, and it won’t have quite the same level of vanilla intensity, but it’ll still be scrumptious.

Vanilla Bean and Brown Sugar Caramelized Banana Jam (vegan, GF) - Use up your extra ripe bananas for this fast & easy jam that's ready in 20 minutes!

I don’t find the jam overly banana-ey. I know that’s paradoxical because bananas are the star of the show, but the lemon juice really brightens the jam, while balancing and tempering the banana flavor.

Yet here’s no overt lemon taste. It’s a non-specific background flavor, but adds such a refreshing quality. Since lemon juice is an acid, it also acts as a natural pectin, so your jam sets up without having to use boxed pectin.

The cinnamon is present, but subtle enough to let the vanilla flavor shine. I can never have too much vanilla.

The jam reminds me of the banana equivalent of apple butter.

Vanilla Bean and Brown Sugar Caramelized Banana Jam (vegan, GF) - Use up your extra ripe bananas for this fast & easy jam that's ready in 20 minutes!

My jam wasn’t overly sweet, but my bananas weren’t super ripe. The riper your bananas, the sweeter the jam.

Spread the jam on bread, toast, rolls, crackers, dip apples or pears in in it, or make peanut butter  and banana jam sandwiches. It would make a great crepe or stuffed-French toast filling.

Use it as the filling in One-Hour Cinnamon Rolls. Incorporating a hearty dollop of it into banana bread or banana muffins would boost the overall banana flavor and moistness of the recipe.

Vanilla Bean and Brown Sugar Caramelized Banana Jam (vegan, GF) - Use up your extra ripe bananas for this fast & easy jam that's ready in 20 minutes!

Or just eat it by the spoonful which is what I did.

Now you know what to do with those ripe bananas.

Vanilla Bean and Brown Sugar Caramelized Banana Jam (vegan, GF) - Use up your extra ripe bananas for this fast & easy jam that's ready in 20 minutes!

Vanilla Bean and Brown Sugar Caramelized Banana Jam (vegan, gluten-free)

When you have too many ripe bananas and just can’t make one more banana smoothie or loaf of banana bread, make banana jam. It’s fast, easy, and it isn’t traditional jam, and there’re no water bath or canning involved. Keep an eye on mixture while it’s boiling, stirring frequently, so it doesn’t burn. Paradoxically, the jam isn’t overly banana-ey, because the lemon juice really brightens and balances the flavors. The cinnamon flavor is present, yet subtle enough to let the vanilla flavor really shine. If you don’t have vanilla bean paste or vanilla beans, substitute with vanilla extract.

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Ingredients:

2 medium/large or 3 small ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups, mashed)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup unsalted butter or vegan buttery spread (half of 1 stick)
3 tablespoons lemon juice (juice of half of 1 juicy lemon)
2 teaspoons cinnamon, or to taste
1 tablespoon vanilla extract, or to taste
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or the scrapings of 1 or 2 vanilla beans (or substitute with extra vanilla extract, to taste)

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan (err on the side of larger than smaller because mixture bubbles up), combine bananas, sugar, butter, lemon juice, and heat uncovered over medium to medium-high heat, allowing mixture to come to a rolling boil.
  2. Allow mixture to boil uncovered for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until thickened to desired level. Jam continues to thicken as it cools. Over the 15 to 20 minutes, stir frequently and make temperature adjustments to stove so mixture doesn’t burn.
  3. Turn heat to low, and add the cinnamon, vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste, and stir to combine. You may wish to add less than the full amount listed all at once, and first taste your jam and see what it needs. Then, to taste, tinker with the ratio of cinnamon and vanilla. I used the amounts listed.
  4. Transfer jam to 8-ounce glass jar or heat-safe container with a lid. Storage is up to you. I store mine airtight at room temp, for up to 5 days. It will likely keep longer, especially in the refrigerator, but I haven’t tested it. I have no idea about canning jam in a water bath if it will work or how long to process.
  5. Use the jam on bread, toast, rollscrackers, dip apples or pears in in it, or make peanut butter  and banana jam sandwiches. It would make a great crepe or stuffed-French toast filling or use as the filling in One-Hour Cinnamon Rolls. Incorporating a hearty dollop of it into banana bread or banana muffins would boost the overall banana flavor and moistness of the recipe. Or just eat by the spoonful.
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97 comments on “Vanilla Bean and Brown Sugar Caramelized Banana Jam”

  1. Averie!! What a combo! I think I need some stat!! Lovely!

  2. Hi Averie! Banana jam…what a novel and delicious idea! Thank you for sharing it. I always have extra bananas lying around the house!

  3. Cool idea, Averie! I actually saw a recipe for banana jam in an old canning cookbook and I was surprised that no one seems to know about it, it’s such a unique way for using up those ripe bananas and yours looks delicious!

  4. I agree, this is an excellent idea, getting people out of their comfort zones when it comes to making same old same old jams.

  5. Yes please! That sounds delicious, I bet that would make a delicious Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich :)

  6. This is so awesome. And so pretty!! We are eating bananas too much lately, I want banana bread but they’re either green or gone!

  7. OMG this looks amazing! Can’t wait to make it! Any idea what the nutritional info would be?

  8. Haha, I have the same issue with bananas. I buy a few to have for breakfast or asnack on while at work and they all don’t get eaten. I end up with some pretty nasty looking bananas. I think I’m going to have to buy some so I can end up with nasty bananas so I can make this jam. Wowza! It looks amazing, Averie!

  9. This is such an amazing combo!! Love the bananas, that is genius! I could eat this with a spoon or better yet with a square or two of dark chocolate for dipping!!

    And is that a new board? I am loving it! The rustic blue is so unique!

    • Thanks for noticing the board. I had to stalk it. It’s almost 250 years old, from the early 1800s. It was a dough board and is in spectacular condition, all original paint and hardware. I had to pay a small fortune for it, but I love it, and so far have been getting some decent use out of it!

  10. I have 4 ripe bananas waiting to be cooked into this jam, which is great because I am personally and paradoxically NOT a raw bananas kind of gal (banana bread? absolutely. caramelized bananas? for sure! frozen chocolate-dipped bananas? yes! but raw bananas–whole different story…). I was just dreaming of caramelized roasted bananas this morning; I love tossing them in the oven with just a drizzle of honey and brown sugar. Such a healthy snack! However, I’ll opt in favor of this jam this time. (Plus, I have a batch of Reese’s PB cookie dough based on your recipe in my fridge waiting to be baked first thing tmw…) Thanks and cheers as always, Averie!

  11. This is such a unique idea! And would be great as a gift =)

  12. Oh yum – this is a must-try! I’ve had banana jam here at a resort here in Thailand, but have never seen a recipe. Leave it to you, Averie – looks amazing!

  13. Yum! I think I could eat this with a spoon…forget the bread :)
    Thanks for a great recipe, pinning!

  14. Sunday, I was browsing TJ Maxx and saw chocolate banana jam! No joke! And then you made this :) It’s like you’re all telling me something…and my over-ripe bananas are saying the same thing!

  15. WHOAAAA.

    I would never have thought of this-genius!

  16. Looks great. I can’t wait to try it. If you don’t eat it all right away, do you know how long you can keep it for and how to store it?

  17. Wow, this is great! I didn’t know banana jam was a thing and I love it. The vanilla bean seeds look awesome, too.

  18. WOAH! This looks amazing!!! I will probably have to make a double batch so I can eat one jar with a spoon!! Pinned!

  19. This would be so good spread on fresh bread!

  20. I am pretty sure I would eat this by the spoonful. With graham crackers and chocolate ;)

  21. Averie, this is the coolest, most unique way I’ve ever seen of using up ripe bananas. I ALWAYS have too many bananas that become too ripe for me to want to eat. I’ve got about 20 bananas in my freezer as we speak. I can’t wait to make this jam. There are so many possibilities on what to use it for! And lady, only you could make brown banana jam look this beautiful in photos. I laugh to think about what my pics would look like.

    • You could even take some out of the freezer and boil them down. It won’t matter. I mean, I haven’t tried but I am confident it won’t.

      I hated these pictures. So thank you for saying “only you could make brown banana jam look this beautiful”. Truly so, so, so hard to make pretty. The only thing harder would be say, pureed brown lentil soup :) There are just some foods that taste so good but the camera is NOT kind to, at all :)

  22. Wow, this sounds divine. You’re so creative! I’ve never heard of banana jam before, but I’m positive I’d love it- and I’m with you on the heavy-handedness re: cinnamon and vanilla. YUM :)

  23. What a genius idea for a jam! I’ve gotten in the habit of having bagels in the morning and this would be so perfect on a toasted bagel.

  24. This is GREAT! We have a lot of banana lovers in our house and carmelized bananas are going to rock!

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