How many calories does a banana split have?

Quick Answer

A banana split can have anywhere from 500 to over 1,500 calories depending on the serving size and ingredients used. On average, a typical banana split contains around 1,000 calories.

What is a Banana Split?

A banana split is an ice cream-based dessert that typically consists of a banana cut lengthwise and laid in a long dish called a boat. Scoops of ice cream and other sweet toppings like whipped cream, chocolate syrup, sprinkles, cherries, etc. are added on top of the banana.

The classic banana split has 3 scoops of ice cream – traditionally vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry flavored. It’s topped with fruit sauces or syrups corresponding to each ice cream flavor. So strawberry sauce goes on the vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup on the chocolate, etc. Whipped cream, chopped nuts, sprinkles, maraschino cherries, and a maraschino cherry on top complete the dish.

However, many variations on the classic banana split exist. Additional ice cream flavors, fruits, candies, and toppings can be added to customize the dessert. The serving dish itself also varies – while the classic long curved banana boat is most well-known, some restaurants may serve it in a regular bowl or parfait glass.

History of the Banana Split

The banana split was invented in 1904 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. According to legend, a 23-year-old apprentice pharmacist named David Strickler who worked at Tassell Pharmacy came up with the idea. He experimented by splitting a banana lengthwise, placing it in a long boat-shaped dish, and topping it with icy scoops of chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla ice cream. Adding chocolate, strawberry, and pineapple toppings along with whipped cream and crushed nuts, he created the first banana split.

The new dessert was an instant hit at the pharmacy’s soda fountain counter. It was originally called a “banana fancier” and cost 10 cents, a hefty price at the time. Word of this unique and indulgent treat spread quickly through Latrobe. Soon people were flocking to Tassell Pharmacy to try Mr. Strickler’s banana split.

Within a few years, the banana split had become a popular dessert nationwide. Both the name and many key components – the split banana base, 3 flavors of ice cream, fruit sauces, whipped cream, and a cherry on top – were standardized. But countless variations emerged as soda fountains and restaurants put their own spin on the classic treat.

The banana split remains a beloved American dessert today, over a century after its invention. Ice cream parlors, diners, and restaurants all feature their unique take on this indulgent classic.

Banana Split Ingredients

While customization is common, here are some of the standard ingredients found in a traditional banana split:


A ripe, fresh banana is peeled and cut lengthwise to form the base of the dish. One whole banana is used. The curve of the banana lends itself to the elongated boat shape.

Ice Cream

The classic banana split uses 3 scoops of ice cream – vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. Usually neapolitan ice cream (with all 3 flavors side by side) is used for convenience. Together the 3 flavors add up to about 1 cup total.

Some modern banana split variations skip the neapolitan ice cream in favor of 3 separate flavors like cookies and cream, mint chocolate chip, butter pecan, etc. A few extra scoops may be added too.

Ice Cream Toppings

True to the classic, the ice cream will be topped with 3 complementary syrups or sauces:

– Chocolate syrup – for chocolate ice cream
– Strawberry sauce – for strawberry ice cream
– Pineapple sauce – for vanilla ice cream

The sauces not only provide corresponding fruit flavors, but also help add moisture and structure. Around 1-3 tablespoons of each sauce is drizzled over the respective ice cream scoop.

Whipped Cream

Whipped cream provides a light, creamy contrast to the ice cream. About 1/4 cup is dolloped over the top of the entire dessert. Whipped cream adds smoothness and moisture.


Chopped nuts – like walnuts, pecans, peanuts, or almonds – add crunch and flavor. Around 2 tablespoons are sprinkled over the ice cream.


Colorful sprinkles lend a fun, whimsical touch in terms of appearance and texture. Like nuts, a couple tablespoons are sprinkled over the top.

Maraschino Cherries

No banana split is complete without the iconic maraschino cherry garnish! 1-2 maraschino cherries are used – one placed prominently in the middle and optionally one for each end.

Other Possible Toppings

There are endless ways to customize a banana split with extra toppings. Some popular options include:

– Crushed cookies or graham crackers
– Granola
– Coconut flakes
– Chocolate chips or chocolate shavings
– Crumbled bacon
– Candy pieces like chocolate candies, butterscotch chips, or candy bars
– Additional sliced fruit like strawberries, pineapple, mango
– Shaved chocolate or caramel sauce
– Cinnamon sprinkles
– Toasted nuts for crunch
– Marshmallow sauce or fluff

Let creativity be your guide when topping your own banana split! Choose a combination of favorite flavors and textures to take this indulgent classic to the next level.

Serving Size

Banana splits are decadent desserts meant to serve at least 2 people. But how many calories are actually in one full banana split serving?

Let’s break it down by looking at standard serving sizes for each ingredient:


  • 1 medium banana (118g): 105 calories

Ice Cream

  • 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream: 137 calories
  • 1/2 cup chocolate ice cream: 154 calories
  • 1/2 cup strawberry ice cream: 140 calories

Total for 3 scoops (1.5 cups): 431 calories

Ice Cream Toppings

  • 2 Tbsp chocolate syrup: 104 calories
  • 2 Tbsp strawberry topping: 74 calories
  • 2 Tbsp pineapple topping: 114 calories

Total toppings: 292 calories

Whipped Cream

  • 1/4 cup whipped heavy cream: 106 calories


  • 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts: 82 calories


  • 2 Tbsp sprinkles: 45 calories


  • 2 maraschino cherries: 20 calories

Grand Total: 1,081 calories

So in total, a full-sized banana split made with average 2 Tbsp servings of each topping contains around 1,000 calories. This number can easily trend higher or lower depending on exact serving sizes and ingredient choices.

Typical Restaurant Serving Sizes

Banana split servings found at restaurants, ice cream parlors, or baseball stadiums often contain 2 or even 3 times more ice cream and toppings than a single home-prepared serving.

Some examples:

  • Dairy Queen Banana Split Blizzard (1 Blizzard): 1,050 calories
  • McDonald’s Banana Split (small): 1,000 calories
  • Bruster’s Banana Split (small): 1,340 calories
  • Cold Stone Creamery Banana Split (Gotta Have It size): 1,310 calories

Giant banana split sundaes meant for sharing can have up to 5,000 calories!

Nutrition Facts

Now that we know a standard banana split with modest toppings provides around 1,000 calories, let’s take a look at some of the key macronutrients:


With all the ice cream, whipped cream, and nuts, banana splits are high in fat.

  • Total fat: 60g
  • Saturated fat: 38g


Carbs also come in fairly high from all the sugar in the ice cream, syrups, and whipped cream.

  • Total carbs: 139g
  • Sugar: 94g


Compared to fat and carbs, a banana split is low in protein.

  • Protein: 8g

Key Micronutrients

Banana splits provide some potassium from the banana and a bit of calcium from the ice cream. But overall, they are lacking in essential vitamins and minerals and should be considered a treat.

Low Calorie Banana Split Options

There are some simple substitutions that can be made to lighten up a banana split:

Use low-fat or non-dairy ice cream

Substitute regular ice cream for:

  • Low-fat ice cream
  • Non-dairy ice cream like sorbet
  • Frozen yogurt

This will substantially cut down on calories, fat, and sugar.

Easy on the toppings

Use a light hand with high-calorie sauces and limit extras like sprinkles, nuts, and cherries.

Whipped cream

Swap regular whipped cream for lighter whipped topping or low-fat cool whip.


Use fresh fruit as a topping instead of sugary sauces. Banana slices, strawberries, pineapple, and mango make refreshing options.

Healthy crunch

Rather than nuts, use crunchy oats, granola, or crushed Graham crackers for texture.

Health Benefits of Banana Splits

Though high in fat and sugar, banana splits do have some potential health benefits when enjoyed in moderation.


Bananas are well known for being an excellent source of the mineral potassium. Getting enough potassium can help lower blood pressure and reduce risk of heart disease and stroke.

Vitamin C

The strawberries and pineapple provide a decent dose of vitamin C, an antioxidant that supports immune function.


The ice cream supplies a good amount of calcium for strong bones. Look for varieties fortified with vitamin D for extra bone benefits.

Healthy carbs

Banana splits do provide carbohydrates for energy, though the added sugars should be limited.


Banana splits contain antioxidants that can help combat inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. These include vitamin C, anthocyanins in the cherries, flavonoids in the nuts, etc.

Happy hormone release

Indulging in sweet, creamy desserts causes the brain to release feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Enjoying an occasional banana split in moderation may lift your mood!


While the occasional banana split can fit into a healthy diet, they should be enjoyed in moderation. Here are some precautions to keep in mind:

Sugar and calories

Banana splits are very high in added sugar and overall calories, which most people consume too much of. They should be a treat, not an everyday dessert.

Fat and cholesterol

The high amounts of fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium from all the ice cream are problematic for heart health if consumed frequently.


Those with milk, nut, or banana allergies need to avoid banana splits. People with diabetes or reactive hypoglycemia should also take care with the high sugar load.

Brain freeze!

Eating ice cream or frozen desserts too quickly can sometimes result in an temporarily painful headache, aka brain freeze! Slow down and enjoy your banana split.


A banana split can range anywhere from 500 – 1500 calories depending on serving size and toppings used. On average, a modest banana split made at home provides around 1,000 calories as an indulgent treat for 1-2 people. While high in fat, carbs, and sugar, banana splits do offer some nutritional benefits like potassium, vitamin C, calcium, antioxidants, and happiness-boosting compounds. Still, moderation is key when enjoying these decadent banana split treats!

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