How to Make Banana Bread: Moist, Easy, and Delicious!
Whether it’s your first time or your fiftieth, our step-by-step guide and best banana bread recipes guarantee a loaf you’ll go bananas for
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I’m one of those people who likes to buy more bananas than my family can possibly eat. If you read the title of this story, you know why. Banana bread. Seriously, I’ll buy a lot of green-tinged bananas and do a daily inspection, checking for the little brown spots that indicate ripeness. As soon as I see enough color, I pull out my trusty baking tools and get cracking.
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Simple steps for amazing homemade banana bread
In my opinion, the best banana bread recipe is one that produces foolproof results. Yummly’s classic, easy Banana Bread recipe takes very little prep time — and it dirties just one bowl. Here’s how to make banana bread.
1. Grease your loaf pan
Picture this: You’ve made the batter, poured it into a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, and set it to bake. The kitchen smells amazing, and you can practically taste your first bite of banana bread. And then… it won’t come out of the pan. To avoid that disaster, grease your loaf pan when you turn on the oven — in other words, before you begin to prepare the recipe. You can use nonstick spray or melted butter, and to play it really safe, also line the pan with parchment paper.
2. Grab two really ripe bananas
How ripe should bananas be for banana bread? You’ll know they’re ready when they feel soft and you see plenty of brown spots on the peel. More speckles means sweeter banana bread. I might use one-third cup less sugar than a recipe calls for if my fruit is super-duper ripe.
Pro tip: If you’re itching to bake but your bananas are still mostly yellow, you’ve got two ways to speed things up.
For emergency baking — when you need to make banana bread today — put unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet and bake at 300°F for about 20 minutes, until the skin is black and the bananas are soft to the touch. Let them cool, then proceed.
Got a little more time? Put the bananas and an apple in a paper bag, and fold over the top. Apples release ethylene gas, which helps convert the bananas’ starches to sugar. This method will take a day or two.
3. Mash your bananas well
Photo by Rachael Nusbaum
You can use a fork, but I like to grab a potato masher and squish the bejeezus out of them. It helps to ensure that banana flavor comes through in every bite. Mash them in a large mixing bowl (the one you’ll be using) to minimize cleanup.
4. Add in the rest of the wet ingredients
It may be tempting to just put all the ingredients into a large bowl and stir, but baking is a science. Following the order of instructions matters. To help them distribute properly, lightly beat any eggs you’ll be using, then add to the mixing bowl with the mashed bananas and the rest of the wet ingredients (that means the canola oil, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, and vanilla extract) and beat well with a whisk — no need to use a hand mixer.
5. Now mix in the dry ingredients
When the banana mixture is fully combined, stir your dry ingredients (all-purpose flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) into the wet. Adding dry to wet helps you avoid pockets of dry flour, and it also helps prevent overbeating.
6. Don’t overmix
Photo by Rachael Nusbaum
You know how pancake and quick bread recipes usually warn you not to overmix? For a soft, tender banana bread, you only need to stir until things look homogenous — a few lumps are just fine. Here’s why you should err on the side of under-mixed: Lots of beating activates the gluten in your flour. While that’s exactly what you want in a yeast bread, since gluten makes dough strong and elastic, here it’ll just make your banana bread dense and chewy.
7. Pour and bake
Transfer the batter to your prepared loaf pan (use a spatula to get all that yumminess) and put it on the middle rack of your preheated oven. Don’t forget to set a timer.
8. Be patient
Unlike cookies or brownies, banana bread needs some solid baking time. Expect it to take almost an hour. Sometimes the top of the bread browns too quickly while it’s in the oven — if that’s the case, add a loose tent of aluminum foil. Start checking for doneness at the 50-minute mark by poking a toothpick into the center. When it comes out dry or with just a most crumb or two, it’s ready.
Pro tip: Banana bread will continue to bake a little as it cools, so if you cut into it too soon you may not like the results. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing. (See, I told you to be patient!)
Bonus pro tip: If you just can’t wait to get some banana goodness into your life, this recipe can be adapted to make banana muffins instead. Grease a muffin tin or use liners, and divide the batter among the cups. Since you’re making smaller portions, baking time will be more like 20 minutes.
How to store banana bread
Once you’ve had your fill of homemade banana bread, store the remainder in a large zip-top bag or an airtight container. How long does banana bread last? At room temperature you’ve got one day, maybe two. Banana bread keeps up to four days in the fridge.
To freeze banana bread, you can wrap a whole loaf or individual slices in plastic wrap, then put them into a zip-top freezer bag. They'll stay good indefinitely, but you’ll start to notice a decline in quality after about three months.
Get our classic banana bread recipe
Banana bread recipes don’t get much easier than this one — which gets rave reviews from Yummly users. You’ll only dirty a single bowl, and at the end you’ll have a loaf of moist, perfect banana bread. It uses both white sugar and light brown sugar for a hint of molasses flavor, and a teaspoon of cinnamon for cozy warmth. Enjoy slices just as they are, or smeared with cream cheese or butter.
Banana bread variations
This same recipe has been adapted for various dietary needs, too.
Most banana bread recipes call for large eggs, and many use unsalted butter, too. While you could figure out how to swap those animal-based ingredients for something vegan, this recipe saves you the trouble. The results taste exactly like what Granny used to make, but without the cholesterol.
It’s all too easy to produce a gluten-free banana bread that’s gummy and unpleasant to eat. Not with this recipe. It uses two kinds of gluten-free flour as well as cornstarch to ensure a light, tender texture.
Healthy banana bread recipes
You may think banana bread is automatically healthy — after all, it uses fruit. But most recipes also call for plenty of sugar, white flour, and butter. Not here.
Fresh or frozen cranberries add a fantastic pop of tartness to this naturally sweet, moist banana bread. The recipe adds less sugar than some — just over half a cup — plus a smidge of butter and white whole-wheat flour.
There’s something about the combination of blueberries and bananas that makes me happy. Neither one is too assertive, so you get a bit of both in every bite. Applesauce replaces some of the fat in this recipe, which also calls for white whole-wheat flour and less sugar than usual. But it’s those blueberries that really bring it home.
Not only is this single-serve banana bread better for you, with just a half-tablespoon of maple syrup instead of sugar, and whole-grain oats instead of white flour — it’s also much, much faster than most recipes. Why? You bake it in the air fryer. Forget about waiting 20 minutes to preheat the oven — that nifty gadget needs less than five. Which means as soon as you’re done pouring the batter into the prepared loaf pan, it can go right in.
Banana, shredded zucchini, carrots, and Greek yogurt make this whole-grain bread incredibly moist, with lots of interesting textures from the vegetables and walnuts. Those extras mean that in addition to being seriously tasty, it’s also quite nutritious.
Banana bread plus
If banana bread is good (and I think we can all agree: It is), banana bread with stuff stirred in is even better.
My son will only eat banana bread if it’s got chocolate chips in it. Did I mention he’s 16 years old? This recipe is right up his alley — in fact, he likes to bake it himself. Which I guess is a win-win for me, since I get to eat it without doing any work.
It’s called banana nut bread because you can choose what kind of nuts to use. In my home, we’re team pecans (well, except for the 16-year-old). This recipe calls for a lovely blend of spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger. With the banana flavor and the crunch of the nuts, it’s just heavenly.
Ready for a little decadence? Just look at those dreamy swirls of nutty, chocolatey richness. And that gorgeous, burnished crust! I must confess, I’m afraid to make this because I might eat the whole loaf before anyone else gets a taste.
OK, friends, this banana bread basically counts as dessert. Not only does the batter feature both cocoa and peanut butter, an intensely flavorful combo, the loaf also gets that beautiful drizzle of melted peanut butter once it comes out of the oven. I’d top a slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and call it a day.
Keep on cookin'
Bread isn’t the only thing you can make with overripe bananas. Read on for more tasty ideas — plus recipes for favorite breakfast bars, and some handy baking tips.