How to Make the Best Banana Bread Ever

Updated on November 9, 2017
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Jan has been cooking and writing about food for over twenty years and has cooked on multiple television stations, including Food Network.

It's Out-of-Control Delicious

The best banana bread is to die for - moist, tender and loaded with tons of banana flavor. The secret to this quick bread is two fold: don't over-mix, and use every banana you can get your hands on.
The best banana bread is to die for - moist, tender and loaded with tons of banana flavor. The secret to this quick bread is two fold: don't over-mix, and use every banana you can get your hands on.

When banana bread is good, it's a thing of beauty—moist, loaded with banana flavor, and perfectly sweet, with just hints of vanilla and cinnamon. I stole this recipe from my sister, who made better banana bread than I did, much as I hate to admit it. But once my kids kept saying, "Can you make Aunt Kelly's bread?", I knew I had to adapt.

I did tweak the recipe just a little bit. I added chopped pecans, although you could use walnuts if you like, or skip the nuts altogether. Pecans are just what I usually happen to have.

I love the real vanilla flavor of the vanilla extract. I haven't ever tried to use real vanilla bean, mainly because I think it would be lost here. The extract is perfect. Save your vanilla beans for something where they'll make more of a difference. The vanilla here enhances the banana flavor, not overwhelming it.

Make sure you also use very ripe, or even overripe bananas. A couple of tricks there - once the skins get dark or spotted, they're good to go. If your bananas aren't ready yet, you can try two tricks. Either freeze them for a few hours, then let them defrost. Or throw the whole bananas onto a baking sheet, and roast them at 350F° for about 20 minutes, or until the skins turn black and they begin to release juices.

I have to admit, a roasted banana is NOT pretty. But you'll get the most incredible flavor you've ever come across with this method. It's a great trick.

Ingredients

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 very ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Butter and flour a 9x5 loaf pan. Set aside.
  2. Beat together butter, sugar, and bananas. Stir in eggs, and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Mix in baking soda, salt, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and pecans. Stir well to combine.
  4. Mix in flour, stirring only until just combined. Don't overmix - overmixing quick breads like banana bread will make them tough.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated 350F° oven for 60-70 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Cream Together Butter, Sugar and Bananas

Go ahead and throw the bananas in when you're creaming together the butter and sugar. I find that you get a beautiful texture and consistency in the finished bread when you do this. The banana is mashed up and incorporated much better this way.
Go ahead and throw the bananas in when you're creaming together the butter and sugar. I find that you get a beautiful texture and consistency in the finished bread when you do this. The banana is mashed up and incorporated much better this way.

Eggs for Moisture and to Give Lift

Once the butter and sugar are completely beaten with the bananas, add the eggs, beating after each one and scraping down the sides of the bowl. As you can see, if you accidentally add both at once, the world won't end.
Once the butter and sugar are completely beaten with the bananas, add the eggs, beating after each one and scraping down the sides of the bowl. As you can see, if you accidentally add both at once, the world won't end.

Enhancing Flavors: Vanilla, Cinnamon and Pecans

While none of these are strictly necessary, they add up to an incredible depth of flavor in the finished bread. Go strong with the vanilla, lightly with the cinnamon, and decide if you want nuts at all. We just like pecans, but walnuts are great too.
While none of these are strictly necessary, they add up to an incredible depth of flavor in the finished bread. Go strong with the vanilla, lightly with the cinnamon, and decide if you want nuts at all. We just like pecans, but walnuts are great too.

Mix Thoroughly Before Adding Flour

One of the biggest points about making quick bread - like banana bread - and having it turn out moist and tender, is to stir as little as possible after adding flour. So making sure all the other ingredients are well mixed first is key.
One of the biggest points about making quick bread - like banana bread - and having it turn out moist and tender, is to stir as little as possible after adding flour. So making sure all the other ingredients are well mixed first is key.

Add Flour and Stir Just To Moisten

Don't over mix after adding the flour. Stir just until you have no dry pockets and the flour is incorporated. That's it - stop!
Don't over mix after adding the flour. Stir just until you have no dry pockets and the flour is incorporated. That's it - stop!

Transfer Batter to a Prepared Pan

Butter and flour a loaf pan, and gently pour the batter in.
Butter and flour a loaf pan, and gently pour the batter in.

Bake Until Golden and Tester Comes out Clean

Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until risen, golden and a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let rest in the loaf pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until risen, golden and a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let rest in the loaf pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Allow to Cool Completely - If You Can

Theoretically, you should let the bread cool completely before cutting. The texture is better, and the bread stays more moist. I don't think that's ever happened at my house. Ever. Again - the world doesn't end.
Theoretically, you should let the bread cool completely before cutting. The texture is better, and the bread stays more moist. I don't think that's ever happened at my house. Ever. Again - the world doesn't end.

Wrap Well to Store

Once cool, keep wrapped well and the bread will keep beautifully for a couple days. My kids love toasting the bread a little, and adding butter. Mmmm...
Once cool, keep wrapped well and the bread will keep beautifully for a couple days. My kids love toasting the bread a little, and adding butter. Mmmm...

Check out the Quick Tutorial!

Make your Own Vanilla Extract!

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Jan Charles

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