Brown Butter Bourbon Banana Bread

By • October 26, 2009 • 16 Comments

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Food52 Review: WHO: Jennifer Perillo is the author of the cookbook “Homemade with Love.”
WHAT: A blond, bold, boozy bread with brown butter, bourbon, buttermilk, and brown sugar. It's bananas!
HOW: Dice one banana and sauté it in brown sugar until it’s caramelized. Mash the other two bananas, then beat them with eggs, sugar, brown butter, vanilla, and bourbon. Add this to your dry ingredient mixture along with some buttermilk, then fold in toasted pecans and the caramelized banana pieces.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Why are we so conditioned to always mash bananas before putting them into a banana loaf? This recipe is going to break our habit. Folding diced, caramelized bananas into the batter provides bites of sweet, pure banana flavor to an otherwise monotonous bread. Oh, and this quick bread also has bourbon in it. Enough said.
The Editors

Serves one 9-inch loaf

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon, brown sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup toasted, chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease only the bottom of a standard size loaf pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
  2. Melt butter over medium heat in a small, heavy-bottomed pot. Cook until it begins to brown, but not burn; it will smell nutty and fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Peel and dice one banana. Mash the remaining two bananas in a small bowl; set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar in a small skillet over medium heat until it begins to melt and turn golden. Add diced banana pieces and sauté until well coated and caramelized. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. Beat eggs on medium speed in a stand mixer. Add the remaining brown sugar and beat until foamy and combined. Add the mashed bananas, cooled browned butter, vanilla, and bourbon; beat until mixed well. Scrape down sides of bowl again with rubber spatula.
  5. On low speed, pour in 1/3 of the flour mixture. Increase mixer speed to medium and mix until just blended. Pour in 1/3 of buttermilk and beat until just blended. Repeat this process with remaining flour and buttermilk. Fold in pecans and caramelized banana pieces. Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • This recipe is a Wildcard Contest Winner!
  • This recipe is a Community Pick!
Jump to Comments (16)

Tags: baking, banana, banana bread, serves a crowd

Comments (16) Questions (1)

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15 days ago Sarah

This is probably the best banana bread I have ever made or had. The only substitution I made was to replace 1/4 cup of the flour with 1/4 cup wheat flour. AMAZING.

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16 days ago Armelle O.

Made this for a co-worker's goodbye brunch and it was a big hit. Only change I made was ditch the measuring spoon and pour in the bourbon. I did not crazy but one tablespoon definitely did not seem like enough.

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about 1 month ago Jessica

Would this work as a two-layer cake with chocolate frosting? Or is it definitely more like a bread?

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about 1 month ago Corky_H

This is what banana bread should taste like! Amazing! The carmelized chunks of bananas, brown butter, splash of bourbon make this unforgettable in the taste department! Favors POP! I seldom comment but had to share this. Will never make a boring old recipe for this again.

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about 1 month ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I had a whole mess of bananas when I found this recipe. I was a little put off at first because I have been trying to simplify, and a recipe that separately browns butter in one pan, caramelizes banana in another, and requires me to get out my stand mixer doesn't really meet the simplicity goal I had in mind. But it's all worth it. Like Amanda, I used 5 bananas--2 that I chopped up and caramelized, and 3 that i mashed. I did find that with that much banana, the bread took more like an hour and 15 minutes to thoroughly bake in my oven. But it is really wonderful with a buttery aroma that permeates the whole house as it bakes. And the best part? No cinnamon! (I really don't like cinnamon except with apples and, paradoxically, in savory dishes.) Really great recipe.

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about 1 month ago alaskagal

Made this, my bananas were small so I added an additional one to the mashed. I thought it had great flavor. Brown butter gave it something extra special. Nice crust and moist on the inside. Didn't have bourbon so I doubled the vanilla. Will make again, and maybe Carmelize more diced banana.

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about 1 month ago Dominique Hazard

I think the recipe needed more bananas

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about 1 month ago Kristen Ketchel-Bain

1 TBSP bourbon hardly makes for a "boozy" bread, but I guess the alliteration is cute...

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about 1 month ago Jessica

Why do you need eggs if you are using bananas?

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about 1 month ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Say what??? Am I really seeing this for the first time? I think so. Can't wait to try it.

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over 1 year ago Zenqi

One more side comment - I love the idea of adding cardamom. I remembered it when the batter was already in the pans, so I couldn't really add it at that point (although I considered it!). Next time! ;)

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over 1 year ago Zenqi

This is very good. I just took it out of the oven & it's been cooling about 10 minutes. I a double batch and made mini loaves (7). I made two pretty major changes. I replaced about 1/3 of the flour with whole wheat flour, and I replaced 1/2 of the butter with applesauce (I used 8T applesauce, since I doubled the batch). It's very moist and tasty. One note: I can't taste the bourbon at all. In a James Beard recipe I have for persimmon bread, it makes the same amount of bread, but the recipe calls for 2/3 of a cup of cognac, bourbon or whiskey, and the flavor stands out beautifully, but it's not over powering. With this in mind, I can't imagine how 1T would make a difference in flavor. Is there another reason for adding it other than flavor? All in all, it's a very nice recipe, but I'm not sure the extra steps make it any better than my usual recipe (from Cooking Light). I guess I expected to be blown away with the differences.

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over 2 years ago Diva Pourteau

I looooved this recipe!! I need some suggestions though...... mine was a little dry. Is there something I can add to it or should I reduce the baking time? I'd like to add some applesauce but I'm not sure what amount would be safe. Any help would be appreciated.

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over 2 years ago aepk

Simple and good. I roasted 3 bananas in the oven instead of caramelizing 1. and mis-poured the bourbon and ended up with a bunch more. oops.

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over 3 years ago taxidog

the absolute best ever banana bread- i added a wee bit of cardamom too. the little bit of effort it takes to brown the butter and caramelize the chopped bananas is so well worth it.

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over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Really great recipe! I made this with my kids -- oh how they loved the mashing part! I made a few changes -- sorry, had a lot of overripe bananas on my hands. I mashed 3 bananas, and diced another 2. The cake took 5 to 10 minutes longer to bake as a result but was moist and lovely -- and packed with bananas. I liked the caramelizing the bananas technique -- that and the browned butter add a lot of character to the cake. Thanks Jennifer!