In most cases, when fruit starts to discolor, pucker, and even ooze, it’s time to chuck it in the compost bin. But not bananas. Because when bananas are overripe for eating, they’re just right for baking.
Since Food52 started (did you know we’re 10 years old this year?), we’ve collected more than our share of banana bread recipes—from a tried-and-true classic to espresso-spiked. Today, we’re sharing the 10 most popular of all time.
Caramel bits and a big splash of rum make this banana bread one of a kind. You could chop up caramel candies—or make your own with this recipe from Claire Ptak of Violet Bakery in London.
Like salt, miso rejiggers desserts from sweet and, um, sweet to balanced and complex. In this case, it’s a banana bread game changer. Yi Jun Loh calls for white miso, but feel free to play around and try saltier, funkier red miso, or a mix.
Two types of dairy—cream cheese and Greek yogurt (or crème fraîche)—make this banana bread extra moist and rich. And, although it’s an optional ingredient, we love how a handful of millet adds a seedy crunch.
Ripe bananas are already plenty sweet. Unsweetened cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate tone down the sugariness, yielding a loaf that’s as fudgy as it is fruity.
Think banana with peanut butter is a perfect afternoon snack? Then this banana bread is for you. It’s inherently nutty from brown butter, then topped with a salty, peanutty streusel, which swirls itself into the loaf.
Inspired by a coffee-banana smoothie, this banana bread gets a caffeine jolt from two sources: a shot of espresso (aka jet fuel; strong coffee works, too) and instant espresso powder. Which, yes, means it’s perfect for breakfast.
Instead of the usual all-purpose flour, this loaf turns to almond flour, arrowroot powder, and buckwheat flour. But those aren’t the only flavors that make it special. There’s also maple syrup, coconut oil, and crushed hazelnuts.
Who would’ve guessed that our bronze-medal banana bread is actually a blondie? In 2015, when it was published, our editors wrote, “Somewhere around our fifth blondie—in which the sweet cakiness of banana bread is condensed into fudge-like creations—we asked ourselves: Why didn't we think of this?” And I’m wondering the same thing.
Say that five times fast. Ironically (or maybe on purpose?), this recipe’s secret ingredients all start with a b: brown butter, bourbon, buttermilk, and brown sugar. But my favorite part is how you caramelize the bananas.
Don’t you love when the simplest iteration of something is also the most popular? This recipe is a longtime family favorite for our co-founder Merrill Stubbs. “People seem to have strong opinions about what makes a good banana bread. For me, it's about walking that fine line between dry and overly squidgy (as Nigella would say). That's why I've stayed loyal to this recipe all these years,” she said. “It is very banana-y, especially if you use super soft, overripe bananas. If I'm going to make banana bread, I want it to taste like bananas!” Me too, Merrill. Me too.
A couple months ago, our test kitchen set out to create its own ultimate version of this classic. We
tortured ourselves obsessed debated thoughtfully considered questions like: Which type of sugar brings out the biggest banana flavor? Granulated, light brown, dark brown, a mix? What about butter versus oil? How much vanilla? Many tests later, we landed on a recipe that checked all our boxes: banana-iest flavor, not too sweet, moist-tender crumb, delightfully nutty.