Brown Butter Bourbon Banana Bread

October 26, 2009
19 Ratings
Photo by Alpha Smoot
Test Kitchen Notes

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
In This Recipe
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Felicia Satchell
    Felicia Satchell
  • jared999
  • Debbi smirnoff
    Debbi smirnoff
  • dfcourtright
  • Marale Garabetian
    Marale Garabetian
Jennifer Perillo is the Consulting Food Editor at Working Mother magazine, and a regular a contributor to Relish Magazine and FoodNetwork.com. She shares stories about food, family and life at her blog In Jennie's Kitchen and in her debut cookbook, Homemade with Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie's Kitchen (Running Press 2013).

46 Reviews

Felicia S. January 26, 2021
This bread was extremely disappointing. It was flavorless and dense. I will not make this recipe again. It was a waste of all the ingredients. I will remove this recipe from my banana bread recipe collection.
Miriam August 12, 2020
Of course the baking time will vary based on the kitchen- this recipe turned out amazing. I used rum extract instead of bourbon and don’t regret it one bit. Moist, rich flavor, and barely last two days.
TeresaT June 13, 2020
I'm disappointment, it said 50-1 hour to bake, took it out 10 min early bec it looked done. Came out dense and hard, I think it should have cooked in way less time. Not my go to but was hoping it would. Did not appreciate the banana/sugar mix or the bourbon flavor so extra work was not appreciated. Sorry, but like the pancakes and lemon cake!
NXL April 7, 2020
The flavors are great. Really picked up the brown sugar, brown butter and buttery bourbon. Totally worth the time and effort. My only criticism is that the ingredient 'bananas' is not precise enough for baking where the proportions really matter. Giving the weight without peels would have been more helpful.
Curtis S. July 19, 2020
It takes 3 bananas. Says it in the ingredient list and in the instructions.
jared999 March 22, 2020
Very time consuming and not worth the effort. Lacking in flavor and sweetness.
Alexis September 22, 2019
Save time & dishes by using one sauté pan to first brown the butter, then toast the pecans, and finally caramelize the bananas. Made a mini-loafs, perfect size, with a bake time of ~25 minutes. Generous with my bourbon pour, along with a bit in the caramelized bananas to “foster” them (+ pinch of cinnamon). Solid recipe.
Mark T. September 21, 2019
This needs a 9x5 pan. The recipe didn’t say what size to use, I used a 8x4 and it took over an hour to bake. Can tell the outside is over cooked and the inside barely done.
Octopus A. April 7, 2019
Loved these muffins! I knew it was a keeper the minute I tasted the batter off the spatula! Made a few adjustments...didn’t carmelize the bananas because I’m not a huge banana fan and thought it would be a bit too banana-y! Didn’t mash bananas but blended while to leave some chunks for texture. Toasted walnuts because that’s all I had. Added the bourbon and thought it was perfect flavoring for teenagers. Not too boozy but nice additional layer of flavor. Baked as mufffins instead of loaf. Nice crumb and great layers from browned butter and bourbon. Definitely adding to the weekend breakfast rotation. Teen friendly.
Debbi S. May 2, 2018
I’m always looking for the perfect banana bread. This was good, but the browned butter and bourbon were lost flavors in this bread. Mine was moist and good, but not my go-to which I’m still looking for.
mychicago January 8, 2018
Made this with gluten free flour (blend from jovial) and substituted slivered almonds and almond extract for the pecans and bourbon since I didn't have those. It came out pretty good - moist, not too sweet, crunchy. If I had bourbon I would add that too. Got to make sure not to overbake tho, otherwise it will dry out.
Curlytexan April 30, 2017
I'm not a big fan of banana bread, but the hubby is so I find myself making it from time to time, I didn't find the few extra steps overly cumbersome. The bread is a bit lighter and cake like as opposed to some other dense moist recipes I've tried over the years. That being said, it's still more dense than a cake. It smelled cloyingly sweet while baking and I was afraid it might taste that way too, but the sweetness wasn't overpowering. I don't know that the bourbon was particularly notable in the finished product. What really mattered is that it got the thumbs up from the banana bread comsumers in the house. They gave this recipe a definite yes!
dfcourtright February 20, 2017
very not into this recipe--super complicated and the bread turned out very dry bready and not moist fally aparty banana bread. don't recommend.
Marale G. February 1, 2017
I made this a while ago and it was so good! Moist as ever--just how I like it :)
Lesley October 23, 2016
This is good, but not sure if all the extra steps were worth it. The bourbon and buttermilk and brown butter got lost after it baked. It's by no means a loss, it's very tasty banana bread, but a bit of a let down, flavor wise.
Caroline B. September 27, 2016
I added an extra banana and the bread turned out too wet and sunk. Still delicious but the texture was wrong.
eternalgradstudent September 11, 2016
This is really an excellent banana bread. I even forgot to put in the buttermilk, and it still was moist, and absolutely delicious!
Sarah M. May 9, 2016
I really love this recipe - I've made it many times (usually with 4-5 bananas) and always loved the results. Today I didn't have butter, diary milk OR eggs (and was way too lazy to go to the grocery store) but decided to go for it anyway with soy milk (curdled with apple cider vinegar), earth balance buttery sticks and flax eggs as substitutes. I also doubled the baking powder for a better rise. The results were very good, although denser and not quite as flavorful as the original. Good to know you can adapt for vegan diet!
Susana February 13, 2016
Not happy with this recipe - my old stand by is best. I guess it's ;possible that i did something wrong but will not try it again :(
RSVPPDQ36 October 1, 2015
The first time I make a new recipe, I try to follow the instructions exactly, which I did with this one. Everything measured and timed. I was expecting it to blow my old standby out of the water, with the caramlized diced banana and the browned butter, which are two extra steps I've never made with banana bread before. It was good, a tad dry like other commenters suggested, but still came second to my regular recipe. More cake like than typical banana bread, I thought.
Robbie May 17, 2015
This is an amazing bread, maybe the best I have ever had! I have made over 100 different recipes looking for that elusive flavor and this sure hit the mark. I did not have the 3rd banana to carmelized because a certain hubby decided to eat a banana even though he dislikes them overripe. Substituted with toasted coconut. Can't wait to make it with the carmelized banana. THANKS!