Brown Butter Bourbon Banana Bread

October 26, 2009

Test Kitchen-Approved

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
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.
  • This recipe is a Wildcard Contest Winner!
  • This recipe is a Community Pick!

More Great Recipes:
Banana Bread|Bread|American|Butter|Buttermilk|Fruit|Pecan|Bourbon|Father's Day|Fall|Thanksgiving|Winter

Reviews (37) Questions (1)

37 Reviews

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!
Detrishious April 19, 2015
This is an amazing recipe. I made a loaf without nuts (kid friendly for school) and I made muffins with the second batch. I decided to use bourbon cardamom spiced walnuts.
Thanks for sharing this recipe!
Joan1028 March 19, 2015
What about poking holes with a toothpick and pouring the bourbon over top of the finished product?
Janet H. March 6, 2015
A really good banana bread, I used yoghurt instead of buttermilk though. Not soggy and a really nice flavour. I couldn't do the caramelised bananas because mine were too mushy, but it was still great. I might try it with dates next time.
Chris February 4, 2015
I made this recipe and the bread did not rise at all. It was overly dense. I baked in a gold tone loaf pan. Any ideas why this happened.
mnist August 11, 2015
Buttermilk's acidity interacts with baking soda and causes the cake to rise. You might have forgotten the baking soda or perhaps the buttermilk was a little off. (Just a thought.)
JocelynT February 2, 2015
HOLY COW THIS BREAD IS THE BEST! Seriously though, top-notch.
Erin A. January 8, 2015
This is a very tasty and foolproof banana bread recipe. I had to make my own buttermilk because I live in Costa Rica. I also added chocolate chips (but not too many). It was delicious. Everyone loved it.
tara.roberts.585 January 1, 2015
This is very tasty! I used white whole wheat instead of all purpose flour and subbed brandy for bourbon.
Sarah November 12, 2014
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.