Brown Butter Bourbon Banana Bread

October 26, 2009
30 Ratings
Photo by Alpha Smoot
  • Serves one 9-inch loaf
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

What You'll Need
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Chris Van Houten
    Chris Van Houten
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    Felicia Satchell
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  • Debbi smirnoff
    Debbi smirnoff
  • dfcourtright
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).

53 Reviews

Kiki V. December 19, 2022
This recipe was a fantastic idea but needed a little help to really shine. I wish the author could revisit this and update it with some of the feedback in the comments.

First, up the pecans to 1 cup and toast in a dry skillet until fragrant.

Meanwhile brown your butter in a light colored pan so you can watch the color change - you want to get just past the foamy stage to a nutty color and fragrance.

Next, in the pan you toasted nuts in, add all three bananas, diced, plus 1/4 cup brown sugar, 3 tbsp butter (added to total in recipe, a tbsp vanilla, and as much bourbon as you like, maybe a 1/4 cup - your going to simmer this all together while stirring until the caramel is bubbling and the alcohol has reduced. This is a great step to add some salt, cinnamon, a pinch of black pepper or cayenne, and cook it on down.

Combine the nuts, butter, and caramélisés bananas in a mixing bowl and let cool a bit so you can add the remaining wet ingredients.

Add your eggs and buttermilk (I subbed eggnog because Xmas) and stir well.

In a separate bowl mix your flour, 1tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp baking soda thoroughly. You can add a couple more Tbsp brown sugar if you want a sweeter flavor.
Fold the dry into the wet with a spatula until just combined. Do not overmix!

Bake until thermometer reads 200° - if your bananas are chunky you may not get a clean toothpick.

Chris V. May 8, 2022
So good! A few notes based on other comments I read:
1. To amp up the bourbon taste, I served it with butter that I whipped with a small splash of bourbon.
2. Some people complained it turned out too dense. My first guess is that the batter might have been overbeaten in those cases, especially after some flour is added. Overbeating will make the proteins thicken and tighten up, and the whole thing will be unpleasantly dense. I mixed it all with a rubber spatula rather than a stand mixer and it turned out great.
3. As far as sweetness and banana flavor, you want those bananas SUPER ripe. Like, brown all over and on the verge of no longer being fresh. If your bananas get overripe you can keep them in the freezer and thaw them out to make banana bread. The ones you caramelize for this recipe don't need to be as brown.
vanessamorales February 7, 2022
love it
vanessamorales February 7, 2022
It was delicious.
melissa426 December 14, 2021
Like others, i found this version (which i truly looking forward to) dense and tasteless. Also did not cook through the bottom. I will use a basic recipe next time and add the booze with the brown sugar and make a sort of caramel with it.
amey C. December 3, 2021
I only put 1/2 cup of sugar in as I try to limit my sugar intake but still good

( also added a touch of cinnamon)

Loved the addition of the caramélized banana chunks !
Patricia November 30, 2021
I will just add that I don't use eggs, so I used the flax seed egg. I turned out just great.
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 :)