Bake

Banana Nut Bread

September 24, 2019
18 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham. Prop stylist: Amanda Widis. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog.
Author Notes

When our test kitchen set out to develop its best banana bread recipe, we obsessed over two components: 1) big-time banana flavor and 2) a moist (but not too moist) and tender (but not too tender) crumb.

Our action plan to achieve the first goal was clear: Add as many mashed bananas as a loaf can hold without turning into pudding. We determined this to be 1 ¾ cups mashed bananas—or, 3 to 4 bananas; by measuring the volume (and, if you’re an overachiever, weight!) of the bananas, the recipe yields more consistent, delicious results. To amplify the bananas’ banana-iness even more, we used all dark brown sugar, plus a hint of vanilla and bourbon (rum works, too, but we like bourbon best).

Now, onto that texture: Yogurt increases tenderness and using a whole-milk variety adds richness (yes, you can substitute a lower fat or strained variety in a pinch). We love the nutty flavor and breakfast-y vibe that whole-wheat flour adds, but you can use all all-purpose if needed; you can also use white whole-wheat flour in place of the whole-wheat flour.

To toast the walnuts, simply add them to a sheet tray, then roast in a 350°F oven for 10-ish minutes, or until deeply golden and fragrant; remove the skins if you want (swirling them around in a colander is our go-to method) and let cool completely before chopping. And if you want to use pecans (or peanuts or hazelnuts instead), go ahead!

Using salted butter to grease the pan adds another pop of flavor to the crust; if you don’t have any, just use unsalted butter instead. Let the loaf cool completely before slicing and serving.

This will keep for a few days, wrapped well, at room temperature. It will also keep for weeks, wrapped well, in the freezer. —Emma Laperruque

  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Makes 1 loaf
Ingredients
  • Salted butter, at room temperature, for greasing the pan
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (173 grams) dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup (131 grams) canola oil
  • 1/4 cup (57 grams) whole-milk plain yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon bourbon
  • 1 3/4 cups (395 grams) mashed super ripe bananas (3 to 4 bananas)
  • 1 1/4 cups (160 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (90 grams) whole-wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) chopped toasted walnuts
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 ½x4 ½–inch loaf pan with the salted butter. (Note: You can also use a 9x5-inch loaf pan if it's all you have, but the loaf will turn out shorter, and will take less time in the oven.) Set the loaf pan on a rimmed sheet tray (this makes getting the loaf in and out of the oven a lot easier).
  2. Combine the brown sugar, canola oil, yogurt, eggs, vanilla, and bourbon in a medium bowl. Whisk until smooth. Add the mashed banana and whisk again.
  3. Combine the flours, baking powder, and salt in a separate, larger bowl. Stir to combine. Add the liquid ingredients to this dry mixture and use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to gently stir until just combined. Stir in the walnuts.
  4. Pour this batter into the greased loaf pan. Bake for about 75 minutes (rotating halfway through), or until a sharp knife or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Check in frequently toward the end to make sure you don't overbake.
  5. Let the pan cool until it’s warm enough that you can comfortably touch. Turn out the loaf onto a cooling rack to cool completely, domed side facing up. Serve in thick slices.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles on the fly, baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., and writing about the history of pie in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's award-winning column, Big Little Recipes (also the cookbook in October 2021!). And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

    18 Reviews

    L.M. August 17, 2020
    I halved the recipe and baked them for 15-17 minutes in a muffin tin. It yielded 9 muffins. Delicious!!
     
    Author Comment
    Emma L. August 18, 2020
    So glad to hear that and thank you for sharing this!
     
    M A. June 24, 2020
    Noting that most people may be using 9x5 loaf pans — would be helpful for recipe to provide alternate baking time for that situation. What is recommended? (I suspect this discrepancy in pan sizes may be what’s accounting for some reviewers reporting shorter bake times and burnt bottoms!)
     
    Ann S. June 8, 2020
    I've made this twice now, exactly (I mean down to the gram!) as written, and love the flavour and texture. I also love that there's a precise weight for most of the ingredients so I'm not fussing with measuring cups and everything comes together quickly. One suggestion, if you measure and mix the dry ingredients together first and set aside, then you can just give a quick rinse to your whisk and measuring spoon to use for the wet ingredients, no need even to dry them!
     
    Fran M. March 23, 2020
    I don’t have any yogurt. Is there anything else I can substitute?
     
    Author Comment
    Emma L. March 23, 2020
    Hi Fran! Here are some options that I imagine would work fine: buttermilk (or even soured milk), kefir, sour cream, or blended cottage cheese.
     
    margaretpm January 21, 2020
    This banana bread didn't turn out well compared to a successful food network recipe which is my go-to banana bread recipe . I reviewed this 'best 52' recipe to make sure I followed all ingredients/direction. Mine was done in 60 minutes, short and too dense, and possibly too sweet. The positive is the banana flavor comes through and it's definitely edible.
     
    LULULAND January 16, 2020
    This was the worst banana bread I made. I baked it for only 60 minutes and checked it was done, but the bottom burned. The flavor was bland. Never again!
     
    RavensFeast January 12, 2020
    Tender, perfect ratio sweet/salt, loved it. I used rum instead as that was what we had on hand (and w/ a tsp. per recipe, it hardly matters). Thanks!
     
    Maureen P. November 24, 2019
    Thank you for the high altitude directions. I added a touch of cinnamon and next time would add a little more. Very nice texture and moisture. Do you think this would work with apples or apple sauce instead of the bananas?

    My crust was a little dark but the interior perfectly moist. I am at 6000 ft elevation and baked at 365 for 70 minutes. Next time should I bake at 350? Any suggestions? Thanks a bunch!!
     
    Author Comment
    Emma L. November 25, 2019
    Hi! I'm not sure if applesauce work work as a 1:1 swap recipe here—fun idea!—but if you try it out, please let me know how it goes. And if 365°F darkened the crust too quickly, 350°F sounds like a good next step.
     
    Misstee November 4, 2019
    Can you omit the nuts altogether?
     
    Author Comment
    Emma L. November 4, 2019
    Hi, yes!
     
    Renee Z. October 7, 2019
    Beautiful loaf! I added 1 tsp banana extract in addition to the other extracts and rum. I also added 1 tsp cinnamon and some grated nutmeg. I didn’t have salted butter so I sprinkled Vanilla Salt on the top. Delicious, I will make this recipe again!
     
    Toni M. October 4, 2019
    Best banana bread ever. Perfect texture and moisture. No mixer needed , which I liked.
     
    Author Comment
    Emma L. October 6, 2019
    Yay! Thanks, Toni.
     
    Stephanie G. September 28, 2019
    This was good! I added roasted pecans instead of walnuts. I also used einkorn flour instead of whole wheat. I was a little short on the banana puree and didn't notice at all. I really like the way it domed on the top. I dislike short loaves.
     
    Author Comment
    Emma L. September 29, 2019
    Thanks, Stephanie! I dislike short loaves, too :) Those swaps you made sound great!