baking breakfast

banana bread

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I know there are a million recipes for banana bread out there, all of them claiming to be the best. I’ve tried many different variations over the years, from those made with whole wheat flour and flaxsseed to loaves that were chock-full of chocolate chips and peanut butter. They were all delicious. But there is one recipe that has traveled with me from coffeehouse to coffeehouse, and now is a staple in our home. I’ve given it a few adjustments over the years, but it hasn’t strayed much from the recipe we made at the Blue Heron Coffeehouse.

I’m not going to lie. It’s not on the healthy end of the spectrum, but it is rich and delicious, always moist, and full of banana flavor. And it’s the best.

Banana Bread
Note: The trick to giving your banana bread a great flavor is to use very ripe bananas – the blacker the better. I like to freeze my peeled, ripe bananas in a freezer bag, and then move them from the freezer to the fridge the night before baking. As the bananas thaw, they leak a lot of banana juice. I put all the juice in a saucepan and cook it down to 1/4 cup (off heat, I’ll occasionally add 1 tablespoon of bourbon as well), After it has cooled, I add it to the batter along with the bananas. It makes for a very flavorful loaf. Makes one 8-inch loaf

1 1/2 cups (213g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup (57g) pecan halves, toasted and chopped
1 cup very ripe bananas, mashed (about 3 bananas)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
8 tablespoons (1 stick; 113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (99g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (99g) packed brown sugar
2 large eggs

Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan and line with a parchment sling.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and pecans together. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix until combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and mix on medium until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix on low until almost incorporated. Add the banana mixture and mix on low until completely combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and finish mixing with a spatula until the batter is completely combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 45 to 55 minutes, until the top is dark brown and a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Using the parchment sling, lift the loaves out of the pan, peel off the paper, and let the bread finish cooling on the wire rack.

  • Reply
    Monday, November 14, 2011 at 1:47 am

    Beautiful! I love a simple quick bread with a cup of tea. You may try using creme fraiche instead of sour cream to make it even richer. It’s one of the secrets to my favorite banana bread recipe.

  • Reply
    luke and pamela
    Monday, November 14, 2011 at 3:10 am

    you’ve totally convinced me to try your version. i’ve heard of freezing the bananas before – but do you peel them before or after?

    • Reply
      Monday, January 2, 2017 at 10:26 pm

      Having tried both ways, I find it much easier to peel the bananas before freezing. Then I place the peeled fruit into the freezer in sealed bags.

  • Reply
    Monday, November 14, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Sigh, I am in love with your food photos! Will give this recipe a try too.

  • Reply
    Friday, November 18, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    I’m thinking I need to try this.

  • Reply
    Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run]
    Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at 4:32 pm


  • Reply
    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Just made this banana bread – it is delicious!!

  • Reply
    Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    I just wanted to let you know that I have this link in my favorites… it is THE go-to banana bread recipe. Aum nom nom.

    • Reply
      vanilla bean blog
      Sunday, June 24, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      Lindsay! Thanks so much for letting me know. I’m so glad you like it.

  • Reply
    Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Made it yesterday and it is delicious! Thanks so much!

  • Reply
    Marcella @
    Friday, August 9, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Frozen bananas! – what a great tip. Thanks for the great post.

  • Reply
    Sunday, August 11, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    I’ve never had a bad banana bread, but this recipe (+ that awesome tip for using frozen bananas) has got me thinking that this one might be the best yet! I can’t wait to make it (and I conveniently have some almost-black bananas at the ready…)

  • Reply
    Rose Allen
    Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    I’m making this as of now.Will see how it goes.

  • Reply
    Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    I’ve tested out a banana recipe or two and have been a regular user of frozen bananas for quite some time. But you weren’t kidding when you said this was THE BEST! I made this today (added blueberries to one loaf) and have promptly deleted all references to any other banana bread recipe I had. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    I made this banana bread over the weekend, it is delish! In the place of the sour cream, I used greek yogurt. But everything else stayed the same. My daughter took containers to work with her. Co workers were begging.
    Thanks for the recipe. It will now travel with me too.

  • Reply
    Banana Bread Recipe | GENESIS
    Monday, September 2, 2013 at 11:27 am

    […] I’ve always wondered what to do with overly ripe bananas and it finally clicked in my head that instead of throwing them away, make banana bread. And thats exactly what i did Saturday morning. I headed straight to pintrest and found this recipe below from The Vanilla Bean Blog: […]

  • Reply
    Saturday, November 30, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    I keep my over ripe bananas in the freezer!!
    I made this Bread tonight ..We Really liked it!!
    I added twice the amount of Vanilla Bean paste.
    Next time I will add more pecans! YUM!!

  • Reply
    Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 5:05 am

    Once again I turned to your blog for a new twist on an old recipe, and I was not in the least bit disappointed. Although I used walnuts, and duck eggs and yogurt and 1 cup of cake flour. It was a labor of love, as all baking should be, and caused my husband to cradle the warm loaves and inhale all of their steamy goodness.

    • Reply
      Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 9:58 am

      I’m so glad to hear this! And your version sounds delicious. I’ve used yogurt before in a pinch, and was always happy with the results. Cheers!

  • Reply
    Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    I’m not seeing vanilla listed in the ingredients but it is mentioned in the directions. How much do you use? I’m hoping to make this tomorrow, my friends have raved about it! Thanks!

    • Reply
      Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      Hi Beth – the vanilla was there, it had just gotten stuck on the same line as the bananas; I moved it down. I hope you like the bread!

  • Reply
    Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Do you use salted or unsalted butter?

    • Reply
      Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 10:45 am

      Hi Patricia! I use unsalted.

  • Reply
    Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Hey Sarah,
    Oh my these are good. I used plain whole yogurt, and divided your recipe by 4 to get two mini 5x3s. I’ve never heard to add the dry ingred before the banana mixture so I was a little nervous to “not overmix” in the stand mixer but there’s something about this recipe that is finally getting toward that elusive crumb I’m after in banana bread, not gummy and overly wet but not too dry. I used a thawed frozen banana, even heating the juice a touch to cook down and add as “extract” and as you emphasized it does indeed ADD SO MUCH FLAVOR????. On the keeper list.

  • Reply
    Jenn Lee
    Monday, February 9, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    Hi Sarah, I have been on the hunt for a go-to banana bread recipe and can’t wait to try making this! I’m just wondering – could I take out the nuts? I know you mentioned substituting in walnuts or chocolate chips, but I love just plain banana bread and wanted to know if I could skip these all together or if I need to add more dry ingredients (such as flour) to balance it out? Thank you!!!

    • Reply
      Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 9:56 am

      Hi Jenn – taking out the nuts would be just fine, and you wouldn’t need to add anything else. I’ve made it that way a few times over the years. Let me know how you like it!

      • Reply
        Jenn Lee
        Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 2:22 pm

        Oh that’s great! Thanks so much Sarah 🙂

        • Reply
          Jenn Lee
          Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 1:01 pm

          I finally tried the recipe without the nuts and it was delicious! Thank you!! This is going to be my go-to banana bread recipe now!

  • Reply
    Thursday, July 9, 2015 at 9:30 am

    I usually make this recipe (without nuts) and it turns out perfectly. Yesterday, I halved it to make one loaf, and it sunk in the middle and didn’t cook right. I don’t know if it was my error, but something went wrong 🙁

  • Reply
    Thursday, July 16, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    What type of sugar would you recommend using in this recipe?

    • Reply
      Sunday, July 19, 2015 at 9:48 am

      Hi Christina – I use granulated sugar.

  • Reply
    Saturday, June 18, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    Did you meant cup of melted butter
    And about the oven you meant Fahrenheit?
    Thanks a lot

    • Reply
      Saturday, June 25, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      Sorry for the late reply! The butter is not melted, just room temperature. And yes, it is Fahrenheit – I added it in the directions.

      • Reply
        Sunday, July 3, 2016 at 6:23 am

        Thanks a lot!
        i made it. it was amazing!

  • Reply
    Tuesday, November 22, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Made this! Love it. I used full fat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and added candied walnuts. I also had some cinnamon topping in the fridge so I threw that on the top. I made these into mini loaves for gifts and the banana bread ? is so delish. I tend to not make banana bread anymore because a lot of recipes say they are “the best” but this one really is?? I enjoy reading your blog and look forward to getting your book ? ?????????

  • Reply
    Susan whiteley
    Wednesday, January 25, 2017 at 8:56 am

    I have been search for the
    “Best Banana Bread” recipie
    and so happy to have found it

  • Reply
    Monday, August 14, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    Can i cut out the sugar completely here? I usually do not like too much sugar and since the bananas we use are overly ripe giving enough sugar i might need. What are your thoughts?

  • Reply
    Monday, November 13, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Interesting… with the exception of the addition of brown sugar and doubling the ingredient amounts, this recipe is exactly the same as one from Martha Stewart that I have been making for many, many years. It is indeed the best. The only difference with yours is instead of all white sugar you use half white and half brown sugar. I will have to try your version.

    • Reply
      Tuesday, November 14, 2017 at 12:19 pm

      Hi Linda – We used to make this banana bread at a coffeehouse I worked at for years, which is where I got the initial recipe – they made it with only white sugar. When I published it I searched online for the original source, but could never find it! I’ll have to dig through all my Martha Stewart cookbooks now. 🙂

      • Reply
        Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at 2:06 am

        Hi Sarah…it is online on her site. I have been making it for many years, I do not even bother with any others. Next time I make it I will try your addition of the brown sugar!

  • Reply
    Heather D
    Sunday, February 11, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    I had given up on banana bread in loaf pans because it seemed the middle never cooked all the way, and if cooked longer, the edges got too done. I’m going to give this one a try

  • Reply
    julie p
    Monday, June 18, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    If you want “banana juice” and don’t have frozen bananas, place your ripe bananas in the microwave (lightly covered) for 5 minutes, then strain.

  • Reply
    Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at 6:27 am

    I made this yesterday and it was delicious! Thank you!

  • Reply
    Hannah Flack
    Tuesday, March 10, 2020 at 11:10 pm

    can’t wait to try some of these. The crockpot is wonderful for summer to keep from heating the house up.

  • Reply
    Friday, June 19, 2020 at 5:41 pm

    so good! it’s fluffy and light, yet is packed with great banana flavor! the only thing i would tweak for the next time i make this is to add maybe 1/2 teaspoon of salt. i found the salt to be very overbearing, but overall this recipe was delicious!

  • Reply
    Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    Hi! I was thinking of trying these as muffins. Any thoughts? Thanks!

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