Culinary Arts

The Best Banana Bread

Written by MasterClass

Mar 7, 2019 • 3 min read

Banana bread is one of the easiest ways to reduce food waste in your home. If you have a bunch of ripe bananas on your counter or your freezer is chock full of rock-hard brown bananas, read on.

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What Is Banana Bread?

Banana bread is a moist, cake-like quick bread made with overripe bananas. It initially became popular in the 1930s, alongside the emergence of baking soda and baking powder. Banana bread is now considered an easy and iconic homemade loaf.

Classic Banana Bread Ingredients

Classic banana bread ingredients include:

  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Baking soda
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Bananas

The batter itself is very simple and well-suited for improvisation through mix-ins. Popular additions include:

  • Walnuts
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Peanut butter
  • Pecans
  • Raisins
  • Cranberries

3 Tips for Making the Perfect Banana Bread

  • Don’t overmix the batter. This will result in a dense, dry crumb—you want it a little wet and airy.
  • Don’t forget moisture. While you don’t want to go overboard (no one wants a raw loaf), a moist banana bread will include additional liquid to keep the bread even. Vegetable oil is common, and some, like the one below, use yogurt, but you could also use coconut oil for a vegan substitution.
  • Use brown sugar, not white. Brown sugar is the superpower behind every soft, chewy cookie you’ve ever had, and its warm, molasses flavors make it a must-have in banana bread.
a loaf of finished banana bread

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Easy Banana Bread Recipe

Ingredient Checklist

Total Time 70 min | Cook Time 60 min | Prep Time 10 min | Serving 1 slice, Serves 1 load

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt (or substitute sour cream)
  • 2 cups mashed overripe banana (about 4 large)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray or a little bit of butter.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the butter and brown sugar. Using a handheld or stand mixer, beat until smooth and almost fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating the first before adding the second. Add the yogurt, banana, and vanilla, and mix until well-combined.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until there are no floury pockets left.
  5. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, anywhere from 45-60 minutes depending on your oven. Check consistently past the 30 minute mark.
  6. Set the pan on a wire rack and allow the bread to cool completely before removing.

How to Store Banana Bread

Cover and store at room temperature for 2 days, or in the fridge for up to a week. Banana bread well-wrapped in plastic wrap or foil can be frozen for up to 4 months and easily thawed at room temperature. For easier enjoyment, slice the loaf before freezing.

5 Banana Bread Flavor Combinations and Recipes

  • Banana bread with nuts. For added texture and soft crunch, add ¾ chopped nuts (walnuts are a traditional favorite, but pecans are great too) to the batter before baking.
  • Banana bread with chocolate chips. Dark swirls of chocolate take banana bread to a more indulgent place: Add ¾ cup chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate chunks for a more structured chocolate presence; chips will melt quickly) to the batter before baking.
  • Vegan banana bread. Though it gets its structure from eggs, banana bread can be made vegan using coconut oil and almond milk and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. The loaf will be a little denser, but still redolent of banana and spices.
  • Gluten-free banana bread. To make gluten-free banana bread, substitute gluten-free flour, widely available in grocery stores, into any recipe.
  • Banana bread with toppings. If you like a bit of crunch on your quick breads, sprinkle Demerara sugar over the top of your banana bread before baking—it will create a caramelized, crackly top-crust. For an easy cream cheese frosting, beat 4 oz. cream cheese and ¼ cup unsalted butter together until smooth. Add 1 cup confectioners sugar, ½ tsp vanilla extract and a pinch of salt, and continue to whip until well-combined and stiff. Spread over the top of a cooled loaf for an elegant presentation.