Banana Bread

Hang on there Joe, aren’t we doing gâteau whatchamacallit? Well, yes we are, but I had a bunch of overripe bananas that were crying out to be turned into something. And what with all the interest in tea breads the last week or so it seemed timely. Plus the weather here has been awful the last three days…my precious natural light has been at a bare minimum…terrible for photography. I promise I’ll get to gâteau battu as soon as the Thanksgiving break is over. And anyway, this is my mother’s famous banana bread. You can’t go wrong here. You’ll need:

3 overripe bananas (for a total of 1 – 1 1/2 cups mashed banana)
1 1/2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
11 ounces (generous 2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon soda
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs at room temperature

First, prepare either two small “1 pound” loaf pans or one standard 9″ x 5″ pan by coating with butter or cooking spray. Preheat your oven to either 375 degrees Fahrenheit (for smaller pans) or 350 (for larger). Set a rack in the middle of your oven.

Now then, you need very ripe bananas for a good banana bread. You want them at least this ripe:

Mash the bananas with a fork, then add the buttermilk and lemon juice.


Now sift all your dry ingredients together.

This tea bread follows a pretty standard creaming method procedure. Place the softened butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle.

Beat on medium speed until they’re light in color, then add the eggs one by one and beat until they’re incorporated.

Add about a third of the flour and stir on low until it’s mostly incorporated.

Add half the banana mixture.

Scrape the bowl.

Add the next third of the flour and carry on like that until you’ve used all the banana and flour. Remember to mix only very gently so as not activate much gluten. Leave a few small streaks of unmixed flour in there. Also scrape a lot!

Put the batter to the pans: about 1 pound 2 ounces each if you’re using small pans. I recommend that in fact. Small pans mean faster heat penetration and reduced moisture loss. Much better for tea breads.

Bake to about this point, about 50 minutes for small loaves (rotate the pans after 40 minutes) and 70 minutes for one big loaf (rotate the pans after 50 minutes). Banana bread usually has to be baked a little darker than you’d expect. Test it for doneness by inserting a skewer or sharp knife into the center. Cool it on a rack for at least half an hour.

When you’re ready to de-pan, run a knife around the edge…

…and knock the loaves out by tapping the corner of the pan on the counter. Bingo!

Do me a favor and don’t tell my mom I shared this recipe, OK? It would ruin her Thanksgiving. Speaking of which, have a great one, all you readers in the States. I’ll be back on Monday with more!

54 thoughts on “Banana Bread”

  1. Happy Thanksgiving Indeed! Thanks for all of your hard work Joe. You are definitely on my “I’m Thankful for…” list! I have practiced making this banana bread often since the spring and I’m happy to say I have perfected it. It is truly tasty and delicious and my whole family loves it (especially with some mini chocolate chips mixed in!). Have a wonderful holiday!

    1. Ah right! I forgot about the mini chips you talked about. Those are an excellent addition. Mrs. Pastry loves chocolate and bananas, I should try that next time I make this. In fact I will. About a cup, right?

      – Joe

      1. Yes, a cup should do it! I like the mini chips because you get a little chocolate in every bite, but you can use the standard size too. Hope your Thanksgiving is Wonderful!

  2. How do you feel about nuts in a recipe like this? I make a good pumpkin bread and I’m considering adding some spiced nuts inside it. What do you think about an amount for a recipe the size you posted? 1/2c of nuts?

    1. Hey Darren!

      If you keep to 1 cup of mashed banana then this recipe can accommodate a full cup of nuts. So can the pumpkin for that matter. Cheers,

      – Joe

    1. Hey K! Yes, I put up a post about this last winter, but wasn’t happy with it. This is a re-do that needed to happen.

      – Joe

      1. I was also thinking about some kind of deja-vu, also my nutmeg-remark might have been there as well. So… it’s not like some time-space-continuum where I re-live things again and again… wasn’t to sure about that really: “Hasn’t there already been a banana-bread @ Joe Pastry’s?”

        1. Yes, indeed. I just didn’t like the post…bad photos, and instructions I rushed through. I get funny that way sometimes. Eventually I want to go back and re-do lots of others, especially some of the very early ones, before I got the hang of this digital photography thing.

  3. yee-haw, me loves a good banana bread-recipe. This looks like a pretty straight-forward recipe with an unusual pale banana bread as an outcome – which, I believe, is due to the lemonjuice. But wait… no nutmeg?

    1. You can add as much nutmeg as you like, Tom! I won’t tell my mom. 😉

      – Joe

  4. My fall back to recipe for Banana Bread is from Crust and Crumb, page 163, I made 2 loaves last night for Thanksgiving. I have also added chocolate chips and have substituted the bananas for 1 can of pumpkin. My recipe makes 2 pans.

  5. always been trying to mk banana bread but none sucess.. planing to try dis recipe tmr..
    tnx Joe.. in advande…

  6. I’ve seen many recipes of banana bread that calls for baking soda as well as baking powder. The baking soda changes the flavour of the batter so much that the bread doesn’t taste of fresh bananas any more. I’ve tried using all baking powder but the texture was as even and ‘spongy’ as the version with soda. Could you share some wisdom on this? 🙂

    1. Hi Henry!

      Remember that baking soda is about four times as powerful as baking powder, so if you’re going to substitute, you need a lot of baking powder (2 1/4 teaspoons for my recipe). Try it and let me know how it goes!

      – Joe

  7. Hey Joe!

    I a new reader here, I just surfed looking for Petit Fours and found your wonderful tutorial – thank you! After looking around, I’m sure I will be a regular reader! Great Site, Thank you!

    1. Welcome Connie! Please do come back — and don’t hesitate to ask if I can be of any help with any of the recipes.

      – Joe

      1. Joe, I just may never leave all winter long. I do small scale (family scale) farming in in the spring summer, can day and night the fall and I believe I will bake all winter long. There isn’t a real bakery (non grocery store) within 300 miles of here and even those aren’t the ones that are truly exciting.

        I have a Guernsey dairy cow (whom I dreadfully allergic to but love). I’ve finally managed to convince her to go dry this winter after being in milk for 2 years. She will calve again in the spring and we’ll be flooded with milk and cream (what cream she doesn’t hold back for her calf, the stinker). I have to say you make butter look easy!

        What mixer do you use? My Kitchen Aid is wearing out from bread dough and I just wonder if there isn’t a better machine out there for breads and pastries as well as other household applications (such as butter).

        1. Ha! Sounds good. Where do you live, Connie? I’m trying to imagine a locale where the only bakery is 300 miles gone.

          But to your question, I use a 7-quart Viking mixer. LIke pretty much all Viking products it’s long on muscle and short on subtlety. It has all the power you’ll ever need for double or triple batches of bread dough, plus has enough finesse to tackle most other home baking tasks. The flaw is the that it’s engineered in such a way that the implements don’t reach all the way to the bottom of the bowl. That’s not a big deal for the whip since you can just squeeze the loops until they touch bottom. For the beater, well, you’re pretty much S.O.L.. It’s not a big deal since it’s rare that I need to beat just a few tablespoons of something. In those instances I just unlock the bowl and raise it up to the beater with my hands. It’s a small price to pay for the convenience of all that extra power.

          For butter, I suggest a food processor, the bigger the bowl, the better! Cheers,

          – Joe

          1. OK, I’ve tried the butter in the mixer (what a mess!) but not in the food processor. I think the sharp blades seem so different than a butter paddle.

            I’ll keep that in mind about the Viking when we’re ready to replace ours. I think most of them are the same with the whisk, but I liked the photos using the beater.

            We are in the corner of Utah near the Wyoming, and Colorado borders – not quite in the middle of nowhere but we can pretty much see it from here. If I were to put a string on the map it’ more like 200 miles and 3 or 4 hours. (I’m definitively not a numbers person) I’m probably feeling isolated with winter on the way – travel out of the area can often be dicey.

  8. Hey Joe – I used this recipe back in the spring when you posted it before. Here’s my story…
    In March my wife and I travelled to Malinalco, Mexico with those we consider to be our Mexican “family.” Malinalco is located about 90 minutes South West of Mexico City in a mountain valley. Although Mexico City is horribly congested and polluted, Mali is very much isolated and greatly under-developed.
    The grounds of the house we stayed in are quite lush. They grown plums, avocados, mangoes, coffee, and….bananas.
    Each day that we were there one family would have the responsibility of preparing the main meal “la comida” for everyone, basically the equivilant of our dinner, and everybody there knew of my former occupation as a chef.
    I had been trained in classical French cuisine by several people whose names you would probably recognize. And, in truth, for years I performed at a very high level.
    The day that my wife and I had to prepare la comida, we planned on making banana bread as part of the dessert. The meal was good, and I utilized as much of the local products as I could, including bananas.
    We cut slices of the banana bread, toasted them, spread them with Nutella, topped them with flambeed bananas, and sauced with a Mango coulis.
    I all of my years of cooking….without a doubt this was one of the best things that I’ve ever served.
    This bread and recipe are awesome.

    1. Good gravy — that’s an application my mother’s never thought of! Fantastic, Pat. I’m definitely game!

  9. Better yet crumble and freeze up some Reese’s peanut butter cups,add them to your batter.

  10. Another recipe to try, Donna is known for her Banana Bread. This stuff is sooo goood!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Donna’s Banana Bread

    1 c sugar
    2 c plain flour
    1 t baking soda
    1 t baking powder
    Pinch of salt
    1 small box Jello Instant Vanilla Pudding
    2 eggs
    3 ripe bananas
    2 sticks melted butter
    ½ c chopped nuts

    Preheat oven to 350*.
    Mix the sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and dry pudding mix in one bowl.
    In another bowl mix the eggs, bananas and melted butter.
    Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir to mix and add the nuts.
    Put into 2 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake for 45 minutes.

  11. Hi Joe,
    I’m not sure if you may reply to this as this post is an old one, but I thought I’d try. It is interesting that noone seems to be bothered/asking about the buttermilk: we need very little of it in this recipe, can we substitute the buttermilk with something else? What is the function of buttermilk in this recipe? Thank you for your insight!


    P.S. I’m planning to add some walnut into the batter, I hope it’ll turn out ok!

    1. Hi Claire!

      The buttermilk is simply an option since as you say, there’s so little of it. Regular milk will work very nicely as the extra acid isn’t really necessary. In fact the crust will likely be browner without it.


      – Joe

  12. Joe, this is the most amazing banana bread I ever had! And as usual, the recipe and the pictures were making things so much easier!
    The bread was (yes, was, I only made this morning and it’s already long gone! 😀 ) moist and flavorful and it had a velvety texture to it that we all absolutely loved. I added about a cup of crushed pecans to it, used yogourt instead of buttermilk and… wait for it… Splenda instead of sugar! After all that baking for the holidays and for all the birthdays we have in January I was left without sugar, and since I only use Splenda in my coffee I completely forgot buying some more. So this morning I started to make your recipe and discovered there was no sugar in my pantry, cupboards, you name it! And since the store was of course closed at 7 o’clock in the morning on a Sunday, had to use Splenda. The result was perfect and no one actually believed me that I used something else than good, old sugar. Thank you again for another great recipe!

    1. Hello Ioana!

      I’m so glad you like it, Ioana, since it’s the banana bread I grew up with and have never found a recipe I like better. I’ll keep in mind that it works just as well with Splenda!


      – Joe

  13. I tried many recipes of banana bread, but yours is the best!
    I used wholemeal flour, muscovado sugar, pecans and a teaspoon of cinnamon, was awesome! I need to try with chocolate chips.
    Thank you Joe.

    1. You made my day, Sandra! Thanks very much and I’ll try your variations as they sound fantastic!


      – Joe

  14. Have been making this in a bundt pan, with excellent results! Fabulous banana flavor, better than a breakfast bar, gives hubby his potassium. Thanks much!

    1. Woohoo! Thanks for getting back to me on this, Gregorius. Keep up the great work!

      – Joe

  15. Hello Mr Joe Pastry,
    Very recently came across your site and have spent hours reading info on the science behind various baking issues. I very rarely bake bc I get hung up on all the what if this, what if that which cannot be remedied once that oven door is shut. Am most definitely a cook, not a baker.
    I’m very curious about testing for donenesss with banana bread. My oven is powerful and the last time I made a banana bread, it was done 30 minutes earlier than suggested time in the recipe. I used a toothpick and today it dawned on me toothpicks are short. I was making the same recipe and then used a skewer which came out damp.
    Now I’m wondering if it was damp bc bananas are so moist or bc it was longer and reached further down. Bread is not as moist as the first time I made it. I used a friend’s recipe and then thought I should have checked your site bc you seem to address these kinds of things.
    Can’t wait to hear your expert take and advice on this.
    Thanks so much.

    1. Hello Carmen!

      Yes that’s a bit of a conundrum in the world of banana bread. It’s hard to tell if it’s the bananas sticking to the skewer or underdone batter.

      I make this quite a bit, and in fact will probably be making some later today, so what I can tell you is that when the batter is underdone it really, seriously coats the stick. I mean, it’s not even close. A thin smear of banana probably means you’re in good shape. But watch that convection oven as well. You may want to turn that feature off when baking tea breads, as it can dry them out on the outside.

      Cheers and thanks for the question!


  16. I’m so happy to be able to show family members your response. There was so much eye rolling…but with that big discrepancy in baking time, I knew there was some other issue.
    I will try again with your recipe. Banana bread is very forgiving. 30 minute discrepancy and the one that baked longer is a bit firmer and drier, but still delicious. I used what is a standard recipe but nuked the bananas, then strained and reduced the liquid on the stove to 1/4 cup per Cook’s Illustrated. That gave it a very deep banana taste. I don’t usually read recipes and not try them, but I just love the science behind the recipes that you provide. Thanks so much. Look forward to trying one of your recipes.

  17. Hi Joe,

    I’ve made your BB before as per recipe; it was lovely, but a little too sweet for our palate, so I made it with a few tweaks. I subbed half CF and half organic wholewheat, 1/2 cup white and 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, and a 1/4 cup of sour cream instead of buttermilk. I also added cinnamon to the batter.

    Sometimes, I will add walnuts but mostly, it’s plain. I still get a lovely crust on the outside despite the lowered sugar ratio and the texture is just a perfect tight crumb that slices beautifully.

    Thanks! 🙂

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