Sometimes it’s the simplest things you crave most. Like banana bread. I remember the first time I had good loaf as a kid. A neighbor gave us a loaf and I was skeptical. It had nuts and fruit… two things most kids are not looking for in a treat.
But I took a bite anyways and absolutely loved that bread.
So I made it my mission to perfect my own banana bread recipe. I find this recipe to be sweet without being cloying. It’s moist without being undercooked.
Bonus points: it smells heavenly while its baking in the oven. This bread would be the perfect homemade gift for a neighbor, teacher, coworker, or friend.
How to Make the BEST Homemade Banana Bread
How to Tell if Bananas Are Ripe for Baking
For this recipe you’ll want to use very overripe bananas. They should be very soft and covered with dark brown speckles. This will provide both the best sweet flavor and the best texture.
To speed up ripening, place them in a paper bag in a warm area for a day or two. The peels create ethylene gas, which fills up the bag and helps them ripen faster.
To ripen bananas today, place whole unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet in a 300°F oven for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the skins are darkened and the fruit is soft.
If you have more overripe bananas than you need for this recipe, you can always peel and freeze them for later.
How to Mash Bananas for Baking
Mash the bananas very well by hand with a fork or potato masher. I find mashing with an electric mixer makes the batter too thin to rise well, often leading to bread that’s slightly mushy in the center or even slightly sunken in the center.
How to Make Banana Bread MOIST
I experimented with using melted butter vs. oil in banana bread and found an even mixture of both led to the best results. You get the rich flavor from the butter, but the sensation of moistness from the vegetable oil.
Oil is a liquid at room temperature, so it feels moist on the palate even though it has no water.
Brown sugar and plain yogurt are the other key ingredients that help make the banana bread moist, tender, and flavorful.
How to add nuts or chocolate chips to banana bread:
I made this recipe plain, but you can add 1 cup of coarsely chopped nuts or chips. I prefer lightly toasted walnuts or semisweet chocolate chips, but feel free to get creative here.
The CORRECT Pan to use for Banana Bread
This makes a shockingly big difference. The pan I recommend using is a reflective METAL 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. Anything too dark in color will risk scorching the edges.
Glass and ceramic loaf pans can take MUCH longer to bake. Upwards of 15 to 20 minutes. And you risk the banana bread collapsing in the center and being underbaked in the middle.
Additionally, use the correct size loaf pan for best results: 9 by 5-inches.
I know that an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch pan seems basically identical, but the difference in volume capacity is 15% and that has a surprisingly large impact on the final loaf. If you use the smaller pan size, you may end up with a loaf that spills over the edges and remains underbaked in the center. If that’s all you have, you can withhold about 15% of the batter from the pan.
How to Bake Banana Bread WITHOUT COLLAPSING!
Firstly, follow my notes above for using the correct baking pan.
Secondly, make sure your oven is completely preheated. Wait at least 10 additional minutes after your oven emits that preheat beep before placing your loaf in to ensure it’s hot enough. If you struggle with under-baked banana bread, especially if using a metal pan, invest in an oven thermometer to see just how accurate your oven actually is.
How to tell when banana bread is done baking?
This is the last key of ensuring your bread won’t collapse.
Bake your banana bread until it registers an internal temperature of 200 to 205°F. Use an instant read thermometer inserted into the center. This is the best and easiest way to ensure your bread is perfectly cooked through but not overdone.
Can you save underbaked banana bread?
We’ve all been there. You go to slice your cooled loaf only to discover it’s gummy and underdone in the center. Putting it back in the oven will only scorch the exterior before the interior can heat through.
Instead, you can place those slices on a buttered griddle and fry them up kind of like French toast. You can also do this with stale banana bread (if it lasts that long!).
Banana Bread Frosting
If you’d like, you can add cream cheese frosting or my best buttercream to take this recipe to a whole new level!
How to Turn Banana Bread into Muffins
You can turn this banana bread recipe into about two dozen banana bread muffins. Fill the batter about 3/4 full into the cavities of two standard muffin tins. Bake at 350°F for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
I also have a fabulous recipe for Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins here!
How to Store & Freeze Banana Bread
Cover and store cooled banana bread at room temperature for 2 days. The flavors will actually intensify as the bread sits!
To freeze, tightly wrap the completely cooled loaf or slices in aluminum foil then place in a ziptop bag. Freeze for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature. If thawing an entire loaf, you can also refresh the loaf by popping into a 325°F oven for about 10 minutes.