Ultimate Banana Bread

This single loaf of banana bread is packed with FIVE bananas(!), brown sugar, butter, chopped walnuts, and a sprinkle of sugar on top. It bakes up high, dense, and supremely moist. Ultimate indeed!

A loaf of banana bread on a wire rack with a few slices cut off.

I stared at this recipe for years -YEARS – before making it. I saved it from a Cook’s Illustrated magazine, but it took until I had an entire bunch of bananas that had gone black on me to finally dive in and give it a try.

Why had I dismissed it all those years? Quite simply, I always felt like banana bread should be, well, simple. A quick remedy to overripe bananas on the counter that could be in the oven before the first commercial break of your grandma’s favorite soap opera. Spoiler alert: this is not your grandma’s banana bread. The preparation methods seemed over the top to me, so I ignored it for years. Finally, I had some free time on my hands, along with the black bananas, so I decided to give it a try.

Yes, there were more preparation steps and additional preparation time, but this is most definitely the best banana bread I’ve ever made.

Bananas in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl.

The banana flavor is dramatically intensified and the loaf baked up nice and high (all of the banana bread recipes I’ve made over the years have been short and squat). Not that I ever complained; it was all I’d ever known, but I do love a high loaf of bread, be it yeasted or quick. Tall is where it’s at!

Now, let’s talk about the texture. I love, love, loved it. The bread is supremely dense and very moist; while previous attempts at banana bread have all been moist, the dense texture was new to me. It doesn’t feel like it’s going to crumble apart when you handle it; the slices are heavy and substantial.

I also love the sprinkling of granulated sugar on top of the loaf before putting it in the oven – it gives the finished bread a little bit of a sweet crunch on top.

Banana bread batter in a loaf pan with sugar sprinkled on top.

How to Make the Ultimate Banana Bread

Okay here we go, the banana bread that’s a little high maintenance in preparation, but pays off in dividends with the final product… this is how we do it!

  • Microwave the bananas, then strain over a bowl to capture all of the juices that have been released.
  • Reduce the banana juice in a saucepan to get super concentrated banana flavor without needing to add a ton of extra liquid.
  • Mash together the bananas and reduced liquid – ultimate banana flavor!

The rest of the recipe is pretty run-of-the-mill with whisking melted butter (no oil!), eggs, brown sugar (moister and more flavorful than white!), and vanilla into the mashed bananas, then stirring together with the flour mixture.

All that’s left is to sprinkle the top with sugar and bake away.

A baked loaf of banana bread still in the loaf pan on a wire rack.

Ultimate Banana Bread Recipe Notes

  • It’s important that the bananas are not just speckled, but are full-on browning or even black so they can release those delicious juices.
  • You can use thawed frozen bananas; if you do so, you do not need to microwave them, simply go to placing them over a fine-mesh strainer (they will release a lot of liquid naturally).
  • If you use a 9×5-inch loaf pan, start checking for doneness 5 minutes sooner than the recipe states.
  • You can substitute other chopped nuts for the walnuts; use what you love (or omit them completely)!
  • This banana bread can be frozen by wrapping in plastic wrap, then foil, and placing it in a freezer bag; freeze for up to 3 months.

If you’re itching to try a new banana bread recipe and you’re not opposed to a few extra steps, give this one a try – I guarantee you’ll love the end result!

If You Like This Ultimate Banana Bread, Try These Recipes:

A stack of banana bread slices on a wire rack.

Four years ago: DIY: Homemade Flour Tortillas
Five years ago: Doggie Pupcakes with Yogurt-Peanut Butter Frosting
Six years ago: Snickers Rice Krispie Treats
Nine years ago: Dog Birthday Cake

Ultimate Banana Bread
Watch How to Make It!

Ultimate Banana Bread

Servings 16 (1/2-inch) slices
Prep 40 minutes
Cook 55 minutes
Total 2 hours
Course: Bread
Cuisine: American
Author: Michelle

This single loaf of banana bread is packed with FIVE bananas(!), brown sugar, butter, chopped walnuts, and a sprinkle of sugar on top. It bakes up high, dense, and supremely moist. Ultimate indeed!

Ingredients:

  • cups
    all-purpose flour
  • 1
    teaspoon
    baking soda
  • ½
    teaspoon
    salt
  • 5
    large very ripe bananas
    (about 1¾ to 2 pounds, peeled)
  • ½
    cup
    unsalted butter
    (melted and cooled slightly)
  • 2
    eggs
  • ¾
    cup
    light brown sugar
  • 1
    teaspoon
    vanilla extract
  • ½
    cup
    walnuts
    (coarsely chopped (optional))
  • 2
    teaspoons
    granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degres F. Spray an 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. Place the bananas in a microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap and cut several steam vents in plastic with a paring knife. Microwave on high power until the bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bananas to a fine-mesh strainer placed over a medium bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, or 15 minutes (there should be ½ to ¾ cup liquid).
  4. Transfer the liquid to a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to ¼ cup, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, stir the reduced liquid into the bananas, and mash with a potato masher until fairly smooth. Whisk in the butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla extract.
  5. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined, with some streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in the walnuts, if using. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the granulated sugar evenly over the top of the loaf.
  6. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, 55 to 75 minutes. Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove the loaf from the pan and continue to cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. The bread can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. It can also be frozen (the wrapped loaf should then be placed in an resealable freezer bag or double-wrapped with foil) for up to 2 months.

Recipe Notes:

  • It's important that the bananas are not just speckled, but are full-on browning or even black so they can release those delicious juices.
  • You can use thawed frozen bananas; if you do so, you do not need to microwave them, simply go to placing them over a fine-mesh strainer (they will release a lot of liquid naturally).
  • If you use a 9x5-inch loaf pan, start checking for doneness 5 minutes sooner than the recipe states.
  • You can substitute other chopped nuts for the walnuts; use what you love (or omit them completely)!
  • This banana bread can be frozen by wrapping in plastic wrap, then foil, and placing it in a freezer bag; freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition:

Calories: 207kcal
Fat: 8g
Saturated fat: 4g
Cholesterol: 35mg
Sodium: 153mg
Potassium: 184mg
Carbohydrates: 30g
Fiber: 1g
Sugar: 15g
Protein: 3g
Vitamin A: 230%
Vitamin C: 3.2%
Calcium: 21%
Iron: 1%

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

Update Notes: This recipe was originally published in August 2014 and updated in January 2019 with new photos, a video, and extra recipe notes and tips.

[photos by Ari of Well Seasoned]

Quick Reminder for the January Bake-Along!

Have you made the Gougeres yet?!

If you have questions, I’ll be hopping into the BEB Facebook Group and on Instagram Stories today to answer any recipe questions you may have!

Made them already? AWESOME! Send me a picture, share it in the FB group, or tag it with #BEBbakealong on Instagram! I’m LOVING seeing all of those beautiful cheesy puffs :) xo