Got sad bananas? Make banana bread! This banana bread guide covers variations on standard banana bread, which is a moist, sweet, cake-like quick bread.
Quick breads use baking soda/baking powder for leavening instead of yeast. There are two methods of making quick breads:
1. Creaming method: Start by creaming together softened butter and sugar, a step commonly used for making cakes. Then, slowly incorporate the other ingredients.
I do not use this method to make banana bread because it takes longer and requires a mixer. Note that you can also make cake, such as easy chocolate cake, without using this method.
2. Muffin method: Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Stir to combine the wet and dry together.
Banana Bread Guide
- 1 and ½ cups of white whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 3-4 ripe bananas (around 1½ cups mashed)
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup yogurt
- ¼ cup melted butter
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- optional: 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, ½ cup of chocolate chips
- Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and chocolate chips.
- In a separate medium bowl, mash the bananas. Whisk in 2 eggs. Add the brown sugar, yogurt, melted butter, and vanilla. Stir to combine.
- Pour the medium bowl with the wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir gently to combine. Do not over-mix - lumps in the batter are okay.
- You can bake muffins, a loaf, or a pan. After baking, to test doneness, stick a toothpick into the center of the banana bread. If the banana bread is done, the toothpick will come out mostly clean.
- To make muffins, line a muffin tin with liners. Divide the batter equally. Bake for 23-25 minutes. To make a loaf, use a 9x5 or 8x4 loaf pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes. To make a pan, use a 8x8 or 9x9 pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
- White whole wheat flour: Required for structure. All-purpose and whole wheat flour work. Using all whole wheat flour will result in a denser, nuttier bread. You can use half all-purpose and half whole wheat.
- You can substitute oats for some of the flour as long as there are 1 and 1/2 cups in total. Substituting quick oats, traditional oats, or oat flour is okay. If substituting oat bran, add the oat bran to the wet ingredients and let sit 10 minutes to soften. Do not substitute steel cut oats because they do not soften and have an unpleasant raw and chewy texture.
- Baking powder: Makes the banana bread rise. Can substitute 1 teaspoon of baking soda for the 2 teaspoons of baking powder.
- Salt: Enhances the flavor of the other ingredients. Use up to 1/2 teaspoon. Do not overmeasure or else your banana bread will be too salty.
- Bananas: Required for banana bread. You will need around 1 and 1/2 cups in total, which could be 2 very large bananas, 3 medium bananas, or 4 small bananas.
- If you only have 1 banana, you can make banana pancakes instead. If you have more than 4 bananas, you can make multiple batches of banana bread. Use very ripe bananas for the best flavor and texture.
- Brown sugar: Adds sweetness and flavor. You can use up to 1 cup of any dry sweetener that measures like brown sugar, such as coconut sugar or white sugar. I do not like my muffins very sweet, so I only used 1/4 cup of brown sugar.
- Alternatively, you can use up to 1/2 cup of any liquid sweetener, such as honey or maple syrup. You can omit sweetener altogether if you want muffins with no additional sweetness.
- Eggs + yogurt + melted butter: Additional wet ingredients. Add structure, moistness, and richness. I used 2 eggs, 1/4 cup of yogurt, and 1/4 cup of melted butter. You can substitute flax eggs or chia eggs for the eggs. You can substitute applesauce, milk, sour cream, or more melted butter for the yogurt. You can use oil instead of melted butter.
- In general, keep in mind that you will need more additional wet ingredients if you use less oil. For the simplest banana bread, you can use omit the eggs and yogurt and use 1/2 cup of melted butter in total.
- Vanilla extract: Adds flavor. Use up to 2 teaspoons.
- Spices: Optional. Add flavor. Use up to 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg. Nutmeg tastes especially gross in large quantities. Use up to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
- Mix-ins: Optional. Add up to 1 cup of dry mix-ins, such as chopped walnuts, blueberries, or chocolate chips. I used 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.
- Alternatively, add up to 1/2 cup of wet mix-ins, such as Nutella, peanut butter, or cream cheese. Gently stir these in with the wet ingredients. Using too many mix-ins will weigh down the banana bread.
I bake banana bread at 350 degrees for simplicity. In general, banana bread bakes at a temperature between 325 and 425 inclusive. Bake time varies with temperature.
I prefer baking banana bread in muffin tins. Banana muffins bake faster, so the edges do not get brown and burnt.
If you're baking in a loaf pan or cake pan, the banana bread may brown significantly in the oven. For less browning, lightly cover the top of the banana bread with foil, and use light-colored metal pans, preferably aluminum.
Do not under-bake the banana bread. I suggest going with the longer bake times. Resist the urge to open the oven and check on the banana bread frequently. This will cool down the oven and make the banana bread take longer to bake.
Step by Step Photos
Start by preheating an oven to 350 degrees. I suggest checking to make sure that the oven is empty and that the oven rack is in the middle before the oven is hot. I forgot to do this, and I had to adjust the hot oven rack.
Add the dry ingredients to a large bowl - 1 and 1/2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Stir to combine.
In a separate medium bowl, mash the bananas. I suggest using sad bananas that are too soft and ripe for pleasurable snacking.
After you mash the bananas in the medium bowl, whisk in 2 eggs. Add 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup melted butter, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Stir to combine. Brown sugar is the same as white sugar plus molasses, so that is what's pictured.
I add sugar to the wet ingredients because my sugar is usually crystallized, and I don't want hard sugar chunks in the banana bread. If you're using any wet mix-ins, plop them in now.
Pour the medium bowl with the wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry ingredients.
Stir gently to combine. Do not over mix - lumps in the batter are okay. If you over mix, your banana bread will be dense and rubbery.
I made muffins, so I lined a muffin tin with liners. I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to transfer the batter to the muffin tin, and I used a bit more than 1/4 cup for each muffin. Unlike cupcake batter, banana bread batter is thick and easy to transfer.
Possible Banana Bread Problems
- Overly brown outside: If you make banana bread in a loaf pan, the edges may turn out too brown. To prevent this, lightly cover the top of the banana bread with foil, and use light-colored metal pans, preferably aluminum. You can also bake muffins instead.
- Cooked outside, but gooey inside: If you use too many bananas that are way too ripe, the inside may turn out gooey. This happened when I made a batch of banana bread using 6 bananas. The bananas were so ripe that when I picked them up by the stem, the bananas all unpeeled and fell to the floor. To fix this, use fewer bananas.
- Too squishy: If you do not bake your banana bread for long enough, it will be underdone and squishy. To prevent this, err towards a longer bake time. To test doneness, stab the middle of the banana bread with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out mostly clean, then the banana bread is done.
- Too spongy: Over-mixing develops the gluten in the flour and leads to a spongy, bouncy banana bread. To prevent this, gently stir together the wet and dry ingredients until just combined.
- Too flavorless: Some possibilities include underripe bananas or not enough spices, mix-ins, or sugar. In general, trying to make banana bread too healthy may result in a suboptimal result. To prevent this, use ripe bananas and try following a recipe precisely.
- Too dry: In general, this should not be a problem. This could happen if you over-packed the dry ingredients or omitted all of the oil/butter.
- Banana chunks: Using bananas that are not ripe enough will give you more chunks. Use sad bananas that you would not want to eat. Make sure to mash your bananas thoroughly. You can also use a blender for a smooth banana puree.
Have any other problems with banana bread? Feel free to ask in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.