The Tastiest And Healthiest Banana Bread Recipe
Banana bread is probably the most sought after bread recipe in America. It is a dish that can be made using the most basic of ingredients and it can be put together quickly and without much hassle.
Over the years the basic banana bread recipe has seen a lot of variations; the traditional flavors have been paired up with spices, honey, jam, and even peanut butter to enhance the bread’s appeal.
Join us as we showcase the nutritional value of this dish, discuss some popular variations of the recipe, and give you our famous recipe for a tasty and healthy banana bread.
The Health Benefits of Banana Bread
Banana bread may not be the healthiest dish to consume on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a piece or two of this delicious bread every once in a while. Also, you can replace the more “unhealthy” ingredients like butter and flour with safer alternatives to make this dish more nutritious. Let’s take a look at the nutritional value of a traditional banana bread loaf.
Making Banana Bread
Now that you have an idea of all the health benefits of banana bread, let’s move on to the actual recipe and technique for making the perfect banana bread at home.
Before jumping into the actual recipe, there are some things you need to keep in mind and prepare in advance to make sure you end up with the perfect banana bread. Here are some points to note:
Choose The Right Bananas
- Bananas are the star of this recipe so they should be chosen with care. The recipe calls for ripe bananas; ripe bananas are the ones that have more brown spots on them than yellow.
- A good way to check if a banana is ripe is to put some pressure on the body and see if it is squishy. Ripe bananas are pulpier, so they will bend even when little pressure is applied.
- We recommend choosing bananas that are overripe. Overripe bananas have skins that are almost all brown, pulp that is really mushy, and a body that can barely retain its shape.
- These bananas are the best for making this bread because they are easier to mash and they have an acidic banana flavor that complements the bread well.
However, you need to be careful not to use bananas that are stale. There is a very thin line between overripe and stale bananas. The trick is to choose bananas that are pulpy but not so much that they are liquefying. This liquid is actually the banana releasing alcohol and you don’t want that in your bread.
Mash The Bananas
- While you may be tempted to use the food processor for mashing the bananas, don’t. Since overripe bananas are already mushy, mashing them in the food processor will reduce them to an almost liquid consistency.
- This will dilute the flavor and make it difficult for you to get just the right consistency for your batter. The best way to mash bananas is to do it with a fork. This way you can control the consistency of the mash. We recommend, mashing the bananas just until they form a uniform paste, don’t over mash them.
Add Dark Brown Sugar
- Brown sugar gives banana bread its amazing rounded flavor. While you can use light or dark brown sugar, we recommend using dark brown sugar to really bring out the delicious deep flavor of the bread.
- You can also use muscovado or cocoa sugar to mimic the deep dark flavor that makes banana bread delicious.
Put In Some Nuts
- Nuts don’t just add in a much needed crunchiness to the banana bread but they are also full of minerals and nutrients that make the bread healthier.
- While you can add in untoasted nuts as well, toasted nuts are far more flavorful and aromatic. All you need to do is toast the nuts lightly on a stovetop before adding them to the batter.
Top It Off
- Banana bread has a beautiful golden brown crust that is as scrumptious as it looks. You can elevate the look and flavor of this bread by topping it off with some cinnamon-sugar, streusel, or some chopped nuts.
- You can get creative and add in a number of toppings that complement the flavors of the bread. We like adding in chopped chocolate and a swirl of nut butter.
Choose The Right Pan
- Making the best banana bread doesn’t just require the right ingredients, it also requires the right equipment. You need to choose just the right baking pan to ensure the bread bakes evenly.
- Use an aluminum pan or metal pan instead of a glass pan to make sure the bread isn’t left raw in the middle and doesn’t stick at the bottom of the pan. Also, use light colored pans instead of dark colored ones to ensure even baking. You can also get an oven thermometer to make sure you don’t overcook the bread.
Another helpful tip is to make sure that all the packaged products you are using (like baking powder and soda) are still okay to use and haven’t passed their expiry date.
Banana Bread Recipe
Here is our recipe for the best banana bread. We use this recipe to make a traditional banana bread, if you want a healthier alternative, you can replace these ingredients with greener alternatives we mentioned above.
- Unsalted butter ½ cup or 1 stick
- Granulated white sugar 1 cup
- Large Eggs 2Overripe, medium bananas 3
- Milk ¼ cup
- Vanilla 1tspAll-purpose flour 2 cups
- Baking soda 1tsp
- Salt ½ tsp
- Nuts or chocolate chips ½ cup
- Loaf pan 8x5"
- Parchment paper
- Large bowl
- Whisk and fork or a food processor or stand-mixer
- Preheat the oven at 350°F. Add an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven. Also, prepare the loaf pan by placing a parchment paper inside the pan. Let the excess paper hang over the sides. Spray the sides of the pan with cooking spray. We will be adding nuts to this bread, so if you are going to do the same, pop them into the oven for 10 min as its preheats to get that toasty flavor.
- The next step is melting the butter. You can melt the butter in the microwave or the stovetop. If you want a denser, cake-like bread, you can soften the butter instead of melting it.
- Next, whisk the sugar and butter together in a bowl. Alternatively, you can cream softened butter and sugar together in a stand mixer as well.
- Add the eggs to the bowl of sugar and butter. Add them separately and whisk one completely before adding the next.
- Next, whisk in the milk and vanilla. Whisk the mixture until everything is mixed and a batter like consistency is achieved
- Add in the star of the dish, the bananas. You can add the bananas directly to the batter and whisk them till you get the right texture. If you prefer the bananas in your bread to be chunkier, don’t over whisk the batter once the bananas have been added. If you want the bananas to be paste-like, mash them with a fork in a separate bowl first until a paste is formed and then transfer them into the batter.
- Mix the flour, salt, and baking soda in a separate bowl and then add the mixture to the batter. Switch to a spatula in place of a whisk and mix these two together until the powders are just mixed into the batter. Be careful not to overmix
- Add in nuts or chocolates to the batter and gently fold them in. Don’t mix the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Make the top smooth and pat the pan on the tabletop to remove any access air.
- Place the pan in the oven and bake for 50-60 min. The bread will be done when its top is a nice caramelized brown and there is some yellow bread peaking from underneath. You can also insert a toothpick inside the bread to check if it’s ready. If the toothpick comes out clean then you’re good to go. The exact time of baking varies so start checking your bread after it has been baking for at least 50 min.
- Once the bread is done, let the pan cool on a cooling rack for at least 10 min before removing it.
- After the 10 min are up, use the sides of the parchment paper to lift the bread out. Cool for another 10 min on the rack before slicing.
- You can store this bread for about a week in the refrigerator or wrap it in foil and freeze it for up to 3 months.
Tips and Tricks
Banana bread may be the best dish to make with overripe bananas, but it is also full of calories. But if you want to enjoy this amazing bread every day, here are some tips you can use to make this bread healthier:
- Use less sugar by adding in more bananas. If the recipe asks for two you can add three or four bananas and cut the amount of sugar you put in. In our experience, this trick doesn’t affect the overall flavor or texture of the bread but it does make it more healthy.
- If you don’t want to use more bananas, you can always replace white sugar with brown sugar. Brown sugar deepens the flavor of the bread and is better for your health. If you don’t want to use too much sugar, you can add in some applesauce instead. This adds a bit of a punch to the bread as well.
- Replace the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour has a nuttier flavor and has more potassium, magnesium, zinc, and fiber.
- Instead of chocolate, you can add fruits and nuts to the bread to make it flavorful and healthy. We love putting blueberries and walnuts in our bread to give it that nutty, tart flavor.
- Use buttermilk instead of butter to add a tangy flavor to your bread and cut down the calories butter has. We use one cup of nonfat buttermilk mixed with 2 tbsp. of canola oil to completely replace butter in the recipe. The banana bread made by using buttermilk is moist and tangy.
- Bake the bread using a light colored pan to make sure the bread bakes evenly. Also, stay away from glass pans as they will make your bread stick to the bottom and your bread won’t cook evenly.
Common Questions and Problems
Banana bread isn’t a complicated bread to bake but there are so many variations of the recipe that ask for different ingredients that it is easy to get confused. We have put together a list of frequently asked questions and problems to answer all of your queries.
1. How can I use self-rising flour in a banana bread recipe?
Self-rising flour is great for baking because a) you don’t have to add in baking powder separately and b) the rising agents are mixed into the flour already so the dish rises evenly. The traditional recipe for banana bread asks for all-purpose flour which is just regular flour but you can substitute self-rising flour in its place. All you need to remember is that:
1 cup of self-rising flour = ½ tsp. of baking powder
This means that if a recipe asks for 2 cups of baking powder and 2 tsp. baking powder, you can add 2 cups of self-rising flour and 1 tsp. of baking powder. Another thing to keep in mind is that self-rising flour already has salt in it. So, don’t add any additional salt to your recipe. This fact also makes self-rising flour healthier to use since you don’t exceed the sodium limit in your recipe.
2. What are some easy banana bread recipes without buttermilk?
Buttermilk may not be the easiest ingredient to come by but it does make banana bread taste amazing. So, we have put together a list of recipes that taste just as amazing and you can make them without using buttermilk.
- Sugar 1 ¼ cups
- Butter ½ cup
- Eggs 2
- Bananas, mashed 1 ½ cups
- Cider vinegar or lemon juice 1 ½ tsp.
- Vanilla 1 tsp.
- All-purpose flour 2 ½ cups
- Baking soda 1 tsp.
- Salt 1tsp.
- Chopped nuts 1 cup
Cream the butter and sugar, add in the eggs and bananas and mix well. Instead of buttermilk, you can mix in cider vinegar or lemon juice and mix in normal milk till you have one full cup. Add that into the mixture. Add in all the dry ingredients. Fold in the chopped nuts at the end. Bake the bread at 350°F just until the crust is nice and golden.
- Bananas peeled 3
- Melted butter 1/3 cup
- Sugar ¾ cup
- Egg beaten 1
- Vanilla extract 1tsp.
- Salt pinch
- All-purpose flour 1 ½ cups
Cream the butter and sugar, add in the egg. Add the banana and vanilla extract. Next, combine all the dry ingredients and add them in as well. Bake at 175°C for at least 1 hour before checking to make sure the crust is brown.
3. How do you make banana bread without baking soda or baking powder? What are some of the recipes?
Baking anything without baking soda or baking powder is a risk. Baking powder is what helps your dishes rise and make them less dense. But what if you start making your banana bread and find that you are out of these rising agents. Or maybe you’re just allergic to them. In that case, you can use some of the tricks below to bake a delicious banana bread without using baking soda or powder:
Add in more eggs and bananas. Adding more eggs in and folding them into the batter instead of mixing them in, mimics the aerating process creating by rising agents. This helps keep your bread fluffier and less dense. You can use this recipe to make a banana bread this way:
- Flour 1 ½ cups
- Bananas 3
- Eggs 3
- Sugar 1 cup
- Vanilla 1 tsp.
- Butter ½ cup softened
Cream the butter and sugar, add bananas and vanilla. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl. In another bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and make a well in the center. Fold in the eggs in the butter sugar mixture and transfer it to the center of the flour bowl. Fold all the ingredients together. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.
You can also use a box cake mix or self-rising flour to make banana bread. Use this recipe:
- Yellow cake mix 1 box
- Banana cream pudding 1 pack
- Water ½ cup
- Vegetable oil ½ cup
- Bananas 2
- Eggs 4
Mix all these ingredients together and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. You can also add in chocolate or nuts.
Common Problems When Making Banana Bread
Here are some common problems that you may face while baking banana bread. Though it is a simple enough recipe, there are times when you do everything right but the bread still doesn’t turn out as you expected. Here is a list of problems you may face and their solutions.
Problem 1: The Bread Is Really Dry
This is a common problem with most breads because of the amount of dry ingredients used in making them. You need to get the balance of ingredients just right to make sure that you don’t end up with dry bread. But what if you’ve already baked a banana bread that is dry, do you just throw it out? No, try these tricks to get some moisture in there:
- If you end up with a dry banana loaf the first thing you should do is cover it with a damp washcloth and place it in some Tupperware with a lid. Don’t leave it in there for too long though because that may cause the loaf to smell moldy. Just leave it there for enough time to moisten up the loaf a little.
- Another trick you can use is to add some simple syrup to the loaf to make it softer. Take ½ cup of water and ½ cup of sugar and heat them till the water boils and the sugar is dissolved. Then make small holes in the loaf and using a pastry brush, transfer the syrup to the loaf. Make sure you put more syrup around the holes and sides of the loaf.
The best way to make sure you’re loaf isn’t dry is to take preemptive steps while you’re still putting the batter together. Try these steps:
- Instead of using softened butter and creaming it with sugar, use melted butter and fold it into the sugar and the dry ingredients instead of mixing it in.
- Another trick you can try is to mix the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls and then fold them together. This will create extra air in the mix and make for a wonderfully fluffy bread.
- When you’re done with mixing all the ingredients in and you feel the mixture is still dry, add in some more canola or vegetable oil to get the right consistency.
- You can also increase the amount of butter you put in the bread to make it moister. But be sure to not use too much butter because that can actually make the bread dry.
- Lastly, sifting dry ingredients aerates them so the wet ingredients coat them better and you get lighter, fluffier bread.
Problem 2: Bread Is Getting Paler And The Crust Isn’t Turning Out As Brown.
Another common problem is when your bread doesn’t turn out the same way even when you use the same recipe. When this happens, check the following things:
- See if you have started adding too much acid to the batter. Lemon and buttermilk increase the acidity of the batter, making your bread paler. While acidity is important in the recipe, make sure you’re not going overboard. If you want a browner crust, try adding regular milk instead of buttermilk.
- Make sure you’re using ripe bananas. Like we mentioned before, you need overripe bananas to make the perfect banana bread. Overripe bananas have more sugar so they caramelize better and give the bread a browner crust.
- Also, see if you’re measuring the ingredients properly and not adding too much or too little of something. Sometimes when you get used to following a recipe, you start putting in ingredients without really measuring them and ultimately get different results.
Problem 3: Loaves Turn Out Dry When Using Sprouted Wheat Flour Or Whole Wheat Pastry
If you’re banana bread turns out dry and crumbling when you make it with sprouted wheat flour or whole wheat pastry the try doing this:
- Whole wheat pastry flour is low in gluten which is why it can’t hold the structure of the banana bread and makes it dry. Mix 2/3 whole wheat pastry flour and 1/3 whole wheat bread flour to increase the gluten level in the recipe. This will make for a fluffier bread
Problem 4: The Loaf Has Slumped In The Center Or It Has Stuck To The Bottom
If you find that your loaf isn’t rising properly, slumping in the center, or sticking to the bottom then try this:
- Don’t cream sugar and butter together. Instead, mix the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls and then stir them together quickly.
- You can also add sour cream and a little more baking powder to make sure the bread rises. But be careful not to add too much.
- Use aluminum pans that are light colored and properly grease them even if they are non-stick.
- Make sure to preheat the oven for at least 20 min before you pop your loaf in.
Banana Bread Variations
Banana bread is such a versatile bread that it goes well with a number of different ingredients. There are so many banana bread variations out there to choose from, but we chose the ones that we like the best for you. Try some of these variations out to up your banana bread game:
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
This recipe is perfect for all the chocolate lovers out there. This banana bread tastes amazing and has a nice brown color. If you want to add a little more flavor and texture to the bread you can add in a cup of toasted nuts.
How To Bake The Bread:
Peanut Butter Banana Bread
Peanut butter is a cult favorite when it comes to bread. It makes everything taste all the more rich and creamy and banana bread is no different. Peanut butter banana bread is our go-to variation whenever we feel like having some comfort food.
How To Bake The Bread:
Low-Fat Vegan Banana Bread
Vegan cooking is great for leading a healthier life. So it only makes sense that we try out the vegan version of banana bread as well. This bread might not taste as rich, but it is still tasty and not to mention, much better for your health.
This is an egg and dairy less recipe but that doesn’t mean you can’t add in nuts and chocolate to spruce up the recipe. But be mindful that if you do that, the recipe won’t be low-fat anymore.
How To Bake The Bread:
Bourbon Banana Bread
Who doesn’t love their banana bread with a deep bourbon undertone? This bread is moist, dense, and wonderful. It is so tasty that we always turn to this recipe when looking to make banana bread for a party.
The bread itself doesn’t retain any alcohol but the glaze does. If you prefer not to have any alcohol, you can heat the glaze up in a pan to evaporate all the alcohol. This bread goes amazing with chocolate and cocoa powder as well.
How To Bake The Bread:
Pumpkin Banana Bread
Pumpkin banana bread is a great banana bread variation for the fall. It has that iconic pumpkin flavor that just warms our hearts. It is also moist and soft and absolutely delicious. You can also use a cream glaze on top of this bread to really elevate the taste.
How To Bake The Bread:
Dairy-Free Banana Bread
This recipe is great for everyone who is allergic to dairy or just doesn’t like having it. Though the recipe has no dairy products, the bread still tastes amazing and the texture is good too. To give this bread some extra taste you can add in other nuts like macadamia and pecans. You can also add dried or fresh raspberries to really bring out a sweet and sour flavor in the bread.
How To Bake The Bread:
Banana bread is an amazing dish that can be eaten at breakfast, enjoyed with tea, or even served as a dessert after dinner. It is rich, moist, dense, and tastes amazing. Baking banana bread may not be very difficult but you need to use just the right ingredients to get that amazing taste.
This recipe is great for using up overripe bananas in your pantry. You can also freeze this bread for 3 months to thaw and enjoy whenever you’re craving some sweet and warm comfort food.
Try all the different variations of banana bread and tell us how yours turned out. Also, let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.