Banana Nut Bread is filled with rich banana flavor, walnuts, and just the right sweet spices. If you love banana bread this could be your new favorite recipe.
There are so many recipes for banana nut bread, and I must confess that I've tried and made different versions over the years looking for the "best". But what is "the best"?
To me the best banana nut bread doesn't need any drizzles or icings. It is made quickly in one bowl and it contains strong banana flavor without artificial banana flavoring. It needs to be moist and it must be sweet and aromatic.
So, my version of this classic sweet quick bread has a short 15 minute prep time, which includes gathering the ingredients and measuring them. The key to this short prep time is the method in how the batter is mixed.
Here's what you need:
Butter. Butter gives a nice rich flavor to the bread. I prefer using salted butter. But unsalted will work nicely too. Just increase the salt to ¾ teaspoon if you use unsalted butter.
Dark Brown Sugar. Dark brown sugar brings deep butterscotch and molasses flavors and gives the bread another dimension of flavor.
Baking Powder. Baking powder is one of the two leavenings used in this recipe. It gives rise to the bread during the bake. Choose an aluminum free type of baking powder for the best taste.
Baking Soda. Baking soda is another leavening and begins its work before the bake and continues to work as the bread is baking. Letting the bread batter rest in the pan, gives baking soda a chance to work its extra magic before the bread is baked.
Salt. Salt is the magic all-purpose seasoning that makes everything taste better! Even sweet bakes and breads benefit from the addition of salt.
Ground Cinnamon. Cinnamon is perhaps the most widely used sweet, aromatic spice in American baking. It has a property that makes foods taste a little sweeter.
Ground Nutmeg. Nutmeg is another spice that easily improves the flavor of sweet bakes and dishes, creamed vegetables, and leafy greens. Its distinctly aromatic properties make it a good choice as a flavor enhancer and a very small amount is all that is necessary.
Vanilla Extract. Often used as a backdrop for flavors, vanilla extract gives that something extra to this banana bread.
Over Ripe Bananas. The star of this bread is the banana. For the very best banana flavor the bananas must be over ripe. Banana peels that are mostly spotted with black are the best to use and if you have the patience try using a couple of bananas that are completely black. Those bananas will give the most intense banana flavor to the bread. As you peel the banana, the fruit will be very soft, translucent, and oozing.
Eggs. Eggs add protein that improves the crumb. Always use large eggs unless a recipe stipulates a different size.
Orange Blossom Honey. Honey is one unexpected ingredient that brings another dimension to the flavor of this nut bread. I prefer orange blossom for its delicate orange flavor, but sage and wildflower are also good choices.
All-Purpose Flour. Exactly as its name implies, all-purpose flour is a good choice for most bakes. There is no need to weigh the flour if you use the "fluff, scoop, and level" technique to measure your flour.
Begin by scooping flour in its canister multiple times to aerate and fluff it. Then scoop up flour in the measuring cup to overfill it. Lastly, level the flour in the measuring cup by drawing the flat edge of a knife or icing spatula across the top to level the volume.
Walnuts. Although other nuts could be used, I've chosen walnuts for their taste and texture in this banana bread. I prefer to purchase walnut halves in large bags and freshly chop the nuts as needed. Walnuts will stay fresher longer if stored in the freezer in a plastic freezer bag with the air expelled.
Step by Step Directions
This batter comes together very quickly if you mix it in the order listed below. There is no need to use the creaming method when making this batter, you don't have to sift anything, and you don't need an electric mixer. Just have all of your ingredients at room temperature before you start.
Step 1 - Preheat the oven to 325°F/163°C. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9" x 5" x 3" loaf pan and set aside for later.
Step 2 - In a large bowl beat together the butter, dark brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and vanilla.
Step 3 - Add the mashed ripe bananas, eggs, and orange blossom honey and beat well.
Step 4 - Add the flour and ½ cup of the nuts. Using a rubber spatula gently fold the flour and nuts only until the batter is just mixed.
Step 5 - Immediately, spread the batter in the prepared pan, level the top, and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of nuts. Let the batter rest in the pan for 10 minutes before baking.
Step 6 - Place the loaf pan on a baking sheet and bake the bread in the oven for 50 to 65 minutes or until a long cake tester inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. A well made and baked bread will have risen higher in the center and have a cracked top.
Step 7 - Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack.
This banana nut bread will keep up to five days at room temperature if it is wrapped tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
My Top Tips for the Best Banana Flavor
There are lots of ideas about ripening bananas and what to do if your bananas are not yet ripe. You can roast bananas in the oven, cook bananas in a saucepan, microwave bananas, and freeze bananas. All of these methods will soften a ripe banana to allow it to be incorporated into the batter. But in my opinion they do not boost banana flavor.
However, I do have two proven tips that will help you make the best banana nut bread when you want to make it!
Tip #1 - Use Over Ripe Bananas
Nothing beats letting bananas ripen on their own!
The secret is to use very, over ripe bananas. The bananas need to be nearly completely black and so aromatic you smell them as you pass by.
Just put bananas into a paper bag, close it, and let it sit for several days. Put a plate under the paper bag to catch any drips. Now, wait for the skins to be mostly blackened and for the banana to be soft and possibly oozing liquid.
See how these bananas are partially blackened? That is great! These are way too ripe to eat with cereal. But they are absolutely perfect for baking banana bread and other baked goods that use mashed bananas.
As you remove the peel you will find the banana is soft, translucent, and very fragrant. This is the level of ripeness that you want and will make the best banana nut bread you have ever had!
Tip #2 - Freeze Over Ripe Peeled Bananas
Unfortunately, you don't always have over ripe bananas on hand to make banana nut bread. My next tip will let you make banana bread, muffins, and pancakes, whenever you want with just a little planning.
Freeze your over ripe peeled bananas. Whenever I have a banana that is past the point of good eating, I let it continue to ripen. Then I peel it and put it in a plastic bag in the freezer. When I have 5 bananas in the bag in the freezer, I know I have enough for a loaf of banana nut bread when I want to make it.
One other bonus to freezing the bananas is the banana becomes even softer and seems to just melt into the batter as it is being mixed.
Those two tips will let you fill the house with the rich sweet aroma of banana nut bread anytime you want!
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Banana Nut Bread
- ⅔ Cup Butter, Softened and at Room Temperature
- ¾ Cup Dark Brown Sugar, Packed
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- ¼ Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg, Freshly Grated
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 ½ Cups Mashed Over Ripe Bananas,, About 4 Large Bananas
- 2 Eggs, Large
- ¼ Cup Orange Blossom Honey
- 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- ¾ Cup Chopped Walnuts, Divided
- Preheat the oven to 325°F/163°C. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9" x 5" x 3" loaf pan and set aside for later.
- In a large bowl beat together the butter, dark brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and vanilla.
- Add the mashed ripe bananas, eggs, and orange blossom honey and beat well.
- Add the flour and ½ cup of the nuts. Using a rubber spatula gently fold the flour and nuts only until the batter is just mixed.
- Immediately spread the batter in the prepared pan, level the top, and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of nuts. Let the batter rest in the pan for 10 minutes before baking.
- Place the loaf pan on a baking sheet and bake the bread in the oven for 50 to 65 minutes or until a long cake tester inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. A well made and fully baked bread will have risen higher in the center and have a cracked top.
- Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack.
- When cooled, remove the bread from the pan. Slice and Enjoy!
Nutrition Per Serving
All nutritional information on this site is an estimate. Your results may vary.