How to Make the Best Banana Bread
Banana bread is an easy baking project for any skill level. You don't have to knead it or wait for hours to let yeast make the batter rise. (In fact, there's no yeast in banana bread - that's why it's called quick bread!) You simply mix a few simple ingredients together, pour the batter into a pan, and bake.
How to Make Banana Bread
Home cook Matthew Francis demonstrates how to make Chef John's Banana Bread. Watch the video, then read on to get essential tips and techniques that help your banana bread turn out rave-worthy every time.
Prep the Oven and Pan First
Heat your oven and prep your loaf pan before you start mixing ingredients so the bread can go into the oven as soon as the batter is mixed. The leavening ingredients that cause banana bread batter to rise - baking soda and baking powder - are activated as soon as they become moist, so the sooner the batter goes in the pan and into the oven, the better. Speaking of ovens, invest in an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is calibrated correctly. An oven that's too hot will bake the outside of the bread too quickly and leave the inside underdone.
Mix Dry Ingredients Thoroughly
Stir the dry ingredients together with a wire whisk in a large bowl. You want the leavening to be evenly dispersed throughout the flour so the bread rises properly when it bakes. And why a large bowl? Read on and all will be revealed.
Ripe Bananas Are Best
Here's one simple trick for making banana bread moist: Choose very soft bananas with brown or speckled skins. As bananas ripen, they get sweeter and softer, which makes your banana bread moister and more flavorful. Plus, they'll be that much easier to mash with a fork or potato masher. What other baked good is actually better when the main ingredient has been sitting around for a while? Get our best banana bread recipes to make the most of ripe bananas.
Mix Wet Ingredients Separately
Wet ingredients include butter, sugar, mashed banana, eggs, dairy, and optional liquid flavorings such as vanilla extract. For most recipes, you'll start by beating-or creaming-the butter and sugar together, then stirring in the mashed bananas. Eggs go in next, and then the rest of the wet ingredients.
Use Room-Temperature Butter
Room-temperature butter is easier to beat together with the sugar so that the mixture incorporates air and becomes light and fluffy. Here are five ways to soften butter.
Mix Wet Into Dry
Use a spoon to make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, then pour the wet ingredients into it. Now you'll see why you use a large bowl to hold the dry ingredients. You need all that extra room for stirring everything together in the next step.
Stir Together Gently
Use a spoon or spatula to gently fold the ingredients together, turning the bowl and scraping up the flour just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Don't worry about lumps in the batter; they'll bake out.
Additional tidbits such as nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate chips should be added after the wet and dry ingredients are combined. Again, fold everything together very gently.
This is probably the most important piece of advice in this whole process. Overbeaten batter will develop air pockets as it bakes and the bread will toughen up.
A few minutes before your oven timer goes off, insert a bamboo skewer-not a metal skewer-into the center of the bread, making sure it reaches right into the middle of the bread. When you pull it out, check the skewer to see if wet batter is clinging to it. If so, return the bread to the oven. Test again in a few minutes. You want the skewer to come out with no more than a crumb or two clinging to it. The early test will help ensure that you don't overbake your bread.
Related: Learn more about making moist, tender quick breads.
Banana Bread Variations
Take it to the next level with crunchy toppings and decadent glazes.
Healthier Takes on Banana Bread
Our Most Popular Banana Bread Recipe
Three Ways to Serve Banana Bread
- Bake a loaf fresh for the week, then slice as you go.
- Bake several loaves and freeze, pulling them out as needed. (Muffins and quick breads can be frozen for up to three months.)
- Slice loaves and freeze servings individually (wrap each in waxed paper, then in a resealable plastic bag). Grab one from the freezer in the morning for a snack later on.
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