This banana bread takes the classic recipe to the next level with enhanced flavor using a simple technique. Just cook ripe bananas, extract the juice, reduce it, then combine it with the batter. The result is a super moist and tender slice packed with caramelized banana notes.
When your counter is filled with overripe bananas, don’t let them go to waste. Instead, it’s time to get baking! When little brown spots start to appear on the yellow peel, it’s an indicator that the banana is becoming sweeter, and stronger in aroma.
For this banana bread recipe, I heat up the fruit in the microwave first to create a sweet syrup. I take it one step further and reduce it down to concentrate the banana flavor. When added to the wet and dry ingredients, the reduction enhances the banana flavor in each slice of bread.
How to make banana bread
- Preheat oven to 350ºF (177ºC).
- Melt butter and then cool to room temperature.
- Cover bananas and microwave for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Lightly press and strain bananas, 15 minutes.
- Collect banana liquid and place in a small pan, heat over medium-high until it reduces to ¼ cup.
- In a bowl, mash banana and reduced liquid together.
- Add butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla extract to banana puree, whisk to combine.
- In a mixing bowl whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
- Add wet ingredients to the dried ones, gently fold together.
- Grease a loaf pan, then add the batter.
- Bake for 30 minutes, then tent with foil.
- Bake until the center comes out clean with a toothpick, about 20 minutes.
- Cool banana bread 10 minutes in a pan.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.
When are the bananas ripe enough to use?
The perfect time to use ripe bananas for banana bread is when the skin is abundantly coated with brown speckles, even nearly black. You’ll notice a strong sweet and fragrant odor. That is the natural ethylene gas emitted from the fruit that encourages ripening. The longer they have to ripen, the more starch is converted to fructose (fruit sugar) for added sweetness.
A quick way to concentrate banana flavor
One way to increase the banana flavor is to cook them in the microwave before adding to the batter. This causes the banana solids to separate from a good portion of the syrupy liquid. The liquid is then boiled down by half, creating a heightened banana and caramel taste. This process also helps to more consistently control the amount of moisture being added to the bread.
Mixing the batter
Just like any quick bread, it’s best to incorporate the wet and dry ingredients together, just until a few streaks of flour remain. If the batter is overmixed, more gluten formation will occur and create a more chewy crumb texture versus soft and tender.
Tent the bread with foil
The initial 30 minutes of baking begins to set the flour and egg proteins and develop the structure of the bread. The sugars in the batter will begin to brown the surface at this time. To keep the bread moist and prevent it from getting burnt, tenting the loaf halfway through baking slows the deepening of color. It also helps create a more domed loaf shape.
Leave time for proper cooling
The bread should be cooled in the pan for 10 minutes to allow for a little bit of carryover cooking to occur. But then it should be carefully flipped over and further cooled on a wire rack. If left in the pan the retained heat will dry out the bread.
Banana bread add-in’s
- Walnuts or pecans.
- Chocolate chips (I prefer semi-sweet mini ones) or butterscotch chips.
- Pumpkin pie spice or cardamom for fall flavors.
- Pumpkin puree or sour cream, added in at about ¼ cup deepens the flavor and makes the bread super moist.
- Top with a streusel or pepitas for extra crunch.
How do you keep banana bread moist?
The eggs, bananas, and brown sugar help to keep the bread moist and tender. As the bread is stored in a container or bag, the brown sugar acts as a humectant, grabbing moisture from the surrounding environment. I’ve found the slices get moister over time.
More bread recipes
Ways to slow banana ripening
If the bananas are ready to use, but you’re not quite ready to bake, toss them in the refrigerator. The gas production slows down ethylene production significantly, reducing the ripening. Use those bananas within 3 to 5 days.
- ½ cup (112 g) unsalted butter
- 5 (454 g) ripe medium-sized bananas, peeled
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup (149 g) light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
- 1 ¾ cup (249 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon (5 g) baking soda
- ½ teaspoon (3 g) kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon (1 g) ground cinnamon
- Set the oven rack to the center position and preheat to 350ºF (177ºC).
- Microwave butter until melted, about 45 to 60 seconds then let cool to room temperature. Butter can also be melted over low heat in a small pan.
- Place bananas in a medium microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave until the softened, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Transfer cooked bananas to a strainer sitting on top of a bowl.
- Lightly press with a fork to release the liquid but do not press the banana through. Allow the liquid to release for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Collect the banana liquid, it should be about ½ to ¾ cup and transfer to a small frying pan.
- Reduce the liquid over medium-high heat until it reaches ¼ cup, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the cooked bananas to a medium bowl and mash together with the reduced banana liquid. This should yield about 1 cup of banana puree. Make sure the puree is warm and not hot before adding to the other ingredients.
- Add melted butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla to the banana puree, whisk to combine.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
- Add the banana mixture to the flour, gently fold with a spatula. There should be just a few streaks of flour that remain.
- Grease an 8 ½ by 4 ½ inch loaf pan with vegetable oil or cooking spray.
- Pour the batter into the pan, and spread out evenly with a spatula.
- Place the loaf pan on top of a small sheet pan.
- Bake for 30 minutes, and then loosely tent the top of the banana bread with foil, it should not be touching the surface of the bread. This helps to prevent the bread from becoming too brown and creates more of a domed top.
- Transfer banana bread to the oven and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 40 minutes.
- Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes.
- Release the side of the bread from the pan using a small spatula or knife. Carefully turn onto a wire rack, flip over and cool for 1 hour before serving.
- Lasts 5 days in an airtight container.
- This recipe was made in an 8-1/2 inch by 4-1/2 inch glass loaf pan. If you're using a darker or larger pan, check for doneness 5 to 7 minutes earlier than stated in the recipe because they tend to cook slightly faster.