At BA everybody has their favorite banana bread recipe. So we made each of them (14 to be exact) until we came up with a collective favorite. This easy recipe requires very little prep time and always comes out perfectly. In short: “If you’ve been making other banana breads,” says former test kitchen director and cookbook author Carla Lalli Music, “you’ve been doing it wrong—that’s all there is to say.” We won’t argue.
The key to tender, ultra-moist banana bread is in the details: Dark brown sugar has a higher molasses content than light brown, which helps the crumb stay soft and supple for days. It’s essential to use just-softened butter since using melted butter would cause a dense, oily crumb. We’re also partial to adding a dollop of mascarpone to give the quick bread some tangy lift, but sour cream or whole-milk yogurt will do the job equally well.
For effortless prep use a stand mixer (an electric hand mixer will work too). And as for add-ins, we think you can’t do better than chopped chocolate and walnuts, but this is your banana bread, so feel free to swap these out for an equal measure of dried cranberries, pecans—or add nothing to the banana mixture if you prefer a smooth loaf with no interruptions. However, if you like an extra crunch, follow Carla’s advice and sprinkle the top with raw or even regular white sugar before baking. Spread thick-cut slices with cream cheese or more softened butter for serving, and store any leftovers in plastic wrap or our favorite reusable containers.
For a heartier loaf, opt for this one made with whole wheat flour and peppered with poppy and sesame seeds, or for a version easier to mete out through the week, go for Quinoa-Banana Muffins. Finally, if a decadent baked banana situation is what you’re after, make our Double Banana Cake.