How to Make Banana Bread

updated Nov 20, 2023

You don't need a mixer to make this very easy and delicious recipe.

Makes1 (8-inch) loaf

Cook47 minutes to 1 hour

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I firmly believe that banana bread is something you should be able to make anytime and anywhere, with a mixer or with a fork, in a loaf pan or in a muffin tin — whenever you have a few bananas going soft and freckly. Banana bread, I’m pretty sure, is at least 50 percent of the reason bananas exist.

Here is a very basic and very forgiving recipe that takes all of 10 minutes to whisk together. To make a banana bread, use ripe bananas so your bread comes even more strongly banana-flavored and richer. An hour of waiting while your house fills with tempting aromas and then you’ll be snacking on your very own slice of warm, fresh-baked banana bread.

Credit: Photo: Ryan Liebe; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Ingredients for Banana Bread

With a very few variations, the recipe I give below is universal to almost every church or community cookbook written in the last 50 years. It’s time-tested, and uses ingredients most commonly found in our pantries.

  • Ripe bananas. The more brown, the better.
  • Butter: Or you can use margarine or oil.
  • Sugar: Swap brown sugar for white (which makes a denser, moister bread) or another sugar altogether.
  • Eggs: Recipe calls for two, but it will still work with only one egg.
  • Milk: Swap almond milk, kefirbuttermilk, or even water for the liquid.
  • All-purpose flour: Swap up to half the flour for whole wheat or another favorite whole-grain flour.
  • Baking soda. Works as the leavener.
  • Chopped nuts or chocolate chips. Optional, and totally up to you.

My point here is that you can still make banana bread even if you find yourself short on one of the other ingredients (except the baking soda — you need that!). You can also get creative and play with these base ingredients to your heart’s content.

Two Tips for the Best Banana Bread

  • Use ripe bananas. Just about the only requirement for making banana bread is that you use ripe bananas. Once the skins start to develop freckles and the fruits are just a little too soft for pleasurable snacking, then it’s banana bread time. Letting your bananas ripen even longer — until the skins are brown and the fruit falls apart when you peel it — will make your bread even more strongly banana-flavored and richer.
  • Mashing method matters. Personally, I like to leave some banana chunks in my bread and I also like the one-bowl simplicity of mashing the bananas directly into the batter. If you are anti-chunk and like your bananas to be completely smooth, I recommend mashing them into a pulp in a separate bowl and then mixing them into the batter.

Using a Mixer vs a Fork

If it weren’t already clear by this point, the implied subtitle of this recipe is “don’t fuss; make it easy.” If you find it easier to make a recipe like this in a stand mixer or with an electric hand mixer, then that’s the method you should use. Personally, I prefer to make it by hand in a bowl the way my mother taught me — that feels somehow easier to me even though the same number of bowls get dirtied.

If you use a mixer, you have two options: you can melt the butter as directed and follow the recipe exactly, or you can leave the butter softened and cream it with the sugar. Creaming the softened butter and sugar will make your banana bread lighter and more cake-like with a finer texture; melted butter makes the bread denser and less crumbly.

Credit: Photo: Ryan Liebe; Food Styling: Brett Regot

What If I Don’t Have a Loaf Pan?

If you don’t have a loaf pan, you can use this same recipe to make eight to 10 banana muffins. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and fill each cup to roughly 3/4 full, and check for doneness after 20 minutes.

More Banana Bread Recipes

Once you learn the basics, there are so many fun variations on banana bread.

Credit: Photo: Ryan Liebe; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Banana Bread Recipe

You don't need a mixer to make this very easy and delicious recipe.

Cook time 47 minutes to 1 hour

Makes 1 (8-inch) loaf

Nutritional Info


  • Cooking spray

  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 1/4 cup


  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 3

    medium bananas, very ripe

  • 2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 cup

    chopped nuts or chocolate chips (optional)


  • 1

    8x5-inch loaf pan

  • Parchment paper

  • Large bowl

  • Whisk or fork, if making by hand

  • Stand mixer or hand mixer, if not making by hand

  • Spatula


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  1. Heat the oven to 350°F and prep the pan. Arrange a rack in the bottom third of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8x5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, letting the excess hang over the long sides to form a sling. Spray the inside with cooking spray. If using nuts, toast 1/2 cup chopped nuts in the oven for 10 minutes as the oven is pre-heating.

  2. Melt the butter. Melt 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter in the microwave or over low heat on the stovetop. Place the melted butter and 1 cup granulated sugar in a large bowl and whisk until well combined. (Alternatively, for a more cake-like banana bread, soften the butter (but do not melt) and cream it with the sugar in a stand mixer until light and fluffy).

  3. Add the eggs. Crack 2 large eggs into the bowl. Whisk until completely combined and the mixture is smooth.

  4. Add the milk and vanilla. Whisk 1/4 cup milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract into the batter.

  5. Mash in the bananas. Peel 3 very ripe, medium bananas and add them to the bowl. Using the end of the whisk or a dinner fork, mash them into the batter. Leave the bananas as chunky or as smooth as you prefer. If you prefer an entirely smooth banana bread, mash the bananas separately until no more lumps remain, and then whisk them into the batter.

  6. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Measure 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt into the bowl. Switch to using a spatula and gently stir until the ingredients are just barely combined and no more dry flour is visible.

  7. Fold in the nuts or chocolate, if using. Last but not least, scatter the toasted nuts or 1/2 cup chocolate chips over the batter and gently fold them in.

  8. Pour the batter into the pan. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, using the spatula to scrape all the batter from the bowl. Smooth the top of the batter.

  9. Bake for 50 to 65 minutes. Bake until the top of the cake is caramelized dark brown with some yellow interior peeking through and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, 50 to 65 minutes. Baking time will vary slightly depending on the moisture and sugar content of your bananas — start checking around 50 minutes and then every 5 minutes after.

  10. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Set the loaf, still in the pan, on a wire cooling rack. Let it cool for 10 minutes — this helps the loaf solidify and makes it easier to remove from the pan.

  11. Remove from pan and cool another 10 minutes. Grasping the parchment paper sling, lift the loaf out of the pan and place on the cooling rack. Cool for another 10 minutes before slicing.

Recipe Notes

Banana muffins: To make muffins, line a muffin tin with paper liners and fill each cup to roughly 3/4 full, and check for doneness after 20 minutes. Makes 8 to 10 muffins.

Storage: Wrap leftovers tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for several days, or wrap the bread in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months.