Easy banana bread recipe with cranberries, walnuts, chocolate and a refreshing burst of orange. The perfect solution for those overripe or frozen bananas.
There is nothing like a warm slice of banana bread to look forward to in the morning. This simple recipe includes ingredients that you can easily get from the grocery store and includes all the details that you need to know to customize it into your favorite banana bread recipe.
For some reason my family eats the "prettiest" bananas first. By the time we get to the end of the bunch, I have at least two bananas that no one wants. It's the ones at the back that have dark brown patches and look a little tired. My kid won't touch them.
You'll be tempted to toss the brown, spotty bananas but don't throw them away. Freeze them! Overripe bananas are the perfect ingredient for super moist, Frozen Banana Bread!
If you don't have time to make this delicious banana bread right then, no worries. Peel them and store them in the freezer in a zip lock bag for later use. Thawed overripe bananas work particularly well in homemade banana bread.
The secret to Banana Bread Heaven
The secret to making the best banana bread recipe is (1) super ripe bananas and (2) the special mixing technique.
- To get super ripe bananas - bake them in a preheated 300°F oven for about 15-30 minutes. The bananas are done when the skins turn a shiny black.
- To maximize the signature fluffy, tender crumb do not overmix the ingredients. An easy way to accomplish this is to thoroughly mix the wet and dry ingredients separately and then quickly mix the two into a batter for about 10 seconds or until the dry ingredients are just moistened.
What you need to make moist banana bread
Classic banana bread recipes include mashed bananas, flour, baking powder, baking soda, butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract.
The world's best banana breads also include other add-ons which add additional layers of different textures and flavors. This recipe includes my favorite combination of ingredients.
- Overripe frozen bananas. You can also use fresh bananas. The best bananas for Banana Bread will have brown spots and an intense banana smell. You will need about two large bananas.
- All-purpose flour. This recipe also works with whole wheat flour.
- Baking powder and baking soda. Unlike regular breads that use yeast, Banana Bread is a quick bread which use chemical leaveners to rise.
- Unsalted Butter. Use melted sweet butter that has been cooled to room temperature.
- White granulated sugar. I use basic white granulated sugar in this recipe as I have several other add-ons like orange zest, vanilla extract, and chocolate for flavor.
- Eggs. For this recipe, the eggs need to be at room temperature. Eggs add tenderness to the crumb in addition to stability and structure.
- Cranberries, walnut, dark chocolate chips, orange zest, cinnamon, and vanilla. These are optional/customizable add-on ingredients for added texture and flavor. Classic banana bread incudes vanilla but does not include add-ons.
What if I want to change the add-ons?
You can absolutely change the add-ons! This is my favorite go-to recipe for banana bread because there are so many ways to change the recipe. Just follow the instructions below:
- You can add up to a cup of any combination of your favorite dried fruits and nuts. Tried and tested options include raisins, dehydrated fruits, poppy seeds, shredded coconut, walnuts and hazelnuts. All larger add-ons like walnuts should be chopped into smaller pieces. Fresh fruit e.g., chopped apple, is not recommended as the additional liquid could result in a wet loaf. In this recipe I use sweet-tangy dried cranberries, crunchy walnuts, and dark chocolate chips.
- The addition of warm spices is a great way to add more flavor to quick breads. In this recipe, I use ground cinnamon powder. Other ground spices like cardamom, allspice, nutmeg and clove, work very well too.
- Dark brown sugar can also be substitute for white sugar - this works particularly well with banana nut bread. Sugar can also be partially substituted with apricot jam, honey, maple syrup, and apple sauce Some chefs also add peanut butter, pumpkin puree, plain Greek yogurt and sour cream to the batter. This recipe can take about ¼-1/3 cup of of semi-liquid add-ons. Remember that additional liquid can reduce the rise leading to a denser cake.
How to make this easy banana bread recipe
Step One: Preheat the oven to 350°F. The oven rack should be in the middle. Grease the bottom and sides of a loaf pan (8 ½"x4 ½" x 2 ½") with butter or a nonstick cooking spray. Line the sides and bottom of the bread pan with parchment paper if desired.
Step Two: Mix the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, add the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, dried cranberries, walnuts, and dark chocolate chips. Mix.
Step Three: Mix the wet ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, mashed bananas, vanilla and melted butter.
Step Four: Make the batter. Using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, fold in the dry ingredients a little bit at a time into the wet ingredients until all the flour mixture is just moistened - it will look thick and chunky - about 10 seconds. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top of the batter.
Step Five: Bake the Banana Bread. Bake in the middle rack until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool. Remove the banana bread from the pan after it has rested for at least 15 minutes. Place the banana bread on the wire rack to cool. Banana bread is best served warm or at room temperature.
Tips to make the Best Banana Bread
Adjust the sweetness if the bananas are not overripe. If the bananas are not very ripe, you may need to a add more sugar to make sure the recipe has the right amount of sweetness.
Make sure the bananas are completely mashed. The banana mixture should be completely smooth with no visible pieces of banana.
Grease the baking pan well. Baked banana bread sticks tightly to the loaf pan and can lose large chunks when removed from the pan. To avoid this, grease the baking tin with butter or a non-stick spray. Tip - You can also grease and line the baking pan with parchment paper. Allow a few inches of parchment to hang over the long side of the pan like a "hammock" so the whole loaf can be lifted easily out of the pan.
Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately. Overmixing the batter can result in a dense, gummy loaf. To avoid this, whisk the wet and dry ingredients separately so that they are fully combined before mixing to form the batter.
Don't overmix the batter. When ready to mix the batter, pour in the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients a little at a time. The total mixing time should be about 10 seconds or just enough so that the dry ingredients are moistened. This will result in a tender banana bread.
To intensify the banana flavor microwave or bake the bananas. If you prefer a much stronger banana flavor, microwave or bake the bananas. I do not add the brown liquid that is released from the cooked bananas as it adds too much liquid to the loaf. If you want to add the liquid, reduce it first on a stovetop. Aim to add no more than ⅓ cup of liquid.
How to store Banana Bread at room temperature (Lasts about 4 days)
Freshly baked Banana Bread will stay fresh for about four days at room temperature. To store on a counter, first cool the bread completely. Put a paper towel on the top and bottom of the bread and place into an air-tight container. The paper towel will soak up any excess moisture. Any leftovers after four days should be frozen or thrown away. This storage method is best if the bread will be eaten within a couple of days.
Can you put Banana Bread in the fridge? (Lasts about a week)
Stored correctly, Banana Bread will last for about a week in the refrigerator. To store, first cool the warm bread completely on a cooling rack. Warm banana bread leads to condensation which leads to mold growth. Wrap the cooled banana bread in a parchment paper or foil and place in an airtight container.
Note: Refrigerators have naturally dry environments which can quickly dry out banana bread. It is preferable to store the banana bread at room temperature for four days and then refrigerate it only if it will be eaten soon. A better option is to freeze it after day four for optimal flavor and freshness.
Best way to freeze Banana Bread (Lasts about 4 months)
If freshly baked banana bread is not eaten within four days, it should be frozen. To freeze, first make sure the banana bread is completely cool. Wrap the bread in plastic wrap then store in a freezer bag, freezer-safe container, or wrap in several layers of aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. Make sure to write the date on top. Frozen banana bread will last for about 4 months.
A standard loaf of banana bread will take about 4 hours to thaw on the counter. To thaw banana bread faster - unwrap any coverings and bake for about 30 minutes on a baking sheet, in a pre-heated 350°F oven.
How to serve Frozen Banana Bread
Banana bread is best served warm as the heat intensifies the flavors. It's a fantastic snack and my favorite way to serve it is plain, for breakfast with my morning tea. You can also dress it up as a fancy dessert with whipped cream, ice cream, cream cheese, fresh sliced fruit or a fruit sauce topping. This recipe goes particularly well with a dollop of vanilla soft serve ice cream drizzled with my Strawberry Sauce.
Leftover banana bread freezes very well. I like to freeze the banana bread in individual slices. This gives me the flexibility to take out individual pieces at a time.
How to reheat a slice of banana bread
The best way to eat banana bread is warm. Here are some delicious options on how to heat up banana bread.
- Skillet: Most delicious way to reheat banana bread. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Melt about a teaspoon of butter in a pan and swirl around. Add the banana bread once the pan is hot. Cover the pan for about 2 minutes until crisp and hot. Repeat on the other side.
- Microwave: Best for stale, dry banana bread; must be eaten immediately. Place the banana bread on a microwave safe plate. Cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave in 10 second intervals until fully heated. Serve immediately as the bread will dry out quickly.
- Oven: Effective but time consuming; best for several slices or a full loaf. Wrap the banana bread in foil. Bake the foil wrapped banana bread in a preheated 350°F oven for about 10 minutes. You can also butter the banana bread before heating for more flavor. This is also a great way to reheat an entire loaf.
- Toaster: Quick and easy; watch the setting and thickness of the slice. Make sure the slices are thin enough to fit in the toaster. Some trial and error needed to determine the best toaster setting. Can also be used to defrost and heat a frozen slice - just use a lower setting so that the bread is toasted slowly enough to heat through completely.
How many calories are in Frozen Banana Bread
A single serving of this Frozen Banana Bread recipe has about 302 calories, 14g of fat and 41.1g of carbohydrates.
This recipe yields approximately 10 servings. The nutrition guidance and is intended for informational purposes only. Please use it as a general guideline. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should independently verify it using your preferred tool.
There are many variations of the classic banana bread recipe - some of my favorites are as follows:
- Banana Nut Bread: Substitute ¾ cup of shopped nuts (I love using pecans and/or walnuts) instead of the cranberries, walnuts and chocolate. I like keeping the orange zest because of the flavor but it is optional. Replace the white sugar with light or dark brown sugar for additional flavor.
- Whole Wheat Banana Bread: For those looking to make a healthy banana bread recipe, substitute the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour.
- Peanut Butter Banana Bread: Instead of 1 ½-2 cups of mashed bananas, use 1-1 ¼ cups of bananas and a ½ cup of peanut butter.
- Banana Bread Muffins: Simply bake the bread in greased muffin tins or muffin liners in a pre-heated 400°F oven for about 20 minutes. The muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Banana Bread French Toast: Leftover banana bread makes a great gourmet French toast. Simply substitute the banana bread for bread in your favorite recipe.
You can absolutely use frozen bananas for banana bread. To freeze, simply peel fresh whole or sliced bananas and put them in a freezer-safe airtight container (I use freezer safe Ziploc bags) before putting them in the fridge.
Frozen bananas last for 3-6 months before they start losing their texture. To defrost, thaw them at room temperature for about 1-2 hours or in the fridge overnight. You can thaw frozen bananas in the microwave - it will take about 2-3 minutes depending on the microwave. After thawing the bananas will leave a brown liquid. I typically strain and discard it when baking because the additional moisture results in a denser cake.
To freeze, simply peel the bananas and store the whole bananas in the freezer in a freezer-safe airtight container. You can also freeze a bunch of bananas, single, unpeeled bananas and banana slices. I use freezer bags because they take up very little space and are so easy to use. Note the date somewhere on the container as frozen bananas last for about 3 months before they start losing their texture.
Counter method: To defrost frozen bananas, thaw them at room temperature for about 1-2 hours or in the fridge overnight.
Microwave method: You can also thaw frozen bananas in the microwave by heating them for 10-30 second intervals at a time. It should take about 2-3 minutes to thaw depending on the microwave.
Running hot water method: If the frozen bananas still have their peels, run each whole frozen banana under hot water in a sink for about 2 minutes. Remove the peel by hand once the peel has softened. You can also use a knife to slice along the side and remove the banana peel.
Tips: After defrosting, the thawed bananas will leave a brown liquid. Strain and discard the excess liquid prior to baking. Excess liquid will cause the bread to be dense and gummy.
You can quickly ripen bananas by baking them.
1. Preheat your oven to 300°F.
2. Poke the banana skin a few times with a fork. Place the unpeeled bananas on a baking tray.
3. Bake the bananas for 15-30 minutes or until the peel is shiny and black.
4. When the bananas have cooled, split the blackened skin with a knife and scoop out the deliciously fragrant, roasted banana with a spoon.
To quickly ripen green bananas, store them in a brown paper bag, preferably with another piece of ripe fruit like an apple or avocado. Fold the paper bag over to seal the air inside. The bananas will ripen within 24-36 hours because of the ethylene gas produced by the fruit.
Black overripe bananas or bananas with black spots are perfect for Banana Bread. The ripening process converts starch to sugar resulting in a mushy banana with an intense banana flavor that is much sweeter than normal yellow fresh bananas. Too-ripe bananas often look rotten and attract fruit flies. However this intense ripening makes perfect banana bread. As long as the bananas are not moldy, the black bananas should be fine.
I use a potato masher to quickly mash bananas. You can also just use a fork, a stand mixer, or a food processor.
Unlike traditional breads Banana Bread is a quick bread which does not use yeast. Instead, a combination of baking soda and baking powder is used to activate and create the carbon dioxide needed to lift the batter. It also helps give the banana bread loaf a beautiful brown color.
Freshly baked Banana Bread will last for about 4 days on the counter, about 7 days from baking in the refrigerator and up to 4 months in the freezer.
The top substitutes for butter in banana bread are vegetable oil, canola oil, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado puree, pumpkin puree, applesauce, shortening and ghee.
Frozen bananas can be used in a variety of ways. You can put in a bamboo skewer, then dip them in melted chocolate and crushed nuts before freezing to make the widely popular Disney Park Frozen Banana. Frozen bananas are also a great ingredient for banana muffins, banana cake, banana ice cream, chocolate chip banana bread and banana nut bread.
Cook's Illustrated has a great tip on intensifying banana flavor - microwave the bananas and reduce the brown liquid on a stovetop. Cool to room temperature before proceeding.
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Banana Bread Recipe with Fresh or Frozen Bananas
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup white granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries optional
- ⅓ cup walnuts optional
- ⅓ cup dark chocolate chips optional
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 ½-2 cups mashed frozen or fresh bananas about 2 large overripe bananas; liquid from frozen bananas should be discared.
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted and cooled
- 1 Tablespoon orange zest
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. The oven rack should be in the middle. Grease the bottom and sides of a loaf pan (8 ½"x4 ½" x 2 ½") with butter or a nonstick cooking spray. Line the sides and bottom of the bread pan with parchment paper if desired.
- Mix the dry ingredients. Ina medium bowl, add the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, dried cranberries, walnuts, and dark chocolate chips. Mix.
- Mix the wet ingredients. Ina large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, mashed bananas, vanilla and melted butter.
- Make the batter. Using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, fold in the dry ingredients a little bit at a time into the wet ingredients until all the flour mixture is just moistened - it will look thick and chunky - about 10 seconds. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top of the batter.
- Bake the Frozen Banana Bread. Bake in the middle rack until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool. Remove the banana bread from the pan after it has rested for at least 15 minutes. Place the banana bread on the wire rack to cool. Banana bread is best served warm or at room temperature.