This truly is the PERFECT banana bread. With an easy one-bowl and no-mixer recipe, it's super-moist and so flavorful! The beautiful, sweet, mahogany-hued crust is crisp and the crumb incredibly tender.
Remember the classic children's story, Goldilocks and the Three Bears? A family of bears came upon Goldilocks's house when no one was home. They seized the opportunity and invited themselves inside. The story tells how the bears decided to "test" the dining chairs in the house to see if any would be suitable for them. "Too big", "too small", "too hard", "too soft" and finally when got to the last chair (belonging to little Goldilocks), the verdict was... "Perfect!". That's exactly how I felt when experimenting with, what seemed like, a zillion banana bread recipes.
The "BEST" banana bread... not always the best
Most of them were good... but not great or (in my eyes) "perfect". And I was looking for that perfect recipe. What do I mean by "perfect"? Easy, moist, tender-crumbed, really attractive and, of course, incredibly delicious.
"Too dry", "too wet", "too ugly", "too pale", "too flat", "too complicated"... and on and on it went until I decided to take what I'd learned from the recipes and come up with my own rendition.
Butter or oil?
As I went along testing this recipe and that one, I realized there were a few things to consider. One of the first decisions was whether to use butter or oil in my recipe. Although I'm a huge butter fan for most cake and many quick bread recipes, I discovered that oil actually makes a moister and more delicious banana bread with a better texture. And with all the wonderful banana flavor, butter wasn't really necessary.
The texture of this banana bread is perfect... nice and moist with a super tender crumb. Check it out in the picture below!
How many bananas to use in banana bread?
The recipes I tried, varied widely in the number of bananas that were included. Some called for "2 small bananas", others as many as five or six. I wanted lots of banana flavor and I noticed that the recipes that called for more bananas yielded a moister bread. So I decided to go with 4 medium-size bananas.
How to mash the bananas for banana bread?
There were also lots of options for mashing the bananas in the recipes I tried.
- Mash them with a fork on a plate or cutting board.
- Mash them by squeezing them in a zip lock bag, then cut a hole in one corner and transfer the liquid banana mixture to the bowl.
- Mash the bananas right in the batter for chunky banana bread.
- Throw them in a blender.
- Use your hands to "squish" them.
- Use your mixer.
Since I wanted my recipe to be one-bowl, no-mixer I decided to mash them with a potato masher in my mixing bowl before adding any other ingredients. It works like a charm and doesn't dirty any extra plates, bowls or equipment. A fork would also work although it's a bit more work.
How ripe should bananas be for banana bread?
The riper (and uglier) the better! King Arthur Flour (the expert in all things to do with baking) says, "The best bananas for banana bread aren't yellow; they're black. Or they're at least streaked with black/brown, with just the barest hint of green at the stem. And again, the darker the better: there’s no such thing as a too-ripe banana when you’re making banana bread."
I agree because, as bananas ripen, their starch is converted to sugar. So the riper the banana, the sweeter it becomes. That being said, I've made some delicious banana bread with more yellow bananas, providing they have lots of nice brown sugar spots. As long as your bananas have some brown spots and are no longer green, they will work well for banana bread.
How to speed up the ripening of bananas
If your bananas aren't quite ripe enough, placing them overnight in a closed paper grocery bag will speed up the ripening. The bag will trap the ethylene that bananas release and enhance the ripening process.
One large or three small loaves
I love that this recipe can make either one nice large loaf in an 8x5-inch pan or 3 smaller loaves (3x6-inch). Both sizes freeze well and the smaller ones are perfect for gifting to friends, neighbors, etc.
How to store banana bread?
Banana bread keeps well for several days at room temperature. Wrap it with plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container. For longer storage, wrap the bread in plastic wrap or place in a plastic bag, squeeze out any extra air and freeze. Thaw before serving.
Once you try this Perfect Banana Bread, I think you will find yourself searching the banana display at the grocery store for those spotted bananas or buying an extra-large bunch so you'll be sure to have enough left over to make this delicious treat.
Hungry taste testers
We had some workers from a local nursery doing some planting in our yard while I was testing this recipe. I put out a platter of sliced bread and a pitcher of cold milk. The oohs and aahs, as they devoured the bread, were prolific. They all declared this to be "the BEST banana bread" they had ever tried. Neighbors and friends who participated in the taste-testing had the same response!
So, like Goldilocks in The Three Bears story, you can definitely stop searching for that "perfect" banana bread recipe. It's here! Cheers!
Café Tips for making this Perfect Banana Bread
- This recipe calls for an 8x5-inch pan. If your pan is larger (9x5), it's fine. The finished loaf won't be quite as tall.
- As mentioned above, I like to use a potato masher to prepare my bananas for this recipe. I mash them right in my mixing bowl, before adding any of the other ingredients. If you don't have a potato masher, a fork will also work. It will just take a bit longer.
- If you have ripe bananas and you're not ready to make banana bread, throw them in a zip lock bag and store them in the freezer. When ready to bake, simply let the bananas thaw for 15-20 minutes, then squeeze the bag to remove any large lumps. Cut a little snip from one corner of the bag and simply squeeze the soft bananas into your mixing bowl.
- I like to use a whisk for steps 1- 3 followed by a rubber or silicone spatula to stir in the dry ingredients.
- This recipe calls for plain Greek yogurt. I like full-fat Fage yogurt, but you can use low-fat Greek yogurt if desired.
- No yogurt? No problem. You can also use buttermilk, regular plain yogurt or sour cream in lieu of the yogurt.
- I really like checking the doneness of my cakes and other baked goods with an instant thermometer. Instant thermometers are not expensive and they help avoid over or undercooking. The finished temperature for banana bread is 200-205˚F.
- This banana bread also makes a wonderful dessert! I like to cut it into thick slices and warm it slightly (10 seconds in the microwave). I top it with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of caramel or butterscotch sauce. We call this dessert is Banana Heaven!
Thought for the day:
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall;
but those who HOPE in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will SOAR on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
What we've been listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear other’s results and ideas for variations.
- 4 mashed very ripe medium-sized bananas about 2 cups
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350˚F with a rack in the center. Spray an 8x5-inch or 9x5-inch loaf pan (or 3x6-inch pans) generously with baking spray. Set aside.
Peel bananas and place them in a medium-large mixing bowl. Using a potato masher, mash bananas until fairly smooth.
Add both sugars and the oil and whisk well to combine. Whisk in the eggs until well combined followed by the yogurt and vanilla.
Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the top and stir until combined. Add the flour and stir just until all flour is incorporated.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and place it on a sheet pan. Bake for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean and without batter. You can also use an instant thermometer to determine if the bread is done. The temperature of the finished bread should be 200-205˚F.
If using the smaller pans (3x5 or 3x6) bake for 25-35 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (or internal temperature is 200-205˚F).
See Café Tips above in the post for further instructions and detailed tips.
Baking times can vary, depending on your oven, pan, altitude, etc. It's really best to test doneness with an instant thermometer. Quick breads like this are done when the temperature reaches 200-205˚F or 94-96˚C.
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