One bowl, no mixer, no weird ingredients, pure banana flavor, and a perfectly plush, soft texture: my favorite recipe for banana bread also happens to be the easiest banana bread recipe I’ve ever made.
I’ve made a lot of banana bread in my time. You probably have too.
If that’s true, then you know how surprisingly elusive a truly amazing banana bread can be.
Sometimes they’re too sweet. Sometimes they’re over-mixed and tough. Sometimes they’re heavy, or worse, greasy. Sometimes they have unmashed chunks of banana in the batter (gross). Sometimes they lack sufficient fat and have a nasty gummy texture. Sometimes they’re just plain bland.
You get the idea.
The other issue is that many banana bread recipes are overly complicated. Do a google search for “banana bread” and you’ll find many recipes claiming to be “the best” or “award-winning”, but not many claiming to be easy.
The thing about banana bread is, it’s a humble breakfast bread (or dessert bread; you may already know this, but it’s amazing warm with vanilla ice cream). It’s not trying to be a frosted cake or a perfectly shaped pastry. Banana bread is supposed to be homey and comforting. It’s supposed to be simple and easy, something you can make on a weeknight without ruining your kitchen or staying up all night.
And above all, it’s supposed to be soft, sweet, and reliably delicious.
I do have a chocolate chip banana bread recipe on here already, but I’ve always been just a little unhappy with it. Always felt that while it was good, it could be just a little bit better.
So I set out to create the ultimate, go-to, never-fail, easiest banana bread recipe out there.
The banana bread that doesn’t require multiple bowls, a mixer, creaming of butter and sugar, browning of butter, swirling of multiple batters, or the making of streusels.
The banana bread that does involve only one bowl, a few simple ingredients that most people have on hand, and about an hour in total including baking time.
The banana bread that, despite its ease of making, totally delivers on taste and texture: just sweet enough, but not overpowering; soft, but not gooey; densely crumbed, but not heavy; structured, but not tough. A complex, yet purely banana flavor, not encumbered by any other distraction.
This is my masterpiece.
I’ll be honest, it took me about 3 years to perfect. This was no small task.
But it makes this victory all the sweeter.
I really got into this project in earnest after I asked you all on Instagram what your essential banana bread ingredients were. You had a lot of great ideas and I knew I had to synthesize them into the very best, easiest banana bread recipe I could create!
In the process of developing this recipe, I read and experimented with a LOT of banana bread recipes. Over time, I narrowed down a set of criteria that I believe make for the most successful banana bread. Some of this comes down to taste, and some to science – which we all know are interrelated when it comes to baking!
Tips for success with the easiest banana bread:
- Use extremely overripe bananas and mash them REALLY thoroughly. I routinely use bananas that have gone completely brown because their flavor is at their sweetest and most concentrated. It makes for the best banana flavor in the final product. Mash the heck out of the bananas and get them as smooth as possible for the best texture in your bread. This is much easier with very ripe bananas; I use a fork but you could also use a potato masher.
- Use melted butter for flavor and moisture. There’s nothing quite like the flavor of butter, and in order to make this as easy as possible (i.e. no creaming), we’ll use melted butter. It just adds to the moisture of the overall product. If you don’t have or don’t want to use butter, however, you can use olive oil or coconut oil as a 1:1 replacement.
- Use a mixture of brown and white sugars. Some recipes call for one or the other, but I find the flavor and texture to be best when you use half granulated (for sweetness) and half brown sugar (for moisture and softness).
- Use full fat plain yogurt or sour cream for the best texture and flavor. You need to use this for a few reasons: (i) the acidic yogurt/sour cream reacts with the baking soda (a base) to produce the best rise; (ii) the slight sourness offsets the sweetness of the bananas, producing superior flavor; (iii) it yields the softest final product and allows us to cut back a bit on the butter.
- Stir the flour in only until JUST combined. I’ve talked about this before, but over-mixing a tender product like banana bread will develop too much gluten and yield a tough bread. Just stir until there are no longer pockets of flour, then stop. Preferably, stir with a fork or a spatula so you have maximum control.
- Sprinkle sugar on top of the batter before baking. Ideally, use turbinado or raw sugar, but regular granulated works too. You only need about a tablespoon. This yields a shattering, crispy crust on the top as the sugar caramelizes during baking, and it makes a good banana bread into an excellent banana bread.
So, there you have it. I did all the experimenting so you don’t have to. I hope you try this recipe and love it as much as I do! Please let me know what you think if you try it!
The Easiest Banana Bread
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter (4 tbsp or 1/2 a stick)
- 3 overripe bananas
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar (packed)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup plain, full-fat yogurt or sour cream (Greek yogurt works too)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (or additional granulated sugar, for sprinkling on top of the batter)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease an 8.5 x 4.5″ or 9 x 5″ loaf pan and set aside.
- In a large, microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Add the bananas to the bowl and mash them very thoroughly into the melted butter until completely smooth, using a fork or potato masher.
- Whisk in the granulated sugar and brown sugar until well-combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and whisk in each until well-combined. Add the yogurt, vanilla, salt, and baking soda to the mixture and stir until thoroughly combined and smooth.
- Add the flour all at once and stir with a fork or a spatula until a batter just comes together and no big flour pockets remain. Do not over-mix!
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it out. Sprinkle the additional tablespoon of turbinado or granulated sugar evenly over top. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean or with just a couple crumbs attached.
- Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely (if you can stand to wait that long).