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How to Make Banana Bread

Updated April 13, 2020
Learn everything you need to know about making this long-time family-favorite quick bread.

What is Banana Bread?

Banana bread is arguably the most popular type of quick bread—or bread that uses a leavening agent other than yeast—out there. Its starring ingredient is, of course, mashed bananas. With most recipes calling for two or three, banana bread is the perfect recipe for those few spotty, overripe bananas sitting on your counter and comes together quickly with ingredients that are probably already available in your pantry.

The History of Banana Bread

Bananas are not native to the United States, and were only available sparingly through the 19th century. When bananas made their introduction into U.S. households in the early 1900s, they weren’t immediately used as the main ingredient for desserts—instead, they were eaten for breakfast, or sliced up and used as a topping for various treats. The idea for banana bread didn’t take off until the Great Depression in the 1930s: The waste-not attitude of cash-strapped families during this time period combined with the introduction of baking soda—a new leavening agent—to the market made banana bread a household star, appearing in cookbooks by Pillsbury and Chiquita Banana. Its popularity has endured, so much so that we have even designated a “National Banana Bread Day” in the United States, on February 23 each year.

How to Ripen Bananas

The general rule for making banana bread, or other banana-based treats like banana cake or banana cupcakes that you should always keep in mind is: the riper the bananas, the better; the browner and grosser looking the bananas, the sweeter. Really! You’ll know that your bananas are ready for baking when they are very soft to touch and their skins are brown all over.

The easiest way to ripen bananas is usually naturally done; we’ve all bought too many bananas at the grocery store and haven’t eaten them all in time, letting them sit and spot on our counters. (Pro tip: It usually takes bananas about 24 to 48 hours to ripen naturally on the counter. And if you keep them all in a bunch, they should ripen at the same rate.) But if you have green bananas and need banana bread, like, now, accelerating the ripening process is possible!

In a paper bag: Bananas emit an aging hormone called ethylene, which is a small hydrocarbon gas. Ethylene is what changes the texture, softening and color in a selection of fruits, including apples and pears, which all cue a fruit’s ripeness. Store bananas in a paper bag on the counter, and the ethylene will circulate, speeding up the natural ripening process in about half the time, or 12 to 24 hours.

In the oven: For when you want brown bananas almost immediately, you can place them, peels-on, on a baking sheet and bake at 300°F for about 30 to 50 minutes. You’ll know they are done when they have turned shiny and black.

How to Freeze Bananas

Have too many overripe bananas and want to freeze them for another banana bread baking occasion? Simply place the bananas, peels-on, in a freezer-friendly plastic bag. Seal, label and freeze. When you’re ready to use the bananas, remove them from the freezer and let them defrost before you use them—once the bananas have defrosted, they may look a little slimly and mushy, but that’s totally OK for banana bread! Remove the skins, mash and start baking.

How to Make Banana Bread

Our classic banana bread recipe has near-perfect ratings—the batter only takes 15 minutes to pull together, and then it’s ready for the oven! Here’s how to make it.

Banana Bread


  • 3/4 cup sugar 
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium)
  • 1/3 cup milk 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts, if desired

What You Need

  • 9x5- or 8x4-inch loaf pan 
  • Shortening or cooking spray 
  • Large bowl 
  • Small bowl 
  • Mixing spoon

First, heat the oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom of a 9x5- or 8x4-inch loaf pan with shortening or cooking spray. In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter with a spoon until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs. Then, stir in the mashed bananas, milk and vanilla until everything is well blended.

Combine sugar, butter, eggs, mashed bananas, milk and vanilla.

Next, in a small bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to the banana mixture and then stir until just combined. At this point, stir in the chopped nuts. You can also swap out the nuts for an equal amount of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Add dry ingredients to banana mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for about 5 minutes, then remove from the pan. Allow the bread to cool completely for 1 hour (we know, it’s hard!). Then, slice and enjoy. Wrap leftovers tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

Banana Bread

Different Ways to Make Banana Bread

Though the classic recipe is our all-time favorite, there are many ways to enjoy banana bread, from tasty bars to baked oatmeal.

Banana Bread Bars

Banana Bread Cookie Bars

Sugar cookie dough gets a tasty banana flavor boost in this easy cookie bar recipe topped with delicious cream cheese frosting.

Get Recipe

Banana Bread Cake

Banana Bread Crunch Cake

This five-star banana bread cake is made extra special with a cobbler-like cinnamon-y topping.

Get Recipe

Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal

Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal

Your mornings just got better with this sweet baked oatmeal—ready in just five minutes!

Get Recipe

Banana Bread Monkey Bread

Banana Bread Monkey Bread

This kid-friendly recipe combines two classic treats into one—and it only require six ingredients!

Get Recipe

Banana Bread Substitutes

One of the best things about banana bread is that it’s a forgiving recipe—you can make a number of ingredient swaps based on your diet or what’s already in your pantry.

Substitute applesauce for butter: Substitute half the butter or oil for applesauce. This will slightly alter the texture of the bread, making it more delicate (moreso if you decide to swap out all of the butter for applesauce) but it will lower the calories and fat content.

Substitute sour cream or Greek yogurt for butter: For a moist loaf of bread with less butter, cut the butter by half and substitute the remaining with plain Greek yogurt or sour cream. If you don’t have sour cream or Greek yogurt on hand, you can also use buttermilk.

Substitute nuts for chocolate chips or berries: Allergic to nuts, or just not a fan of banana-nut bread? You can easily omit the nuts and replace them with equal amounts of chocolate chips, or even butterscotch chips! To make berry-banana bread, try replacing the nuts with an equal amount of blueberries.

How to Serve Banana Bread

We say banana bread can pass as breakfast or dessert, which means there are so many ways to serve it. Make it plain and enjoy a slice warm with a bit of butter for breakfast alongside a tall glass of milk or a steaming cup of coffee. If you add chocolate chips to your banana bread, pass it for dessert and drizzle with a quick homemade glaze to make it extra decadent.

How to Store Leftover Banana Bread

You can store leftover banana bread wrapped in foil or plastic wrap at room temperature for about two days. Wrapping it in foil or plastic wrap will ensure it doesn’t dry out. To make banana bread last a little longer, you can store it wrapped and in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. When you take it out of the fridge, give the bread a couple minutes to get to room temperature for best taste results.

However you decide to store your banana bread, make sure it’s at room temperature before you wrap it. If you wrap the bread after it has come out of the oven and it’s still warm, it’ll end up soggy, and no one wants a sad, mushy slice of bread!

Now that you’re an expert on the classic recipe, check out all of our favorite ways to make banana bread, from cake to muffins and more!