Banana Bread by Cook’s Illustrated

This banana bread from Cook’s Illustrated includes yogurt and walnuts for a scrumptiously moist, easy, classic, nutty quick bread. We consider it the best we’ve ever had.

A broken slice of banana bread stacked on a white plate

Alas, many a banana bread can turn out flat, dense, or otherwise lackluster. The biggest disappointment of all? A bread that doesn’t taste of bananas. None of these scenarios is the case with this winner of a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, which is the best I’ve ever had. All the better that it’s easy to make. Remember, you want overripe bananas–you know, the ones with the black splotches and mushy texture—to ensure the most intense banana experience.–David Leite

Banana Bread by Cook's illustrated

  • Quick Glance
  • (53)
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Makes 1 loaf
4.9/5 - 53 reviews
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Special Equipment: A loaf pan that measures 9 inches long, 5 inches across, and 3 inches deep

Ingredients


Directions

Position an oven rack in the lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). 

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan and then toss a little flour in the pan and tilt it to coat all the butter-slicked sides with a fine dusting of flour. Dump out the flour, tapping the pan to remove any excess.

Toss the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the preheated oven until fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes. Immediately transfer the walnuts to a plate and let cool completely.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and walnuts.

In a medium bowl, stir the mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla. 

Lightly fold the mashed banana mixture into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula, mixing just until combined. The batter should be thick and sorta chunky. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake the bread until the surface appears golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes.

Cool the loaf in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Carefully tip the pan over so the loaf releases onto the wire rack and slice and serve the banana bread warm or let it cool completely, if you can stand the wait, and then deour.

(The bread can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. It will have a rather crisp crust when consumed straight from the oven and a soft crust later that day or the next day.) Originally published October 22, 2004.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This is lovely, traditional, comfort-food-to-the-max, perfect for baking on a morning when the Siberian winds are cutting down the East coast. The loaf hadn't been out of the oven for 3 minutes before my husband and I attacked it like zombies on brains.

The crust is perfect. I like just the right amount of sweet crispiness on the outside of my banana bread--not too hard but not nothing like you'd find on a cake or cupcake. The edges were delightfully brown, crisp, and gave the loveliest contrast with the soft interior. Finally, it's not too sweet and the banana flavor is nice and strong. I'm so used to banana breads being basically half sugar. If I want cake, I'll make a cake. This is much more suitable for breakfast or snack with a hot cup of coffee without making my teeth feel fuzzy.

This is my new banana bread. I had tried to make changes to my old recipe but never with these results.

Like most quick breads, this recipe is easy to put together. Folding in the wet ingredients results in a really tender crumb, the kind you can pick up with the back of your fork. Using melted butter (instead of vegetable oil like my old recipe) gives the bread a dense texture and rich flavor. The toasted walnuts add a nice contrasting crunch to the full flavor of banana.

It’s also nice to know that this bread can be kept for 3 days, but I doubt it will ever last that long at our house.

HUNGRY FOR MORE?

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Well, it could have been a disaster! Because I was rushed and sloppy, I did not adhere to my usually stringent mise en place protocol. Lo and behold! I omitted the 6 TBS. of melted butter until my mini-breads (yes, I used 3 mini pans) were already in the oven. I quickly took them out and took a small whisk and added 1/3 of the butter to each pan. I’d like to report that all is well and, more importantly, THIS BREAD IS DELISH!! Thank you for posting a great recipe. Usually quick and easy, to boot!

    1. Oh MICHELLE S—I’ve been there and done that, although when I’m testing a recipe for Leite’s, that warrants a do-over… (We’re darn serious about posting recipes that work.) Wonderful you were able to act quickly and that you were happy with the results!

  2. If you only have 2 bananas, I recommend these adjustments from a long-time favorite recipe:

    2 ripe bananas, 1/2 c. yogurt, 1 c. sugar, 1/2 c. oil in place of butter, 1/2 c. blueberries in place of walnuts.

  3. Good not great. I had to substitute sour cream for the yogurt. I don’t understand why the instructions are so specific on utensils. Also a bit judgmental, don’t you think?

    1. Thanks, Liz. We appreciate your feedback. It’s not our intention to be judgmental at all, only to provide a guideline for someone who might be approaching the recipe as a novice.

  4. I love this recipe! Have made it several times. Twice with yogurt, twice with sour cream and am making it again with sour cream because those are what I have on hand. It always turns out delicious. A couple of times I made it using only 2 bananas because that’s all I had and we still loved it.
    Give it a try everyone, it’s a very forgiving recipe!
    Anne

    1. Thanks, Anne! We’re so glad you love this recipe as much as we do and thanks for taking the time to let us know.

  5. Amazing my friend and i made it but instead of flour we put oats in a blender, used brown sugar instead of regular, and used maple syrup instead of vanilla.

    1. Mason, that sounds magnificent! Appreciate you sharing your tricks. Can you clarify for me, please, you used no regular flour, correct? I also appreciate the nutty and numbly taste and texture of oat flour. If you haven’t already, you may want to try these chocolate chip cookies

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