Chocolate Bourbon-Spiked Banana Bread

This chocolate bourbon-spiked banana bread is filled with ripe bananas, ample chocolate and walnuts, and a good glug of bourbon. A lovely Christmas recipe by Joy the Baker.

A loaf of chocolate-bourbon banana bread with several slices cut off one end.Chocolate Bourbon-Spiked Banana Bread

This oh-my-gosh-I-can’t-stop-eating-it-until-the-loaf-is-gone banana bread recipe isn’t exactly your mom’s banana bread. Or your grandma’s banana bread. It’s better. And a little different. And that’s not a bad thing at all. Whereas the classic is uncomplicated and nutty and comforting, this defiantly rebellious and somewhat cake-like version takes things a little further, adding chunks of chocolate and a splash of bourbon. Those who tend to get a little tipsy off the bourbon, please note that its function here is as a fundamental flavor enhancer. Not unlike vanilla extract. If you crave a harder hit, you’ll need to keep that bottle by your side. And if you don’t care for the booze, splash in a little vanilla instead.–Renee Schettler

How this banana bread recipe came to be

Blogger and cookbook author Joy Wilson created this amazing rendition of chocolate banana nut bread by riffing on a recipe from her grandma, or Mommom. Her changes to the classic dense loaf leave us nothing short of incredulous. And her note to her Mommom explaining her rebellious streak leaves us nothing more than charmed. Here’s what she has to say…

Dear Mommom,

I love your banana bread. It’s moist and uncomplicated, full of banana bits and supreme comfort. I’ve enjoyed your banana bread for as long as I can remember. Dad makes a low-fat version of your banana bread but come on! I just can’t get behind that. Your recipe reigns supreme. Just one thing though, I added chocolate and bourbon to your classic. What can I say—I’m young and reckless.

Love, Your Dear and Darling Granddaughter

Chocolate Bourbon-Spiked Banana Bread

  • Quick Glance
  • (15)
  • 25 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Serves 12 | Makes one 9-by-5-inch loaf
4.9/5 - 15 reviews
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Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C) and place a rack in the center of the oven. Butter and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, tapping out any excess flour.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. 

Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating for 1 minute between additions. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the bananas, lemon juice, and bourbon and beat with the paddle until well incorporated. The mixture may look curdled, but that’s okay.

Turn the mixer to low, add the flour mixture all at once, and beat until almost completely incorporated. Stop the mixer, add the walnuts and chocolate, and stir by hand with a spatula or wooden spoon just until incorporated. Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a skewer inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. 

Let the loaf cool in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting it onto a wire rack and letting it cool completely, if you can manage to keep your hands off it. The banana bread will keep, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days at room temperature. [Editor’s Note: Hah! Good luck making it last 5 days let alone 5 hours…] Originally published October 5, 2012.

Print RecipeBuy the Joy the Baker Cookbook cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Recipe Testers Reviews

Based on the fact that I can’t seem to stop slicing slivers off of the still-warm loaf (just to “even it out”), I’m going to say this chocolate bourbon-spiked banana bread is a keeper. The recipe works as written–its only inaccuracy is that this has wayyyy more in common with cake than any banana bread I’ve ever eaten. Not that that’s a bad thing. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a tender, springy thing whose sweetness is nicely cut by the chocolate (the darker, the better) and walnuts, and whose top crust is worth eating all on its own.

I would have liked more bourbon flavor, and despite such a great texture, it was, surprisingly, just a touch dry. If I make it again, I’ll use really overripe bananas and maybe a spoonful of applesauce. I forgot to flour the pan but the loaf still came out easily. And the bread was still pretty goopy at 45 minutes, so I used the full hour.

This is not your grandmother’s banana bread, but I do thank Joy the Baker’s Mommom for the bones of this one. Joy’s addition of bourbon to the batter is a brilliant move. Don’t let it scare you! Think of it as a subtle(ish) flavoring agent–like vanilla extract, only more spirited.

The batter looks a little curdled after beating in the lemon and the bourbon, but once you mix in the dry ingredients, everything looks as it should. I used bittersweet chocolate chips, mostly because that’s what I had in the pantry. I really like this banana bread because it’s a little more substantial. It’s still moist and tender but it’s got heft to it.

More like “OMmmG” Banana bread because it is so tasty. The recipe is easy to follow, and the bourbon shouldn’t be skipped. The resulting loaf doesn’t taste like bourbon, but has a nice depth of flavor due to it.

Joy is a genius and I’m so happy she’s young and reckless, as this is the best banana bread I’ve ever eaten. I love the flavors–the lemon juice, bourbon, walnuts, and chocolate lend to this wonderfully moist banana bread. I’ll be making this one again and again.

Because I do not care for bananas, I thought making this chocolate bourbon-spiked banana bread would keep me from the temptation of eating it. I could not have been more wrong. This makes the best banana bread I have ever eaten! The walnuts, chocolate chips, and bourbon transform this banana bread to dessert level. The flavors have great depth and richness, with just enough sweetness. In addition to its fabulous flavor, this banana bread is easy to make.

It smelled so good, we could not wait until it was completely cool to cut into it. It was so delicious warm with a pat of melting butter.  It doesn’t even stick to the pan when it is time to turn it out on the cooling rack. In a word: yum.

I’m a sucker for banana bread, and this one is wonderful. Moist with plenty of bananas and delicious chocolaty bits, it’s definitely more a dessert bread than something I’d tend to eat for breakfast. The bread was easy enough to throw together and turned out perfectly.

I used a chopped semisweet chocolate bar and loved the way the flakes of chocolate melted right into the bread. I think I prefer that to sturdier chocolate chips. I’m shocked and embarrassed to say it, but I think I prefer my banana bread sans bourbon! The amount called for imparted more of a boozy kick than I cared for. I think for future attempts I’d scale it back to one or two tablespoons or omit it altogether. Overall, though, yum!

This is surely one of the best banana bread recipes I have ever made. I have made banana bread with chocolate before; however, the addition of the bourbon is like magic –very tasty indeed. This is very easy and quick to put together. The loaf baked for about 80 minutes before it tested done. Extremely moist and flavorful! Will definitely make this one again–next time I will double the batch!

YUM!! This chocolate bourbon-spiked banana bread was so ridiculously easy and so delicious. The bourbon was such a nice little touch that you could taste, but it wasn’t overpowering. And the chocolate—warm and melty and just a perfect match.

The only thing I would have liked better is a little streusel on top, or even just some sugar sprinkled to add a touch of sweetness and texture. But I can say that I baked this bread, left for work that night, and when I went into the kitchen in the morning, HALF was gone already! Definitely a winner, and I will make this again and again!

Schools closed, roads iced, and I can’t think of a better thing to do than pull out the bottle of bourbon. This spiked banana bread is more of an airy, light cake than a typical dense quick bread and comes together easily with pantry ingredients.

I always freeze my ripe bananas to have on hand for smoothies, so I defrosted and drained 4 bananas, which was equal to 1 1/2 cups mashed. Since I was housebound, I had to scrape together enough chocolate for the recipe. I ended up using 3/4 cup white chocolate chips and 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate. You can easily vary the chocolate to personal preference. The texture of the cake is phenomenal with its slightly chewy, crispy crust and a subtle nuance from the bourbon. I think that a dark rum would be equally nice.

First off, I love banana bread. It’s one of my go-to comfort foods. So of course I could not resist the urge to make this, especially since it has booze in it. The recipe is easy to make. The only small change I did make was to use chopped bittersweet chocolate. After a little over an hour of baking, I took my fresh-out-of-the-oven bread to a friend’s for brunch and it was a hit. When I make this again in the future, I might be tempted to increase the amount of bourbon by just a tad, as I think the bread could benefit a bit more from its flavor.

Finally, a dense banana bread that makes your guests gasp with astonishment before they start fighting over the remainder of the loaf. I love this recipe’s twists on classic banana bread—a hint of bourbon with gooey chocolate morsels interspersed throughout the moist loaf. Pure decadence, especially in the morning!

This is a moist, tender-crumbed banana bread that tastes distinctly of chocolate. The bourbon flavor is completely baked out, so those looking for any hint will be disappointed. I made it in a springform pan with stellar results.

This recipe makes a lovely loaf of banana bread—just the right denseness and texture.


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  1. Enjoyed this very much! It’s a decadent treat, and totally worth the calories, ha! I’m not a fan of bourbon, so I used my preferred choice: double rye. Not sure if the liquor added a discernible taste to the loaf though. Substitutions, I omitted the sugar and increased sweets to 1/3 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips and 1/3 cup of raisins. Baked at 350, loosely covered with foil for 45min then uncovered for 20 min. Thank you for the inspo! Would definitely recommend this recipe.

    1. Thanks, Vanny! We’re delighted that you love this, and love that you were able to make some substitutions to make it perfect for you.

  2. I loved the look of the recipe for Chocolate, Bourbon, Banana Bread. I even made a double batch it seemed so like a winner. Sad to say, although dense, moist and looking beautiful out of the oven, the taste a blah… Itonly tasted of the chocolate bits and the texture of the chopped walnuts. Virtually no banana flavour and the bourbon had zero effect. I usually make mini loaves to give to friends, so I gave 5 loaves to friends and thus far not a word of anything good or bad. That is totally unheard of, so I think the response is like mine – ho hum… Sadly

    1. Gary, I’m so sorry to hear that this didn’t turn out as well as you’d hoped. Perhaps cutting back on the chocolate a bit might let the banana flavor shine? We hope the next recipe you try is a success!

    2. So surprised and sad to hear how this turned out for you. I’ve made this several times, always following the recipe, weighing ingredients, using great bourbon and 72% dark chocolate. Maybe the mini loaf pans had some effect?

  3. This is by far the best banana bread recipe ever! I topped it off with a glaze of more bourbon and powdered sugar. Now that my children are grown, this is my last banana bread recipe.

    1. Jayka, love hearing you love this as much as we do. I, too, have sworn off all other recipes after trying this one…and I am absolutely trying your glaze next time! Thanks for sharing that trick…!

  4. Made this yesterday in an 8 x 4 inch Williams-Sonoma loaf pan and it came out beautifully. Because I mashed slightly defrosted frozen bananas, my final batter was cold and so it took about 15 minutes longer to bake through. We enjoyed it while still warm for dessert after dinner. While I have my own banana bread recipe I’ve been perfecting for years, this one is a unique departure—more like a cake with all the lovely dark chocolate and nuts running through it.

    a loaf of chocolate-bourbon-spiked banana bread sliced open to revel chocolate speckled interior

    1. It is more like cake, isn’t it, Roni? And no complaints here! So glad this recipe makes you happy (and gives you a lovely used for those frozen bananas!). Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next. Wishing you and yours all the magic of the season…!

  5. I made this bread and it was FANTASTIC. I’m typically not a fan of banana bread, but with the addition of bourbon – well, who could say no to that? I had recently received a bottle of Chocolate Whiskey and so I used that. I did make one fatal, rookie mistake – I forgot to double check my supplies, to ascertain that I had all the ingredients. I mean, I bake all the time, so there’s no reason to look, right?

    It turns out my kids ATE ALL THE CHOCOLATE CHIPS.

    So, in a moment of despair, I found an Intense Dark Sea Salt and Almond Ghirardelli chocolate bar, and I hit it with a mallet into small pieces. It was a change born of despair, and it was the greatest mistake I’ve ever made.

    Chocolate Banana Bread

      1. The ad for it (from Mouth) dropped in my inbox one day. I felt that it was a message from beyond–who says no to Chocolate Whiskey?

  6. This sounds awesome, I wouldn’t change anything, it sounds perfect as is. So perfect that I wonder if all the ingredients could be used the same but swap out pumpkin for the bananas? Seems like this would make just as unusual a pumpkin bread as it does a banana bread. What do ya think? I would love to make it both ways!

    1. Ooooooh, Lynn, I love the way you’re thinking! I’m hesitant to say yes only because we haven’t tried it in our kitchens and we test all our recipes at least twice prior to posting them for readers to make, which is why we end up with recipes that are, as you say, perfect.t But it could work. Care to give it a go and let us know? I especially like your side-by-side suggestion. I suspect you’ll be surprised at just how differently the same recipe can turn out with just that one tweak.

  7. This banana bread has made me famous at my boyfriend’s military squadron. Over the past three years, every few weeks I send in a loaf and he says it always disappeared within minutes. Marines from other shops pop their heads in to ask when I’m making it again. Hard-to-find parts magically appear when he presents a slice or two to the supply guys. Random strangers bring him overripe bananas to bring home to me. At Christmas time, they’ve come to expect…no…demand an entire loaf for themselves. I’ve been prepping for months, freezing exactly 1 1/2 cups of mashed banana here and there. December 10th. It’s go time.

    This recipe is seriously that good. Love it.

  8. Well, this has now become my go-to recipe, and has given Mollie’s recipe of Moosewood the boot because it’s a. easier, b. tastier, c. not as heavy and d. has booze in it, AND chocolate.

    It is quite a rich bread that doesn’t taste that way, though… and I’ve been tinkering with the ingredients to add cake spice (a spice mix from the Spice House that I like a lot), a splash of almond extract, and a bit of nutmeg.

    1. Terrific to hear, Thomas! I, too, have given all other banana bread recipes the boot for the very reasons you state. (To tell the truth, the booze was the big draw, but I find it to be just a lovely undercurrent, much in the same way vanilla effects recipes.) Love that you’re tweaking the recipe to make it your own. Kindly let us know the next recipe you try from the site…!

  9. Another success from Leite’s!

    Though my husband and I have been together for twenty years now, we had a bottle of bourbon whiskey in our spice cabinet that is older than our relationship! So, with three bananas turning brown, and a bit of dust on the bottle, I figured it was time to give this recipe a try.

    The smell, oh, my gosh, the smell while it was baking. I hope the scent traveled the entire valley! I am not one to lick raw batter, due to the raw egg content, but I just couldn’t help myself. It was delicious!

    After the loaf was baked, I allowed it to cool, but not before trying to sneak a piece (uh, sample). It doesn’t cut very well when warm, so the “let it cool completely” note was put in for good reason. As I type this, we have a few slices in the toaster oven to firm it up a bit, then we’ll slather on the butter, and…oh, my!

    Thank you, once more, for a great recipe!

    Chocolate Bourbon-Spiked Banana  Recipe

  10. Eating a nice warm piece now. Fantastic. I used dark rum, didn’t have any bourbon. Really love that it’s not too sweet and the texture is perfect.

  11. Quite possibly the best banana bread I have ever had! You know it’s good when your son proclaims it “better then Grandma’s” (which is what I renamed it to in my cookbook coincidently heehee). My only change was using half whole-wheat flour. I like the chewier consistency that gives to the bread. I also added cardamon, cinnamon, and nutmeg to help develop the citrus undertone of the bourbon and give it a little more depth. Delicious!! We make this at least twice a month.

  12. This past year I have been tinkering with our family’s hand-me-down banana bread recipe (just too plain and loaded with too much sugar for me). I had minimal success until I tried this gem of a recipe. DELICIOUS! Even my picky son loved it. The only change I made was using half whole-wheat flour and half all-purpose flour (we like our bread a little denser). This is my new go-to banana bread recipe.

    1. Jessica F, that’s terrific to hear! I had exactly the same experience as you with this recipe. I’ll entertain the thought of no other banana bread recipe than this uber moist, sparingly sweet, remarkably lovely one. Love your idea of adding whole-grain flour, as otherwise it tends to have a slightly light, cakey crumb. Many thanks for taking the time to drop us a note. Looking forward to hearing which recipe from the site you try next…

  13. I’ve been using this recipe with variations on the chocolate all year now (first one was kumquats soaked in a bit of single malt), and this week I made it using dried bing cherries that I plumped up in a bit of my house- infused cherry brandy, taking the place of the bourbon and chocolate, and with pumpkin seeds in a nod to fall (and alas no walnuts or pecans on hand!). Still wonderful, and ALWAYS better the second day – sliced better and holds together well. This batch seemed a little lighter – I was using Keith Giusto’s artisan flour this time, whereas I may have been using Kind Arthur before. All good. This is my best banana bread recipe, hands down.

  14. I can’t wait to try this since I’ve had choked down far too many slices of dry and boring banana breads over the years. This will be an interesting variation on my recipe, which adapts the banana bread/carrot cake recipe from Moosewood. I started adding in chocolate many years ago in addition to the coffee Mollie Katzen suggests you soak the bananas in. But I’ve frequently found that mine turns out a bit too heavy… though my fans at the office rarely pass it up when I rouse myself to bake it.

    1. Looking forward to hearing what you think of this variant on the classic, Thomas. I’ve made this, and I dare say you won’t find this to be too heavy. In fact, I and many others find it to be quite cake-like and less quick bread-like….

  15. I no longer like to *eat* bananas (you can hear the backstory here), but I do like to bake with them. I’m saving this recipe for cooler weather, when I’ll feel more like baking!

    BTW, whenever I have bananas that are beginning to look “of a certain age,” I stick them in a plastic bag & pop them in the freezer for some future date. They’ll be ugly as sin, but they’re perfect for baking—and those over-ripe bananas have much more flavor than pretty ones.

  16. hi there! I want to make this but do not have a standing mixer! can i still make this with a handheld electric mixer?

    1. Hey, terrific, Terry! That’s the bar we set for our recipes, and that’s what we heard from our recipe testers, but we’re always relieved when we hear that was your experience as well. Appreciate you taking the time to tell us. Let us know what’s next on your list…!

  17. Thanks for this recipe. I made it yesterday and it came out very well. Would request you please include the measurements for the ingredients by weight, too. I am from India and I doubt if the cups and tablespoons measure the same here. That would be helpful.

    1. Cynthia, so glad you liked it. Most of the recipes come from cookbooks authors, not all of whom use weight. (Sadly, we Americans are stubborn and prefer to stick to a very inadequate method of volume measurement.) You’ve given me an idea: Perhaps we can include a general weight chart for baking that can be applied to all baking recipes.

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