This oh-my-gosh-I-can’t-stop-eating-it-until-the-loaf-is-gone banana bread isn’t exactly your mom’s banana bread. Or your grandma’s. 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.–David Leite

How this banana bread recipe came to be

Blogger and cookbook author Joy Wilson created this amazing rendition of chocolate banana 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 it, 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

A partially sliced loaf of chocolate bourbon banana bread.

Chocolate-Bourbon Banana Bread

4.85 / 33 votes
This chocolate-bourbon 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.
David Leite
Servings12 slices
Calories367 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 3 large) mashed ripe bananas, (be certain to measure your mashed bananas and only use 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon, plus more for the baker
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate


  • 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…]
Joy the Baker

Adapted From

Joy the Baker Cookbook

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 1 sliceCalories: 367 kcalCarbohydrates: 52 gProtein: 6 gFat: 15 gSaturated Fat: 5 gMonounsaturated Fat: 3 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 32 mgSodium: 113 mgFiber: 4 gSugar: 28 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2012 Joy Wilson. Photo © 2012 Joy Wilson. All rights reserved.

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 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 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 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 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 chocolate bourbon banana bread 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 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 chocolate bourbon 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 chocolate bourbon 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 chocolate-bourbon banana bread—just the right denseness and texture.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Wonderfully moist. More like a rum cake/banana bread hybrid. Followed the recipe exactly but didn’t add walnuts (personal preference) so I had to cook a bit longer which gave it a crunchier crust. But that’s not a negative to me!

  2. 5 stars
    This is my absolute favorite banana bread recipe. I do add vanilla and use half brown sugar and half white sugar, though.

    However, I do want to make this for people who aren’t necessarily comfortable with alcohol, even in food. Is there something I can sub for it? Or just omit it?

    1. Jessica, delighted that you enjoy this recipe. It’s one of my favorites. And Joy Wilson is true to her name: a joy.

      You can substitute an equal amount of coffee or espresso for the bourbon. It won’t mimic the flavor of the liquor, but it will give it a nice depth.

  3. 5 stars
    Despite having the cookbook in my library for several years, I only recently discovered this recipe. Good googly goo! This is so delicious and has been on repeat here since last fall. In my oven, the loaf is ready in about 50 minutes @ 350º. As one previous reviewer (& Renee) noted, it veers solidly into cake territory and that’s not a bad thing. To me, it is almost in the texture category of the late great frozen Sara Lee Banana Cake, so tender. I don’t always use the walnuts, sometimes it’s pecans buttered and toasted, sometimes no nuts at all. Sometimes I split it into two loaf pans so we don’t make total pigs of ourselves. No matter what I use though, we never have any left.

    1. Thank you, Roberta! We are thrilled that you enjoy this recipe as much as we do. Please let us know what you make next.