Chocolate-Bourbon Banana Bread

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.

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 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 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 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
Print RecipeBuy the Joy the Baker Cookbook cookbook

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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 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.


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  1. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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…!

  5. 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

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