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

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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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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…

  4. 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.

  5. 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….

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