Ultimate Banana Bread
When I stumbled upon this America’s Test Kitchen recipe for the ultimate banana bread, I was immediately interested in making it. The recipe was different from any other banana bread recipe I’ve seen. I loved the idea of using 5 bananas for a strong banana flavor and I was also curious about the way they went about getting extra flavor without the bread becoming a big mess. They cooked the bananas in the microwave for a few minutes, then strained the bananas, then reduced the liquid by half to get an intense banana flavor. My kids were loving the smell while this ultimate banana bread was baked in the oven. It turned out super moist and delicious with a ton of banana flavor. My kids LOVED it and I did too. My favorite part is the crisp crust from the turbinado sugar on top of the bread – YUM!
How to Make Ultimate Banana Bread
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8 x 4 loaf pan with coconut oil cooking spray (or regular).
Peel 5 bananas and place them in a microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap then cut a few slits for air vents.
Place into the microwave and cook for 4-5 minutes on high. Remove from the microwave and pour into a strainer that’s placed over a bowl. Let the banana liquid drain into the bowl, stirring the bananas occasionally, for 15 minutes. You should have about 1/2 cup of liquid.
Transfer the banana liquid into a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil the liquid, stirring often, until reduced by half (about 1/4 cup).
Transfer the cooked/mashed bananas into a large mixing bowl. Pour the reduced banana liquid over the mashed/cooked banana, and stir until fairly smooth. Whisk in the brown sugar, two eggs, and the cooled melted butter and vanilla extract.
Whisk together in a small bowl, the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon until well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture to the banana mixture until just combined. Add the toasted pecans and combine. Pour into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle the top of the batter evenly with turbinado sugar.
Place into the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool bread in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and continue to cool on wire rack. Serve and enjoy.
- 5 large very ripe bananas peeled
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly
- 2 large eggs beaten until well combined
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ¾ cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ cup pecans toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
- 1 tbsp turbinado sugar sprinkled on top of the batter before baking
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8 x 4 loaf pan with coconut oil cooking spray (or regular).
- Peel 5 bananas and place them in a microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap then cut a few slits for air vents.
- Place into the microwave and cook for 4-5 minutes on high.
- Remove from the microwave and pour into a strainer that's placed over a bowl. Let the banana liquid drain into the bowl, stirring the bananas occasionally, for 15 minutes. You should have about 1/2 cup of liquid.
- Transfer the banana liquid into a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Boil the liquid, stirring often, until reduced by half (about 1/4 cup).
- Transfer the cooked/mashed bananas into a large mixing bowl.
- Pour the reduced banana liquid over the mashed/cooked banana, and stir until fairly smooth.
- Whisk in the brown sugar, two eggs, and the cooled melted butter and vanilla extract.
- Whisk together in a small bowl, the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon until well combined.
- Gradually add the flour mixture to the banana mixture until just combined.
- Add the toasted pecans and combine.
- Pour into the prepared loaf pan.
- Sprinkle the top of the batter evenly with turbinado sugar.
- Place into the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
5 bananas…the bread must be GOOD! I love that sweet crunchy topping too.
The recipe omitted the cinnamon in the ingredients, then omitted the addition of the brown sugar in the directions.
I only noticed the mistake after I`d poured the batter into the pan: I had to pour it back out, add the brown sugar and prepare the pan again, before I could put it in the over.
So sorry about that! The brown sugar goes in during step number nine – I have corrected the recipe. The cinnamon is actually written in the recipe… It’s to be added in step 10.
Hope you loved it as much as we did.
I’m always a little afraid of any recipe that’s called ULTIMATE. But, ATK is always a trustworthy source. Definitely going to have to give this one a try!
How much cinnamon?
Oops! Sorry! I’ve corrected the recipe. 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Thanks for letting me know.
What can I do if I don’t have a microwave?
Try cooking the bananas in a double boiler (pot (or bowl) inside another pot of water over medium low heat). It will take longer but it should work. Let me know!
Seriously, best banana bread ever! The quantity was more than what fit in an 8×4 pan. So we also made 12 mini muffins. All of it gone is less than 4 hours!
used a muffin pan, cooked in ~25 minutes. very good.
Tried to other recipes beforehand, which didnt require as much time to make but weren’t very good. This recipe takes a little longer to make (microwaving bananas and reducing banana juice), but IT IS SO WORTH IT!!
I use 2tbsp maple syrup instead of brown sugar ans make in muffin cups for 30 min. My two LOs love it.
Absolutely delicious! Made it without the banana reducing fuss! 😉 and it turned out perfect! My family lived it!
Love from Sweden ❤️
I’m so glad you all liked it!
I am so glad you liked it!
You made it without bananas??That seems bananas
I am going to make this recipe today but all I have are frozen bananas. Do I put them in the microwave frozen then drain?
For best results, I would put them in a strainer over a bowl until they are thawed, then proceed with the recipe.
I didn’t even have the energy to read the recipe and instructions!! Whew! I’ll stick to the 3-4 recipes I already love.
I made this for the third time today. It is a great recipe. I did split it into two loaves this time do the top didnt burn whole trying to get the center baked through. My family likes walnuts, so I use those instead of the pecans.
Thanks for taking the time to let me know. I am so glad your family likes it.
A great recipe, but too much sugar. Way too sweet for me. Someone substituted 2 Tbsp of Maple Sugar and that was a better option. Otherwise a great banana bread.
does this freeze well
I have never tried freezing it so I am not sure. Please let me know how it turns out if you try!
Yes, been making this version for several years and loaves freeze wonderfully.
Thanks for letting us know! I’m so glad you like the recipe.
Made as written, (except used walnuts) tonight to bring to a potluck. Researched several recipes and decided on this one. It did not disappoint. Very good!! Moist, loved the crumbed top, …delicious. Going to buy an extra bundle of bananas just to make again. Worth the time of the banana prep steps. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for letting me know. I’m so glad you liked it!!!
This is a great banana bread recipe. I used toasted walnuts yum! Love the sugar topping. It is just the right amount of crunch. Do I need to refrigerate the leftover bread?
I’m so glad you enjoyed this banana bread. Thanks for letting me know. I don’t normally refrigerate my leftover quick bread unless they have a dairy-based glaze on top, then I do refrigerate.
I just put my loaf in the oven. Smells heavenly…I didn’t have the Turbinado Sugar. Will granulated sugar be ok?
I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. I’ve never tried regular sugar on top but I think it might work fine. Let me know how it turned out if you tried it.
Oh my, for an old lady who has had her share of banana nut bread over the years, this recipe is divine. Well worth the few extra steps and dirty dishes. It looks detailed but it goes quickly. What an amazing banana flavor. I do not have turbinado sugar so I sprinkled white sugar on half the load just in case it burned or something. It was delicious. I will definitely make banana nut bread this way in the future.
I’m so glad you like this banana bread!!! Thank you for letting me know.
“Goodbye Banana Bread Recipe I’ve been using for 30+ years. You have been replaced!” This ULTIMATE BANANA BREAD will forever and always be my go-to Banana Bread recipe. Please do not be deterred by the extra steps of microwaving & straining the bananas, then reducing the banana juice. These steps go quickly & absolutely make this recipe! The intensity of banana flavor this step creates is amazingly delicious!
The extra steps are definitely worth it! I’m so happy you love this banana bread. Thank you for letting me know.
Love this recipe! Instead of microwaving bananas, I put the last banana or two that no one wants in a baggie and freeze until I have 5. When I want to bake a loaf, I simply remove them from the freezer. As they thaw, juice is released and can be cooked down to half or syrup consistency. This recipe is so easy and delicious.
Thanks for letting me know you love the recipe. Your tip is a great one!
Would this recipe work in a breadmaker?
I’ve never tried making it in a bread maker. If you give it a try, please let me know how it turns out.
Great recipe and worth the extra time. Full banana flavor and very moist. ATK also tops the bread with sliced ripe banana, then tops them with the sugar mixture. Dang good
I’m so glad you liked the bread. I’m sure the extra banana on top would be tasty too!
Followed the recipe but it didn’t bake in an hour or 1/12 hours. Mushy in the middle , so it’s back in the often for another 30 minutes .
I’m wondering if you are at a much higher altitude than I am. We are at sea level here in Portland and higher altitudes can mean much longer baking times for recipes like this. I hope it eventually finished baking and tasted good.
Still in the middle of the cooking, but I accidentally threw out the mashed bananas because the recipe seemed like I won’t need them anymore. I would put this sooner into the recipe and make it more clear that we will need both the liquid and the mashed bananas, I now have two batches of the banana liquid (because I’m making two at the time) and only two bananas left, hopefully it’ll still work out somehow.
The recipe tells you what to do with both the liquid and the cooked banana mixture in steps 5, 7, and 8.
Just made this – was absolutely delicious! So much better than other recipes that I’ve tried. I decreased the sugar because I don’t love sugary baked goods, and it turned out amazing.
I’m so happy you enjoyed the recipe. Thanks for taking the time to let me know.
The bananas you presented in your prep photo look far from ripe. Is microwaving really necessary if the bananas I am using are super brown and have been frozen? Or is microwaving key to extracting as much banana liquid for the reduction sauce?
Microwaving is the key to extracting the extra-strong banana flavor for this bread.
I only have a 9×5 loaf pan. Will that be fine for this recipe?
Yes, it will work. Start checking the bread 10 minutes early just in case it cooks quicker.