Textbook Banana Bread

This banana bread recipe will teach you how to make a perfectly tender and moist banana bread you’ll want to eat for breakfast, snack, and dessert. {Jump to Recipe}

Textbook Banana Bread: How to make a perfectly tender and moist banana bread you'll want to eat for breakfast, snack, and dessert. // FoodNouveau.com

My search for the perfect banana bread has lasted years. Over time, dozens of recipes have disappointed me: the too heavy, the over-the-top rich, the cardboard dry, the overly dense, the excessively banana-tasting (yes, there is such a thing), the so-packed-with-grains-it’s-not-even-enjoyable-anymore, the flat-as-a-shoe, the tasteless, and the ho-hum. I have struggled to find the right additions: nuts or chocolate or nothing at all? And then there has been the everlasting issue of timing: some banana breads burned after 45 minutes, while others were not even cooked through after an hour and a half.

But now, my search is over: I have found the one. Unsurprisingly, David Lebovitz guided me to it. This banana bread has a tender and moist texture that makes you want to eat it as is, without any toppings or spreads, but that toasts well, too. It rises to an airy texture and is cooked to perfection in 60 minutes. It includes just a short list of basic ingredients you most likely already have on hand. Over time, I’ve tweaked the recipe slightly to use a third of whole wheat flour, which boosts the nutritional content of the banana bread and adds a slight caramelized sweetness to it. It’s a banana bread that’s versatile enough to be eaten on any occasion, from breakfast to dessert. 

Textbook Banana Bread: How to make a perfectly tender and moist banana bread you'll want to eat for breakfast, snack, and dessert. // FoodNouveau.com

Because of this passion for banana bread, for years every time I made it, I tried a new recipe. They weren’t all bad, but I was still waiting for that quintessential recipe—the one banana bread recipe from which I would never want to stray. This is the one. It’s perfect and flavorful every time. It’s so good that I have yet to eat it any other way, but it’s definitely a recipe that would be equally good served as an afternoon coffee cake with tea, or, even better, as an indulgent treat slathered with cream cheese frosting. I eat banana bread for breakfast almost every day. I toast a slice to give it just a little crunch, and then spread with some peanut butter, Nutella, or jam. It’s a quick and easy breakfast that’s nourishing enough to get me to lunch without feeling hungry.

Textbook Banana Bread: How to make a perfectly tender and moist banana bread you'll want to eat for breakfast, snack, and dessert. // FoodNouveau.com

Here are my banana bread-making tips before you get started:

  • The bananas you choose to make this bread must be very ripe. The skin should have black speckles on them and be soft to the touch. If your bananas are not ripe enough, let them sit on your countertop for a couple of days. Your bread’s flavor will increase tenfold.
  • Keep ripe bananas in the freezer. My secret to regularly making banana bread is to buy big bunches of bananas once in a while and to freeze them when they’re perfectly ripe. Frozen bananas will thaw at room temperature in 20 to 30 minutes, so you can simply take them out first, and by the time you’ve preheated the oven and gathered your ingredients, the bananas will be ready to use.
  • Don’t have buttermilk on hand? Make just enough for this recipe in a pinch: add 1 1/2 tsp (7 ml) white vinegar or lemon juice to a measuring cup, then fill with milk up to the 1/2 cup (125 ml) mark. Stir, then let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Use as indicated in the recipe.
  • Adding a shot of espresso to the batter deepens the bread’s flavor. It may seem like a strange addition, coffee and bananas make a great couple. As David Lebovitz says, coffee is a tropical fruit, as are bananas, so the combination makes sense. Don’t worry, the resulting banana bread doesn’t taste like coffee at all–and if you want to avoid the tiny caffeine addition, you can use decaf coffee too.
  • You can make the banana bread plain, or be creative with your choice of additions. Walnuts, chocolate chips, and cocoa nibs are all deliciously obvious picks, but you can also add seeds, such as sesame, hemp, or sunflower. Pick just one addition, or combine them to your liking, but the important thing is not to add too much to make sure you won’t weigh your bread down. I’m providing different options below, but don’t hesitate to make your own combinations.

Textbook Banana Bread: How to make a perfectly tender and moist banana bread you'll want to eat for breakfast, snack, and dessert. // FoodNouveau.com

Makes one 8.5 x 4.5-inch (21.5 x 11.5-cm) loaf.

The Perfect Banana Bread

This banana bread recipe will teach you how to make a perfectly tender and moist banana bread you'll want to eat for breakfast, snack, and dessert.

20 minPrep Time

60 minCook Time

1 hr, 20 Total Time

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1 cup (250 ml) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (125 ml) whole wheat flour
3/4 cup (180 ml) cane sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 ml) allspice (optional)
1/4 tsp (1 ml) kosher salt
2 ripe, medium-sized bananas, peeled and mashed (about 1 cup banana puree)
2 eggs
1/2 cup (125 ml) buttermilk (see tip to make your own, above)
2 tbsp canola oil, or soft-tasting olive oil, or melted butter
1 shot (about 3 tbsp/45 ml) of strong espresso coffee, cooled, or mix 1 tbsp (15 ml) instant espresso powder with 3 tbsp (45 ml) hot water
Suggested additions:
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) chopped walnuts OR
  • 3 tbsp (45 ml) cocoa nibs and 3 tbsp (45 ml) chopped walnuts OR
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped walnuts and 1/4 cup (60 ml) dark chocolate chips OR
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) cocoa nibs
  • Optional: Additional whole nuts, seeds, or chocolate chips to top the bread before baking (as pictured)


    Lightly grease a 8.5 x 4.5-inch (21.5 x 11.5-cm) loaf pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

    In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and allspice. In a second bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla extract, and espresso. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and, using a spatula, stir to just combine. Stir in the additions of your choice. Top with additional whole nuts, seeds, or chocolate chips, if desired.

    Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake the bread for 60 minutes, until the center lightly springy and a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. Transfer to a baking rack and cool completely.


    Wrap the banana bread in plastic wrap or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days. You can also freeze the banana bread for up to two months.

    Recipe Credit: Marie Asselin, FoodNouveau.com

    Adapted from David Lebovitz.


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    What do you think of this recipe? Got any questions? Let's chat!

    27 Responses to Textbook Banana Bread

    1. Allo, j’ai aimé te recontrer à la FBC Conference. J’en fait tellement des recettes de pain aux bananes. Ma préférée en ce moment est cette de Cook’s Illustrated. Je dois essayer la tienne. Merci de partager!

    2. This bread started rising before it went into the oven! No coffee in my house, but I do have a small stash of Kalhua… added grated white chocolate and walnuts. Excellent!

    3. first time at ur site Marie… really wonderful site u have here. I landed here when i was searching for our traditional Quebec style pudding chomeur.. Will try that this weekend.

      Meanwhile, I want to know if it is ok to omit espresso for this cake and still get god result? Unfortunately, I am intolerant to any coffee smell.

      Thank u in advance! :)

      • Hello Sasi, I’m happy your search for a pouding chômeur recipe led you to my blog! You can absolutely leave the coffee out of the banana bread recipe. I have to say that it’s pretty much indiscernable, but if you’re especially sensitive to coffee’s smell and taste, you’d better leave it out. It provides a nice flavor accent, but the bread is just as good without it. Use more vanilla extract (1 1/2 tsp) instead.

    4. I realized at the last minute that I didn't have the wheat flour so I just used white. The bread didn't rise at all, so I assume that the reason was the flour. It smelled great cooking and even tasted ok even though the texture is kind of gluey.

      • Using only white flour shouldn’t have prevented your bread from rising. If the cake didn’t rise, it may be because the baking powder you used was stale. Also, did you test the cake for doneness before taking it out of the oven? It may have been undercooked – depending on your oven, banana bread can take a long time to bake!

    5. I'm looking forward to trying this. I was planning on making it tonight, but because you recommend letting the bananas brown completely I'll wait a few days. I can't wait to try this!

    6. Good recipe, but too much cinnamon for my taste. Smells fabulous, though. I think I’ll try it with less than half the amount called for next time (tonight or tomorrow).

      • You know what? I don’t like cinnamon very much either so I usually omit it completely and only go for allspice! This bread has been my breakfast for the past year I think, I’m totally addicted to it!

    7. Just thought I’d let you know this post is still alive and kicking. With brown bananas on the counter and a similar dilemma of many past recipes that, while good, weren’t yet The One, I searched Tasteologie/Notcot and found this. Mini loaves and muffins are in the oven and smelling wonderful!

      • It’s a great idea to make mini-loaves, I love them! I hope you liked the recipe and that you’ll be back to discover more of the recipes I publish on this blog.

    8. this is the best recipe ever, I have made this like a 1000 times for friends and family and they loved it, a big THANK YOU, your the best.

    9. I noticed in the directions it mentions adding salt, but in the ingredient list there isn't any. How much salt do you use?

    10. Fait dimanche soir… La tempête de neige m'a inspiré. Je l'aurais fait en après midi mais ma dinde occupait tout le four ; )

      Miam miam… Mes collègues seront chanceuses à l'heure du thé!
      merci pour la recette !

    11. I too have been searching for the perfect banana bread recipe. In fact, I was just looking at my brown bananas on the counter wondering which recipe I would try this time. Your recipe is very different than any I have seen before. Do I have to use espresso or do you think I can use instant coffee? I have never heard of toasting banana bread before? Interesting!

      • I think using instant coffee would work well (use the same 1 tbsp coffee / 3 tbsp water ratio). If you use drip coffee, make it stronger than you usually would to make sure the taste will carry through.
        This banana bread is so good that I now have a daily morning dilemma as to whether I should toast it or not :) But toasting brings back the freshly baked smell, which is more than welcome on a winter morning!

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