How to Make the Best Banana Bread, No Matter What

How to Make the Best Banana Bread, No Matter What

Unripe bananas, food allergies , special diets , a lack of eggs —there are lots of things that can get between you and banana bread , but no obstacle need stop you. There’s almost always a way to make a beautiful loaf of banana bread whenever you want it, whatever your circumstances, as long as you have at least one semi-ripe banana .

In its classic form, banana bread is quite simple, and depends mostly on three things: (1) fruit that’s reached the ideal degree of super-sweet softness, (2) not overmixing the batter, which makes it gummy, and (3) baking for just the right amount of time (underbaking is another way to bring about a gummy texture, but overbaking dries things out, and moist banana bread is the only kind worth eating). That said, there’s actually a lot of wiggle room when it comes to making delicious banana bread, even when it seems like you’ve been stymied—and banana bread’s inherent flexibility is no surprise when you know it became popular during the Great Depression , and endured through World War II-era rationing.

Here are some of the common banana bread hurdles we face today, and tips on how to soar right over them: If your bananas aren’t ripe enough yet…

Roast ’em! There are some tricks to ripen bananas more quickly , but if you want to use them right now , just place your unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment for easy clean-up and pop it into a 300-degree oven for anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour (obvious but easy to overlook: remove any stickers from the skins first!). The bananas are done when they’ve turned soft and black, and you can use them as soon as they’re cool enough to peel. If, say, you’re going out of town and have bananas that will go bad in your absence, you can bake them like this and then store them in the freezer for future use—but if you’re staying put and in no hurry to make bread, your best bet is always letting them ripen naturally. One caveat: your bananas should be at least slightly ripe before you bake them; green bananas just won’t have converted enough sugar yet, and even though they will turn soft and black in the oven, they’ll still taste like sadness.

We call for roasting five bananas and then mashing them into a batter with some brown sugar, but the other revelation here is the Nutella stuffing in the center. Get our Roasted Banana Nutella Quick Bread recipe . If you’re one (or two) bananas short of a bunch…

If you bake banana bread even just occasionally, you’re probably already in the habit of stashing any on-the-verge-of-totally-blackening bananas in the freezer so you can turn them into baked gold later (if not, start doing that!), but if you want banana bread now and you’re still short one or two perfectly overripe specimens, simply make banana bread with just one banana —or (if you suspect that won’t taste fruity enough for you), make a mini loaf with your lone banana.

If you don’t have a mini loaf pan, you can portion the batter among muffin tins, but that’s just not the same, you know? Get the Mini Banana Bread recipe .

If you’re set on a specific recipe that calls for the standard two or three mashed bananas, you can replace one or two of them with applesauce ( ½ cup equals 1 banana ) . If you don’t have applesauce either, or just aren’t a fan, you could also try substituting Greek yogurt (plain for sure, but flavors like vanilla or banana make sense too), sour cream, mashed avocado, whisked silken tofu, or pumpkin puree ; they all add roughly the same sort of body and moisture as bananas, but when using substitutions that are sugar-free and/or tangy, you’ll probably want to add a little extra sweetener to the batter than the recipe calls for. Conversely, if you choose to swap in pureed prunes for some of the banana, you may want to scale back on the sweetener, since the prunes have a lot of natural sugar.

This recipe calls for a standard 3 bananas, but it also includes tahini to help moisten the batter, which is another great trick to try. (It’s also sweetened with honey instead of granulated sugar, and includes oats, sesame seeds, and chia seeds .) Get the Sesame Chia Banana Bread with Honey and Tahini recipe . If you’re out of eggs…

Many sources tell you (correctly) that you can replace eggs in baking with, among other things, mashed bananas—so does that mean you can just leave the egg out of your banana bread recipe entirely? Well, maybe. Since most banana bread recipes have a lot of fat and moisture overall, leaving out the egg most likely won’t hurt too much, but to be safe, you can add some additional pantry items to compensate: combine 2 tablespoons of water, 1 teaspoon of neutral oil like vegetable or canola oil, and 2 teaspoons of baking powder in a small bowl and whisk until completely combined, then mix them into your wet ingredients in place of the egg .

There are lots of other egg substitutes suitable for baking , but this one is nice since you’re liable to always have the necessary components on hand. Of course, if you’re not committed to a particular recipe yet, you can also search for intentionally egg-free versions like this one:

Bananas (of course), non-dairy milk , coconut oil , and maple syrup help keep this vegan banana bread moist. Get the Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bread recipe . If you have dietary restrictions or allergies…

The Internet is your oyster ! (Although if you keep kosher or have a shellfish allergy, just call it your best friend instead.) There are literally thousands of vegan, paleo , gluten-free , nut-free , egg-free , dairy-free, etc. banana bread recipes out there, and many of them are truly scrumptious. Here are just a handful of options:

This gluten-free banana bread recipe adds almond meal and oats to gluten-free flour and works equally well with chicken, chia, or flax eggs. Plus, you can mix in whatever additions you like, from chopped nuts to butterscotch chips. Get the Easy 1-Bowl Gluten-Free Banana Bread recipe .

This double-chocolate banana bread is still healthier than most standard banana bread loaves, so you can eat twice as much, right? (If you don’t want something quite so decadent, try this marbled marvel of a vegan gluten-free chocolate-swirled banana bread .) In any case, bananas are so moist and rich on their own, even dairy lovers won’t notice when milk, yogurt, sour cream, and butter have been replaced in a banana bread recipe with soy- or plant-based milk, coconut oil, and other alternative ingredients. Get the Vegan Gluten-Free Double-Chocolate Banana Bread recipe .

This paleo-approved banana bread uses almond flour and coconut flour, plus brown butter, walnuts, and dark chocolate . Get the Paleo Banana Bread recipe .

Bananas are quite high in carbs, which means they’re not really keto-friendly . However, you can still make a keto banana bread by employing some clever tricks—namely, banana extract to lend that familiar flavor, plus almond and coconut flours to get the texture right, and erythritol, a natural sweetener, instead of sugar. Get the Low-Carb Keto Banana Bread recipe . If you don’t think banana bread tastes enough like bananas …

The easiest and most obvious way to boost that yellow fatty bean flavor in your bread (whether you just really like the taste or you were short on actual fruit and had to make some substitutions as mentioned above), is to add a little extract . Although “extract” automatically makes many of us think “artificial flavoring” (and you will definitely find imitation banana flavor on your grocery store shelves), this pure banana extract is made from real fruit, and is a good choice for keeping in your pantry if you’re you-know-what about bananas. You can also try mixing in some freeze-dried banana powder .

If you’re not worried about artificial anything, you could also use one of the many sworn-to-be-moist banana bread recipes that call for vanilla pudding, but swap in banana pudding instead .

Chrissy Teigen warns against this trick (she says the banana pudding tastes too artificial), but many people stand by it, so why not try it and decide for yourself? Get the Banana Pudding Banana Bread recipe .

If you’ve got plenty of bananas and just want to cram even more of them into your bread, stir chunks of fresh ripe banana or dried banana chips into your batter , and cover the top of the loaf in banana pieces too, whether that’s round slices or full banana halves cut lengthwise and arranged artistically .

This banana bread not only has less butter and sugar than normal, but the butter is browned for a nutty taste, and the top is decorated with […]

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