This delicious banana bread gets its flavour and moistness from using a generous amount of overripe bananas, plenty of butter, and enough sugar to sweeten but not overwhelm.

Studded with plump raisins, toasted nuts, and of course, loads of mashed bananas, this banana bread bakes up extra moist with a rich, intense banana flavour.

In fact, this very same banana bread recipe has literally made a few of my friends famous in their social circles.

I shared the recipe with a community baker who makes dozens of this banana bread every year for an annual fundraising bake sale. Her banana loaves got so popular, she could never make enough of it to meet demand (last I heard, she’s given in to taking pre-orders😛).

Note: This post was originally titled ‘Super Moist Rum and Raisin Banana Bread”. Because rum and raisins are optional, I’ve simply named it classic banana bread. This post update includes new photos, step-by-step process shots, and additional baking tips. The recipe remains unchanged and delivers the same moist banana bread readers love.

One thing I’m certain of, banana bread is one of those treats that’s always well-received and thoroughly appreciated. Homemade banana bread is an easy and thoughtful gift idea, especially during the holidays like Christmas and Easter.

Why this is my favourite banana bread

We’re crazy about bananas in our home so banana recipes like banana cake, chocolate banana muffins, and fried banana fritters are on regular rotation. When it comes to banana bread, however, this has been my go-to banana bread recipe for as long as I can remember. I love that it’s:

  • easyeverything comes together in a bowl like a muffin batter. Mix the wet ingredients and your favourite add-ins together, stir in the dry ingredients, and it’s off to the oven. That’s it!
  • made with basic ingredients – you likely have all the ingredients to make it right now. You don’t even need sour cream, buttermilk, yoghurt, or oil. It still bakes up moist!
  • versatile – you can use this base banana bread recipe to make many variations of banana bread (see the section titled “Banana bread variations” below).
  • adaptable – this recipe is an excellent base for other quick breads and muffins.
  • freezer-friendly – it’s a great option for making ahead.

Best banana bread recipe

This moist banana bread recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s original recipe which I have to say is almost flawless to start with. It’s an easy recipe too! But I’ve made a few small tweaks – miniscule really but it will help you nail down a perfect banana bread.

Banana bread studded with nuts and raisins, cut into slices, set on a wooden board.

Through repeated recipe testing, I’ve determined that there can be such a thing as too much bananas. Having too much of it can break down the structure of a good banana bread. On the flip side, not enough bananas will compromise flavour and texture = bland and not so nice banana bread.

With this in mind, I’ve written the recipe with weight measurements to ensure consistency and success of every baking outcome (cup measurements are still included – you can toggle between US and metric measurements in the recipe card below).

What is banana bread?

Banana bread is a sweet quick bread made from mashed bananas. Don’t let its name throw you off though – banana bread is closer in texture to a cake than bread.

The reason it’s called banana bread is because it is traditionally baked in a bread loaf tin.

Banana bread studded with nuts and raisins, cut into slices, set on a wooden board.

It’s also categorised as a quick bread because quick breads are basically, breads made without yeast. Instead of using yeast to make quick breads rise, leavening agents like baking soda and baking powder do all the heavy lifting.

Unlike yeasted breads, quick breads don’t require proofing or kneading. They use the muffin method of mixing and go from the bowl to the pan to the oven in a shorter time, but do require a longer bake time (sometimes up to an hour).

Another thing is that quick breads do not have the same texture as yeasted breads. As quick breads are closer in texture to muffins, they can be baked in almost any pan including muffin tins.

You can slice and toast quick breads like regular yeasted breads but you wouldn’t make sandwiches with them. 

Quick bread like banana bread is richer and heavier – still, I love to spread a bit of salted butter on my banana bread for that little extra oomph.

Banana bread ingredients and why we use them

This banana bread has everything it needs to be great: flour, melted butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and of course, loads of mashed bananas. You don’t need sour cream, buttermilk, or yoghurt – it’s moist even without oil!

Both baking powder and baking soda give this banana bread a good rise so it bakes up firm with a soft crumb. Raisins and nuts are optional, but great for added texture and crunch.

  • plain flour. This is regular all-purpose flour. You’ll often see me substitute cake flour for plain flour in many of my cake recipes, but not for banana bread. I like banana bread a bit on the firm side in terms of its crumb texture, closer to a muffin than a cake. If you like banana bread to be tender and cakey, feel free to go with cake flour.
  • baking powder. This is a stir-and-mix batter that starts by mixing melted butter and sugar. Since we do not cream butter and sugar to introduce air, we need the leavening action of baking powder and baking soda (next on the list) to give this banana bread its lift.
  • baking soda. Reacts with mashed bananas, which are slightly acidic, to help the bread rise. It also makes the crumb more tender.
  • salt. Intensifies the taste of banana bread by balancing the sweetness of the sugars and mashed bananas for a fuller, pronounced flavour.
  • melted butter. Butter moistens and infuses the banana bread with a sweet buttery flavour and aroma (way more flavourful than vegetable oil). I use unsalted butter. If salted butter is what you have, remember to omit the salt.
  • sugar. Use fine or regular granulated sugar.
  • eggs. I use large eggs, each weighing 60 – 63 grams / 2 – 2.25 ounces, with shell.
  • mashed bananas. This is the hero ingredient, so be sure to use the ripest possible bananas! They do make the best banana bread with the most intense sweetness and flavour (read more in the section ‘Tips for perfect banana bread’ below).
  • vanilla extract. Use pure vanilla extract – my favourite is Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract. If you only have vanilla essence, use twice the amount as the extract because vanilla essence isn’t as strong as the extract.
  • walnuts (optional). Nuts in banana bread are a wonderful combo! Feel free to use whichever nuts are in your pantry – pecans, almonds, macadamias, or Brazil nuts. Before adding in the nuts, roughly chop them into smaller pieces as larger pieces tend to sink. Alternatively, you can sub out the nuts with these tasty alternatives.
  • raisins. I use raisins, but you can use other dried fruit like craisins, sultanas, cranberries, apricots, dates, or prunes. Be sure to cut larger pieces of dried fruit like prunes or dates into smaller chunks, roughly the same size as raisins or sultanas, so they don’t sink to the bottom of the batter.
  • rum (optional). Rum is used here to rehydrate the dried raisins. You’ll be simmering the raisins in the rum (allowing some of the alcohol to dissipate), and then letting it sit to soak up the liquid. This will ensure that they don’t absorb moisture from the banana bread itself, allowing the banana bread to bake up moist. If you want an alcohol-free option, you can use black tea (adds a depth of flavour), apple, orange or lemon juice. Instead of rum, brandy, amaretto, bourbon, and banana liquers like Bols Creme de Banane, also work very well in banana bread.

Equipment and tools

Banana bread recipes are so easy because you can make it entirely by hand with a hand whisk and spatula. You don’t need any fancy equipment.

However, if you are batch baking, a stand mixer or electric hand mixer can make the task effortless. Also, you’ll need a set of mixing bowls of various sizes to hold the ingredients as well as the banana bread batter.

Last but not least, this banana bread batter nicely fills a 1-pound loaf pan measuring 8.5″ x 4.5″ x 2.75″. My favourite is this USA Pan loaf pan.

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You can bake this recipe in a standard loaf pan measuring 9″ x 5″, but the banana bread will be shorter and wider across its surface.

How to make banana bread

Note: The recipe card including the ingredient amounts and instructions can be found at the bottom of this post. If you want to skip to the recipe card, scroll down to the bottom or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.

Prep:

  • Oven: Place an oven rack in the middle position, and preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F).
  • Pan: Grease a loaf pan (8.5″ x 4.5″ x 2.75″) with nonstick spray or softened butter. Line the base and sides with parchment paper. Allow for a bit of overhang so you can easily lift the baked banana bread out of the pan. If you want to skip the hassle of lining the pan, sprinkle flour into the greased loaf pan and tap out the excess.
  • Raisins: In a small saucepan, combine the dried raisins and rum. Heat over medium heat until it comes to a gentle boil. Take the saucepan off the heat, cover, and let the fruit sit for at least 45 minutes to an hour, if you can, to soak up the rum. Drain and set aside. Reserve the leftover rum if you want to add it to the batter.
  • Nuts: Meanwhile, toast the chopped nuts in the preheated oven for 7 – 10 minutes, or until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  • Bananas: Break up the bananas into large pieces in a mixing bowl. Mash the bananas with a fork(a potato masher works great too) or pulse in a food processor until mushy. I usually stop once most of it is mushy but with small chunky bits of bananas. But you can process it until smooth if you have kids or folks who absolutely do not like the slightest chunk of anything.

Banana bread batter:

  1. Dry ingredients (except sugar): Sift together the plain flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Alternatively, stir the flour mixture with a whisk to evenly distribute the leavening agents and salt.
  2. Wet ingredients (includes sugar): In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter and sugar until well mixed.
  1. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the butter mixture is smooth.
  2. Next, stir in the mashed bananas and a teaspoon vanilla extract until well mixed.

  1. Add the drained raisins (or if you like a slightly boozy flavour, add 1 tablespoon of the reserved rum) and toasted nuts to the banana mixture. Mix well with a wooden spoon or silicon spatula.
  2. Fold in the sifted flour mixture, a third at a time. Do not over-mix. Stop once all the flour is moistened, the add-ins are well-distributed, and the batter is smooth but still a bit lumpy.
  1. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan . Bake for 60 – 70 minutes. Close to the 60-minute mark, do a toothpick test. Insert the toothpick or a cake skewer into the centre of the banana bread. If it comes out with bits of sticky batter, continue baking. Check every 5 minutes until the banana bread is done.
  2. Remove from the oven and let the banana bread sit in the pan for 5 minutes. Lift the banana bread out of the pan by the overhang, or tip the pan onto its side to release. Let the banana bread cool on a wire rack. Cut into individual slices – banana bread is best enjoyed warm.

Tips for perfect banana bread

  1. Use overripe bananas.
    They always deliver the most intense sweetness and flavour in your banana bread. Perfectly ripe bananas should be yellow with lots of brown spots, even black. However, if the bananas smell off, start to ooze liquid, or have visible signs of mold, throw them out.
  2. Start with room temperature ingredients. Cold ingredients like eggs do not incorporate easily and can affect the consistency of the batter = lumpy batter = uneven crumb or texture = flat banana bread. Likewise, ingredients like melted butter should be left to cool slightly before beating in the sugar.
  3. Measure ingredients precisely.
    For best results, use a digital scale for accurate and consistent baking outcomes. I’ve also included cup measurements – you can toggle between US and metric measurements in the recipe card below. If using a measuring cup, make sure you measure flour the right way – use the fluff and sprinkle method.
  4. Check your leavening agents.
    Test your baking powder and baking soda before you start. Add a bit of water for baking powder or an acid like vinegar for baking soda. If the mixture starts to fizz, you’re good to go.Baking soda or baking powder typically have a short shelf life (only about 6 months after opening), so you won’t get the same fizz and lift in your banana bread if they’ve been sitting in your pantry for a while.
  5. Avoid over-mixing the batter once flour is added.
    Stirring the batter too much once all of the ingredients have been added causes the flour to develop gluten. Gluten is what yeasted breads rely on to develop its elastic, stringy structure. For quick breads like banana bread, too much gluten creates a tough, chewy crumb. The goal is to only stir the mixture enough to moisten the flour particles. The batter shouldn’t be entirely smooth and may even be a bit lumpy.
  6. Rehydrate dried fruit.
    Whether its dried raisins, sultanas, or cranberries, it’s important to rehydrate them so they get plump and juicy before joining the rest of the ingredients in the batter. By letting them simmer in the liquid (rum, water, or juice – take your pick), and then sit for a while, you’re allowing the fruit to soak up the liquid so that they don’t absorb moisture from the batter. This will ensure your banana bread bakes up moist.
  7. Toast the nuts.
    Toasted nuts add crunch and a more intense, nutty flavour to your banana bread. Let the toasted nuts cool before adding them to the batter. 
Banana bread studded with nuts and raisins, cut into slices, set on a wooden board.

How to ripen bananas quickly

If you have a bunch of bananas right now that aren’t quite ripe but you’re just itching to turn them into a glorious banana bread loaf, here are 3 ways to ripen bananas quickly:

  1. Paper bag method (slowest). As bananas ripen, they give off ethylene gas, and the higher the concentration of ethylene gas, the quicker the bananas turn ripe. By placing the unpeeled bananas in a paper bag and sealing it, you’re trapping ethylene gas to help quicken the process. Place the bag in a warm location, like near a window that gets some warmth. Depending on how unripe the bananas are to start, this may take between 1 to 3 days.
  2. Oven method (quick). Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper (to catch any juices during baking). Space apart the unpeeled bananas and bake for about 30 minutes, checking every 15 minutes to see if they’re soft enough. The more unripe ripe the bananas are to start, the longer they will take. The bananas are ready once their peels turn black and their flesh is soft – perfect for baking.
  3. Microwave method (quickest). Poke unpeeled bananas all over with a fork or knife. Then put them on a paper towel or plate and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Repeat the 30-second intervals until the bananas are as soft as you’d like. These bananas won’t be quite as sweet as overripe ones, but they’ll be mashable for baking.

Banana bread variations

  • Chocolate banana bread: Omit the fruit and nuts. Replace 25 grams / 3 tablespoons of the flour with good cocoa powder (not drinking chocolate) and add 100 grams / 4 ounces of dark chocolate (chopped into smaller chunks). Instead of dark chocolate, make a chocolate chip banana bread recipe by replacing the nuts and fruit with semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips.
  • Mixed spice banana bread: Make a spice mix of ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg, ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon of ground allspice, and ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves. Sift or stir with the dry ingredients before folding into the wet batter. Replace all or half of the white sugar with brown sugar for added depth of flavour.
  • Salted caramel chocolate banana bread: Omit the fruit and nuts. Replace 25 grams / 3 tablespoons of the flour with good cocoa powder (not drinking chocolate) and 100 grams of roughly chopped Ghirardelli sea salt caramel squares.
  • Pumpkin banana bread. Replace half of the mashed bananas, 150 grams / 5.3 ounces with canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) and replace the white sugar with light brown sugar. Add 1 tablespoon of pumpkin spice and sift or stir with the dry ingredients before folding into the wet batter.
  • Banana nut bread. Omit fruit. Add up to 1 cup of your favourite nut or a nut mix. Lightly toast the nuts until fragrant and toss in some flour before adding to the batter.
  • Gluten-free banana bread. Replace all purpose flour with an equal amount or quantity of gluten-free baking flour. I highly recommend Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour because it is a special blend of gluten-free flours, starches, and xanthum gum, making it easy to transform this banana bread into a gluten-free version.

How to store banana bread

Banana bread keeps well at room temperature for 2 to 3 days in an airtight container. Beyond that, it’s best to keep it chilled in the refrigerator where it will keep well for up to a week.

Banana bread is also very freezer-friendly. To freeze, allow the banana bread to cool completely to room temperature. Wrap with a double layer of plastic wrap and seal tight. I like to take the extra step of wrapping it with a layer of aluminum foil before putting it into a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.

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Moist Banana Bread

4.8 from 20 reviews
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield: 12 servings
Banana bread that's deliciously moist and chock full with plump raisins, toasted nuts, and loads of mashed bananas.

Ingredients

  • 100 g raisins see Note1
  • 5 tbsp rum see Note2
  • 175 g all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 125 g unsalted butter melted
  • 125 g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs each weighing 56 – 60 grams / 2 – 2.25 ounces with shell
  • 300 g mashed bananas without peel
  • 60 g chopped walnuts see Note3
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 170°C (325 °F). Grease and line a loaf pan (8.5" x 4.5" x 2.75" / approx. 21 x 11 x 6 cm) with baking paper. Note: A standard loaf pan (9" x 5" x 3"/approx. 23 x 13 x 8") can also be used – the banana bread will bake up shorter and wider.
  • Place the raisins and rum in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for 45 minutes or an hour, or until the raisins have absorbed most of the liquid. Drain (reserve the liquid if desired) and set aside.
  • Stir or sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medim-sized mixing bowl.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar and beat with a hand whisk until blended. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the mashed bananas, vanilla extract, and 1 tablespoon or the reserved rum (optional).
  • Next, with a wooden spoon, stir in drained raisins and toasted nuts. Fold in the flour mixture, a third at a time, combining well after each addition. Do not over-mix. Stop once the flour is moistened – the batter should be mostly smooth but a bit lumpy.
  • Scoop out into the prepared loaf pan . Bake in the middle of the oven for 55 – 75 minutes. Test with a toothpick or cake skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf. If the toothpick or skewer comes out with sticky bits of batter, continue baking and check every 5 minutes until it is done.
  • Let the banana bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Let it cool before slicing as desired – best enjoyed warm while the crust still has a bit of crisp and crunch to it.

Notes

  • 1. Raisins. You can use your favourite dried fruit like craisins, sultanas, cranberries, apricots, dates, or prunes. Be sure to cut larger pieces of dried fruit like prunes or dates into smaller chunks, roughly the size of raisins or sultanas, to prevent them sinking to the bottom of the batter.
  • 2. Rum (optional). Rum is used here to rehydrate the dried raisins. By simmering the raisins in the rum and then letting it sit to soak up the liquid, this ensures they don’t absorb moisture from the banana bread itself, allowing the banana bread to bake up moist. Instead of rum, brandy, amaretto, bourbon, and banana liquers like Bols Creme de Banane, also work very well in banana bread. For alcohol-free options, you can use black tea (adds a depth of flavour), apple, orange or lemon juice. 
  • 3. Walnuts (optional). Feel free to use whatever nuts are in your pantry – pecans, almonds, macadamias, or brazill nuts. Before adding in the nuts, roughly chop them into smaller pieces, roughly the same size as the raisins, as larger pieces tend to sink. Alternatively, you can sub out the nuts with these tasty alternatives.

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 1g, Calories: 274kcal, Carbohydrates: 35g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 0.3g, Cholesterol: 50mg, Sodium: 231mg, Potassium: 210mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 14g, Vitamin A: 317IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 57mg, Iron: 1mg
Cuisine: Western
Course: Bread & Bun Recipes, Cake Recipes
Author: Celia Lim
Did you make this recipe? Be sure to leave a rating and a review in the section below, and tag @foodelicacy on Instagram and hashtag it #foodelicacy so I can see!