Banana Bread with Sour Cream
The moist Banana Bread recipe you’ve been searching for! I tested a ton of different recipes so you don’t have to. The result is a bread that is super moist (thank you sour cream) and perfectly fluffy. It’s full of banana flavor without being too dense. It’s my favorite banana nut bread! And it’s easy to make!
Charlotte was in the living room the other day and called me over with an accusing look on her face. “Mom, was dad watching TV last night? And eating something? Because I thought I heard something, and there are crumbs on the couch.” Um. Good sleuthing, Sherlock. This is what we do literally every night after you are in bed: eat snacks and watch TV.
I have no idea how it’s taken her 9 years to figure this out! I told her that this is the kind of behavior she can look forward to indulging in when she’s in her 30s. I didn’t mention the mortgage and the job and the lawn to mow; I didn’t want to crush all her dreams of staying-up-late-eating-cookies-bliss.
How was everyone’s Memorial Day weekend? Eric and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary! It was so fun, and you guys, we stayed at a place that wasn’t our house! We ate in a restaurant that wasn’t our kitchen! We had a full 30 hours away from our children! (Bless you for taking the kids, Mom.) There is nothing like coming out of quarantine to make the sun shine brighter and food taste even more amazing. Maybe we should always shut ourselves in our houses for 2 months before a vacation. We would enjoy it more!
I’m so excited that things are starting to slowly open up! We all did a great job flattening the curve, right?! It’s really cool to see our country come together like that! ‘Merica.
Tasty Banana Bread for Quarantine
Have you made any banana bread during quarantine? It seems to be all the rage! I don’t have any banana bread recipes on my site. My sister called me a few years ago, confused that I didn’t have a recipe on the blog. It’s such a basic, and I’m finally getting around to it! Banana bread has never been my favorite, so I knew it would take me a while of testing tons of different recipes to find out what I like most about banana bread, and then perfect my own version. (Just like I did for cornbread a few months ago.) I’m happy to say I’ve found the moist banana bread that will be my go-to from now on!
In anticipation of all the testing, I went to the store and bought over 25 bananas. The store clerks were totally giving me the side eye, because who does that?? I needed to let them sit and ripen so I could get on with the Great Banana Bread Bake-Off of 2020!
Eric’s parents were in town several days later when my bananas were just starting to brown. From the other room one morning I heard my mother-in-law Kris say something about making banana cake, and I came barreling into the kitchen like a psycho person, telling her the precious brown bananas were claimed. Sorry Kris!! Ripe bananas don’t just grow on trees! They take days to get to the perfect level of banana bread perfection!
I ended up making at least 12 batches of bread. Here are the first 8. Props to my in-laws Kris and Chip for helping me narrow down the best features of each one so that we could find the Perfect Banana Bread.
How to ripen bananas quickly?
There is a hack to ripening bananas at home. If you don’t have brown bananas, you have two options: you can use regular yellow bananas and just mash them up really well. If you do this, increase the brown sugar by about 1/4 to 1/3 cup and add a pinch more salt. The other option is to line a pan with foil, turn your oven on to 300 degrees F, and bake yellow bananas for about 15 minutes until the peels are black. Let cool completely and then use for banana bread!
Can bananas be frozen for later use?
Even after I bought 25 bananas to test the recipes for this post, I still needed more bananas believe it or not. Good thing I have been saving over ripe bananas in my freezer for literally years! Here’s what I do: when you have brown bananas on the counter but don’t have the time or inclination to make banana bread right away, peel them and freeze in a ziplock. If you have a whole bunch, you may want to lay them out on a baking sheet and flash freeze for an hour, then transfer to a ziplock. You can also freeze bananas in their peels, I’ve done that before. Just zap them in the microwave when you need them, then peel and use them for bread or whatever.
When you use frozen bananas for banana bread (or any baked dessert), you will have to microwave it long enough to be able to mash it. When you microwave it, a bunch of liquid will melt off of the banana. Don’t throw it away! Add it to your banana bread. It will make your bread extra moist!
Moist Banana Bread Ingredients
Almost all recipes for banana bread are basically the same. I’m really not exaggerating when I say this. I looked at dozens and dozens of recipes and only saw minor adjustments to this formula, which I can literally spout off the top of my head after making different versions of this 12 times in one week. This is for one 9×5 inch loaf:
- 1/2 cup butter (a few recipes use oil)
- between 1/2 and 1 cup sugar, brown or white or a mix
- 2 eggs
- somewhere between 1/2 to 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup sour cream / Greek yogurt / buttermilk
- anywhere from 1/2 cup to over 2 cups of mashed banana (2-6 bananas)
- between 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda << almost no variation on this
- 1/4 teaspoon to 3/4 teaspoon salt
Most of the banana bread recipes you find are nearly identical to each other, with one key ingredient making the biggest difference: BANANA. Some recipes call for 2 bananas, some call for 6. This is the difference between about 3/4 cup mashed banana up to 2 and 1/3 cups mashed banana, which is the highest amount I saw in any one recipe.
So after lots of testing, I determined the amounts of the other ingredients I liked best (half white half brown sugar, 1/2 cup of sour cream, tons of vanilla, some oat flour in place of regular flour (more on that later), etc. Then I made 2 batches of my final recipe: the first one with 1 cup of banana (moderate), and the second with 2 cups of banana (tons).
1 cup Banana Bread vs. 2 Cup Banana Bread
The results are in! I am a 1 cup banana bread lover.
This was a surprise to me. I tend to go hog-wild sometimes, especially when it comes to baked goods. See this Coffee Cake with a Ridiculous Amount of Streusel, this Apple Crisp with a Ridiculous Amount of Streusel, or this Death By Chocolate Bundt Cake. I’m not really known for moderation you guys. I am an over-the-top-baker. I was ready to post Banana Bread with a Ridiculous Amount of Bananas. But guys… it’s just not my thing.
Can you tell why from the photo above? Look at the bottom edge of the 2 cup bread. It’s so heavy that the bottom of the bread is a completely different texture from the top half of the bread. Banana bread with too much banana ends up being SUPER dense, cloyingly sweet, and the worst trait: gummy. Nobody wants to eat gummy bread you guys. And it doesn’t hold together well for slicing. Bread is meant to be fluffy and tender, even banana bread. When you take a bite of 2-cup banana bread, it tastes like your taking a bite of a really soft banana with some butter on it. I mean, ugh, right?
(This is 1 cup banana bread.)
Okay okay maybe it’s not that bad. I think some people actually prefer it, there are a TON of recipes out there with 2 cups. But I bet you 10 dollars if you made 1 cup banana bread and 2 cup banana bread and gave people a blind taste test, the 1 cup banana bread would win. All of my friends and family who tried this recipe preferred the 1 cup banana bread. It is still SUPER moist, but also fluffy, just like a quick bread ought to be.
(This is 2 cup banana bread)
There is one thing about 2 cup banana bread: I do think the top comes out prettier. You get that super glossy finish and a slightly more rounded top. I tried everything I could think of to get my 1 cup banana bread to look more like the 2 cup bread, but alas. You need all that extra moisture and liquid from the banana. The texture of the top of 1-cup bread is perfectly crispy and delicious, the 2 cup bread is more wet. Obviously I prefer a crackly top for eating. Of the two photos above, which one do you like better? Maybe I’m overthinking it!
How to Make the Best Banana Bread Recipe Ever
I will show you how to make it! It’s so easy, I could literally do it in my sleep at this point.
First cream together the butter and sugar, just as if you were going to make cookies. Get it nice and fluffy.
Then add in all the other wet ingredients (except the sour cream): eggs, vanilla, and banana. (1 cup of banana :)
Then either in a separate bowl (or just right on top of the wet ingredients if you are lazy like me), add the flour, blended oats, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Not all banana bread recipes call for baking powder, and you can actually omit it if you want to. I liked the little extra lift it gives the bread. It’s just a little bit fluffier.
The blended oats is the one ingredient that is not common in most banana bread recipes. All you have to do is measure out 1/2 cup oats, add it to a blender, and pulse until powdery. I love the slightly nutty flavor the oat flour lends. If it sounds like an annoying step to you, then you can just replace the oats with 1/2 cup flour and call it good. Your banana bread will still turn out great.
I also added some optional spices in the recipe. It’s not much: 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon each clover and nutmeg. It’s a small amount because I really like the banana flavor to shine in banana bread. But this tiny amount plays more of a supporting role than taking over.
Lastly, fold in the sour cream, fold in some nuts if you’re using them, and voila! Bake it up for an hour and you’re done. It’s so easy. There is a reason it’s called quick bread!
When my friends heard that I was testing a million banana breads they would tell me, oh, I love to add chocolate chips to mine! It’s true, chocolate makes everything better. But it doesn’t make sense for testing. I was on a mission to find a stand alone bread that was good without chocolate chips, and good without even nuts (although I much prefer banana bread with nuts, I found.) All my test breads were made without mix-ins so that I could judge the actual bread without distractions.
If you want to add chocolate chips, nuts, cinnamon chips, go for it! Now that I have a favorite base recipe, I’m sure you will see many banana bread variations published here on the blog eventually! (UPDATE! I just made this Easy Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting!) See I told you more banana was coming :)
Can you freeze banana bread with sour cream?
Yes! Banana bread freezes beautifully! You can wrap an entire loaf in foil and then ziplock and freeze (thaw on the counter with the bag sealed) or you can slice it and wrap and freeze individual portions for when you need a quick fix. Let thaw on the counter in the sealed container. Toss thawed slices in the toaster for a minute to get rid of extra moisture.
And there you have it! The best moist banana bread! Do you think you are a 1-cupper or a 2-cupper? If any of you decide to make both versions, I would love to hear about it! Leave a comment or tag me on Instagram!
P.S. Update! I recently made this Easy Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s super easy to make and if you love banana bread, you are going to love it! Who can say no to cream cheese frosting??
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Sour Cream Banana Bread
- 1/2 cup butter, 1 stick, softened
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup mashed ripe banana, 9 ounces*, about 2 and 1/2 medium bananas
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- 1/2 cup old fashioned oats, blended into a powder**
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, optional
- 1/8 teaspoon cloves, optional
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, optional
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray, or line with parchment paper. I prefer using the paper so that you can lift the bread out for easy slicing.
- If you plan to add nuts, toast them now so they have time to cool. Add 1/2 or 3/4 cup chopped nuts (I like either walnuts or pecans) to a dry baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 5-7 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. You will know they are done when they are very fragrant. Set aside to let cool.
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the butter until it is smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup white sugar and cream together. This means beat it for about 2 minutes until it is fluffy, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat well until incorporated, scraping the sides.
- In a small bowl, use a fork or potato masher to mash about 2 and 1/2 very ripe bananas. It should come out to about 1 cup.* A little more or a little less banana, and you are still going to get banana bread. (More banana=more dense. Less banana does NOT make your banana bread not-moist.) 1 cup is the magic number for me. Add the mashed banana to the butter mixture and stir until incorporated.
- Add 1 cup flour to the bowl, but do not stir yet. (You can mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl but I am too lazy.)
- Add 1/2 cup old fashioned oats to a blender or food processor. Blend until the mixture has turned into powder, if it's a little gritty that's okay. Add the oat flour to the bowl but don't stir.
- Use a small spoon to stir 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt into the flour. You don't want any clumps of salt or soda in your bread.
- At this point, you can add 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon each cloves and nutmeg. This bread is still really good without the spices, they are optional.
- Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until incorporated, scraping the sides and bottom.
- Lastly (don't forget!!) fold in the 1/2 cup sour cream.
- If you want to add nuts, fold them into the batter now. (Next time I think I will save 1/4 cup to sprinkle on top of the bread before going in the oven. Just an idea!)
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top.
- Bake at 350 for 55-65 minutes. Every oven is different and you are probably going to have to check it a few times. There is nothing sadder than undercooked banana bread, so I rely completely on the toothpick test: a toothpick inserted very deeply into the center of your bread (stick it right into the crack that has formed) should come out with no wet batter on it. Very moist crumbs are ok, as the bread will continue cooking just a bit once pulled out of the oven. The bread should look nice and brown on top and should be pulling away from the sides of the pan.
- Let the bread cool completely (okay, well at least for 20 minutes or so) on a cooling rack before slicing into it. If you don't devour a warm slice immediately with copious amounts of butter, it's a crime against bananas everywhere.
- Store covered on the counter for up to 2 days, then if there is by some miracle some leftover, I would stick it in the fridge.
- Banana bread freezes beautifully. You can wrap an entire loaf in foil and then ziplock and freeze (thaw on the counter with the bag sealed) or you can slice it and wrap and freeze individual portions for when you need a quick fix. Let thaw on the counter in the sealed container. Toss thawed slices in the toaster for a minute to get rid of extra moisture.
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