Everyone needs a great recipe for banana bread, right?  Most people have one they turn to and mostly, they are good.  But I have to say, Cook’s Illustrated has worked their magic once again and taken this classic quick bread up a few notches.  Of course, as I joked to Ben, they also took the “quick” out of quick bread, but spending the few extra minutes and completing a few extra steps was well worth it in the end.

The unique step here that you won’t find in most banana bread recipes is removing the excess liquid from the bananas.  As I have found in the past with making tzatziki sauce, shredded zucchini, and eggplant parmesan, I find removing excess liquid from produce strangely gratifying.  This instance was no exception.  Bananas have a lot of juice!  I also think it was exactly the thing needed to take this classic from good to perfect.  Most quick breads with fruit, such as banana bread, may have a nice moist texture initially but seem to get almost soggy after a day or two.  This method ensures a perfect texture straight from the oven and every day after – tender, fluffy and moist but not stick-to-your-fingers wet.  For breakfast or an afternoon snack, this banana bread is a winner with us.


1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
6 large, very ripe bananas (about 2¼ lbs.), peeled
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 large eggs
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. granulated sugar


  • 01

    Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Lightly spray a loaf pan (about 9 x 5 inches) with cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt; whisk together and set aside.

  • 02

    Place 5 bananas in a microwave safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap and make several slits in the wrap to act as steam vents.  Microwave on high until the bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the bananas to a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl and let drain, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes (you should have ½-¾ cup liquid).

  • 03

    Transfer the reserved banana liquid to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook until reduced to about ¼ cup, 5-10 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat.  In a large bowl, combine the bananas and the reduced banana liquid.  Mash with a potato masher or whisk until fairly smooth.  Whisk in the melted butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the banana mixture.  Fold together gently, just until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula.

  • 04

    Slice the remaining banana diagonally into ¼-inch thick slices.  Layer the banana slices along both sides of the top of the batter, leaving a couple of inches in the center to allow an even rise.  Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the assembled loaf.

  • 05

    Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 55-75 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool at least 15 minutes in the pan before removing.  Continue to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.