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.


  • I’ve never heard of this technique using bananas, but I am definitely intrigued! The bread looks delicious, and I’ll have to come back to this recipe next time I have a bunch of overripe bananas on my counter.

  • So, are the bananas slices for decoration only, or does Cook’s add them for another reason?

    I’ll have to try this because I do hate the way that quick breads don’t keep very well.

  • Who knew bananas had a lot of liquid!? That’s good to know…will have to try this recipe! We love banana bread…and it seems like such a perfect back to school food too!

  • This seems so incredibly complicated, I wonder if it could really be worth it. Though I have to say, if you gave me a loaf, I’d happily gobblie it up :)

  • Annie

    It’s not that complicated, it’s only two extra steps. Definitely worth it!

  • Annie

    Decoration and additional banana flavor.

  • This has been on my list to try since I saw it in the magazine. Glad you liked it!

  • that banana bread looks so fresh and moist in the pictures… yum!

  • What an unusual technique, I’ve never seen or heard of doing this before. I love love banana bread and yours looks so delicious!!

  • I have noticed that all of Cooks Illustrated’s recent recipes call for draining out the extra juice from fruit and veg!

  • Grace

    So funny! I literally just made this exact recipe last night with some frozen bananas. I also wouldn’t call it too complicated, but it is vary “banana-y” for someone like me who has a love hate banana relationship=)

  • Liz N

    I had been wanting to try this recipe out since I got that issue from Cook’s Illustrated! I’m so glad you made it and tried it out yourself. It sounded like extracting the liquid from the bananas intensifies the banana flavor. I could eat some right now!

  • I saw that recipe and wondered if it would be an improvement! I thought the method of zapping the bananas was really unique.

  • I love banana bread. My favorite has sour cream which keeps it really moist. I will be sure to try this one as well though!

  • interesting! i actually prefer when quick breads are uber moist and a little soggy, but I’m weird…I should try this method and compare :)

  • I think it’s time for me to give up the ghost and ask my husband for a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated for Christmas. I’ve never seen them make a loser recipe, and this banana bread recipe alone would be worth the cost of a month’s issue! Thanks for highlighting and sharing it! I think I’ll forgo the banana on my cereal this morning so I can make this later this week.

  • Erin

    I have a banana bread recipe that I really love, but was intrigued by this recipe when my CI magazine came out and wanted to try it. Glad to hear that it’ll be worth it!

  • I don’t think I make anything more often than banana bread…. I have never heard of this technique before, but in the pictures it looks really delicious and moist so it must have some effect! I think I will try it the next time I make banana bread. Thanks for sharing!

  • penandra

    What a timely recipe! I was just getting ready to look for a good “quick bread” recipe when I came to your blog!

    When I was talking with my 91-year-old father this weekend, he had just taken a loaf of banana bread out of the oven — he lives alone and cooks for himself and he was telling me that he usually cuts the loaf in half and puts one-half in the freezer so that he can alternate between different breads (banana, zucchini, carrot, green tomato, etc.) and not have the same thing day after day after day after day. But he was excited because his “lady friend” had told him that she made french toast with her left over breads! We both agreed that it sounds yummy and are going to try it!

  • I just made this! But I added peanut butter chips…mmmmmmhhh. Perfect!

  • I love learning new banana bread recipe. I’m always looking out for one better than mine. I’ll give yours a try!

  • what a unique idea. i had no idea you could drain liquid out of bananas. i’ll have to try this :)

  • Banana breads do always become very sticky! Congrats on that idea of getting rid of the excess liquid. I think that would really solve the problem!!

  • Jenny Dryfhout

    I am eating it right now – it is delicious!!!

  • Cindy

    Fantastic recipe – I just made a loaf this morning and we are so enjoying it!! I think the extra two steps are definitely worth it. It really isn’t that much more work – I will be doing it this way from now on.

  • Annie, I have a question ….. I’d like to make this recipe into muffins rather than a loaf – school starts this week and I’m looking for new lunch box ideas. Do you think that this would work and if so, how long should I bake them for? Thanks.

  • Annie

    I’m sure you could make it as muffins, but I’m not sure on baking time. Usually for cupcakes I start at 18 minutes, but this has a different consistency so I’m not sure. I do also have banana crumb muffins in the blog if that is easier.

  • Macaire

    I made this yesterday and it was great! I used frozen bananas (I always peel and freeze the ones that get too ripe to eat) and it worked like a charm. Everyone commented on the banana flavor and loved it. My only complaint is that the sliced banana on top (I used a fresh, ripe banana for that) turned brown during baking and didn’t look nearly as appetizing as yours. Did you toss the slices in lemon juice first to preserve their color?

  • Annie

    No, I didn’t do anything special but if you used frozen banana slices for the top that is probably what caused it. Banana that has been frozen tends to turn brown.

  • Liz N

    I made this yesterday and it turned out beautifully. The extra steps were worth the effort as it resulted in an intensely flavored banana bread. I liked that it wasn’t overly sweet and the texture stayed moist and not overly dense. Next time I will add chopped walnuts. Since I live in Denver (high altitude), I set my finish time to 45 minutes and checked for doneness. It was perfect at that time. I didn’t have to make any adjustments with flour. So for those living at around the 5280 ft to 5600 ft altitude, that’s my 2 cents!

  • Becky A

    I’m in the process of making this banana bread right now. Any idea why my bananas are not producing any liquids after being microwaved?

  • Annie

    Un-ripe bananas? Your guess is as good as mine.

  • Becky A

    Thanks for the quick response. Maybe my banana weren’t ripe enough. They were brown on the outside but maybe not enough on the inside. I have to say though, this was still the best banana bread I’ve ever had!!! Thanks for sharing!

  • nicole

    Ok, maybe a dumb question… but I don’t bake much – can you make these as muffins? Would the recipe need to be altered ?

  • Annie

    You could, though I have banana crumb muffins posted which are great and probably would be easier. But yes, this could be baked as muffins. You would just have to shorten the baking time.

  • nicole

    Thanks for the quick response! I made them as muffins and they came out perfect. Baked for 20 min. This is an awesome recipe!!

  • Ashlee

    will the bread stay moist if i make it the night before and serve it the next day? sometimes i know things can dry out a bit.

  • Annie

    Yes, it will be fine.

  • Linda

    I must say, I had some doubts that the extra steps on prepping the bananas would make a difference. But I followed every instruction you gave and was rewarded with a beautiful and very tasty bread. Thank you for this recipe!

  • bebop

    The recipe is great. I’ve made banana bread before and the taste wasn’t as strong as commerical made breads. This recipe had a great banana flavor and none of the overly sugary taste of commercial banana bread products. Fair warning, i almost lost my lunch when i cooked the bananas in the microwave. The putrid sickly sweet smell was overpowering, like composte. Luckily by the time it started baking, the house smelled of banana bread. The bread is delicious, but mine came out grey in the inside. The sliced bananas on the side was a smart look but for a crunch, i think i would replace it with sliced almonds or dried banana chips.

  • Nina

    I made this today sooooo Yummy! I used dark brown sugar and added a 1/2 tsp cinnamon :))Best EVER :)

  • April W.

    Made this bread last night as a means to get rid of ripened bananas attracting ants on my kitchen table. The bread tastes great, though after it sits, the amazing sugar crust softens, but it sure is good straight outta the oven! I opted out of the banana on top, so that Husband could have one for a snack. Love the recipe! Also, a note for anyone whose bananas didn’t give juice: microwave them an additional 1.5 min. and if yours are like mine, they’ll give and give! Thanks Annie!

  • Katherine

    This was great! Mr. Picky in my house (no, not a kid…my fiancé!) doesn’t like the bananas on top, but otherwise this got the Picky Stamp of Approval. I liked it – and the bananas on top – but I guess I will skip that step next time! I don’t know if my bananas were large enough (I usually buy smaller ones) as I only just got 1/4 cup liquid from them, so I skipped the reduction step. It still tastes good but I will have to buy some large bananas and try it again. I really like how this has a higher banana content than some recipes.

  • Bianca P.

    Made this over the weekend and wow it was so good! I did not add the bananas on top of the bread. This is my new recipe for banana bread!

  • Rachel D

    I’m very lucky in that I have two parents who are excellent cooks and bakers, but this also means I have a high standard for good baking. One of my dads specialties is his banana bread, and until I made this bread, I have never had any that could compare to (and dare I say it, rival) my dad’s. Thank you very much for sharing this.

  • Laurel

    This banana bread is stupendous! Thanks, Annie!

  • Keren

    I just made this and it is soooo good! My daughter (13 months) doesn’t like bananas but she LOVED it! Thank you so much :)

  • lauren

    I made this last night for my boss and he LOVED it so much I’m making it for him again. It is the perfect way to use to unsold bananas at the coffee shop.

  • Tatjana

    I don’t own a microwave, Annie, do you think the extracting of liquid from the bananas also works on a stovetop? Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    You’ll have to experiment and find out. Good luck!

  • Leslie Wright

    This was the best banana bread I ever tasted and made. 3 slices of butter bread before it was even fully cooled.

  • kate

    Absolutely delicious! This is replacing my old standby….Thank you!

  • I’ve been trying a new banana bread recipe every time I make it these last couple of years. Not that I make it a whole, whole lot, but this is the first one I’ve run across that I’d make again. It’s much more moist than any others I’ve tried so far, which is a big plus. Most tend to be dry. I didn’t get quite enough juice from my bananas (I forget sometimes that the settings for my microwave tend toward nuclear, should have used less time), but it still came out good. Loved the touch of the banana slices on top. Now if only we could figure out a way to make the sides that touch the pan as tender and moist as that much coveted top-most area.

  • Nicole M.

    Just made this today. Excellent flavor and texture. Instead of the sliced bananas and sugar topping, I used the crumb topping from Annie’s banana crumb muffins. My husband loved it!!

  • Athena

    Made this last night. So incredibly delicious, the texture was perfect. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the lack of stickiness. The crust turned out to be really yummy too. Definitely will use this again and again.

  • Erin

    I was wondering about replacing the banana with zucchini and making it into a zucchini bread?

  • annieseats

    You might be better off looking for a zucchini bread recipe since this has a lot of techniques specific to the bananas.

  • Leah

    I made this bread today, and in our family of 8, it was eaten in 10 minutes! I actually did not think that the extra steps added much work; it was still relatively easy to prepare. This will be my go-to recipe for banana bread from now on!

  • hannahbanana_123

    This is a great recipe! I like to throw in white chocolate chips to make it even better. A co-worker said it was the best she’s ever had.

  • Carley

    O….my….goodness! So yummy! I did a couple things different. I did not include the banana slices on top (I ran out of bananas) and I did not do all the steps in extracting the liquid from the bananas. I did microwave them for a couple minutes until softened and then I mashed them (I didn’t have a fine mesh strainer at the time.) Even without the extra steps this bread is the best banana bread I have ever tasted!!

  • I made this recipe after trying several recipes that always disappointed. I actually watched the Cooks Country video on this before being convinced that it would be a perfect recipe. And, your approval just made it the icing on the cake! It’s delicious! Best. Banana. Bread. Ever.

  • I think I’m up to 9 times of making this…going on 10 tonight- I have to keep looking up the recipe due to toddler + baby brain. The only thing I don’t do is the bananas on top..just a preference of texture. Otherwise this is great. We have added chocolate chips, walnuts, spread it with peanut butter or nutella…My 1 1/2 year old loves this “nana bed”! Thank you for a great recipe!

  • I had the same thing happen with my crust when I covered it. I tried foil, a towel, and paper towel. Pretty much unless I put it on a plate in the microwave it will soften. So now I put it in there uncovered and the crust stays crispy.

  • Fiona Marshall

    I had no idea what to do with my 8 super ripe bananas and then came across this!! It is still in the oven, so I can’t post yet on taste but it smells delicious!

  • Sue

    I have tried a couple of banana bread recipes and have failed to be impressed until now. I added a cup of chopped walnuts and 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and left off the sugar topping. Also, because my pan is 8×4 instead of 9×5, I kept out some of the batter and made mini-muffins with it, which turned out delicious as well. Thank you, Annie!

  • Wendy Benoit

    I’ve made this twice already. My favorite banana bread recipe. Added 1/4 cup chopped walnuts the second time and it was really excellent!