quick breads

the perfect base banana bread

the perfect base recipe for banana bread. use whatever you have in your pantry to bake it. then, top and mix in all your favorite things.

this particular entry has been weeks in the making. it’s hard to focus on things outside of daily life- in this new life. this new reality. the one where a pandemic has forced each and every person into a new version of their lives. as im sitting here typing out this post, im finding its cathartic. as has been baking. this process of following a recipe, its exactly what i need. right here. in this moment. in that sense, the perfect base banana bread arrives on the blog at exactly the right time.

why banana bread?

when i first started baking- after many years away, it was banana bread that held my attention. im not a huge fan of bananas. so, it has always struck me as odd. that this particular baked good should capture so much of my attention. but, life is funny. now, banana bread happens to be one of my favorite recipes to make! its the easiest of all the quick breads you could possibly ever bake.

ive been tweaking this recipe for the perfect base banana bread for YEARS. its not really something that i intentionally did. i tweaked based off of what i had on hand at the time. after realizing this a few weeks ago, i finally made a loaf just to photograph.

the most basic banana bread there ever was. but, also the perfect base for all of my other quick breads. this recipe is pretty much entirely customizable based on what you have in your pantry and what you’re craving! for a list of ideas, just scroll down. i’ve linked all the recipes currently on my site that utilize this as the base. enjoy!

the perfect base banana bread

basic list of ingredients

at minimum you will need these ingredients to make the perfect base banana bread
  • all purpose flour
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • salt
  • bananas (ripe with lots of brown spots)
  • unsalted butter (I love this browned for extra flavor)
  • brown sugar and/or granulated sugar
  • eggs
  • vanilla extract
  • yogurt

what makes this the best?

after reading this article about the perfect banana bread (i know- blogger reads for sure), i knew my version met all the criteria for the “perfect banana bread.” to save you a few minutes, the gist of what makes the perfect bread is this:

  • strong banana flavor
  • moist and tender
  • holds a firm slice
  • caramelized topping (crunchy sugar!!)
  • holds up well the next day (can be toasted)
  • easy to make
  • minimal dishes

well, after reading that article, i whipped up my own version just to check how many things mine checked off the list. in my humble opinion, my version checks all the things off the list! making it my perfect base banana bread recipe.

a few tips to make the perfect base banana bread…

food substitutes:
  • all purpose vs bread vs cake flours: ive made this recipe using only all purpose, as well as with a blend of AP and one of the other two. it is my preference to do 1/2 AP and 1/2 bread or cake flour. much like the names suggests
    • the one with cake flour will be fluffier and a little less sturdy.
    • the one with bread flour will have a great crumb and will be a bit sturdier
    • use what you have in your pantry!
    • if you want to use a GF flour, i suggest one that’s a 1:1 substitute
  • butter vs tahini: my perfect tasting banana bread has a nutty note running through it. I love tahini for this
    • for the most classic version, use only melted, unsalted butter
    • you could brown the butter for a light nutty note. (see recipe notes)
  • no eggs? no problem: if you’re running low on eggs, you can absolutely sub them out for a number of different things. i found this article from The Kitchn very helpful. the best sub for baking is very surprising!
  • whole milk greek yogurt: you can use any yogurt you have on hand. im a lover of whole milk greek yogurt, so it finds it way into all my quick breads
tips and tools:
  • measure your bananas: 1 1/4 c of mashed bananas is about 2 1/2 – 3 medium bananas. its important to measure this as your results will end up different if you don’t have enough/have too much banana
  • pan size: this calls for a 9X5 loaf pan. you could also use
    • 8X8, 9X9, 8-9″ round, or about 12 muffins.
    • you’ll want to adjust the baking times accordingly.
    • starting around 18-30 minutes depending on the pan.
    • the bread is done when the top is golden and a few or no moist crumbs come out on a toothpick
  • toppings: this is my favorite part of any banana bread! the sky is the limit, but my favorite toppings/add-ins are: 1c chocolate chips inside and on top, cinnamon swirl or 1/4 c turbinado sugar sprinkled on the top, you could also top with the PB and honey- picture here!
the perfect base banana bread
the perfect base banana bread
the perfect base banana bread

need some other quick bread inspiration? these are my favorite!

the perfect base banana bread

the perfect base recipe for banana bread. use whatever you have in your pantry to bake it. then, top and mix in all your favorite things!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 55 mins
Cooling Time 35 mins
Total Time 1 hr 45 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 1 9X5 loaf


  • 9X5 loaf pan
  • parchment paper
  • stand mixer with paddle attachment, optional


banana bread

  • 1 c all purpose flour (120g)
  • 1 c bread or cake flour (120g) sub with all purpose
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c packed brown sugar (110g)
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar (55g)
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter (56g)*
  • 1/3 c tahini, well stirred* sub with melted butter (for total of 8 tbsp melted butter)
  • 1 1/4 c mashed bananas (~3 medium bananas)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c whole milk greek yogurt

optional toppings

  • 1/4 c turbinado sugar, optional for topping
  • 1 c chocolate chips, optional (divided, 3/4 c, 1/4 c)
  • 1/3 c brown sugar, optional** cinnamon sugar swirl
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon, optional** cinnamon sugar swirl
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder, optional** cinnamon sugar swirl


  • Line 9×5 loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving 1-2 in. overhang on the sides. Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • In a stand mixer with paddle attachment (or by hand), cream browned butter, and sugar until smooth and well combined (about 2-3 minutes). Add eggs, beating well after each one until well combined. Add vanilla extract and mashed bananas, beating until well combined.
  • In this order (dry ingredients, yogurt, dry, yogurt, dry), add dry ingredients to the wet alternating with the yogurt. Slowly beat each time until JUST combined. A few flour streaks is okay! Add any chocolate chips or cinnamon swirls at this time. See notes for how to do the cinnamon swirl layer. Gently pour into prepared pan. If topping with addiional chocolate chips or turbinado sugar, do this now.
  • Bake at 350F for 45 minutes. Check the topping. If its browning too quickly, top with a foil tent. Return to the oven for 10-20 minutes, checking for doneness every 5 minutes (55-65 minutes total). When a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, its done. Cool in pan for 30 minutes. Remove from pan and cool an addtional 15-30 minutes (1 hr total). Slice and enjoy!


* If using this in place of tahini, measure out 10 tbsp unsalted butter, to reduce down to about 8 tbsp (113g). To make the brown butter, melt butter in a clear heavy bottom pot. Once the butter starts to foam, whisk continuously until brown bits start to form. Remove from heat, pour into clean bowl, skim the foam from the top and cool to room temperature (30 minutes). 
** To make the filling, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon and cocoa powder until very well combined. Pour 1/2 of the banana bread batter into the prepared pan. Scatter most (3/4) of the cinnamon filling over the batter. Using a knife, create swirls. Pour remaining batter on top. Scatter any remaining cinnamon over the top and repeat swirls.
Keyword baking at home, banana bread, easy entertaining, quick breads
did you make this recipe?tag @olivesnthyme on Instagram

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  1. This is the best banana bread I have ever eaten!

    I have tried many banana breads. None of them ever turned right and I always figured it must be me. I just hate Banana bread. It was always too soggy, too banany, too sweet, too everything. But this… This is something else.
    It is just perfect, everything is well balanced and you can make as many versions as you like. I tried the one with Tahini and the one where I substitute the Tahini with butter. I have tried one with chocolate chips with cinnamon sprinkled on top. It’s heaven.
    Thanks so much Megan! If I tried all the other versions I’ll let you know!

    1. Thank you for much for trying this recipe! I’m so glad it made you love banana bread!! It was the first recipe that got me back into baking.

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