This Brown Butter Banana Bread is a game changer. The addition of brown butter takes this classic recipe to the next level. You don’t need to look any further because you’ve found the best banana bread recipe in the whole wide world!
Once you’ve made brown butter banana bread, you will never go back to using regular butter. Don’t believe me? Try this Lemon Banana Bread or this Matcha Banana Bread, they’re both made with brown butter and better because of it.
Table of Contents
Why this recipe works
- Banana bread is a quick bread so it is naturally simple and quick to make.
- To level up, this recipe uses brown butter to add complexity.
- If you want to go an extra step, cook the bananas and reduce the liquid until it thickens and caramelizes – a technique I learned from Jessica Gavin’s Cookbook – to pack in even more flavor. I will show you this option under the testing process but you can skip it if you think it is too much work.
Ingredients and substitutions
As always, you’ll find the complete list of ingredients and quantities in the recipe card at the end of this post. Below are some notes and substitution tips for each ingredient:
- Banana – super ripe bananas are the star ingredient in this recipe and cannot be substituted. Fresh bananas or frozen bananas will work here.
- Butter – not just any butter, we’ll use brown butter here to enhance the flavor even further.
- Egg – I use 2 eggs in this recipe.
- Vanilla – pure vanilla extract is used to enhance the flavor even though our main flavor will be banana. Vanilla adds a more complex flavor profile.
- Sugar – I love using brown sugar for additional flavor depth and richness. But if you don’t have brown sugar, you can substitute granulated sugar 1 to 1. Dark or light brown sugar will both work.
- Flour – I use all purpose flour. If you want to make this gluten free, try Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur gluten free flour. Readers have successfully substituted gluten free flour in some other recipes. However, I have not tried it with this particular recipe.
- Leavening agents – I use both baking soda and baking powder. The baking soda will be activated by the acidity in the brown sugar, so if you’re not using brown sugar in this recipe, replace baking soda with baking powder.
- Salt – I always use kosher salt in all my recipes. If using table salt, use about half to two thirds as much.
Tools you’ll need
No special tools are needed, except for a loaf pan to bake the bread in. I also like to use a potato masher to mash the bananas, but a fork will work just fine.
How to make Brown Butter Banana Bread
The following instructions, step by step photos and tips are here to help you visualize how to make the recipe. You can always skip straight to the printable recipe card at the end of this post.
Make the brown butter
Prepare the brown butter first to give it a chance to cool down before you start making the bread. For more details and tips, check out my post on how to make brown butter. You do not need to strain the brown butter for this recipe, just let it cool in the pan.
Make the quick bread
Mash the bananas with a potato masher and beat in the cooled brown butter. Add eggs, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and beat until smooth.
Tip: potato mashers aren’t just for potatoes, use it to mash the bananas here, it makes it super quick and smooth!
In a small mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and stir in the salt. Add flour mixture to the liquid mixture and fold with a spatula until a chunky batter forms. It’s okay if you have a few streaks of flour left in the batter.
Transfer the batter to a buttered and lined loaf pan and bake at 350°F for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean with just a few crumbs attached.
The testing process
I made this brown butter banana bread two ways – with just brown butter as written and with brown butter along with caramelized bananas. The second option was more labor intensive but it helped two fold because of the additional banana you would be able to pack into the bread and the caramelized banana sugar added a wonderful complexity.
However, I chose to write the recipe without this step because if you want a quick bread, just adding the brown butter already helps boost the flavor. But if you have a bit of extra time, give this extra step a go. It does make for delicious banana bread.
Cooking the bananas
I used 4 medium (Costco size) bananas, each one is about 6” – 7” long. The total weight of the bananas is about 1 pound, without the peels.
Microwave the bananas in a large vessel for about 5 minutes, it should have plenty of extra room so the bananas don’t boil over. Don’t cover it so the steam can escape, otherwise, there will be a banana explosion in the microwave. During the last minute, keep an eye out to ensure the bananas won’t spillover.
Strain the bananas over a bowl to retain the liquid. Reduce the banana liquid in a small saucepan over medium heat until it reduces by half and starts to caramelize. When adding the bananas and the caramelized banana liquid back together, this mixture is about 320 grams, or roughly 1 ¼ to 1 ⅓ cup.
You can also use frozen bananas. You don’t need to microwave them in this case, but you do need to let them come to room temperature. The frozen bananas will release the liquid while thawing. Be sure to thaw them in a bowl or in a strainer over a bowl to retain the liquid. Reduce the liquid as above.
Use the bananas without cooking them
If you’re not cooking the bananas, you can simply use mashed overripe bananas, 320 grams, or about 2 ½ medium bananas.
Your homemade banana bread will still have a robust banana flavor and taste delicious even without the caramelized banana flavor.
Variations and add-ins
I absolutely love the flavor of this brown butter banana bread even without any spices and add-ins. In fact, you don’t need anything extra in this recipe because the brown butter already adds so much flavor to this bread! But you can customize it to your heart’s desire, try adding:
- Familiar spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom to the batter for even more flavor.
- Chocolate chips or peanut butter chips for some melty gooey factor like this Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread.
- Chopped walnuts or pecans for a little crunch and texture like these Banana Nut Muffins.
- Or a combination of spices, chips, and nuts for a flavor and texture explosion.
More baker’s Tips
- Use overripe bananas for the most banana flavor. Your banana peel should be covered in brown spots.
- How to “ripen” bananas quick? If you don’t have ripe bananas, you can “ripen” them in the oven at 300°F for 20-40 minutes, until their peel turns black.
- Prepare the loaf pan by brushing melted butter all over the surface generously. This should help release the bread once it is baked. But you can go an extra step and line the pan with a long piece of parchment paper, leaving the excess hanging over the sides and using it as handles to lift the bread out of the pan later.
Browning butter caramelizes the butter and milk solids which adds a nutty toffee-like flavor to your baked goods. This deepens the flavor of your banana bread and makes it so much more delicious.
Browning butter evaporates the water in butter so it will not be a 1 to 1 substitution if you want to use regular butter instead. I don’t recommend it since browning butter just takes one extra step that makes this recipe so much tastier.
This brown butter banana bread recipe is a cake-like quick bread so the texture should be like a dense cake. But it should still be moist. If your bread is dense and dry, you may have used too much flour or you may have over mixed the batter.
Sometimes if you don’t have enough flour, or too much liquid, or your leavening agents are not working properly, you can end up with a very dense pudding-like texture that has no open crumb.
Similar to baking a cake, test the doneness of your banana bread by inserting a cake tester or a toothpick in the middle of the loaf.
✔️ If wet batter comes out stuck to the toothpick, it is obviously not done.
✔️ If it comes out with just a few crumbs attached, your bread is done.
✔️ If it comes out completely dry, you may have already over baked your bread.
Store leftover brown butter banana bread slices in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If the weather is particularly warm, you can refrigerate it to extend its shelf life for up to a week.
If you want to keep them longer, you can freeze your bread, sliced or whole, it will keep for up to 6 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight or for a couple of hours at room temperature before serving.
It is best to warm each slice up in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to serve. Leftovers are also fantastic for making Banana Bread French Toast!
Delicious brunch worthy treats
- Blueberry Coffee Cake
- Orange Cranberry Bread
- Almond Croissant French Toast Bake
- Pani Popo (Samoan Coconut Buns)
- Cinnamon Scones
📖 Recipe card
Brown Butter Banana Bread
- 4 oz unsalted butter (113 g, brown)
- 1 ⅓ cup mashed bananas (320 g, about 2 ½ to 3 bananas depending on size)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup light brown sugar (150 g lightly packed)
- 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour (230 g)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Melted butter for pan
- To brown butter, heat unsalted butter in a light color saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter melts, it will become foamy. When the foam subsides, you will see clear bubbles, start whisking continuously at this point to keep the milk solids from burning. When the butter is caramel in color and smells nutty, turn off the heat and set aside to cool. This will take approximately 8 minutes and 30 seconds.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Brush a loaf pan with some melted butter and line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper, letting the excess hang over the sides. Brush the parchment paper with more butter. Set aside.
- Mash the bananas with a potato masher in a large mixing bowl and add the cooled brown butter to it. Whisk together to combine.
- Add brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and beat until smooth.
- Sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a small mixing bowl. Stir in the kosher salt. Add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture and fold until just combined.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan and bake for 55 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean with just a few crumbs attached.
- Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan and let it cool further on a wire rack.
- Use overripe bananas for the most banana flavor. Your banana peel should be covered in brown spots.
- If you don’t have ripe bananas, you can “ripen” them in the oven at 300°F for 20-40 minutes, until their peel turns black.
- For exceptional flavor, you can try to caramelize the banana. See “the testing process” section within the post.
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