About This Banana Bread with Sour Cream
A few years ago, when I developed recipes for my cookbook, Weeknight Baking, I was determined to find the best banana bread recipe. I tried simple and beloved recipes like Joanne Chang’s Flour Bakery banana bread, and recipes with complicated techniques like making banana syrup for the bread. I’m not going to lie—comparing them all to one another as a tough task (my friend Erika actually does something similar over on her blog). They were all good in different ways! But I did come out with one conclusion: my favorite banana bread recipes all used sour cream.
Ultimately, I decided to include this recipe for banana bread with sour cream in my cookbook. In my opinion, it holds its own against many of the banana bread recipes I tried. Why? I made sure to use more bananas, brown sugar, and (my not-so-secret weapon) sour cream than most other banana bread recipes. The result is a super moist and flavorful banana bread loaf.
What Does Sour Cream Do To Banana Bread?
Simply put, sour cream adds moisture and flavor to banana breads, and gives the banana bread a soft and tender crumb. Banana bread recipes WITHOUT sour cream have drier crumbs, and go stale much faster. But a banana bread recipe with lots of sour cream keeps moist and fresh for almost a FULL WEEK after baking.
But the best part?
Sour cream adds a really subtle tang that is the secret je ne sais quoi to my banana bread recipe. Remember how I said that I use more bananas and brown sugar than most other banana bread recipes? All that extra sugar needs to be balanced out with something, otherwise we’ll end up with a banana bread that’s overly sweet and one note. And that something is sour cream!
Why You Should Make The Recipe
In addition to being extremely delicious, there are other good reasons to make this recipe:
The recipe comes together quickly.
I mentioned earlier that I tried many banana bread recipes when developing my own for Weeknight Baking. Some of the recipes I tried were unbelievably fussy: some instructed you to brown butter, caramelize bananas with sugar, others instructed you to boil them down into a syrup. While they were delicious, they weren’t actually any MORE delicious than this easy banana bread recipe.
This banana bread recipe is SO easy that it comes together in just 15 minutes. There’s no need to do anything special to the ingredients beyond throwing them in the mixer bowl. In fact, if you’re using super ripe bananas, you don’t even need to mash them—the mixer does the job for you!
The recipe helps prevent food waste.
My future mother-in-law recently sent me this article from The Kitchn that described how many folks were baking banana bread during these current critical times. The article speculated that folks were stocking up on bundles of bananas during their weekly or bi-weekly shopping trip, only to find that they had too much of the fruit leftover and over ripened.
It’s well known that the best banana breads are made with over ripened bananas. You know, the kind that are overly fragrant, and extremely spotty to the point of almost looking black? This banana bread recipe takes full advantage of those bananas.
The super moist banana bread stores well.
There are several ingredients in this recipe like the sour cream that keep the banana bread moist and flavorful. Not only does this banana bread keep well at room temperature, it also stores wonderfully in both the fridge and the freezer. Be sure to checkout the FAQ section below for more instructions on how to store the banana bread long term!
Ingredients and Substitutions
Now that I’ve convinced you to make this banana bread, here’s the shopping list for the recipe:
Banana Bread with Sour Cream Recipe Shopping List
- all-purpose flour
- baking soda
- kosher salt
- unsalted butter
- light OR dark brown sugar
- large eggs
- sour cream
- pure vanilla extract
And let’s talk about some of the key ingredients:
This banana bread with sour cream recipe uses 1 cup brown sugar to make the banana bread.
Brown sugar is granulated white sugar with a touch of molasses to give it its signature color and flavor. I love pairing it with anything banana because it almost tastes like the bananas have been caramelized (without having to actually caramelize them yourself!). Amazing.
Because brown sugar contains molasses, it adds more moisture baked goods than granulated sugar otherwise would. Brown sugar is one of the key ingredients to making this banana bread recipe extremely moist.
Light Versus Dark Brown Sugar
Brown sugar is available in two varieties: light or dark. Dark brown sugar is my personal preference; because it contains more molasses, I find it to be more flavorful. However, you can use either in this banana bread recipe without affecting its flavor too much.
Can I use white sugar instead of brown sugar?
Sadly, no. At least, not if you want your banana bread to look and taste like mine. Why? The molasses in the brown sugar makes brown sugar more acidic than white sugar. This acidic nature makes it react better with baking soda (which is alkaline in nature), the primary leavener in this recipe.
Leaveners are the ingredients in baking recipes that responsible for making the baked goods rise. They do so by reacting with other ingredients to create bubbles in batters and doughs. The reaction is usually activated when an acidic ingredient is mixed an alkaline ingredient, and/or the heat from the oven.
Because granulated sugar isn’t acidic in the same way, it won’t react with the baking soda as effectively as brown sugar. What does that mean for your banana bread? If you use white sugar in this recipe, you’ll likely have a loaf that’s dense and flatter than mine. It might still be tasty, but I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it.
Can I use coconut sugar instead of brown sugar?
Probably not. A few of you asked me on Instagram if you could use coconut sugar instead of brown sugar. I’ll admit, I don’t know too much about coconut sugar. But what I found on Google didn’t seem promising (see this Bon Appetit article, and this blog post from a nutrition-focused blog). It seems that coconut sugar has the same neutral pH level as granulated white sugar. And if you read the answer to my question above, that’s a problem for this recipe. But let me know if you know the exact pH level of coconut sugar and I can update the post accordingly!
This banana bread with sour cream recipe uses ½ cup brown sugar to make the banana bread.
I’ve already talked at length as to why sour cream is important in this banana bread recipe. But what happens when you don’t have sour cream at home and STILL want to make this recipe?
What can I substitute for sour cream in this banana bread with sour cream recipe?
Crème Fraîche: Sour cream can be substituted with crème fraîche. However, note that crème fraîche is LESS acidic than sour cream. That means that your banana bread will be less tangy than if you’d used sour cream.
Yogurt: Sour cream can be substitute with plain, unsweetened full-fat regular OR Greek yogurt. AVOID using flavored yogurt since these have added sugars and artificial flavors that affect your banana bread. Finally, plain unsweetened yogurt is MORE acidic than sour cream. Substituting sour cream with yogurt in this recipe results in tangier banana bread.
Other Creamy Dairy Products: According to this New York Times article about recipe substitutions, sour cream can also be substituted with mascarpone, Neufchâtel, Quark, and more. However, I’ve never tried their recommendations myself—I can only vouch for crème fraîche and yogurt.
Extremely Ripe Bananas
This banana bread with sour cream recipe uses 12 ounces very ripe, peeled bananas to make the banana bread.
This recipe works best if you use incredibly ripe, spotted, and almost black bananas. How ripe should bananas be for banana bread? VERY ripe. Like “leaving them on the counter for another day is a bad idea because it would attract too many fruit flies” ripe.
Can I make banana bread with yellow bananas?
Technically, yes, you can. But I guarantee you that the resulting banana bread won’t be as moist as flavorful as the one that would have been if you’d used spotted black bananas. Why? As bananas naturally ripen, the fruit inside becomes more sugary and flavorful. Yellow bananas are still pretty starchy and don’t contain as much natural sugars and flavors.
How to ripen bananas for banana bread
There are a ton of tips available online about how to ripen your bananas faster; below are the ones that work best for me:
- Separate the Bananas from the Stem
Separating a bunch of bananas from their stem will help them ripen faster because doing so encourages the fruit to release ethylene gas. Ethylene gas is a byproduct of ripening fruit, and more of it will encourage the fruit to ripen and age faster.
- Place the Separated Bananas in a Paper Bag and Seal
Placing all the individual bananas in a sealed paper bag will trap the ethylene gas, concentrating its quantity and increasing the fruit’s ripening process. But please note that you need to use a paper bag—a plastic bag will trap moisture and could potentially cause the fruit to mold.
- Store in a Warm Spot
Warm temperatures can speed up the production of ethylene gas; I like to place the sealed bag near a “hot spot” in my kitchen (like on top of the fridge, or by the oven or range) and let it sit for a day or two.
- Use an Internet Hack (though I will side-eye you)
If all of the the above still sounds too slow for you, you can always try the popular Internet hack of baking the bananas in the oven to get them to ripen immediately. While it’s fine in a pinch, it’s not really the same thing as ripening the fruit—in fact, Food52 interviewed a scientist who explains why. I know it’s a pain, sometimes the real thing is simply worth the wait!
How to make banana bread with frozen bananas
Yes, yes you can make banana bread with frozen bananas! In fact, I even encourage you to do so. I love freezing overripe bananas for future baking projects. I put the bananas, skin and all, in a gallon-size zip top bag and freeze them. In the freezer, the peel turns entirely black (don’t panic, this is normal!). It then leeches oil into the fruit to make the bananas more flavorful.
When I want to use the frozen bananas in a recipe, I transfer them to the fridge, still in their bag, and thaw them overnight. Alternatively, if it’s a hot day, I thaw them on the counter at room temperature for a few hours on a plate. The plate is important—as the bananas thaw, they’ll release a large amount of liquid. Don’t throw it out! Simply dump the fruit and its liquid into a bowl. Whisk them together before using in the recipe as directed. That banana juice is actually the secret to the making the very best and crazy moist banana bread.
Recipe Troubleshooting and FAQ
FAQ: What You Need To Make The Recipe
Can I make the recipe in an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan instead of a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan?
Yes, yes you can! Your loaf will come out even taller and more picturesque than mine. My only warning is that there’s a higher risk of the batter overflowing out onto the oven floor. That’s because you’re cramming the same amount of batter into a smaller cake pan. So be sure to set the loaf pan on top of a sheet pan to catch any potential batter spillage.
Can I make the recipe in a muffin pan to make banana bread muffins?
You can, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Banana bread recipes are made specifically for loaf pans to produce thick and dense loaves. As a result, baking a banana bread recipe in a muffin pan will result in thick and dense muffins. Baking this recipe in a muffin pan could potentially result in muffins that are too greasy or heavy. You’d be better off finding a recipe that’s specially for muffin pans that make soft and light muffins. In fact, I even have a recommendation! Check out this banana cinnamon muffin recipe (also known as one of the most popular recipes on my blog, EVER).
FAQ: Questions About Banana Bread Techniques
How To Know When Banana Bread Is Done
The best way to test for doneness is to use a wooden skewer and stick it in the direct center of the loaf. The skewer should come out with few crumbs.
Although it can be tempting to keep baking the bread until the skewer comes out clean, it’s easy to overbake it that way.
Why? The pan will continue to cook the bread even after it’s pulled out the oven. Be sure to check out the baker’s notes below for more specifics on how to check for doneness for this banana bread with sour cream recipe.
FAQ: Customizing The Recipe
Can I add chocolate to this banana bread with sour cream recipe?
Yes! The recipe in my cookbook contains a variation for chocolate banana bread.
Proceed with the recipe as directed, but add ½ cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) chocolate to the batter after adding the bananas. You can use either bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips, OR roughly chopped dark chocolate (at least 65% cacao). Mix until the chocolate is evenly distributed throughout the batter, then pour into the prepared pan. Sprinkle another ½ cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) of the chocolate over the batter, then bake as directed.
Can I add nuts to this banana bread with sour cream recipe?
Yes! You can add up to 1 cup of whichever nut you prefer to this recipe. I personally think it works best with walnuts.
Before using in the recipe, toast the nuts until lightly browned and fragrant. If needed, roughly chop the nuts to ½- to 1-inch pieces. Add the toasted nuts to the batter after adding the bananas. Mix until the nuts are evenly distributed throughout the batter, then pour into the prepared pan and bake as directed.
FAQ: Storing The Banana Bread
How long does banana bread last
Most banana breads can be stored at room temperature, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days. After 3 days, transfer to the refrigerator and chill for an additional 2 more days.
How to store banana bread with sour cream
Wrap the cooled banana bread tightly in plastic wrap and store on the counter for up to 3 days. If you’re skipping the banana slices on top, this banana bread can actually keep for longer at room temperature (an additional 2 days more). However, the banana slices make the bread more susceptible to spoilage. If using the banana slices, transfer the bread to the refrigerator and chill for an additional 2 more days.
Can you freeze banana bread with sour cream?
Yes, yes you can! Wrap the cooled banana bread tightly in two layers of plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil. The aluminum foil will help prevent the banana bread from absorbing any weird flavors or smells in the freezer. Freeze for up to 3 months.
To defrost, unwrap the layer of foil from the bread and place in the refrigerator to thaw overnight. When soft, slice and serve chilled, or toasted in the griddle (like this Banana Bread French Toast recipe) or toaster (like these Cake Toast slices).
Best Recipe Tips
Best Ingredient Tips
- Bananas are listed in the recipe by weight, not volume or size. Why? It’s risky not to include exact measures for banana bread. Too little banana, and your banana bread will turn out dry, flavorless, and maybe even soapy tasting. Banana’s natural acidity helps neutralize the baking soda in the recipe, so without enough fruit, the banana bread will taste like baking soda! But go the other way and use too much banana, your bread will take forever to bake or collapse in the center. For best results, first peel the bananas, then use a digital scale to weigh the naked fruit. But for those of you who insist on volume measurements, use 1 ½ cups mashed bananas (from around 3 large bananas).
- This recipe works best if you use incredibly ripe, spotted, and almost black bananas. The unpeeled bananas should feel soft to the touch and give easily when gently pressed. That means that they’ll mash easily in the stand mixer. If the bananas feel firm, you may need to mash them before using them in the recipe. Set the bananas on a firm surface and use the twines of a fork to press down on the fruit until mashed.
Best Baking Tip
- The Bake Time for this recipe is listed at 1 hour. Specifically, my cookbook even gives you an exact range for Bake Time between 60 to 65 minutes. That being said, if you’re using extremely ripe bananas, you’ll likely need to bake it for 10 to 15 minutes longer than what’s listed in the recipe. The same goes for bananas that were frozen, then thawed for use in the recipe. Extremely ripe and previously frozen bananas contain more moisture and will need longer to cook in the oven. The best way to test for doneness is to use a wooden skewer and stick it in the direct center of the loaf. The skewer should come out with few crumbs. If you find that the skewer is plenty wet with batter but the top of the banana bread looks too browned to keep on baking, don’t panic! Simply cover the top of the bread with a loose sheet of aluminum foil. This will help prevent the top of the bread from browning further.
Video Tutorial For The Recipe
Use the video player below to watch my Instagram Story tutorial on how to make this banana bread with sour cream recipe! The arrows to the left and right of the frame allow you to skip through the different recipe steps. You can also hit the “pause” or “enlarge” buttons on the upper right hand side of the frame to pause or enlarge the frames accordingly.
Alternatively, head to my Instagram profile to watch these Stories on mobile! The circles underneath my bio indicate saved Instagram Story highlights depicting various recipes. Clicking on one of the circles will play the videos you see above. You may need to scroll right to find this banana bread with sour cream recipe.
More Banana Bread Recipes
- Banana Bread with Less Sugar
- Banana Bread French Toast
- Caramel Rum Banana Bread
- The Violet Bakery’s Sugar Crusted Banana Bread
Banana Bread with Sour Cream Recipe
For the Banana Bread with Sour Cream Recipe
- 2 cups (9 ounces or 256 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup tightly packed (7.5 ounces or 213 grams) light OR dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- ½ cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) sour cream, at room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 12 ounces (or 340 grams) very ripe peeled bananas (see baker's notes for cup measures)
- 1 medium or large banana, sliced crosswise
For the Banana Bread with Sour Cream Recipe
- Prep your oven and pan. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the long sides. Spray the parchment, too.
- Make the banana bread. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and brown sugar. Beat on medium-high until light, fluffy, and doubled in volume, 3 to 5 minutes, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. Reduce the mixer to low and add the eggs one at a time, adding the next egg only after the previous one has been fully incorporated, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the sour cream and vanilla all at once and beat on low until combined. Gradually add the dry ingredients and beat until just combined. Add the bananas a handful at a time and beat until broken into pieces and distributed evenly throughout the batter, about 1 minute. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl once more, and beat on low for an additional 30 seconds.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use an offset spatula to smooth the top. Use a sharp knife to slice an extra peeled banana (there's no need to weigh this one!) in half lengthwise. Place the banana halves, cut-side up, on top of the batter.
- Bake the banana bread. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the banana bread comes out with few crumbs attached. Cool on a wire rack.
- Serve and store. Serve warm or at room temperature. The banana bread can be stored at room temperature, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.
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NO TIME TO BAKE?!
Over the past several years of running Hummingbird High, I kept a crucial aspect of my life hidden from my readers: I had a full-time, extremely demanding job in the tech world. In my debut cookbook, Weeknight Baking, I finally reveal the secrets to baking delicious desserts on a tight schedule.