small batch banana nut muffins

Small Batch Banana Nut Muffins

These small batch banana nut muffins are a small batch version of the banana muffin recipe in my cookbook, Weeknight Baking. Similar to my (best and favorite) recipe for banana bread, I used sour cream and brown sugar in the batter to keep the muffins super moist. Finally. I added a generous amount of walnuts to the original recipe for extra flavor and crunch. Besides—banana nut is a classic combination, right?

What nuts are in banana nut muffins?

For these small batch banana nut muffins, I used walnuts. Banana nut recipes frequently use walnuts in the recipe; however, other recipes also add in pecans. That being said, you can reaget creative and use whatever nuts you prefer or have on hand! Check out the ingredients section below for more flavor ideas. Spoiler alert: I suggest throwing some chocolate into the batter to make a chocolate banana nut muffin situation. Mmm.

small batch banana nut muffins

Why You Should Make This Banana Nut Muffin Recipe

In addition to being extremely delicious, there are other good reasons to make this recipe:

This banana nut muffin recipe is small batch.

With plenty of us still cooped up at home, many of you are still requesting small batch recipes fit for small households. So far, I’ve delivered small batch blueberry scones, small batch copycat Levain Bakery blueberry muffins, small batch brownies, and this very small batch yellow sheet cake. I’m incredibly excited to add this banana nut muffin to the list, too!

Most muffin recipes typically yield at least a dozen muffins; often times, more! However, this banana nut muffin recipe only makes a grand total of 6 muffins. Pretty cool, right? It’s the perfect amount for a small family of 4 (with extras for mom and dad, ehem).

This small batch banana nut muffin recipe comes together quickly.

I mentioned earlier that this small batch banana nut muffin recipe is based on the banana muffin in my cookbook, Weeknight Baking. In my cookbook, I exclusively share recipes that come together quickly (or can be broken down so that they are made quickly over the span of a few nights) and suitable for baking on weeknights. This recipe fits that criteria—the batter comes together in just 20 minutes!

This small batch banana nut muffin recipe helps prevent food waste.

A few weeks ago, 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 baked goods 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 muffin recipe takes full advantage of those bananas!

This small batch banana nut muffin recipe has ingredients that can be easily substituted with other similar ingredients.

In my cookbook, I also shared recipes with ingredients that are extremely adaptable. What does that mean? In theory, if you find yourself missing a certain ingredient, you can easily swap it out for something that you already have on hand! This will prevent you from having to make a last minute run to the grocery store, and encourage you to make do with what you have in your pantry. Be sure to check out the ingredients section below for all my substitution recommendations!

The banana nut muffins store well.

Because these muffins have a generous amount of banana, sour cream, and brown sugar in them, they keep fresh and moist for days! Furthermore, you can save the batter for baking later, or freeze the finished muffins for enjoying far into the future.

small batch banana nut muffins

Small Batch Banana Nut Muffin Ingredients and Substitutions

Now that I’ve convinced you to make this small batch banana nut muffin recipe, here’s your shopping list for the recipe:

Shopping List for Small Batch Banana Nut Muffin Recipe

  • walnuts
  • bananas
  • sour cream
  • pure vanilla extract
  • all-purpose flour
  • baking soda
  • baking powder
  • kosher salt
  • unsalted butter
  • dark OR light brown sugar
  • large eggs

And let’s talk about some of the key ingredients:

Extremely Ripe Bananas

This small batch banana nut muffin recipe uses 5 ounces (or 142 grams) very ripe peeled bananas, from about 1 large banana. This recipe works best if you use incredibly ripe, spotted, and almost black bananas. How ripe should bananas be for banana muffins? 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 muffins with yellow bananas?

Technically, yes, you can. But I guarantee you that the resulting banana muffins 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 Muffins

There are a ton of tips available online about how to ripen your bananas faster; below are the ones that work best for me:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 Muffins With Frozen Bananas

Yes, you can make these banana muffins 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 muffins.

Can I replace the bananas in this banana nut muffin recipe to make another kind of fruit muffin?

No, please don’t. Doing so would be a bit like making pumpkin pie without the pumpkin. You need the bananas to create the muffins’ structure and texture.

If you’re interested in making a different kind of fruit muffin, I suggest you check out these recipes for Copycat Levain Bakery Blueberry Muffins (and its small batch version). The small batch post instructs you on on how to replace the blueberries with another kind of fruit more suited to your preferences.

Sour Cream

This small batch banana nut muffin recipe uses 2 tablespoons of sour cream.

What does sour cream to these banana nut muffins?

Sour cream adds moisture and flavor to these banana nut muffins, and gives the muffins a soft and tender crumb. But the best part? Sour cream adds a really subtle tang that is the secret je ne sais quoi to my banana muffin recipe.

What can I substitute for sour cream in this banana nut muffin recipe?

Yogurt: Sour cream can be substituted 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 muffins.

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 muffins will be less tangy than if you’d used sour cream.

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.

All-Purpose Flour

This small batch banana nut muffin recipe uses 1 cup of all-purpose flour.

I want to use a whole wheat flour instead. Is that possible to do in this banana nut muffin recipe?

Yes! You can substitute up to ½ cup of the all-purpose flour in this banana nut recipe with ½ cup of whole wheat flour. You may need to increase Bake Time by a few minutes since baked goods with whole wheat flours typically require more Bake Time.

What about other alternative, gluten-free flours like almond meal or almond flour?

That’s a little trickier. Why? Because banana is a heavy fruit, you need a kind of flour with gluten to make sure the muffins rise properly. That being said, you can probably substitute up to ¼ cup of the all-purpose flour in this banana nut recipe with almond meal or almond flour. You may need to decrease Bake Time by a few minutes since baked goods with gluten-free flours typically require less Bake Time than their all-gluten counterparts.

I don’t eat gluten. How can I make these gluten-free? Does a 1-1 gluten free all-purpose flour (like Bob’s Red Mill, or King Arthur Flour) work in this recipe?

I’m sorry, but I don’t know. I rarely bake with those types of flour replacements because they’re expensive and my household doesn’t have any gluten restrictions. However, if you successfully replace the flour in this small batch banana nut muffin recipe with any gluten-free alternatives, please leave a comment so I can update this post accordingly!

In general, my specialty lies in creating baking recipes with conventional ingredients. If you’re looking for a gluten-free muffin recipe, I suggest checking out my friends over at The Bojon Gourmet and Snixy Kitchen. Both Alanna and Sarah specialize in gluten-free baking and will be able to help you out better than I can!

Brown Sugar

This small batch banana nut muffin recipe uses ½ cup tightly packed brown sugar.

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.

Light Brown Sugar 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 muffin 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 muffins 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 muffins? 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. Many of you always ask me on Instagram if you can 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 small batch banana nut muffin recipe uses 1 cup roughly chopped walnuts.

Do I have to use walnuts? Can I use another type of nut instead?

Yep, absolutely! You can use whatever nuts you prefer; I just made these muffins with walnuts because banana and walnut is a classic pairing. I could see these banana nut muffins working well with other nuts like hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, and pecans.

Can I mix and match the walnuts with other nuts?

Yep, absolutely! You can use whatever mix of nuts you want, as long as the total volume equals 1 cup. Again, if you want a classic flavor, I recommend pairing ½ cup pecans and ½ cup walnuts.

Can I replace the walnuts with chocolate chips instead?

Yep, absolutely! You can swap out half the walnuts for chocolate chips to make a chocolate banana nut muffin situation. Alternatively, if you want to just make a straight-up banana chocolate chip muffins recipe, I would swap out the 1 cup of walnuts with 1 cup (6 ounces or 170 grams) semisweet chocolate chips. You can also use chocolate from chocolate bars; just be sure to chop them up into ¼- and ½-inch pieces if you do.

However, note that the recipe instructs you to sprinkle the muffins with nuts before baking. Don’t do that with chocolate chips! Chocolate chips are heavy, and could potentially sink in the batter. If you insist, I would try it with smaller chopped up chocolate pieces (no bigger than ¼-inch piece) or mini chocolate chips.

small batch banana nut muffins

How to Make Small Batch Banana Nut Muffins

Here are the basic steps to make small batch banana nut muffins from scratch:

  1. First, toast the nuts. (Work Time: 10 minutes)
    The best banana nut muffins are made with toasted nuts. Toasting them releases oils that rejuvenates the nuts and makes them more flavorful—learn more in the Recipe FAQ section below. The easiest way to toast nuts is to spread them in a thin layer on a sheet pan and bake in the oven until fragrant and lightly toasted.

  2. Next, make the muffin batter. (Work Time: <10 minutes)
    The banana nut muffin batter comes together in just 10 minutes or less. Simply cream together the butter, sugar, and egg, then add the dry ingredients in two parts. Finally, add the banana, sour cream, and vanilla, then mix in the walnuts.

  3. Assemble the small batch banana nut muffins. (Work Time: <5 minutes)
    One of the secrets to super tall and domed muffins is to fill up each cavity in the muffin pan with a generous amount of batter. Using the right tools will make the job go by quicker and faster—be sure to check out the baker’s notes for links to my favorite batter scooping tools!

  4. Bake the small batch banana nut muffins. (Bake Time: 22 minutes)
    Note that if you’ve replaced part of the all-purpose flour with an alternative flour like whole wheat flour or a gluten-free alternative flour, you may need to adjust Bake Time. Check out the ingredients section above for more specifics.
small batch banana nut muffins

Small Batch Banana Nut Muffins Recipe Troubleshooting and FAQ

FAQ: Equipment for Small Batch Banana Nut Muffins

I don’t have paper liners for my muffin pan. Can I make these small batch banana nut muffins without them?

Yes, you can! You can forgo the paper liners completely and spray each cavity you’re planning on filling with a generous amount of cooking spray. See an example of that technique in this banana cinnamon muffin recipe and this copycat Levain Bakery blueberry muffin recipe.

Alternatively, you can cut up parchment paper into squares to make paper liners. They’ll look similar to the ones I used in this photo (which, lol, I actually bought online and now feel jipped, lol). Check out this tutorial from The Kitchn on how to do so.

I don’t have a muffin pan. Can I make these small batch banana nut muffins in another pan instead?

I’m sorry, but I don’t know. Whether it works depends on the kind of pan you use. And note that because this recipe is small batch, you’d likely need to double the recipe to fill big pans like a bundt pan, a 9 x 13-inch cake pan, and so on. If you’re interested in making banana bread, banana sheet cake, banana layer cakes, and more, I’ve included links to other banana recipes on my blog below.

FAQ: Small Batch Banana Nut Muffins Recipe Technique

Why do I need to toast the walnuts?

Honestly, you can skip it to save time, but your muffins likely won’t be as good and flavorful as mine. Why? Toasting nuts brings out more flavorful oils within the nuts themselves, leading to deeper flavors. You also improve their texture by adding snap and crunchiness. If you skip this step, you’ll be sacrificing flavor and texture.

Many stores sell “roasted” nuts. These are technically nuts that have already been toasted. However, the longer they sit, the staler and less flavorful they become. So even if you have roasted nuts on hand, I suggest you toast them anyway. You may want to toast for less time than what’s listed in the recipe below—I’d start checking for doneness at the 5 minute mark.

Can I make these small batch banana nut muffins in a loaf pan to make banana bread?

Probably, but I don’t recommend it. The texture will be pretty different from regular banana bread—it will be much lighter and softer. You’d also likely need to double (or even triple!) the recipe to fill the pan. If you’re looking for a good banana bread recipe, may I suggest this banana bread with sour cream? It has many of the same ingredients as this banana muffin recipe.

Can I make the banana nut muffin batter and save it for baking later?

Yes, you can! This muffin batter keeps, unbaked, for up to 36 hours in the fridge. To refrigerate, simply cover the mixer bowl with a tight layer of plastic wrap and refrigerate. When ready to bake, follow the instructions for scooping the batter into the muffin tin in the recipe. There’s no need to wait for the batter to come back to room temperature before baking! However, you may need to add 1 to 2 minutes of extra Bake Time to the recipe to compensate for the cooler batter.

I want to make a regular sized batch of these small batch banana nut muffins. What should I do?

Buy my cookbook! The regular sized version of the recipe is available there, lol. But okay, because I’m nice, I’m sharing it anyway. All you really need to do is double the ingredient quantities. I’ve listed them below to make your life easier, too:

  • 2 cups (7 ounces or 198 grams) walnuts, chopped into ¼- to ½-inch pieces
  • 10 ounces (or 284 grams) very ripe, peeled bananas (from about 2 ½ large bananas, or 1 ¼ cups mashed bananas)
  • ¼ cup (2 ounces or 57 grams) sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (9 ounces or 255 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¾ cup (6 ounces or 170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup tightly packed (7.5 ounces or 213 grams) brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs

How to know when banana muffins are done

You can test for doneness in muffins the same way you can test for doneness with other cakes. Gently poke the center of a few muffins with a finger. If the tops feel springy and bounce back after poked, the muffins are ready! A skewer inserted into the center of a muffin should also come out with few crumbs attached. 

FAQ: Small Batch Banana Nut Muffins Storage

How long are banana muffins good for

These banana nut muffins can be wrapped individually in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

How to store banana nut muffins

For ultimate freshness, wrap each muffin individually in plastic wrap. However, if the idea of using that much plastic wrap stresses you out, do what I do—invest in a portable cupcake carrier and store them in there! Alternatively, you can also store them on a plate underneath a cake dome.

Can you freeze banana nut muffins?

Yes! Place individually wrapped muffins in the freezer for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw them in the refrigerator the night before you’re planning on serving. You can then rewarm in the microwave, or sliced in half lengthwise in the oven or toaster oven with a pat of butter on each half.

Best Small Batch Banana Nut Muffin Recipe Tips

Best Ingredient Tip

  • 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 ⅔ cups mashed bananas, from about 1 large banana.

Best Equipment Tip

  • This recipe instructs you to fill your muffin tin with a generous portion of batter (6 tablespoons per cavity). The batter is fairly thick, so it will its shape before and during baking, resulting in sky-high domes. Use a 1-tablespoon cookie dough scoop or a 3-tablespoon cookie dough scoop to fill each cavity evenly and efficiently with the right amount of batter.

Best Technique Tip

  • Watch out for the nuts! You’ll need to toast them before using in the recipe (read more above as to why this is important). To save time, toast the nuts first. As the nuts are toasting in the oven, prep all the ingredients for the banana nut muffins by measuring them out and getting them ready for the batter.

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Get the Recipe: Small Batch Banana Nut Muffin Recipe

This small batch banana nut muffin recipe only makes 6 muffins! The muffins are super moist, thanks to the combination of sour cream and brown sugar in the recipe. The generous amount of walnuts add lots of delicious crunch too!
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For the Small Batch Banana Nut Muffins

  • 1 cup (3.5 ounces or 99 grams) walnuts, chopped into ¼- to ½-inch pieces
  • 5 ounces (or 142 grams) very ripe peeled bananas (see baker's tips for cup measures)
  • 2 Tablespoons sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (4.5 ounces or 128 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 Tablespoons (3 ounces or 85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup tightly packed (3.75 ounces or 106 grams) light OR dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg


For the Small Batch Banana Nut Muffins

  • Prep your oven and pan. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a muffin pan with six paper liners.
  • Toast the nuts. Line a quarter sheet pan with parchment paper. Spread the walnuts in a single layer across the pan. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes, or until fragrant and toasted brown. Use a heatproof rubber spatula to toss the nuts every 2 to 3 minutes to ensure even toasting. Once toasted, scrape the nuts onto a plate to prevent them from cooking further.
  • Make the muffin batter. In a medium bowl, use a fork to mash the bananas, adding the sour cream and vanilla and stirring them into the mixture as you do. The mixture will be thick and chunky, but that's totally okay, I promise!
  • In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium until light, fluffy, and doubled in volume, 2 to 3 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 egg, mixing until combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in two equal parts, adding the second half only when the first half has been just combined. Add the banana mixture all at once and beat on low until just combined. Add ¾ cup of the walnuts and beat until evenly distributed. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl once more, and beat on low for an additional 30 seconds.
  • Use a 1-tablespoon or 3-tablespoon cookie dough scoop to fill each lined cavity with 6 tablespoons of the batter. Sprinkle the top of each muffin, aiming for the batter and avoiding the pan, with the remaining walnuts. Pour warm water into the empty cavities of the muffin tin, filling them at least ⅔-rds of the way up.
  • Bake the muffins. Bake for 22 minutes, or until the muffins are domed and golden brown around the edges. A skewer inserted into the center of a muffin should come out with few crumbs attached. Cool in the muffin tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn the muffins out onto the rack.
  • Serve and store. Serve warm or at room temperature. The muffins can be wrapped individually in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!

This post was last updated on 8/16/2020.

Michelle holding Weeknight Baking cookbook covering her face.

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Weeknight Baking:
Recipes to Fit your Schedule

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.