This simple banana bread recipe will never give you up, let you down, run around or desert (dessert?) you. It’s super easy to make and even easier to adapt.
With minimal ingredients, this easy banana bread is so easy to make on busy weeknights and lazy weekend mornings. The shortening makes it super soft and tender, and also makes it "accidentally" dairy free which is great for anyone who is lactose intolerant.
🍌 Why I Love This Recipe
Long before I ever made my first batch of bagels, I made this super simple banana bread.
The recipe is originally from a booklet that came with an Oster "Kitchen Center Food Preparation Appliance" my parents got as a wedding gift in 1984 and, while the machine crapped out somewhere around 1991, the banana bread recipe has truly lasted the test of time.
Every now and then I try a different recipe, curious if different ingredients, more ingredients — honey, brown sugar, orange marmalade, bourbon, maple syrup, whole wheat flour, etc. — will produce a superior loaf of banana bread. But this is the banana recipe I always come back to.
A super simple six ingredient banana bread made with shortening.
It's moist and flavorful with a slightly sticky, perfectly cracked-open top, and flecked throughout with evidence of the bananas that make up the batter.
The recipe itself is beautiful in its simplicity: Six ingredients, mixed together in a bowl, then baked for exactly 1 hour and 10 minutes. No more, no less.
If you're a beginner baker, this is an ideal recipe to familiarize yourself with. It's endlessly customizable and incredibly forgiving. Start with those key six ingredients, and from there you can experiment to your hearts content.
🧂 Ingredient Notes
As promised, just 6 ingredients! These are very easy to find in just about any grocery store. See recipe card for quantities.
- Brown bananas - The ideal bananas for banana bread are the ones you bought to eat for breakfast but forgot about on your counter for a week (or more). The bananas should be brown and slightly mushy, but not deeply bruised and definitely not moldy. Some recipes call for you to mash your bananas in advance but I've found that this recipe works best when you just toss whole banana chunks right into your mixer and let the paddle do the hard work of breaking them down. See PRACTICAL TIPS below for how to speed up the browning process.
- All-purpose flour - Nothing fancy! I use King Arthur Baking's Unbleached All-Purpose Flour.
- Sugar - Plain white granulated sugar. You could also swap in brown sugar for a bit more flavor, or use a combination of brown and white sugars. In the interest of simplicity and keeping this at just 6 ingredients, I usually just use white sugar. But brown sugar will work if that's all you've got!
- Eggs - Large eggs, ideally at room temperature. If you use Jumbo or Extra Large eggs, you may find your banana bread is a little tougher or even rubbery in texture. So do keep an eye out for large eggs!
- Shortening - I keep a small container of Crisco in my pantry specifically so I can make banana bread on a whim. Store brand vegetable shortening will also work.
- Baking soda - This is the chemical leavener! It's what makes the banana bread rise.
This banana bread is literally SO SIMPLE TO MAKE. Start by putting all six ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer. You'll want to use the paddle attachment here.
Then mix everything together on medium speed until combined. This should only take about a minute. Maybe a minute and a half.
Scrape down the bowl and scrape off the beater. You just want to make sure there's no sneaky clumps of shortening or banana that haven't been broken up.
Mix again for another 30-40 seconds. That's it! That's literally it. I told you this was simple! If you want to stir in any mix-ins like chocolate chips or chopped nuts, do so now.
HINT: Because this six ingredient banana bread is so simple and the batter is so quick to make, you'll want to make sure your oven is pre-heated and the pan is prepared before you start mixing.
🔪 Preparing the Loaf Pan
In order to successfully remove the bread from the pan after it bakes, you need to grease and flour your pan. Just grease alone won't be enough to keep it from sticking.
Spray the inside and the walls of a 8.5x4.5" (1 lb) or 9x5" (1.25 lb) loaf pan with nonstick spray. Or use a paper towel to spread canola oil in the pan, making sure to get into all the corners.
Then, scoop 1-2 tablespoons flour into the pan, and hold it upright or tilted slightly forward. Rotate the pan while tapping it lightly against your hand or the side of your sink until a thin later of flour coats the sides and bottom of the pan. Dump out any excess flour.
Tip 1: Always do this over your sink or a trash can.
Tip 2: Use hot cocoa mix instead of flour for a yummy chocolate exterior.
There are so many ways you can take this simple banana bread and dress it up to make it your own. Here are some of my favorite things to do with it:
- Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread - After mixing the batter, pour ⅓ of of the batter into a small bowl, add ⅛th cup cocoa powder, and mix well. Pour half of the plain batter into the prepared pan, then dollop in a layer of the chocolate batter, then cover it with the rest of the plain batter. Insert a knife or a skewer straight to the bottom of the pan, and draw a few continuous figure-8 shapes across the width of the pan to create a swirl.
- Nutty Banana Bread - After mixing the batter, stir in ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans. Top the banana bread with additional chopped nuts before baking.
- Chocolate Chip Banana Bread - After mixing the batter, stir in 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.
- Peanut Butter Banana Bread - Replace ¼ cup shortening with ¼ cup peanut butter.
📋 Why Vegetable Shortening?
Because shortening is 100% fat (unlike butter which is about 80% fat and 16-18% water) it produces very soft, very tender baked goods. Banana bread made with shortening is very soft and very tender and the banana flavor truly shines.
I generally don't think of banana bread as a "buttery" quickbread. So I prefer shortening for the added tenderness and moistness, and because it doesn't add that buttery richness that I expect from cakes.
In the 80s and 90s shortening was popularly promoted as a "healthy alternative to saturated fats." These days it's seen far less often due to an increase in concern about trans fats (just another reminder that what we consider "healthy" is often the result of successful marketing campaigns).
As with just about any ingredient diet culture has championed and/or vilified, shortening does have its place in the kitchen. And it's great for making a super simple, tender quickbread.
This recipe has been so good to me over the years; I have no desire to bend to the whims of diet culture trying to fix something that's not broken. If you'd like a banana bread that doesn't use shortening, there are hundreds of other recipes out there to choose from.
👩🏻🍳 Practical Tips
- If you don't have brown bananas and need to make banana bread ASAP, you can brown ripe bananas in the oven. Arrange the bananas on a lined sheet pan and bake at 300F for 30-40 minutes until the skins are browned and the bananas are slightly soft to the touch.
- If your bananas are going brown faster than you're ready to use them, peel and freeze them in a bag until you're ready to use them. Defrost in the fridge overnight. When you defrost bananas, you'll notice there's some excess liquid in the bag which you can discard. While the standard recipe calls for 3 non-frozen bananas, if you're using defrosted bananas, you may want to use 4 bananas to make up for the liquid weight lost in defrosting.
- Don't over mix your batter. It's okay if it's a little bit lumpy.
- To quickly bring eggs to room temperature, submerge them in hot water for 5-10 minutes.
💭 Recipe FAQ
Yes, with reservations. Butter has less fat content (80%) than shortening (which is 100% fat), so you might see slightly less rise in your finished banana bread. It also won't be quite as soft and tender. If you're determined to use butter instead of Crisco, I would recommend not using this recipe and instead looking for a banana recipe designed to use butter.
I like sticking to Crisco brand shortening because I get the best results with it, but you can also use store brand versions of vegetable shortening.
Yes! You can use 1-for-1 gluten free flours in this recipe.
Yes! Shortening is a non-dairy fat and there are no other dairy products in this recipe.
Nope! You can use it right out of the container at room temperature.
It's possible your baking soda has expired! Check the expiration date. Once opened, baking soda is good for about 6 months. If you're sure your baking soda is fine, it's likely an issue of pan size. This banana bread baked in an 8x4" loaf pan will seem taller than a banana bread baked in a 9x5" pan. Both will be delicious, but one will seem taller than the other.
Simple 6-Ingredient Banana Bread
- 3 large brown bananas (or 4 small brown bananas)
- 200 grams sugar (1 cup)
- 240 grams all-purpose flour (2 cups, loosely scooped and leveled off)
- 95 grams shortening (½ cup)
- 2 large eggs (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoon cinnamon sugar or turbinado sugar (to sprinkle on top)
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a loaf pan. Set aside.
- Combine bananas, shortening, eggs, baking soda, sugar, and flour in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on medium speed until well combined, about one minute. Scrape down the bowl and beater. Mix 30-40 seconds more. If adding any mix-ins (nuts, chocolate chips, etc.) stir them in at the end.
- Pour banana bread batter into the pan, tapping it against the counter a few times to release air bubbles.
- If using any toppings (cinnamon sugar, chopped nuts, etc.) sprinkle them on top.
- Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes (70 minutes) until a toothpick or paring knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and run a paring knife around the sides to release, then let cool in pan on a wire rack. When mostly cool, release from pan and continue cooling on wire rack. Cool completely on wire rack before slicing.
- To make chocolate swirl banana bread, after mixing the batter, pour ⅓ of of the batter into a small bowl, add ⅛th cup cocoa powder (Dutch process if you have it), and mix well. When you go to pour the batter into the prepared pan, first pour in half of the non-chocolate batter, then dollop in a layer of the chocolate batter, then cover it with the rest of the non-chocolate batter. Insert a knife or a skewer straight to the bottom of the pan, and draw a few continuous figure-8 shapes across the width of the pan to create a swirl.
- If using defrosted bananas, discard any excess liquid in the bag and use 4 bananas instead of 3.