While some people insist on chocolate in their banana bread, I much prefer nuts—walnuts, to be exact. They’re a buttery, crunchy counterpart to the sweet and tender crumbs of the classic quick bread. This particular version is packed with them. Combined with a boost of flavor from brown butter and some extra moisture, thanks to a generous spoonful or two of yogurt, this is sure to be a banana bread recipe you’ll turn to again and again.
Tips for Making Walnut Banana Bread
- Reach for your speckled bananas. The riper the bananas, the better when it comes to banana bread. It’ll result in a deeper banana flavor. However, if your bananas show any signs of mold or smell off, they shouldn’t be used.
- Use a lot of walnuts, but not too many. While testing, we confirmed that 2/3 cup is perfect. It’s a generous amount that ensures you’ll get walnut in every bite without having the loaf fall apart when sliced.
- Toast the walnuts. Toasting the nuts before adding them to the batter draws out their deep, earthy flavor.
Banana Walnut Bread
Serves 8 to 10; makes 1 (9-by-5-inch) loaf
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup raw walnut halves or pieces (about 2 1/2 ounces)
- 3 very ripe large bananas (about 1 pound)
- 1 large egg
- 2/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup whole milk Greek or regular plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola or grapeseed
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper to form a sling that hangs over the two long sides.
2. Cut 4 tablespoons unsalted butter into two pieces. Place in a small skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter is toasted brown and has a nutty aroma, 4 to 5 minutes. Immediately scrape the browned butter and the solids into a large heatproof bowl. Set aside to cool while you toast the walnuts.
3. Arrange 2/3 cup raw walnuts in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring halfway through, until lightly browned and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool while you make the batter.
4. Add 3 peeled, ripe bananas to the bowl of brown butter and mash with a fork or potato masher until smooth. Add 1 large egg, 2/3 cup packed brown sugar, 1/3 cup whole milk Greek or plain yogurt, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir with a flexible spatula until combined.
5. Add 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon baking soda. Stir with the spatula until just incorporated with no streaks of flour. Coarsely chop the walnuts, add to the batter, and fold until just combined. Transfer to the loaf pan and spread into an even layer.
6. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs attached, 55 to 65 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Grasp the parchment paper sling and lift the bread out of the pan onto a wire rack. Let cool completely before slicing, about 1 hour.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to four days. The bread can also be wrapped tightly in aluminum foil and frozen for up to three months.