July 19, 2024

Whether you’re an avid Barefoot Contessa viewer or not, Ina Garten’s banana bread is legendary.

In fact, it’s so popular, it’s in three of her cookbooks! 

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Ina Garten’s Banana Bread

How many times have you bought a bunch of bananas only to see them turn brown and mushy on the counter?

Me too. But with this recipe, they’ll never go to waste again.

I actually buy bananas and specifically leave them to turn brown. That’s when they’re at their most flavorful, after all!

And when I’m craving something sweet, nothing beats a big slice of Ina Garten’s banana bread.

It’s tender, naturally sweet, and full of crunchy, buttery pecans to boot.

Ina Garten’s Banana Bread Recipe

There are hundreds (if not thousands) of banana bread recipes online. But if you want the lightest, moistest, and most delicious, you’ve got to try this one. 

Every bite is full of incredible flavor.

Of course, there’s the sweet banana goodness. But that’s not all! You’ll also get hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and toasted nuts. 

I adore pecans and think they make such a fun twist in this recipe. But if you prefer the more traditional walnuts, feel free to use those instead.

And, of course, if you need a nut-free version, leave them out entirely! 

Either way, this recipe is perfect for getting rid of overripe bananas. Plus, it’s sweet enough for dessert but also great for breakfast on the go.

And you can’t beat it as a holiday gift! 

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Ina Garten’s Banana Bread Ingredients

How Ripe Should Bananas Be For Banana Bread? 

Most banana bread recipes call for ripe or overripe bananas. But what does that mean?

Bananas should be very or overripe for banana bread. They’re best when they’re brown, spotty, slightly mushy, and fragrant. They can even be almost black. Green or yellow bananas aren’t great for banana bread because they’re too firm and not flavorful enough yet. Leave them in a brown bag to ripen.

I know what you’re thinking: no one wants to eat a rotten banana! But don’t worry, a black banana doesn’t mean a rotten banana. 

Instead, the banana is at its sweetest as the sugars have broken down.

So the next time you find almost-black bananas on your counter, don’t trash them. Make this bread instead!

How to Ripen Bananas

As mentioned, if your bananas are yellow or green, you can quickly ripen them by putting them in a paper bag.

Add an apple to speed up the process and ensure the bag is closed. That traps the gasses, so they ripen faster. 

If you’re really in a hurry, bake the bananas in the oven. Set the temperature to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and bake them – peel and all – for about 20 minutes.

The baked bananas will work almost as well as overripe ones.

Sliced Ina Garten’s Banana Bread

How to Store Banana Bread

You have a couple of options for storing banana bread: on the counter or in the fridge.

Either way, you’ll need to wrap the bread tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil or use an airtight container.

For both methods, wait until the bread has fully cooled. Otherwise, it’ll trap moisture inside and will turn moldy fast.

I prefer the counter method, as the fridge can sometimes dry out the bread. That said, the refrigerator will ensure it keeps for a day or two longer. 

If you’re leaving your bread out, keep it out of the heat and sun. Instead, place it in a cool, dark, out-of-the-way area in your kitchen. 

If you’d rather go the fridge route, I have some tips for that, too:

  • Keep the bread near the middle shelf, toward the front.
  • Don’t put it too high or push it too far back in the fridge. 
  • Make sure anything pungent – onions, leftovers, etc. – are covered so the bread won’t absorb its smell.

How to Freeze Banana Bread 

Since my family loves banana bread so much, I like to make a big batch and freeze some for later.

And luckily, this stuff freezes like a dream! If you do it correctly, the bread can last up to 6 months!

Here’s how: 

  • Allow the bread to cool completely. It doesn’t just need to be a little cool, either. It needs to be 100% cooled down to room temperature. 
  • Decide whether you want to freeze the entire loaf or individual slices. And make sure you have enough plastic wrap for all of it.
    • Portions are great if you want to make a loaf and enjoy it for breakfast or snacking. That way, you can grab a piece or two to thaw without worrying about eating the whole loaf.
    • Freezing whole loaves is ideal for when you make a big batch. They’re great to have on hand for parties or last-minute gatherings. And it’s especially handy during the holidays if you plan to give them out as gifts.
  • Wrap the loaf or individual slices* tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. You want to use both to keep the bread from getting freezer burn. Also, stick them in freezer bags or airtight containers, and date them.

When you’re craving banana bread, remove it from the freezer and allow it to thaw naturally in the fridge or on the counter. 

Some people say banana bread is only good for three or four months in the freezer. However, I’ve thawed some after six months, and it was still delicious.

Provided you double-wrap it and keep it in a bag or airtight container, there’s no reason it shouldn’t last six months (or longer!).

Still, use your judgment. If the bread looks, smells, or tastes funny, or if its texture is bad, don’t eat it.

*Note: If you slice the bread, it’s best to wrap the slices separately. That way, you can pull a portion or two when you need it instead of thawing a whole loaf.

Ina Garten’s Banana Bread

How to Keep Banana Bread Moist 

Ah, now this is the million-dollar question, isn’t it?

Banana bread is always so moist and exquisite when it’s fresh. But after sitting for a day or so, it can get pretty dry. 

Fortunately, this banana bread recipe has more natural moisture than most and stays tender for days.

Just be sure you store it correctly in an airtight container

If, for some reason, the bread does dry out, don’t worry. 

You can always warm a slice in the microwave with a damp paper towel. The steam from the heated paper towel will add moisture to the bread.

More Banana Bread Recipes We Can’t Get Enough Of

3-Ingredient Banana Bread
Joy of Cooking Banana Bread
Martha Stewart’s Banana Bread
Chrissy Teigen Banana Bread
Paula Deen Banana Bread

Ina Garten’s Banana Bread


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