Brown Butter Banana Bread

Serves 8-10 14 December 2022 Vegetarian Friendly
Banana bread received an excessive amount of (what I considered to be unwarranted) flack in the lockdown era. But despite the critics, it maintained it’s secure and treasured place in our hearts and in my kitchen. In truth, I can find no better use (outside of a freezer stash for smoothies) for those slightly over the hill slightly sad looking bananas at their peak sweetness but maybe not so peak beauty.

An uninterrupted stream of banana bread variations have appeared from my oven for as long as I can remember.  A staple in my house growing up, (more on that version here) I have a mild obsession with constantly making sure I have enough bananas in the house, coupled with a major obsession of zero food waste. Banana bread (or muffins) are my saviour for this particular situation and I’m always equipped with a steady, ready to bake ingredient supply.

So as this year draws to a close and I look back over my kitchen escapades, 2022 will forever be known in my baking heart as the brown butter year.  Over the past 12 months I have slowly but surely baked my way though my recipe compendium, converting as many old favourites as possible into an updated brown butter version and to be honest, I might never go back. Because brown butter makes everything better, including banana bread.

A few notes before you start baking:

This is a very forgiving recipe and is perfect for using up the old dregs of flours, sugars, dairy (and the rest) hanging around the kitchen (hello zero waste heaven).  Here are a few suggestions:

Flours: I often substitute upto one third of the given quantity of plain flour below with any (or a combination of) spelt, rye, or buckwheat flour I might have on hand.  I find it a very useful way to use up odd bits lying around in the baking drawer.

Peanut butter or Tahini are delicious additions here.  Simply add about 40-50g (1/4 cup) at the very end once the flour is fully incorporated into the batter and just before pouring it into your tin. They add a wonderful richness and texture and don’t shy away from the crunchy peanut version, it’s a treat.

I usually use buttermilk (because old habits die hard) and while I listed it in the recipe below, I often substitute it with an equal quantity of plain yoghurt or sour cream ( or a combination of all of them if you are in a using-up-the-ends situation and don’t have enough of one or the other).

Other useful flavour additions to shake things up (and use up) – a little shot of coffee (make one for you and one for the banana bread kind of thing or great if there is a little left at the bottom of the cafetière), a few lonely handfuls of granola at the bottom of the jar is delicious stirred through the batter, or even a little dark rum or whiskey – always a treat.

120g or so of chopped dark chocolate is always a winner if you are looking for a sweeter less breakfast-y version, or for an Aussie version, stir through 50g or so of desiccated coconut, toast and eat it with lashings of (more) butter.

I know that brown butter seems a faff to some, but trust me, it’s worth the extra 5 minutes.  You are melting the butter anyway!  Just let the butter go a little longer until it turns nutty and a deep golden delicious. If however you are not browning your butter (or substituting it with oil) simply use a little less (180g).

Without further ado, crank up your oven and get baking. You can thank me later.


  • 200g butter, melted and browned (you should have 180g of browned butter at the end)
  • 4 large ripe bananas
  • 200g light brown muscovado sugar (or brown sugar also works well or a combo)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g buttermilk (shaken)
  • 230g plain flour (or a combination of spelt, rye, buckwheat)
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F)

Line a large loaf tin (25cm x 10cm) or drop liners into a 12 cup muffin tin

In a medium size saucepan, brown the butter over a medium heat until its a nutty, dark golden, giving it a gentle infrequent stir or swirl to check it’s not burning.  It will go through a couple of stages in the browning process – you know its ready once the foam subsides.

Immediately transfer into a large bowl to stop the browning and prevent burning.  It should now weigh 180g as the water will evaporate during the process.

Allow the butter to cool a little.  Meanwhile, mash the bananas in a bowl using a fork and set aside.

Measure out all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and stir together to combine.

Once the butter has cooled to the touch, add the sugar and stir to combine, followed by the eggs, one at a time, the vanilla, buttermilk (or yoghurt) and finally the bananas.

Carefully stir through the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula, working in only one direction to avoid lumps until all the flour is incorporated.  Be careful not to overmix.

Pour into your loaf tin or muffin cups and bake.  A loaf cake should take 40-45 minutes and the muffins a mere 20 minutes.  Allow to cool on a rack.  These will keep for 4-5 days in a sealed container once completely cool (if they last that long).



Have you made this dish?

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