Classic Vegan Banana Bread
October 4, 2016

An angled photograph of classic vegan banana bread, sliced and ready to serve

I usually hesitate to label any recipe as best. But I could easily have called this classic vegan banana bread the best vegan banana bread. Or my best vegan banana bread, because that’s what it really is.

I’ve tried many vegan banana bread recipes over the years. In spite of this, I have yet to post a recipe for it on this site. It’s time to share this one, which is the banana bread that I always come back to. I’ve tinkered with the recipe, trying to see if a little more of this or that would be better. The answer is consistently no, which is the sign of a recipe keeper. I’ve made and cherished it in pretty much every kitchen I’ve cooked in as an adult.

Key ingredients for classic vegan banana bread

One of the nice things about this recipe is that the ingredients are just about those that you’d expect. In no particular order:

Bananas

Be sure to pick super ripe ones. Blackening, even. That’s not a bad thing for banana bread. The darker and more overripe the better, I say! Same rules apply for all of my banana baked goods, including my banana, oat and chia seed muffins, banana chocolate chip muffins, and old-fashioned vegan banana cake.

All-purpose flour

I always use unbleached, all-purpose flour for this recipe. I think it gives the bread the most tender crumb and texture. Instead, you can use a combination of one cup unbleached, all-purpose and one cup light spelt or white whole wheat. To make the recipe gluten-free, use a gluten-free flour blend that you trust. My go-to is King Arthur’s.

Walnuts

Chopped walnuts give the classic vegan banana bread a little crunch and nutty flavor. If you’d like the recipe to be a purist’s banana bread, you can simply omit the walnuts. You can also make things chocolatey, swapping the nuts for dark chocolate chips (same amount). And if you don’t have walnuts, chopped pecans are a great addition, too.

Vegan “buttermilk”

Vegan buttermilk is a mainstay in my baking! I use it in just about everything, from muffins to cake. It’s much simpler than you might think to make: simply whisk together non-dairy milk and white vinegar or lemon juice (i.e., a source of acid). The acid helps to activate whatever leavening agent you’re using in the recipe.

A silver loaf pan holding a freshly baked quick bread that's topped with chopped walnuts..

Banana bread tips & tricks

Classic vegan banana bread is a perfect recipe for new bakers, and especially new vegan bakers. It’s forgiving and doesn’t require a lot of steps. Even so, there are some steps to help make the banana bread turn out perfectly.

Pick truly overripe bananas

Per the above. Make sure they’re either very, very spotty or blackening.

Don’t over-mix!

There are a few reasons why over-mixing batter can be a buzzkill in making quick breads. The main one is that over-mixing can develop the gluten in the dough too much, resulting in a dense, rubbery finished loaf.

My rule of thumb with a recipe like this (or my zucchini bread, or pumpkin chocolate marble loaf) is to mix until there are no longer any visible streaks of unincorporated flour in the batter, but there are still some small lumps. I mix with a spatula, and I’m gentle as I do it: it’s really more folding than mixing.

Bake for a little longer than you think is necessary

If you under-bake the banana bread, you’ll run the risk of taking it from the oven before the top is set. This usually results in a banana bread with a sunken top, rather than a nicely domed one. Be patient, and don’t be afraid of a long baking time here. The bananas give enough moisture to the bread that it shouldn’t dry out.

When the top is domed and firm enough that you can touch it with a finger and feel firmness, it’s ready. Be sure to touch gently—you don’t want to poke!

How should I store classic vegan banana bread?

I recommend allowing the bread to set and cool for at least a few hours before slicing and eating. Once you do that, you can wrap it in saran wrap or foil and store it in the fridge for about 4 days.

Can I freeze banana bread?

Yes, you can! And if you don’t plan to eat the banana bread within 4 days or so, I definitely recommend freezing. The banana bread will stay more tender and fresh tasting if it’s frozen, rather than kept in the fridge for an extended period of time.

A good tip for freezing: try slicing the banana bread into slices and wrapping them individually before freezing. This way, you can defrost a single slice at a time, allowing the loaf to last longer.

Moist, tender, freshly sliced pieces of classic vegan banana bread, waiting to be eaten.

An angled photograph of classic vegan banana bread, sliced and ready to serve
4.85 from 13 votes

Classic Vegan Banana Bread

Author - Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Yields: 12 slices

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (240 g) unbleached, all-purpose flour*
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) soy or almond milk
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) vegetable oil (such as grapeseed, safflower, or canola) or 8 tablespoons melted vegan butter
  • 3/4-1 cup (150-200 g) packed light or dark brown sugar (to taste)
  • 1 (250 g) heaping cup mashed banana (3 medium or 4 small ripe bananas)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1/2 cup (60 g) chopped walnuts, plus extra for decorating

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350F and lightly oil a standard size loaf pan. Pour the almond or soy milk into a bowl and add the apple cider vinegar.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  • Add the oil, sugar, mashed banana, and vanilla extract to the non-dairy milk and vinegar. Whisk to combine. Add these wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix till everything is evenly combined. Don't over-mix; some clumps are OK. Fold in the walnuts, if using.
  • Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle with extra walnuts, if you like. Bake the bread for 50-60 minutes, or until the entire loaf is a deep, golden brown color and a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out mostly clean. The top should be either flat or slightly domed; if it's not there yet, it's not quite ready. Check the bread at 45 minutes for doneness and continue checking until it's fully baked. If you feel that the bread is getting too dark as you bake, you can cover it with tented foil.
  • Transfer the loaf to a cooling rack and allow it to cool for 20-30 minutes. Gently remove the loaf from the pan and allow it to cool to room temperature before cutting into slices and enjoying.

A freshly cut piece of banana bread on a small serving plate.

I know that it’s bold to call any recipe a classic. None of us can taste all of the iterations of a single type of recipe, and of course taste is subjective.

But we know what tastes best to us. We know when we’ve turned a particular set of ingredients and quantities into something special. And there’s nothing quite like the feeling when multiple attempts to perfect a beloved recipe finally pay off.

So, I can’t say for sure if this is the best vegan banana bread you’ve ever tasted. But I can tell you that it’s my favorite. I can promise you that it has served me very well. And I hope it gives you some of the happiness it often gives me.

xo

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    36 Comments
  1. Hi Gena, I’m making your Classic Vegan Banana Bread. The recipe says “1/2 tsp baking ____?” right after the 2 cups of flour. I’m assuming you meant baking SODA since baking powder is right after it. Just thought you might want to amend that. Smells delicious, can’t wait to try it.

    • Good catch, Vivian! I actually amended this recipe recently to include gram measurements and I made some typos, this one included! Yes, it’s 1/2 tsp baking soda, listed before the baking powder. Hope you enjoyed 🙂

  2. Hi Gena,
    I made this banana bread this weekend and it was a huge hit! Even my mother, who is very critical of vegan food, absolutely loved it. My little one, also very critical of food, grabbed the whole loaf and started munching on it! It was so nice to bring such big smiles to my family’s faces during this time. Thank you for the amazing recipe.

  3. Hi tried baking this bread and as i was measuring the ingredients i used the wt measurement for the flour which was quite confusing. I weighed 120g of flour but its not equivalent to 2 cups… so doubled the 120g to make 2 cups… bread is baking now in the oven and smelling so good. thanks for the recipe.

    • That was a typo, and I’m so sorry! It is 240 grams—I forgot to double the 120 in my head before transcribing. Glad you knew to do that, and thanks for the head’s up. I hope you enjoyed it 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    I made this the other day and it’s great! I didn’t have whole wheat flour so I only used all-purpose, but the texture was still good. I added walnuts and vegan chocolate chips and it was soooo yummy. The bread itself is definitely just the right amount of sweetness, not too sweet at all, and is nice and moist. My boyfriend had a large slice and said “this is some bomb a** banana bread. This is dope.” Hahaha so safe to say it’s pretty tasty!

  5. 5 stars
    Perfect banana bread recipe, simple to make with just the right amount of sweetness. Exactly what I was looking for. I will definitely make this recipe again!

  6. 5 stars
    I can’t believe I haven’t left a review for this banana bread! It’s my all-time favorite. I’ve made it a bunch of times, which is unusual for me because I don’t bake much. It is very moist with lots of banana flavor. I’ve taken it to holidays and given it as presents. It always goes over well.

  7. 3 stars
    Made this yesterday and followed the directions exactly. I baked for 45 minutes and when I tested the stick came out clean however after cooling, the middle sank in and I could tell it hadn’t cooked all the way through. The ends were cooked and the bread was delicious! I was so bummed about the middle not being completely done. Did I do something wrong?? I want to try again but think I need to increase the baking time. Any suggestions are appreciated. 🙂

    • Hi Tracie!

      I’m so sorry about the center of the bread—I know that’s a bummer. Next time, rather than using a toothpick, I’d actually remove the bread from the oven and give it a gentle tap to see if the top is set. You can give it up to 55 minutes if the center needs more time. If you don’t have good results, let me know, and I can retest to see whether I have useful ideas or revisions for you and other readers 🙂

      G

  8. 5 stars
    Love love love this recipe! I’ve been trying a different banana bread recipe each weekend, and this one is so simple and tastes delicious!

  9. 5 stars
    I am head over heels for this banana bread. I added a handful of chocolate chips and millet (an idea I picked up from Smitten Kitchen), and I would honestly choose the resulting crackly-chocolatey magnificence over “fancier” desserts.

    I have a question, though – I have an abundance of pears and I’m wondering if I can substitute pear puree for the mashed bananas. Have you ever tried substituting fruit purees for mashed bananas in this recipes or others? Do you know if it would work with a direct 1:1 swap, or if I’d have to do some more tweaking (decreasing liquid, etc)?

    Thanks for such a wonderful recipe.

    • You’re so welcome! I’m delighted that you like it 🙂

      I haven’t tried it with other fruit purees, so I’m sorry to say that I’m not really sure. I think pear puree would be a little more “liquidy,” so I’d suggest using slightly less. But you can also see how the batter looks after mixing: so long as it is close to the banana bread batter in appearance, you should be OK!

  10. 5 stars
    Update on my previous comment: It works! Baking this bread in my 10″ cast iron skillet for 35 minutes worked perfectly! (A few chocolate chips accidentally fell in some how, but they didn’t seem to ruin it.) Five stars are not enough.

  11. Well said! There is no way to taste everything that ever was or will be so superlatives shouldn’t really bother you. It might be a fantastic treat to you and a horrible one to someone who doesn’t like bananas. Not everyone will be a fan but we shouldn’t let that stop our excitement.

    D. King

  12. Now that it is getting colder, baking bread or cakes sounds very heart warming. Your bread looks rustic and aromatic in the pictures, and I am sure it tastes good too. Being single and working for an events promotion company in London, where we have lots of food related events, I end up eating out a lot. But tonight, it is baking time! Cannot wait to get fingers into my banana bread!

  13. 5 stars
    Once again, you have created and shared just the type of recipe I love. Banana bread was always one of my favorites and yours most certainly deserves the title “classic”. Simple, straightforward with ingredients that are already in the kitchen. Now was the perfect time for you to share it. Thank you. I’m going to bake it in my cast iron skillet because I don’t have a loaf pan and can’t wait to try it!

  14. Such a good point about how SEO has changed the creativity of recipe titles. There really is so much to think about now! And banana bread is always a great comfort food; I remember the smell of my mom baking banana and pumpkin bread while I was still in middle school.

  15. 5 stars
    I loved this post, Gena! When I saw the title in my e-mail, I smiled broadly, because to me posting a “classic” vegan banana bread recipe means you are definitely enjoying baking! I did do a lot of baking when I was growing up and your recipe reminds me of a banana bread recipe I made out of something called The Mother Daughter Cookbook that my Dad got for me when I was about 10. I love banana bread, and this one looks wonderful. I could almost smell it as looked at the pictures. I like how you talk about the value of subjectivity when naming a recipe but also how sometimes we can get lost in superlatives. I like your choice of the word “classic” here. You reminded me that I called one I posted “double banana bread” because I used up some dried bananas in addition to the very ripe fresh bananas. It’s fun to name things. . .I also like your prescription for the gluten free version–good combo. Always better to make your own mix if possible. xoxo

  16. I read the article, Gena. It made a strong argument and one that I agree, we can be sucked in by SEO. I made a silent pact to myself when I started blogging, that I’d never use that word “best” or “ultimate” or any of their relatives, simply because food is incredibly subjective. For example, I have a recipe readers rave about, but it’s a lot of work to make it. I had *one* reader write and say it took her far longer than what the recipe indicated and it didn’t even taste that good. She unsubscribed. That was my aHa moment about food and my readers. Just because it works for me or several or many of my readers, doesn’t mean it will work for all simply because we all bring a different skill set to the kitchen and our palate can be vastly different from one person to the next. But this banana bread.. a classic indeed. I love it’s simplicity, crumb and loft! I’ll take it as (the best) a classic! 😀

  17. You are so so right in this Gena! It’s hard for me to believe the whole ‘the best!’ ‘the easiest!’, etc. because it’s all subjective for each person. Also, I get really tempted to throw any and everything into a recipe (banana bread with chocolate and walnuts and caramel and shaved chocolate with a sprinkle of sea salt and homemade sprinkles on top 🙂 or something like that!) and I have to remember that the classics are oftentimes the best recipes. I need to give this a try this week! My husband has a couple bananas that he abandoned and are in need of eating, so this is perfect! xo