The first banana bread recipe came to light in 1933 when it appeared in the Balanced Cookbook by Mary Ellis Ames, but became more popular in the 50s with the release of the original Chiquita Banana’s Recipe Book.
So it wasn’t shocking when Ruby Vaughan stumbled across a banana bread recipe in the Omaha World-Herald newspaper in 1958, and had never heard of such a thing before. Still, it looked delicious and easy to make, so she gave it a try. Little did she know that she was baking a legend of a banana bread.
Sheila Harper, Ruby’s granddaughter, shared this wonderful recipe on Just a Pinch, along with memories of her grandmother. In winter evenings, they would enjoy this banana bread with a pot of tea for dinner while Sheila’s grandfather worked late at the railroad. Harper has baked this recipe many times since then and it has been a huge hit on every occasion.
She declares this recipe “the best one”, point-blank. And all of the comments from those who tried this banana bread agree, with one commenter writing: “This really IS “the best” banana bread recipe! I even threw out any others that I had, after making this one :)”
The Best Banana Bread Recipe from the 50s
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine (one stick)
- 3 ripe bananas, mashed (ideally very ripe)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts are great)
- Optional: powdered sugar glaze, recipe below*
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Grease a 9×5 loaf pan.
- Cream the sugar, salt, and salt or margarine with a hand beater.
- Add the two eggs, mashed bananas to the creamed sugar mixture and blend well.
- In a separate bowl, sift the flour and the baking soda and mix well.
- Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the creamed sugar and banana mixture and mix until all is blended.
- Stir in the chopped nuts.
- Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan and bake for one hour or until done. You can test the doneness by sticking a toothpick into the center and see if it comes out clean. Do not overbake; start the toothpick check when the top begins looking brown, which will be around the one-hour mark.
- Optional: Drizzle the powdered sugar glaze over the cake while it is still warm.
Powdered Sugar Glaze
You will need:
- 2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
- 2–4 tbsp milk, water, or flavored liquid of choice (like juice, coffee, or liqueur)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a bowl, whisk the sifted powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and enough liquid to thin the mixture to your desired consistency for drizzling or pouring over the banana cake. The glaze should be smooth.
If you prefer or are looking for something a little healthier or looking to avoid gluten or animal products, try out this. It’s a healthier banana bread recipe with limited processed ingredients and just as much deliciousness.
Healthy Banana Bread Recipe with Gluten-Free and Vegan Options
- ⅓ cup melted coconut oil
- ½ cup honey or maple syrup
- 2 eggs (see notes for the vegan version)*
- 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 ½ medium or 2 large bananas)
- ¼ cup milk of choice or water
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 ¾ cups white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour (see notes for the gluten-free version)
- Optional: ½ cup add-ins like chopped walnuts or pecans or chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
- In a large bowl, mix the oil and honey together with a whisk.
- Add the eggs and beat well
- Whisk in the mashed bananas and milk. (If your coconut oil solidifies because of the cold ingredients, let the bowl rest in a warm place for a few minutes, like on top of the stove, or heat the bowl for about 10 seconds in the microwave.)
- Add the baking soda, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon, and mix well.
- With a big spoon, stir in the flour, just until combined. If you’re including any add-ins, gently fold them in.
- Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon.
- Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Allow the bread cool in the loaf pan for at least 10 minutes. Use a butter knife to run around the edges of the bread to loosen from the pan.
- Carefully transfer the loaf to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
For the vegan version of the bread, use maple syrup instead of honey, use flax eggs instead of flax eggs, and use your preferred non-dairy milk or water.
For the gluten-free version, use 1 ¾ of a gluten-free flour blend or 2 ½ cups of certified gluten-free flour. Or you can make your own grain-free, paleo, gluten-free blend by combining:
- 2 cups finely ground almond flour
- 1 1/3 cups tapioca flour/tapioca starch
- 2/3 cup coconut flour
Measure out 1 ¾ cups of the flour for the banana bread and store the rest in a sealed container in the fridge.