We had a good thing going there, banana bread. All through the early days of sheltering in place during the coronavirus pandemic, you were our go-to baking project for so many reasons: You’re delicious, inexpensive, easy to make — and you helped us save food that would otherwise be going bad. Even with all your virtues, though, it might be time to move on and expand our culinary horizons.
Don’t worry, we’ll be back. But in the meantime, here are some new banana-bread-adjacent recipes that might be fun to flirt with now and then.
1. Try another yeastless bread
Banana bread baking has boomed, in part, because it’s so easy to make. But for something just as easy, and even more versatile, try Irish soda bread.
“It’s really very easy to make, and there are no special ingredients needed — no yeast, no starter, and even if you don’t have buttermilk, you can make some with just milk and a little vinegar or lemon juice,” blogger Shelagh Mullen told HuffPost. “When this bread is baking, the house smells glorious.” Best of all, you don’t have to worry about long cooling times, because you can dig into this loaf straight out of the oven.
2. Another loaf that reduces food waste
Banana bread starts with fruit that’s clearly past its prime, so why not extend that zero-waste philosophy to other ingredients? Take a peek in the produce crisper to see if you have the less-than-fresh makings of an equally delicious baked treat.
“This carrot cake loaf is easy to make, and it’s a great way to use up leftover baby carrots,” blogger Dorothy Kern said. “Plus, loaves are just better, because they’re easier to frost, slice, eat and store.” This recipe makes two loaves, so you can share one with a friend who needs a day-brightener.
3. Use the same loaf pan to make a muffin-like breakfast
If it has bananas in it, it’s a breakfast food, right? If you agree with that philosophy, then add this muffin-in-a-loaf to your morning meal lineup.
“It’s everything we love about blueberry muffins conveniently baked in a loaf pan,” said Sally McKenney of Sally’s Baking Addiction. “Since there are no individual muffin tins to fill, the batter goes from the mixing bowl to the oven in minutes. The crumbles add a delicious crust on top.”
4. Try another bread with a healthy base ingredient
With a fruit right there in its title, banana bread was virtue-signaling long before the superfood gang got famous. If you’d like to bake something with another healthy base ingredient, try this Applesauce Kitchen Sink Cake from culinary dietitian Sara Haas.
“Because it’s made with whole grains, each piece leaves you feeling like you had a substantial snack,” Haas said. “Plus, making this bread is a good way to use up that dried fruit or last teensy bit of nuts tucked away in your pantry.” Her pro tip: Be sure to finely chop the dried fruit and nuts to ensure there’s a little of everything in every bite.
5. Try another cake with a common (but surprising) household ingredient
There’s nothing better than having a freshly baked treat on the kitchen counter, allowing you to take a sliver each time you pass. While banana bread has been front and center on many counters for weeks now, you might want to try this made-for-snacking cake that uses a secret ingredient ― mayonnaise! — in place of eggs or butter.
“This is such a fun recipe that’s great for the times we’re in now,” blogger Sarah Peterson said. “Like a lot of old-fashioned recipes, it uses ingredients we probably all have on hand. The recipe has been in my friend’s family for years, and it’s tried and true recipes like this one that I turn to whenever I want to bake something special.”
6. If you want another cake that doesn’t require frosting ...
As cake-like as it is, one of banana bread’s best qualities is that it doesn’t require any fancy frosting. This lemon bread stands on its own, too, although you can top with a simple glaze if you’d like. “It’s very easy to make,” blogger Rosemary Molloy said. “You don’t need a mixer to pull it together, and it turns out moist and lemony.”
7. A quick bread that has vegetables, but doesn’t taste like it
If you’d like to make something that’s chocolate-level scrumptious but still starts with another favorite from the produce aisle, consider this Chocolate Zucchini Bread from blogger Jennifer Segal. It’s a delicious way to sneak in veggies and use up extra zucchini from your home garden. “It also makes the perfect afternoon snack when you’re in need of a chocolate fix,” Segal said.
8. If you just LOVE bananas and can’t get enough
Finally, if you’re still bananas ride or die, you might want to experiment with a change of format, just to keep things interesting. “I love banana bread so, so much, but sometimes I’m not in the mood for the standard loaf,” blogger Jenn Quillen said. “This Banana Bread Cookie recipe fits the bill and then some. Let’s get real, who doesn’t love cookies?”