Has an idea ever lodged itself in your head enough that the only way to move on was to make the thing real? That’s how this brownie banana bread came to be. Inspiration struck: why not bake bits of brownie in banana bread? To verify the brilliance of this concept, I launched into a flurry of baking. It was worth it. If you love clever twists on old favorites, I hope this recipe triggers the same response for you.
Brownie banana bread delivers the same comforting satisfaction of banana bread, but with the excitement of ample chunks of fudgy brownies. The banana bread batter acts as an insulator, keeping the brownies from drying out during their second stint in the oven. It’s a flavor explosion and a textural adventure that’s well within a beginner baker’s reach.
Two Treats in One Dessert
There’s a strong precedent of desserts-within-desserts that savvy bakers have paved long before me. Baking doyenne Maida Heatter’s cookbooks offer recipes for cheesecake dotted with brownie chunks, as well as brownies baked with whole peppermint patties. And Jessie Moore of the dessert blog CakeSpy likewise has a whole subcategory of desserts in desserts, including mini cupcakes baked in regular cupcakes.
Start With Brownies
This is not a complicated recipe, but it is best done over two days. The secret to multi-day baking projects is it breaks the cleanup into smaller sessions, as well as builds anticipation.
You’ll bake the brownies first so they can set and cool. I even put the entire uncut pan in the fridge to chill before cutting so I get neat cubes that’ll hold their shape once I fold them into the banana bread batter.
I’ve rarely met a brownie I didn’t like, but my preference is for dense and fudgy ones. I started with our Best Chocolate Brownies recipe, which relies on pantry staples like cocoa powder to deliver extra-fudgy and intense results. It’s nice to have intensely chocolatey brownies for this recipe to ensure maximum impact once they’re cubed and baked into the banana bread.
Mixing the Banana Bread
Our banana bread recipe has been beloved by readers for over a decade, and for good reason. It’s a breeze to whip up and delivers every single time.
For a moist and flavorful bread, I prefer to use three bananas–the super-duper ripe ones that look frightful. I often buy spotty bananas on sale at the grocery store and freeze them whole so I always have some on deck to indulge banana bread whims. Freeze them right in their peels and thaw them on the counter for a few hours (set them in a bowl to catch the liquid that comes out as they thaw).
Swaps and Subs
- You can replace the butter in both the brownies and the banana bread with vegetable oil. I sometimes use fruity olive oil in the banana bread, but would not recommend it for the brownies.
- For a gluten-free version, use the same amount of gluten-free baking flour blend (such as Bob’s Red Mill) for the all-purpose flour in both the brownies and the banana bread. Do not use almond flour, which will not work in either recipe.
- My preference is for natural cocoa powder, but Dutch-processed will work just fine in the brownies.
- Don’t be tempted to gild the lily by adding extra nuts or mix-ins to the banana bread batter. It’s already packed with brownie chunks and adding more stuff will make it spill out over the edges of the pan.
- My brownies don’t call for chopped nuts or chocolate chips, but it’s fine if you’d like to add those to your brownies, as long as you add no more than 2 1/2 cups of brownie chunks to the banana bread.
More Heavenly Takes on Banana Bread
Brownie Banana Bread
I recommend making this over two days. Bake the brownies on day 1, and then cut them into chunks and bake the bread itself on day 2.
As a shortcut, you can bake brownies from a brownie mix to use as the chunks for this bread. Fudgy brownies work best. You’ll need a total of 2 to 2 1/2 cups of brownie chunks to make this recipe.
For the brownies:
10 tablespoons (140g) unsalted butter
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (85g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups (250g) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, straight from the refrigerator
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (65g) all-purpose flour
For the brownie banana bread:
1/3 cup (76g) unsalted butter
3 medium very ripe bananas, peeled (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups mashed)
2/3 cup (137g) sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (205g) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (not baking powder)
- 1 (8 x 8-inch) square pan
- 1 (8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch) or (9 x 5-inch) loaf pan
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Line the bottom of an 8 x 8-inch square pan with parchment or foil, leaving a few inches of excess hanging on either side to create flaps. Grease the pan; if using foil, grease the foil, too.
Melt the butter:
In a medium high-sided skillet or large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Swirl the pan from time to time so the butter melts evenly.
Make the batter:
Remove the pan from heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the sugar and salt; the mixture will be a lumpy, stiff mess, but that’s fine.
Whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Put some muscle into it. The mixture should now be very smooth. Whisk in the vanilla.
Add the flour all at once. Switch to a spatula and vigorously beat in the flour, beating for 50 strokes to create a smooth batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pan comes out with no wet streaks, about 25 minutes
Cool completely on a wire rack, then cover with foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
To speed things up, pop the hot pan of brownies right into the freezer. Freezing the pan “shocks” the brownies to ensure they’re nice and fudgy. You’ll need to freeze the brownies for about 2 hours before proceeding with the recipe.
Cut the brownie chunks:
Use the parchment or foil handles to lift the cold, uncut brownie out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Cut in half; set the other half aside.
Cut the chilled half-brownie into 1/2-inch chunks. This is what goes into the banana bread. You should have about 290 grams, or 2 to 2 1/2 cups of chunks.
The remaining brownies you can just eat or save for later.
Freeze the remaining brownie half to make another batch of brownies banana bread in the future.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 or 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
Melt the butter:
In a small saucepan or skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Set aside.
If you want bonus points, go ahead and brown the butter for extra flavor.
Make the banana bread batter:
In a large bowl, mash the bananas as best you can using a whisk. Add the sugar and whisk vigorously; the sugar should help the bananas break down.
Whisk in the egg, vanilla, and salt, then the melted butter
Switch to a spatula and fold in the flour and baking soda just until combined. If the batter is thick like cement, add a few tablespoons of water to thin it out.
Yes, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda is correct. It works, we promise, but only if it’s baking soda. If you are using baking powder, increase the amount to 1 1/2 teaspoons.
Fold in the brownie chunks just enough to distribute them throughout the batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake the loaf until the center of the top springs back when you gently press it with your fingertip, about 1 hour.
You can also test for doneness by inserting a toothpick or skewer into the center of the bread, though the fudgy brownies sometimes make testing for doneness this way misleading.
Set the pan on a cooling rack and let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn the bread out of the pan and cool completely.
For the neatest slices, I like to refrigerate the entire loaf before slicing. I also like this bread straight out of the fridge, but you get more of the flavors when you serve it at room temperature.
Well wrapped, the bread will keep on the countertop for about 3 days. It also freezes beautifully.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 10 to 12|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 17g||22%|
|Saturated Fat 10g||48%|
|Total Carbohydrate 61g||22%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||10%|
|Total Sugars 36g|
|Vitamin C 3mg||13%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|