Why do we love banana bread? For one thing, it’s handy. Just combine a few pantry staples with some really ripe bananas—what kitchen counter doesn’t have a few of those?—and soon you’ve got a sweet treat perfect for breakfast, or dessert, or a late night snack.

But as much as we love that tried-and-true recipe from Grandma’s cookbook, it’s good to switch things up every now and then. Here are our favorite spins on classic banana bread.

Banana Bread Griddle Cakes with Caramelized Banana-Walnut Caramel Sauce

Griddle Cakes
¾ cups milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup bananas, mashed
½ cup toasted walnut pieces

Caramelized Bananas
2 teaspoons coconut oil or vegetable oil
¼ cup sugar
½ cup maple syrup
1 large banana, sliced
¼ cup toasted walnut pieces
1 pinch salt

1. Combine milk and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside 5 minutes.

2. Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add oil, banana puree, walnuts, and milk mixture. Whisk until smooth.

3. Heat a griddle or nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Grease griddle with coconut or vegetable oil over medium heat.

4. Pour cakes and cook for about 2 minutes, or until little bubbles form on edges of cakes. Flip and cook another 1–2 minutes. Reduce heat if needed to allow cakes to cook through without getting too brown. Serve immediately or keep hot in a warm oven until ready to serve.

5. For sauce, add coconut oil and sugar to medium nonstick pan over medium high heat. Let sugar melt. When it starts to turn golden brown, add syrup, which will bubble. Add bananas, walnuts, and salt.

6. Stir gently until mixture has a golden crust.

7. Top griddle cakes with hot caramelized sauce.

Serves 4

Buckeye Banana Bread

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
⅓ cup peanut butter
1 large egg
⅓ cup sugar

4 ripe bananas
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9×5 loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, peanut butter, egg, and sugar. Using a hand mixer, beat until smooth. Place in refrigerator while making banana bread batter.

3. In a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork. Add butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Add flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Stir again until smooth and no flour remains. Fold in chocolate chips until fully incorporated.

4. Add half the batter into prepared loaf pan, add peanut butter layer on top in a smooth layer, then top with the rest of the chocolate batter. Smooth top and place in the oven to bake, 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

5. Let cool 15 minutes. Slice and serve.

yield: 8 to 10 slices

Banana Bread Blondies

1 cup butter, melted
2 cups light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup banana, mashed
browned butter frosting
¼ cup butter
½ cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

2. In a bowl combine melted butter and sugar. Using a hand mixer, mix until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and continue mixing until incorporated. Stir in salt, flour, and banana until batter is smooth. Spread evenly in prepared pan.

3. Bake 25–30 minutes until center is set. Cool before frosting.

Browned Butter Frosting
1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add brown sugar and milk and stir until mixture comes to just a boil. Remove from heat, allow to cool 5 minutes.

2. Whisk in confectioners’ sugar.

3. Spread on top of blondies quickly—frosting begins to set fast. Allow frosting to set completely before cutting into squares.

yield: 2 dozen blondies

Banana Bread Cheesecake

4 bananas, as ripe as possible
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 egg
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

32 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon gelatin powder

Caramel Sauce, for Drizzling
1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork. Add oil, egg, sugar, and vanilla. Stir until combined.

2. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir until just combined. Don’t over-mix.

3. Pour banana bread batter into greased 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until
top is set.

4. In a large bowl, add cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until combined.

5. Microwave milk until hot, about 2 minutes, then add the gelatin powder. Stir quickly until gelatin is completely dissolved, about 4 minutes.

6. Pour gelatin mixture over cream cheese and whisk again until smooth. Pour the cheesecake mixture over the baked banana bread crust.

7. Chill cheesecake in springform pan for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

8. Release cake from springform pan. Slice and serve, drizzled with caramel sauce.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

3 medium ripe bananas
⅔ cup sugar
⅓ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
1⅔ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a loaf pan with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork. Add sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Mix with spoon or hand mixer until well blended.

3. In a separate bowl, add flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Mix well.

4. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture, stirring to create batter just until blended. Add semi-sweet chips.

5. Pour batter into loaf pan, spread evenly. Bake bread for 45 minutes, testing with a toothpick for doneness. Remove bread from oven and sprinkle top with brown sugar.

6. Gently run a butter knife around interior edges of loaf pan to help release bread. Place loaf pan on its side on a wire rack. Let cool before serving.

Makes one loaf


Photographed and styled by Carla Witt Ford

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Zack Harold
Written by Zack Harold
Zack Harold is a southern West Virginia native. He covered education, health, and government at the Charleston Daily Mail before becoming the newspaper’s features editor. He joined New South Media in 2015, became managing editor of WV Living in January 2016, and took over as managing editor of Wonderful West Virginia in July 2016.