We Tried Joanna Gaines’ Banana Bread Recipe

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Her version may very well rival your fave.

joanna gains banana bread brianna griepentrog/taste of home

Banana bread is just about the best thing since, well, sliced bread. I’ve come to find that the moist, tender and delightfully sweet treat is enjoyed by nearly all—even those who’d never be caught eating the contentious curved yellow fruit on its own—and rightfully so. What’s not to love?

Although Best Ever Banana Bread is my go-to recipe (along with these other scrumptious quick breads), I was curious to try an ever-popular banana bread recipe from one of the current greats, Joanna Gaines. The mogul behind Magnolia and HGTV’s Fixer Upper published the recipe in her cookbook, Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering, and stated on her blog that it’s among her favorite breakfast dishes, especially when topped with a pat of melty butter.

With our favorite brand of butter and a table knife at the ready, I was eager to see if I agreed.

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Joanna Gaines’ Banana Bread Recipe


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Initial Thoughts

If nothing else, this recipe is simple. From the required ingredients to the actual method, it’s practically made for beginners.

All you need is the most basic baking staples, plus bananas—extra ripe, of course. (Here’s how to quickly ripen a bunch of ’em if needed.) One of the photos on Gaines’ blog features pecans, but the recipe doesn’t explicitly call for them. So, add your favorite mix-ins at your leisure.

The Preparation

As I expected, I already had everything I needed for this recipe on hand with the exception of ripe bananas (I like mine on the greener side for snacking!). Easy enough. I simply went to the supermarket and bought a bundle of marked-down brown bananas. And before I ran this errand, I made sure to set out the stick of butter to soften.

Once I got to baking, I ran into no issues. Following Gaines’ instructions, I first creamed the sugar, butter and vanilla extract with my trusty electric hand mixer. Then, I added the eggs and mashed bananas, which I squashed with a fork in a deep measuring cup beforehand.

Next, Gaines says to mix in the remaining ingredients: flour, baking soda and salt. Here, I took it upon myself to whisk together these dry ingredients in a separate bowl to ensure they were fully incorporated before I added them to the mixture of wet ingredients.

In regards to consistency and texture, the batter was a little stiffer than that of other breads I’ve made, but it was nothing too out of the ordinary. And, because I’ve made this mistake so many times, before adding the batter, be sure to very thoroughly grease your 13×9 pan! Yes, you read that right. This recipe calls for a 13×9 rather than a loaf pan or even a square baking dish. I found this to be a bit odd, but, hey, I guess shape doesn’t affect taste. (Find out if your 13×9 is truly a 13×9.)

Once you’ve poured the batter into the pan, bake it at 325˚ for 30-40 minutes. Because of the baking vessel, this bread requires less time in the oven than most other quick breads—a bonus, if you ask me. My batch of bread was done after about 33 minutes, but I left it in a couple minutes longer so it would evenly brown on all sides.

Final Product

This banana bread was tasty, but it didn’t totally wow me; mostly because it was so basic, which, of course, one could argue is a positive!

I think the bread would’ve benefited from some mix-ins. Think chocolate chips (my personal pick), toasted walnuts, fresh blueberries or even just a sprinkling of cinnamon. (Check out other surprising ingredients to add to your bread.)

Plus, I had a hard time getting past the fact that it was made in a 13×9. It seemed more like banana bars or a banana cake rather than a quick bread. And the other experts at Taste of Home agreed. (We seriously considered slathering our squares with some cream cheese frosting.) Without the “slice” look, it lacks that quintessential quick-loaf feel.

Aside from those critiques, the flavor and texture were spot on. You could definitely taste the bananas. Just remember: The riper, the better! (Here are more ways to use up a bunch of brown bananas.) And because I’m used to super dense quick breads, I enjoyed the light and airy quality of this one. Be careful, though—you might end up eating a third of the pan in one sitting!

In my opinion, you should look to this very solid recipe when you’re in a pinch, with little time (or desire, for that matter) to go to the grocery store; when you’re expecting picky eaters; or when you need to serve a crowd.

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Annamarie Higley
Annamarie Higley is an Associate Print Editor for Taste of Home magazine, as well as the brand's special issue publications. A midwestern transplant originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she enjoys hiking, trivia-ing, and—you guessed it!—all things cooking and baking.