12 Ways to Upgrade Your Banana Bread

We all love a cozy loaf of banana bread. But next time you stir up this simple bake, why not give it a few upgrades? Check out our favorite banana bread mix-ins.

A simple loaf of banana bread is a joy. It’s simple, comforting and makes for a great snack or breakfast. While we love a good easy banana bread recipe, it can be fun to spice up your go-to with fun mix-ins and special ingredients. A handful of chocolate chips, some toasted walnuts and other ingredients can totally change your recipe. Find out easy ways to upgrade your banana bread.

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For some folks, banana bread without nuts isn’t banana bread at all. Stir in nuts to add a bit of crunch and flavor to any recipe. Our Test Kitchen’s favorite recipe uses walnuts, but use whatever you’ve got on hand.

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Chocolate Chips

The easiest (and perhaps tastiest) way to dress up any banana bread recipe is to add in chocolate chips. Chocolate and banana is a match made in heaven. You can add chips to any recipe you love.

Before stirring into the batter, dust the chips in a bit of flour. This will prevent them from sinking to the bottom of your loaf. And be sure to sprinkle a few extras on top so your bread looks extra tempting, like with this cast-iron banana bread recipe.

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Peanut Butter

Who doesn’t love peanut butter and banana together? Add chocolate—like in this Elvis banana bread recipe—and you’re set.

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Not all banana bread recipes call for spices, but spices are definitely a welcome addition to any batter. Warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and even clove all work really well with banana flavors as well as mix-ins like nuts. Take a look at our best banana bread recipes.

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If you want more chocolate flavor than just chocolate chips, you can add cocoa powder to your banana bread batter. A quarter cup is about all it takes to turn your bread from banana to cocoa-banana. Try it with this chocolate bread recipe.

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A bit of citrus has the ability to brighten up any recipe. Orange plays particularly well with banana and the warming spices that typically accompany banana bread. This banana bread recipe gets a boost of flavor from orange juice. You can also try adding orange zest to any of your favorite quick breads.

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Dried Fruit

Mixing dried fruits into quick bread batters is an easy way to make your bread more interesting and flavorful. Dried cranberries, raisins and apricots are easy additions to any recipe. Like with other larger mix-ins, be sure to coat them in a bit of flour first. That will keep the fruit, like the cranberries in this double cranberry banana bread, from settling at the bottom of the pan.

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Take your go-to recipe into fall with the addition of pumpkin. This rich ingredient works well with mashed bananas in the batter. It produces exceptionally moist bread with some autumnal flair. See how our Test Kitchen does it with our top-rated pumpkin banana bread recipe.

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Maple Syrup

Maple and banana make a great pair. After all, banana pancakes topped with maple syrup make for a fantastic weekend breakfast. Adding maple syrup to banana bread gives the bread sweetness and flavor.

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During the summer, many of us are searching for ways to use up that bumper crop of zucchini. When you’re tired of making zoodles, put the squash to good use in banana bread. The zucchini will make it super moist. Start with this banana-zucchini bread recipe.

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As tropical ingredients, coconut and banana work together well. Adding shredded coconut to banana bread adds some warm-weather flavor and texture. This recipe for coconut-banana quick bread is topped with a sweet glaze. You could also finish off this loaf with toasted coconut.

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In the same way coconut compliments banana, so does pineapple. A small can of crushed pineapple gives a bit of tropical flair to this homey recipe. Give it a try in your kitchen with this moist pineapple banana bread.

Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is a former Taste of Home editor and passionate baker. During her tenure, she poured her love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa also dedicated her career here to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.