easy banana bread with cranberries recipe

bourbon-laced banana bread

I’m not sure where the idea of putting bourbon into banana bread came from, but I’m glad I did it – the bread gave off a deep caramel aroma and it accentuated the sweetness of the banana. In my now-predicable move, I substituted cranberries for walnuts, as I prefer tartness in quickbreads and because I always have cranberries in the freezer. However, if you like nuts and fruit in your banana bread — and even chocolate — by all means, do what tastes best to you.

bourbon-laced banana bread

If you don’t have sour cream on hand, full-fat whole-milk Greek yogurt will work beautifully instead. I’ve not tried this with a plant-based yogurt, but suspect that something like Cocojune brand yogurt will work fine as well (use egg substitute in place of eggs).

UPDATE: Kris in the comment section, very accurately pointed out to me that JD is not bourbon but is sour mash whiskey – a very good point indeed. For those of you looking for a quick primer on the difference, I found one here!

Easy Banana Bread with Cranberries
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1/2 cup (1 stick/113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (3 medium bananas)
1/2 cup (113 grams) sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons bourbon or dark rum
1/2 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen; if frozen, no need to defrost)
1 small ripe banana, peeled and halved lengthwise (optional)
Demerara sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan; set aside. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, or using the bowl of a stand mixer, which has been fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, and beat to incorporate.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture, and mix on low speed until just combined. Add the mashed bananas, sour cream, bourbon or rum, and vanilla, and mix on low just to combine. Stir in the cranberries and pour into prepared pan; smooth out the top with an offset spatula, if you like. Add the halved banana on top, if using, and sprinkle with the demerara sugar, if using.

Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Let rest in pan for 10 minutes, then run a butter knife around the perimeter of the bread and turn out onto a rack to cool.

The bread tastes better if you let it sit overnight, uncovered, to dry up a little bit and let the flavors meld.


  • Kris

    Gotta be careful with your descriptions there — confusing Jack Daniel’s (Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey) with bourbon can rile up some bourbon lovers!
    I will be trying some bourbon in my next batch of banana bread though.

  • radish

    Hey Kris, excellent point, I didn’t even think of it.. I would not drink JD though, it’s a bit too harsh for my palette, I think that in tipsy cakes it’s just fine. The show I watched the cakes discussed on referred to JD as bourbon – but you make a very good point – thanks for pointing it out! i hope i didn’t offend any bourbon experts out there :)

  • EB

    Oh man this is like my perfect food!! I have a love of the bourbon and I dig banana bread like no other.

  • Sherry

    Mmmm, banana bread with Bourbon sounds great right about now. I’m currently on a road trip and haven’t been near a kitchen for over a month (except for a very brief – and tasty – 3 days). Right now we’re in Bardstown Kentucky and have been touring Bourbon distilleries for a couple days. What fun!
    Once we’re home again I think I’ll put Bourbon-spiked Banana Bread near the top of my “things-to-cook-list.” Thanks for the inspiration!

  • rose

    Umm… maybe if I had a swig of hooch first I wouldn’t mind that I can’t find the amount of flour your recipe calls for? Am I overlooking it? I’m going with 2 cups, since there’s a cup of sugar, but I’ll check back for the real amount. Your sub of cranberries for walnuts sounds delish. Thanks!

  • Jesse

    Looks fantastic! My friend and I drove through Kentucky last year just touring bourbon distilleries… it was amazing. And no doubt I got quite the bourbon education. One thing I learned for sure is bourbon is great in food! And sweets!

  • Amanda Boyce

    The minute I saw the title “bourbon spiked banana bread” I was sold. I literally dashed to the liquer store, which I’m sure made the clerk nervous as it was only 4 p.m. and picked up a nice sack of booze. hehe like I needed an excuse, right?! I’m looking forward to baking this sucker up!

  • Debbie

    This sounds delicious. I just posted a banana bread and am always looking for a new one with different ingredients. I will give this one a try!!!

  • Beki

    Could I substitute pumpkin puree for bananas? I love bourbon infused desserts and I also just fell in love with pumpkin bread. An ASAP answer would be appreciated because I want to bring this to a party this weekend.
    Thank you!

  • radish

    Hi Beki, i am sure you can – though i am not sure of the proportion. Have you tried looking up pumkin spice bread on the Martha Stewart site? I think she has a great one. If you want to reach me sooner, you should email me next time :) – it’s on my ‘about me’ page.

  • Paul

    This is the best! I just used Eagles Ridge – 2 Tablespoons… last round Noah’s Mill 1 1/2 Tablespoons, everybody raved about it – the cranberries and bourbon enhance the bannana flavor.

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