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First, I use my grandmother Blackwood’s recipe, and it is simply the best banana bread recipe in the world!  It is also a secret, so you’re out of luck there, but I will tell you how you can make your OWN banana bread recipe taste better by changing 5 of the ingredients.

The first thing is nuts.  Whether you add walnuts, almonds or some other kind of nuts, use the smoked kind with salt, and use high quality nuts.  Buy them as fresh as possible, and don’t use the canned kind that has all the preservatives.  Trader Joe’s is the ideal place to purchase good nuts.   The smoky, salty flavor matched against the sweetness of the sugar provides a complete yin-yang flavor profile that simply makes sense.  You’ll take one bit and say, “YES!!!”


You’re going to laugh about this next ingredient.

bacon grease

My recommendation for this product has nothing to do with whether you are or are not vegan.  The product is fabulous. It is a wonderful, strong flavoring agent that I now cannot live without.   Just add about a teaspoon of this stuff to the oil that you would normally use in your recipe, and WOW!  It adds just a hint of the same smoky flavor that are also contained in the smoked nuts.  It gives the bread substance and a sort of “bass note”….not bass the fish….bass the instrument.   It makes the bread  taste richer, more full-bodied…good….and oh, by the way, this stuff is great for all kinds of recipes, sweet AND savory!  You can purchase it online HERE.

The third thing that makes my banana bread so good is black bananas.

black bananas

Bananas contain tryptophan; a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.  When you allow them to ripen to the soft stage, the flavors are enhanced and the concentration of tryptophan is even higher.  Plus, they simply taste better when they’re baked.

And finally….and more importantly….the vanilla.

nielsen massy

ONLY use Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract and one fresh vanilla bean!

vanilla bean

Before you faint over the cost of the vanilla, don’t.  It is the most delicious vanilla extract I have ever used, AND it is worth every cent that you pay for it.  It really *does* make that much of a difference.  The fresh vanilla bean just adds to the vanilla goodness.

If you use these five ingredients with any banana bread recipe, I guarantee you will not regret it.  You will have the best banana bread on the block.  Mind you, it won’t be quite as good as mine, because I use Grandmother Blackwood’s recipe….but you will definitely love what you bake, if you don’t burn it.  Really.

It’s that good!