Discover the secrets that lead to the ultimate Banana Muffin recipe. Bake a muffin with an intense banana flavor, a moist, light, tender crumb, and slightly crunchy top.
Are you looking for a banana muffin recipe that really tastes like bananas? Too many times I have eaten banana muffins that taste muffiny and sweet, but they don’t taste like bananas.
It has always been a disappointment. If you have been searching for a banana muffin recipe where you can taste banana, then stick around.
I’ve discovered a technique to get a pronounced banana flavor even when I don’t have over ripe bananas. And this technique doesn’t make the muffin dense or weighed down either.
So if you love the flavor of bananas and want to make your muffins taste like this sweet fruit, try my techniques.
You may also be interested in my Blueberry Muffin recipe. Trust me, you will taste the blueberries in that muffin too. Can you tell I like real fruit flavor when I bake?
If you want to take you muffins to the next level, try some of the bakery secrets to make bakery muffins.
Essential Baking Tips for Every Recipe
- Read the recipe instructions completely before starting.
- Discover the true temperature of your oven with an oven thermometer. Be sure to read the post about calibrating an oven to get better baking results.
- Pull out your kitchen scale for accurate results. Read the post on using a kitchen scale to eliminate baking disasters. This recipe gives ingredient amounts in grams. The cup measurements are approximate measurements.
Elusive Banana Flavor
Recently a new friend brought me a loaf of banana bread from a good bakery nearby. It was very kind of her.
Thrilled at receiving the treat, the family gobbled it down. However as I ate it, I noticed it tasted bland. I double-checked the label to make sure it was banana bread because I could not taste a banana flavor at all. And this loaf was from a bakery.
Now, the gift from my friend was very much appreciated. Don’t get me wrong.
But as a recipe developer, it got me thinking about all the other banana muffins I have tasted over the years. The majority of them didn’t taste like banana at all.
And so my quest began to figure out how to make a banana muffin recipe (and banana bread) with true banana flavor.
Also, the muffins had to taste like bananas without artificial ingredients or flavors. I’m not about artificial flavors.
My Quest to Capture Intense Banana Flavor
I began my research by trying several banana muffin recipes. They were all very similar when it came to the bananas. That is, they all required very ripe bananas.
Mash the very ripe bananas and throw them into the batter. Well that was not original. There wasn’t a pronounced banana flavor when I followed those instructions. There had to be another way.
Some recipes called for lots of bananas -- up to 6. While that did increase the banana flavor, the muffins came out heavy, weighed down, and somewhat soggy. That was not what I was after.
So how could I get make my banana muffins taste like banana without making them too dense and heavy?
As I thought about the problem, I remembered a technique I learned when making apple pie -- macerating the apples and reducing the juice.
Macerating fruit with sugar brings out the juices and flavor. Reducing the juice intensifies the flavor. It worked for my apple pie. Could it work for banana muffins?
Yes, it worked!
5 Secrets to Make the Ultimate Banana Muffin Recipe
To make light moist banana muffins exploding with banana flavor, try my secret techniques.
The five secret techniques are:
- MACERATE the bananas
- REDUCE the banana juice
- RUB the butter into the flour
- USE buttermilk
- FOLD the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients
Secret #1 Macerate the Bananas
Maceration is the process of using sugar to draw out the juice from a fruit.
It worked perfectly with the apples in my apple pie and I found it effective with bananas too.
Bananas aren’t a fruit we often consider to be juicy, but the sugar coaxed all the banana juices out.
One benefit of macerating bananas is that the bananas do not have to be extremely ripe to get the benefits of macerating.
To macerate bananas:
- Mash the bananas. First peel the bananas and then use a fork to mash the bananas on a plate. A rough mash will do. Place the bananas in a medium-sized bowl.
- Sprinkle sugar on the bananas. Measure out the sugar and sprinkle it over the mashed bananas. Stir to coat the bananas with the sugar.
- Macerate the bananas. Let the bananas and sugar macerate for a minimum of 30 minutes. An hour is better. You can even leave them overnight. (If macerating overnight, refrigerate the bananas.)
- Collect the banana juice. Pour the bananas into a strainer and collect the banana juice. Let the bananas sit in the strainer for at least 10 minutes, or more (preferably 30 minutes) to collect all the juices.
Secret #2 Reduce the Banana Juice
To reduce a liquid, simmer it until excess water has evaporated and the liquid has thickened.
As the water evaporates, the juice thickens and becomes syrupy. And the flavor? The flavor intensifies.
The reduced juice tastes like the bananas my mom used to dehydrate - banana flavor to the extreme.
To reduce the banana juice:
- POUR the strained banana juice into a small pan.
- HEAT the juice over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes.
- SIMMER the juice. The water in it begins to evaporate.
- STIR occasionally as it simmers, taking care to not let it burn.
- REMOVE from heat when the juice is reduced by half and is as thick as a light honey.
- COOL for 3 to 5 minutes.
- MIX the reduced banana juice back into the mashed bananas.
Secret #3 Cut the Butter into the Flour
I take this technique from my Blueberry Muffin recipe. I like the crumb texture, the hint of butter, and the mildly crunchy top that comes from rubbing the butter into the flour.
It is also called cutting the butter into the flour if you use a pastry cutter (recommended) or a food processor.
To cut the butter into the flour:
- MIX the dry ingredients together.
- CUT the cold butter into small cubes.
- CUT the butter into the flour with the pastry cutter. The butter will break into smaller pieces as it sticks to the flour. After a few minutes, the mixture should resemble very coarse sand and the butter should be the size of small peas.
Secret #4: Use Buttermilk
Almost everything tastes better with buttermilk, and banana muffins are no exception. The buttermilk gives the muffin a wonderfully rich flavor. It makes the crumb soft, tender, and moist.
Many recipes call for milk, but try buttermilk and see if you notice a difference. In a pinch, you can make your own buttermilk too.
Secret #5: Fold the Wet Ingredients Into the Dry Ingredients
Mix the muffins using the “muffin method” (also known as the “quick bread” method).
Here’s the method. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, until just combined. Simple. The batter may still be a little lumpy.
Many folding recipes call for the flour to be folded into the wet ingredients. However, since the flour in this recipe has butter rubbed in, it is heavier than a regular flour mixture. I found that folding the wet ingredients into the buttered flour is effective in this recipe.
Make sure you do not over mix. That will ruin the soft and light crumb texture we are aiming for.
Special Baking Instructions
Bake the muffins on high heat for 5 minutes (until the muffins begin to rise over the top of the muffin tin) and then immediately reduce the heat and finish cooking.
The initial high heat activates the baking powder, resulting in a taller finished muffin.
Try these techniques and see if this Banana Muffin recipe becomes your new favorite.
Best Banana Muffins
- 3 bananas very ripe (approximately 10 ounces)
- 3 tablespoons white granulated sugar
- 290 grams 2 cups all-purpose flour, (Gold Medal brand)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder aluminum-free
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg freshly ground, if possible
- 130 grams ½ cup + 1 tablespoon cold butter, straight from fridge
- 65 grams ⅓ cup brown sugar
- 58 grams ¼ cup white granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 110 grams ½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 1 egg room temperature
- 48 grams ¼ cup brown sugar
- 28 grams ¼ cup all-purpose flour (Gold Medal brand)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 34 grams 1 tablespoon butter
- PEEL and MASH the ripe bananas. Place in a bowl.
- STIR 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar into the mashed bananas.
- MACERATE: Let the banana and sugar mixture sit on the counter for a minimum of 30 minutes or longer. (One hour is better.) The sugar draws banana juice out of the bananas.
- POUR the mashed banana mixture into a food strainer or colander with small holes. Let the liquid drain out of the mashed bananas and into a bowl for about 20 minutes. This should yield about ⅓ cup. Pour the collected liquid into a sauce pan.
- HEAT the banana juice over medium heat. Simmer the juice until it reduces in volume by half and it reaches the consistency of a thick liquid, like honey.
- COOL the liquid for 3 minutes.
- PREHEAT oven to 400° Fahrenheit.
- MIX the banana juice back into the pureed bananas.
- ADD the brown sugar (65 grams), granulated sugar (58 grams), vanilla extract, and buttermilk to the bananas and mix with a hand mixer until combined, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- MIX the egg into the wet ingredients until just combined, 10 to 15 seconds.
- In a separate bowl, STIR flour (290 grams), salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg until combined.
- CUT the butter into pieces.
- RUB the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter/blender, food processor, or your fingers until the butter is in small pea-sized pieces.
- PREPARE the topping before folding the wet and dry ingredients together. Stir the brown sugar (48 grams), flour (28 grams), cinnamon, and salt together. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Chill for 5 minutes.
- FOLD the wet ingredients into the flour muffin mixture. Use a spatula or a spoon and fold 10 to 15 times. DO NOT OVER MIX. Some flour may still be visible.
- SCOOP the batter into the greased muffin pan.
- SPRINKLE the brown sugar topping on each muffin.
- BAKE at 400° Fahrenheit for 5 minutes.
- REDUCE heat to 350° without opening the oven and continue to bake for 7 to 9 minutes, or until the tops are light brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out with few crumbs.
- DO NOT OVER BAKE. It is better to take the muffins out just before they are done and let the residual heat finish baking them.
- COOL in pan for 5 minutes.
- REMOVE muffins from the pan and cool on a cooling rack.
- STORE in airtight container after the muffins are completely cool. Muffins stay fresh for 2 to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.
Did you taste the banana in the muffin? Comment below and let me know what you thought of my techniques to bring out the banana flavor.