Old-School Sour Cream Banana Bread

by Dorothy Reinhold on September 21, 2010

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If judged by the number of times I have made this (hundreds!), and the number of requests for a printed recipe (hundreds!), this would be my best recipe. Why is it so popular? It makes a great, clean-tasting banana bread. It is full of banana goodness, without being trendy or gimmicky. You could make it once a week and not tire of it. It’s not overly sweet, has no butter (uses a bit of oil instead), and also gets moisture and a great crumb from sour cream. I always toss in a bit of ground flax for extra nutrition; no one ever knows.

I’ve made fancier banana breads, certainly some with more ingredients, more spices, more of everything. But I keep coming back to this simple version that lets the beauty of a ripe banana shine straight through. You are going to look at this recipe and say, “Where’s the cinnamon? Where are the chocolate chips? Where are the walnuts?”  Never mind all that. Just try it this way and see if you don’t agree.

My family loves this bread for breakfast (spread with cream cheese), for after school snack, and even for the team soccer snack when it is my turn to provide.

My 8-year-old neighbor Cameron shows up to play with my son, but really, truly, sometimes he comes by just to see what’s in the oven. If it is this banana bread, his toothy grin breaks out from ear to ear. Most often, on his way out the door, he scores a piece or four for his family (which I happen to know he eats by himself on the way home). Cameron, I’m calling you out and giving you the stink-eye — you have no secrets from me!

Old School Banana Bread

Coarse sugar makes a crusty, sparkling top

Recipe: Old-School Sour Cream Banana Bread

Summary: The best classic, simple banana bread with no butter (sour cream instead!). Let the bananas get black skinned for supreme, deep banana flavor.


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (can use mildest flavored olive oil, of half canola and half olive oil)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium) *see banana hint below
  • 1/3 cup sour cream (regular or light version are fine, or can even use Greek yogurt)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax (optional)
  • Zest of 1 lemon (optional but great!)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Garnish: Coarse grained sugar sprinkles for the top before baking


  1. Heat oven to 350F degrees. Mist bottom of a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan (or 3 mini loaf pans) with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In large bowl, beat together sugar and oil. Add eggs, banana, sour cream, vanilla and salt, flax (if using), lemon zest (if using) and baking soda, and blend well.  Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup and level off. Add flour and stir gently, just until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overstir or bread will be tough. Pour into prepared pan(s). Sprinkle tops with coarse sugar if you like.
  3. Bake 60 minutes (38 minutes for mini loaves), or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan and finish cooling bread on a rack if you can; this keeps it from getting soggy from condensation. If using foil mini loaf pans, you may cool the bread in the pans.
  4. When completely cool, store at room temperature in a covered container or zipper-top plastic bag. If storing for longer than, oh, 2 or 3 days, freeze the loaves.
  5. Makes 1 large loaf (12 slices), or 3 mini loaves.

*Banana hint

Speaking of ripe bananas, you will have your best banana bread if you use dead black bananas. They should be entirely black, and maybe with a couple of little fruit flies lazily circling them. (I am not kidding about the flies.) I have a little tutorial on perfect bananas here. When bananas are super duper ripe, you can slit the top and just squirt them out of their skin like toothpaste, into a 1-cup measuring cup. (How’s THAT for an image?) If they are slightly less ripe, peel bananas and put them in a wide, flat bowl. Mash with a potato masher, and scrape the banana mash into the measuring cup to make sure it measures 1 cup. Bananas differ greatly in size, so it is worth measuring the mash to make sure you get the amount about right.

About the sugar on top

If you are going to eat this within a day, you may garnish the top before baking with coarse grained sugar crystals. If it is going to sit around for more time than that, the sugar will attract moisture and the top will get gummy, so forget the sugar on top if the bread will linger

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 38-60 minutes (depending on 1 or 3 loaves)
Diet type: Vegetarian
Number of servings (yield): 12
Culinary tradition: USA (Traditional)
My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 

Old School Banana Bread

A loaf of banana bread is always welcome!

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Sabrina Modelle July 19, 2015 at 6:14 pm

Dorothy, I love this banana bread. Honestly it’s perfect. The first time, I made it as directed- no changes. The only thing is that I used gluten free flour. The second and third times, I added walnuts and a pinch of cardamom. The third and fourth times, I added a layer of caramelized bananas and one of those times I used Greek Yogurt. Every time, it’s turned out perfect.
I’ve tried it with both Gluten Free Girl’s Whole Grain Flour Blend and America’s Test Kitchen’s gluten free flour blend. Both are xanthan gum free. I should think that any good flour blend would work, but it should be gum free. It’s just not needed.
Great recipe, thanks!


Dorothy Reinhold July 19, 2015 at 6:38 pm

Thank you for your excellent and detailed comment! All the GF bakers will no doubt like your suggestions. I have used yogurt as well and it worked fine! Glad to know your tweaks. You really cannot go wrong with this bread.


Yolanda June 4, 2015 at 10:49 am

Thanks! this has been my banana bread recipe for such a long time. I was frantic when I couldnt remember your site. But I found it! had it in my favorites duh!


Dorothy Reinhold June 5, 2015 at 6:20 am

Oh my gosh, I would expire if I lost this recipe. I am so glad it is your favorite, too. I have made so many banana breads over the years, and I just keep coming back to this simple, pure recipe.


Heather February 8, 2015 at 1:50 pm

Great Recipe!!! My boyfriend loved it and I am getting ready to make 2 more for him. It is a great quick breakfast before work. That is the time when most are rushing around and don’t have time for breakfast. Just slice a piece and go. Thank you for this recipe. Best one I have tried and now I am hooked. Thanks again


Dorothy Reinhold February 9, 2015 at 7:49 am

Oh, I am SO GLAD! We do the same…slice and go for breakfast! Try a piece spread with a little whipped cream cheese…divine! Thank you so much for telling me.


mindy June 8, 2014 at 1:36 pm

I found the banana bread recipe. It reminded of my grandmother. Basicingredients and good! Thx mjk


Dorothy Reinhold June 8, 2014 at 7:53 pm

AWESOME! This is exactly what I hoped!


Kathryn April 1, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Best banana bread ever!! Love it when a random search for a recipe yields a “keeper’ 🙂


Dorothy Reinhold April 1, 2014 at 4:24 pm

How GREAT! Thank you for your praise. It IS a great recipe and I make it all the time (as in at least once a week).


Becky Wilks Tattrie February 3, 2014 at 5:53 am

Making this for a good morning snack…..will use oatmeal instead of the flax….and half sour cream half greek yogurt…..yummo


Dorothy Reinhold February 3, 2014 at 10:45 am

Great! Let me know how it works for you!


Rachel July 17, 2013 at 12:36 am

I love this recipe! Used it to make my banoffee cupcakes!



Nicole April 8, 2013 at 2:38 pm

I’m baking this now..I used 1/2 white sugar and 1/4 brown sugar and added raisins! It smells AMAZING I know it will be great just by that alone!


Dorothy Reinhold April 8, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Great idea to sub some brown sugar. Love that.


Michelle J January 3, 2013 at 7:22 pm

This banana bread is amazing!! I have celiac disease and substituted the regular flour with gluten-free all purpose baking flour and you can’t tell the difference. Thank you for the recipe!!


Dorothy January 3, 2013 at 10:36 pm

So glad to hear that! Yay!


Amber December 2, 2012 at 5:43 pm

I love this, I do yogurt instead of sour cream because I don’t eat sour cream so I never have any. And I just freeze my brown bananas till I have enough!


Lynn K N June 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Really, the best yet!! I’ve tried a ton of different recipes, and this is my favorite! Thank you!!


Diana April 6, 2012 at 10:46 am

I have a loaf in the oven right now!


Dorothy April 6, 2012 at 10:57 am

Fantastic! Hope you like it!


Lamb February 20, 2011 at 2:28 pm

This looks scrumptious, and I love recipes that use flax seed! I was drawn to this recipe by your post category, Cheap and Easy. My kinda cooking 🙂


Julienne December 1, 2010 at 7:02 am

Wow, I’ve had this recipe (a smidge different in amount of sugar and sour cream) for a long time and the only banana bread recipe I make. Others are too dry and I’m sure the sour cream makes the difference. Have you tried tweaking it with apple sauce substitution to cut down on sweetness or oil since my Korean friends love the banana bread but want to make it healthier somehow. I am not great at tweaking recipes! Thanks for posting!


Dorothy December 1, 2010 at 7:08 am

Julienne, yes, isn’t this just the BEST? I used to make it with 1/2 cup sour cream, but decided that was slightly too wet, so 1/3 cup became the new standard. I also cut down the sugar to the current amount. I have made it with less sugar, but it just wasn’t nearly as good, so I decided this was the keeper amount. I have not yet tried to sub applesauce, partly because the few times I have employed that trick in other baked goods, I haven’t been all that happy with the result (sort of gummy). It is worth a try, though! I have some dead black bananas on the counter, so maybe I’ll give it a whirl in the next couple of days! Thanks for your questions!


Julienne December 1, 2010 at 8:02 am

Thanks for the reply and I don’t know how to track so happy to have the e-mail reply also!


Sue November 22, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Hi Dorothy,
Made your yummy banana bread recipe tonight. So, moist and both
my girls loved it! Will definitely make it again!


Kim October 4, 2010 at 7:01 am

Hey Dorothy! Just wanted to drop in and let you know we made this over the weekend for breakfast and it was DELICIOUS. Perfect with our morning latte. :o) Picture posted to Facebook.



Dorothy October 4, 2010 at 7:17 am

Thanks, Kim! I love it for breakfast spread with cream cheese.


Nancy@acommunaltable September 23, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Hi Dorothy,

It’s so funny, I’ve been thinking about banana bread all week!! Problem is having enough bananas left that can ripen to the “dead black” stage – having two teenagers who are smoothie addicts does serious damage to the banana inventory!!
Loved reading your recipe and I am like you – I like my banana bread without a lot of the bells and whistles. My mom made banana bread almost every week and this recipe is very similar to hers but it didn’t have sour cream – so I am definitely going to have to make this one!!!


Lentil Breakdown September 22, 2010 at 10:57 pm

I can just picture Cameron’s toothy grin with a few flax seeds stuck in between. Oh, and where’s the cardamom? : )


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