This easy moist pumpkin spice banana bread is the best of both worlds, especially for anyone who can’t wait for pumpkin spice season to start. Fragrant (overly ripe) bananas and homemade pumpkin pie spice flavor these tender loaves with just the right amount of warm spice and intense banana flavor while crunchy, buttery pumpkin seeds add texture and even more flavor to each bite.
This is not just a banana bread recipe to make in the fall — it’s great any time of year and it’s a really easy recipe for kiddos to help make. I’ve included step-by-step recipe photos at the end of the post to make it even easier for anyone new to making banana bread.
Why We Love This Pumpkin Spice Banana Bread
- It’s super quick and easy to mix
- It’s full of intense natural banana flavor
- It uses up overripe bananas you might otherwise discard
- It’s a perfect recipe to jumpstart pumpkin spice season
- It freezes really well
- You can use the batter to make pumpkin spice banana bread muffins
4 Steps For Making Perfectly Moist Pumpkin Spice Banana Bread Cake
How to Avoid Dry + Dense Banana Bread
Below are four tips and techniques that make this banana bread better than most. It’s tender, light, moist, and easy to make. Use these tips and techniques below to avoid dense, dry, and flavorless banana bread.
- Use completely black-brown or very dark and spotted bananas. It’s a well-known baker’s ‘secret’ that you never use yellow bananas for making banana bread. In fact, we usually wait until the bananas are 100% black (like the color of vanilla beans, tobacco, or leather) before we even think about making banana bread. As the banana ages (ripens) it turns carbohydrates into sugar changing both the flavor and texture of the banana flesh. It becomes intensely fragrant (full of “super banana flavor”) and much sweeter. Never let bananas age so long that mold starts to form (that would be gross and unsafe).
- Always thoroughly whisk the dry ingredients together before adding liquid (i.e. flour, baking soda, salt, and dry spices like pumpkin pie spice). This helps ensure the leavening agent (baking soda in this case) is evenly distributed and therefore enables the banana bread loaves to properly (and evenly) rise.
- Do not over-mix the banana bread batter. When adding the eggs, don’t mix too long after each addition (mix just about 3 to 5 seconds in between each egg for a total mixing time of around 15 seconds). And even more importantly, when adding the dry ingredients alternating with the wet ingredients it’s important to only mix just until everything is combined and no more. I like to stop the mixer just after I’ve added the last of the flour and the buttermilk. Then use a rubber spatula to easily fold the ingredients together, add the mashed bananas and fruit or nuts and fold until well combined (or add the fruit or nuts to each filled loaf pan). This is how I avoid over-mixing banana bread batter. If you mix too vigorously, or for too long you will further activate the gluten (protein) in the flour and end up with dense banana bread instead of a light, moist banana bread (similar to cake).
- Use buttermilk or homemade buttermilk instead of whole milk. The tang and acidity from buttermilk are needed for both the flavor and for the baking soda to activate (allowing the banana bread to rise). If you don’t have buttermilk, you have two easy options:
- Make soured milk (aka faux buttermilk). Add 1 tablespoon (14g) freshly squeezed lemon juice to a measuring cup and fill with enough whole milk to reach the total amount of buttermilk called for in the recipe. Stir and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes on the counter before using.
- Make homemade buttermilk by making homemade butter first. Add very cold heavy cream to a quart Mason jar that’s been chilled in the freezer for at least 30 minutes (even longer is better). Pour very cold heavy cream into the jar, tighten the lid and shake vigorously until the mixture starts to separate and butter has formed. Strain the butter solids out. The strained liquid is homemade buttermilk. Freeze unused buttermilk for making pancakes, scones, waffles, or biscuits.
Pumpkin Spice Banana Bread Cake w/Toasted Pumpkin Seed Crunch Ingredients
You only need 10 ingredients to make this homemade pumpkin spice banana bread and that includes salt. And you probably have most of them in your kitchen right now.
Pumpkin Spice Banana Bread Batter Ingredients
- baking soda
- homemade pumpkin pie spice (or storebought)
- pure vanilla extract
- buttermilk or faux buttermilk*see recipe card notes for making faux buttermilk
- overly ripe bananas
Pumpkin Seed Crunch Garnish
- pumpkin (pepita) seeds
- coarse raw sugar
How to Make Pumpkin Spice Banana Bread Cake w/Toasted Pumpkin Seed Crunch
Did you know that Banana Bread is the single most searched “bread recipe” on the internet? Maybe because making homemade banana bread is easy and you get to use up those bananas that are just too ripe to be enjoyed eaten raw. If you have kiddos interested in baking, or who you’d like to become more curious about baking, this is a great entry-level recipe. Be sure to check out the helpful tips and techniques in the post to ensure your loaves are always tender, moist, and full of maximum banana flavor.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/176°C + Prep the baking pans. Turn on the oven and generously butter two loaf pans (or spray with non-stick cooking spray). Add about 1/2 cup of flour to one pan and turn the pan while tapping it to ensure the flour coats every surface well. Tap out the excess flour into the second loaf pan and repeat. Tap both pans well to remove excess flour, set aside.
- Make the pumpkin seed crunch. Toast the pumpkin seeds in a skillet set over medium heat just until golden brown and they start to pop and crackle. Remove them to a bowl, add the melted butter, sugar, and a pinch of salt and stir to combine, set aside.
- Measure + whisk the dry ingredients. Whisk the dry ingredients together well to ensure everything is evenly distributed and set aside.
- Cream the butter + sugar. Using a handheld mixer (or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment), cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
- Add the eggs + vanilla. Crack 3 eggs into a small prep bowl and add the vanilla. With the mixer running on medium-low speed, add eggs one at a time waiting about 5 seconds in between each addition blending just until the eggs are incorporated. The addition of all three eggs should take no longer than 15 seconds to incorporate. Turn off the mixer.
- Incorporate the flour mixture + buttermilk. Add about 1/2 of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture. Turn the mixer on low speed to gently incorporate the ingredients. With the mixer still on, add about 1/3 of the buttermilk, then add some more flour, then a 1/3 more of the buttermilk, then add the last of the flour, ending with the last of the buttermilk. Turn off the mixer and gently stir the mixture with a rubber spatula to finish combining the ingredients.
- Add the bananas. Add the mashed bananas and gently stir with a rubber spatula until everything is just combined. Divide the batter evenly between two loaf pans and tap the pans on the countertop about 10 times to remove any air bubbles from the batter. Top each loaf pan with equal amounts of pumpkin seed crunch.
- Bake the pumpkin spice banana bread. Place the loaf pans onto a baking tray into the oven on the middle rack and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when poked directly into the middle of each loaf. Remove from the oven and allow the banana bread to cool for 15 minutes in the loaf pans, then gently remove the loaves and place them right-side-up onto a cooling rack to finish cooling to room temperature. When loaves have completely cooled, you may slice and serve. Pumpkin Spice banana bread should be stored wrapped in sustainable cling film and placed into an airtight container on the counter for up to 3 days, or longer in the refrigerator. It may also be frozen for up to 3 months in the freezer. Enjoy!
Ways to Customize Pumpkin Spice Banana Bread
Our classic banana bread recipe is so versatile and tastes great with a few add-ins and toppers. So, if you’re in the mood for banana nut bread, or something a little fruity, or even chocolatey, here are a few ideas to help your banana bread stand out.
- add up to 1 cup of chocolate chips (milk chocolate, semi-sweet, or dark)
- 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
- Use this recipe to make banana bread cupcakes instead (line muffin tins with paper or aluminum foil cups and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until set and the cake tester comes out clean)
Looking for More Delicious Banana Bread & Quick Bread Recipes?
Here are a few of our favorite banana bread and pumpkin bread recipes (photographed above).
- Best Ever Strawberry Banana Bread Bread Cake
- Best-Ever Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Cake
- Best Ever Classic Banana Bread Bread Cake
- Easy and Moist Pistachio-Pecan Banana Nut Bread
- Bakery Style Pumpkin Spice Pumpkin Bread (w/Toasted Walnuts)
- Granny’s Perfect Pumpkin Bread w/Toasted Pumpkin Seeds (a Vintage Recipe)
Looking For a Few Other Sweet Treats?
If you’re looking for a little dessert inspiration, above are a few more of our favorite desserts we think you’ll enjoy.
- Super Moist Devil’s Food Cupcakes (w/Chocolate Ganache Frosting)
- Apple Rum Cake with Pecan Crunch
- Easy Classic Cheesecake w/Biscoff Cookie Crust (+Mini’s)
- Numero Uno Sour-Cherry Pie Filling (From Scratch)
- The Very Best Southern Pecan Pie
- Black Sesame Triple Coconut Cream Pie (Celebrating Brain Cancer Awareness Month + My Mama)
- Sweet Cherry Crumb-Crunch Pie w/Scratch Made Cherry Pie Filling + Streusel Topping
- Very Berry Frutti di Bosco Muffins w/Crackle Top
- Mom’s Best Ever Southern Cherry Cobbler Recipe (a family favorite)
- Double Oreo (Cookies + Cream) Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Banana Bread Making Tips, Tricks & FAQs
Can I Freeze Homemade Banana Bread?
Yes, banana bread freezes really well. Always allow any baked good (including this banana bread) to completely cool to room temperature before wrapping with parchment and then sustainable cling film. Place the wrapped loaves into an airtight freezer bag or another container and freeze. You can defrost wrapped banana bread loaves in the refrigerator overnight, or on the countertop for a couple of hours.
Can I Use Baking Powder Instead of Baking Soda in Banana Bread?
Yes, you can use baking powder instead of baking soda in this banana bread recipe. The rule of thumb for substituting baking powder with baking soda is to use 1 teaspoon of baking powder for every cup of flour called for in the recipe. In this case, you would use 2 teaspoons of baking powder to substitute the 1 teaspoon of baking soda.
Why is My Banana Bread Tough and Dense?
As explained above in the “4 STEPS TO MAKING PERFECTLY MOIST, SWEET, FRAGRANT BANANA BREAD”, if you over-mix the ingredients when combining the dries with the wet ones, you’ll over-activate the gluten in the flour which will cause your banana bread (or any quick bread or cake) to become rubbery and dense. In yeasted bread, it’s important for the gluten to be activated (which is why we knead bread dough), but for quick-breads and cakes, it will make the finished product undesirable. Gently combine the elements and if you’re ever in doubt, use a rubber spatula to combine all of the ingredients instead of a handheld or stand mixer.
Why Does My Banana Bread Taste Bitter?
If your banana bread tastes bitter it’s because the recipe you’re using calls for excessive amounts of baking soda or baking powder. Never use more than 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda per cup of flour called for in a recipe. And don’t use more than 1 teaspoon of baking powder per cup of flour called for in a recipe. This will keep your baked goods from tasting bitter and will allow them to perform their leavening function without wreaking havoc on your baked goods (like sinking cakes and collapsed quick-breads).
What Can I Substitute in Banana Bread if I Run Out of Bananas?
If you’re in the middle of making the batter for banana bread and realize you are short of the full amount of mashed bananas, supplement the missing amount with either applesauce or ripe mashed avocados.
Why is My Banana Bread Dry?
If your banana bread is dry it’s probably because you added too much flour or baked it too long, or there’s not enough fat or moisture in the batter. Start by using an all-purpose or low-protein flour for Banana bread. Avoid using bread flour because it has too much protein. Then make sure you are measuring the flour properly. Correctly measuring flour starts with using the scoop and level’ method which. means that you use a scoop or large spoon to add flour to the measuring cup. Add more flour than what the measuring cup will hold, then using the back of a butter knife (the straight side) scrape the excess flour off back into the bag, leaving a perfectly measured amount of flour in the measuring cup. You can really mess up a recipe if you don’t use the ‘level and scoop’ method and instead take your measuring cup and dig straight into the bag or container holding the flour. As for baking the banana bread, if you still have several minutes of baking time left, but feel the top is browning too much, just place aluminum foil over the top. If your oven bakes hotter than it’s supposed to, you may also reduce the temperature by 15 to 25 degrees as well.
Why Did My Banana Bread Collapse, fall, or sink in the Middle?
Typically the collapse of quick-breads and cakes happens for a couple of reasons.
- Underbaking banana bread can cause it to be too moist on the inside and not adequately set up. As it cools, the “wet” middle will sink. Always make sure a toothpick or cake tester poked into the middle of the banana bread comes out clean before removing it from the oven.
- Adding too much baking soda and/or baking powder causes too many (and too large) air bubbles to form (from the carbon dioxide that’s produced when the leavening agent and liquid are combined). The bubbles grow too large and then deflate onto and into themselves causing cakes and quick-breads to collapse in the center.
- Adding too many bananas to a banana bread batter can also make your banana bread sink in the middle. If the batter has too much moisture, the air bubbles created by the leavening agent (baking soda in this case) will never be enough to help create and set the air pockets that create the desired crumb (texture). Instead, the banana bread will be dense and “wet” in the middle.
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