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I made 3 celebrity chefs' recipes for banana bread, and the best has toasted oats

INSIDER logoINSIDER 1/16/2021 insider@insider.com (Paige Bennett)
Ree Drummond, Alton Brown are posing for a picture: I tried three different banana-bread recipes. Paige Bennett for Insider; Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images; Jason Merritt/Getty Images © Provided by INSIDER I tried three different banana-bread recipes. Paige Bennett for Insider; Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images; Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Banana bread is a great way to use up bananas at the end of the week. Plus it's easy to customize, whether you're sprinkling in spices or adding chocolate chips or nuts.

Even celebrity chefs have their own unique spins on the classic baked good.

I tried recipes from Ree Drummond, Alton Brown, and Curtis Stone to see which one has the best banana bread.

Read on to see how the different recipes stacked up.

Drummond makes a classic banana bread - but in a Bundt pan

a bowl of food on a table: Ree Drummond's ingredients are fairly straightforward. Paige Bennett for Insider © Paige Bennett for Insider Ree Drummond's ingredients are fairly straightforward. Paige Bennett for Insider

Overall, Drummond's recipe was pretty standard for banana bread as far as ingredients go, but using a Bundt pan elevated the baked good.

I was interested to see the addition of sour cream, and I was a little concerned it would make the flavor too tangy or the texture too moist.

This banana bread required a lot of attention, especially during and directly after baking

a close up of a bowl of food: There were lots of steps involved to successfully remove the bread from the pan. Paige Bennett for Insider © Paige Bennett for Insider There were lots of steps involved to successfully remove the bread from the pan. Paige Bennett for Insider

The process was straightforward: Cream the butter and sugar, add the wet ingredients, mix the dry ingredients separately, then slowly combine everything together. 

The real care came during the baking process.

a doughnut sitting on top of a table: I didn't fill the Bundt tin up all the way. Paige Bennett for Insider © Paige Bennett for Insider I didn't fill the Bundt tin up all the way. Paige Bennett for Insider

First and foremost, it is important to only fill the Bundt pan about 2/3 of the way to give the mixture space to rise without overflowing.

Because I used a 6-cup Bundt pan, I also had to pay close attention to the baking time to prevent overcooking. I found it only needed to bake for 45 to 50 minutes rather than the 1 hour 10 minutes called for in the recipe.

The batter made enough for about two of these loaves. 

a donut sitting on top of a metal rack: It took less than an hour for the bread to bake. Paige Bennett for Insider © Paige Bennett for Insider It took less than an hour for the bread to bake. Paige Bennett for Insider

On the first try, I successfully flipped the Bundt pan over on a cooling rack immediately after removing it from the oven.

But on my second attempt, the banana bread looked beautiful in the pan, so I tried to snap a few pictures before flipping it over - which was a big mistake.

a close up of a cake: It's important to flip the loaf out of the pan right away. Paige Bennett for Insider © Paige Bennett for Insider It's important to flip the loaf out of the pan right away. Paige Bennett for Insider

By the time I got to flipping the Bundt-style loaf over, some spots had already stuck to the pan. 

Drummond's banana bread was tasty and not too sweet

a piece of cake on a plate: Ree Drummond's banana bread wasn't super sweet. Paige Bennett for Insider © Paige Bennett for Insider Ree Drummond's banana bread wasn't super sweet. Paige Bennett for Insider

Ree's recipe tasted like a standard banana bread, so the Bundt shape gave it a little something special.

It wasn't overly sweet, which was nice. If you don't have much of a sweet tooth, this is a good recipe to follow.

The edges were just slightly overdone and a bit harder to chew, but the middle was soft yet dense and slightly moist without being soggy or falling apart.

Brown's ingredient list was surprisingly simple

a plate of food on a table: Alton Brown includes oats in his banana bread. Paige Bennett for Insider © Paige Bennett for Insider Alton Brown includes oats in his banana bread. Paige Bennett for Insider

After following many of Brown's recipes and watching a lot of "Good Eats" on the Food Network, I have come to expect his ingredients to be complex. So I was pleasantly surprised to find a simple list.


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I also liked that Brown swapped some of the plain flour for homemade toasted-oat flour for a heartier loaf.

I should've known the process would be difficult

a close up of food on a stove top oven sitting in a pan: This recipe took the longest to make. Paige Bennett for Insider © Paige Bennett for Insider This recipe took the longest to make. Paige Bennett for Insider

I realized I spoke too soon about the simplicity of Brown's recipe as soon as I started reading the directions.

To start, I had to toast and pulverize some old-fashioned oats to make the homemade flour. 

I didn't have a food processor, so I used an immersion blender with a special attachment that works similarly (but not as effectively). I figured my resulting coarse oat flour would just add a unique texture to the final product.

Then, the steps were precise as far as mixing went, especially regarding the eggs. As Brown puts it, "A good batter is essentially an emulsion, so this slow addition of the eggs is critical."

It took a while to get everything mixed together exactly as specified.

a piece of bread on a cutting board with a cake: I took the bread out early because it was starting to crisp up. Paige Bennett for Insider © Paige Bennett for Insider I took the bread out early because it was starting to crisp up. Paige Bennett for Insider

Once the loaf was in the oven, I kept a close eye on it and actually pulled the banana bread out about 10 minutes early.

The exterior was starting to look quite dark and slightly caramelized.

Brown's banana bread had a really unique flavor from the oats

a piece of cake on a plate: The oats gave Alton Brown's bread a nice nutty flavor. Paige Bennett for Insider © Paige Bennett for Insider The oats gave Alton Brown's bread a nice nutty flavor. Paige Bennett for Insider

Fresh from the oven, the banana bread was sinking in the middle and had a dark exterior. I was worried I did something wrong and overcooked the exterior and undercooked the middle, but I sliced a few pieces and found each held itself together very well.

It was love at first bite.

The toasted oats gave the loaf a slightly nutty flavor without actually including nuts. It was much sweeter than the first loaf, and the taste of banana came through clearly without being overpowering. 

Stone's recipe called for a lot of ingredients, including nuts and spices

a plate of food on a table: Curtis Stone's banana bread had the most ingredients. Paige Bennett for Insider © Paige Bennett for Insider Curtis Stone's banana bread had the most ingredients. Paige Bennett for Insider

As far as ingredients go, this recipe had the longest list, which included whole-milk yogurt, toasted and chopped walnuts, and freshly grated nutmeg.

I was really puzzled by what to expect in terms of flavor and texture, but the smell of nutmeg and cinnamon sold me.

Despite the lengthy shopping list, the directions were simple

a piece of metal pan: It was easy to throw the batter together. Paige Bennett for Insider © Paige Bennett for Insider It was easy to throw the batter together. Paige Bennett for Insider

Although there were a lot of ingredients to gather, the actual steps to make the banana bread were easy: Beat the eggs and sugar together, add the remaining wet ingredients one at a time, mix the dry ingredients, add them to the wet ingredients, and fold in the walnuts.

The recipe called for 1 1/2 cups of walnuts, which I thought was a lot for a standard-sized loaf. I don't love nuts in desserts, but I hoped for the best.

a piece of cake sitting on top of a wooden fence: This loaf was done 20 minutes early. Paige Bennett for Insider © Paige Bennett for Insider This loaf was done 20 minutes early. Paige Bennett for Insider

After noticing the first two loaves baked quicker than the recipes stated, I paid close attention to this banana bread as it baked. And good thing I did because it was ready to go about 20 minutes early.

After pulling it out of the oven, I worried that even 20 minutes early wasn't enough because the edges and top were dark. 

Stone's banana bread was super moist on the inside, but a bit overdone on the outside a piece of cake on a plate: The interior of Curtis Stone's bread was super moist. Paige Bennett for Insider © Paige Bennett for Insider The interior of Curtis Stone's bread was super moist. Paige Bennett for Insider

Right after taking the first bite, I noticed the edges were crispy and overdone, but luckily they didn't leave an acrid taste in my mouth.

But the interior was so moist it was falling apart and couldn't hold its shape. I assumed the combination of mashed bananas, vegetable oil, and yogurt contributed to this ultra-moist texture.

As far as flavor goes, the addition of nutmeg and cinnamon was brilliant. These spices elevated the whole loaf, giving it a warm, cozy feel perfect for enjoying with coffee on a chilly morning.

The walnuts were fine and helped contrast the extra-soft inside of the loaf, but I could've done with fewer of them.

I enjoyed all 3 loaves, but Brown's recipe was my favorite 

a person holding a sandwich in the hand: Alton Brown's toasted, nutty flavor won me over. Paige Bennett for Insider © Paige Bennett for Insider Alton Brown's toasted, nutty flavor won me over. Paige Bennett for Insider

I genuinely liked all of the banana breads and would happily make any of them again, but I enjoyed the distinct flavor of Brown's best.

I've had banana bread with oats in it before, but toasted oat flour took the bake to a whole new level for me. I liked that it added a hint of a nutty flavor without actual nuts.

Although the loaf was moist, it still held its shape. The edges were almost caramelized, too, which only added to the depth of flavor.

a piece of cake on a plate: All three recipes ended up being pretty great. Paige Bennett for Insider © Paige Bennett for Insider All three recipes ended up being pretty great. Paige Bennett for Insider

The other recipes were still delicious in their own right.

I certainly wouldn't mind making Ree's show-stopping banana-bread Bundt in the future, and I'll probably add cinnamon and nutmeg to every loaf I make from here on out after tasting Stone's recipe.

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