Christopher Kimball’s Cardamom Banana Bread

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He had me at cardamom and brown butter.  Put those two together with bananas and you have a marvelous complex flavor.  The ever-popular Christopher Kimball of his new Milk Street Kitchen, has many more recipes to come.  Go to his site and read about his exciting new venture!

Back to this marvelous banana bread.  It really is one of the best I have ever tasted.  Of course I am very partial to cardamom since I am lucky enough to have my daughter bring me back the spice direct from Finland.  It’s better than any I have found here.


Also notice the Marimekko oven mitt and pot holder in the first photo from Finnish cousin Leena, who is an incredible baker.  Finns are known to be wonderful bakers and use cardamom frequently.  In this bread, butter is melted and simmered until browned and fragrant then the cardamom is whisked in to bring out its spicy aroma.  You will want to stick your face in the pan!

The bread is so easy to make and makes one 9-by-five-inch loaf.  The recipe says it is optional to sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar on top, but don’t make it optional – do it!  It makes the top crunchy, shiny, and delicious.


4.7 from 15 reviews
Brown Butter-Cardamom Banana Bread
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 large very ripe bananas)*
  • ¾ cup packed (5-1/4 ounces) dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon white sugar (optional) **
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. with a rack in the upper-middle position. Mist a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. (I am old-fashioned; I still grease and flour pans!)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Once melted, continue to cook, swirling the pan often, until the butter is fragrant and deep brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately whisk in the cardamom. Carefully add the bananas (the butter will sizzle and bubble up) and whisk until combined.
  4. Add the brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla, then whisk until smooth. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and, using a rubber silicone spatula, fold until just combined and no dry flour remains.
  5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and sprinkle evenly with the white sugar. Bake until the loaf is well-browned, the top is cracked, and a toothpick inserted in at the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes, rotating the loaf halfway through.
  6. Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn out the loaf and cool completely before serving. Cooled bread can be wrapped tightly and stored at room temperature for up to 4 days or refrigerated for up to 1 week.
  7. * Don't measure the bananas by number, as differences in sizes can throw off the balance of ingredients. Mash and measure using a dry measuring cup. I actually used 5 bananas.
  8. ** I know he says optional for sprinkling on the sugar, but be sure and do it. It makes the top crunchy, shiny, and so good!




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47 Responses to Christopher Kimball’s Cardamom Banana Bread

  1. October 24, 2016 at 7:30 pm #

    I printed this recipe out a month or so ago to make also–haven’t had a chance to make it. But now that it gets your stamp of approval I think it should move up to the top of the stack of my “this sounds like it would be good” recipes.

    • October 24, 2016 at 11:10 pm #

      I think you will love it, Barb!

  2. October 28, 2016 at 9:15 am #

    I have my cardamom and am ready to bake! Thinking of your ‘last meal blog’, this bread may have to be on my last breakfast menu!! Banana bread has always been everyone’s favorite.

    • October 28, 2016 at 4:33 pm #

      Let me know what you think of it! I am waiting for a bunch of bananas to get overripe so I can make it again.

      • October 29, 2016 at 9:23 am #

        Waiting on my bananas, too! I will let you know, although I will make it with some fresh ground whole wheat, too.

        • October 30, 2016 at 8:29 pm #

          Looking forward to hearing how it is with whole wheat!

  3. July 9, 2017 at 4:53 pm #

    Made for the 1st time last week (the Brown Butter Cardamom caught my eye). Excellent recipe, comes together quickly and was scarfed down by my work colleagues!

    FYI- suggested “have you thought about making this with chocolate chips next time?”. No but that sounds like a great addition. Hmmmm, wonder if cream cheese frosting would be guilding the lily?

    • July 9, 2017 at 10:39 pm #

      It was the brown-butter-cardamom combo that caught my eye too. I love that recipe, and agree with you that chocolate chips would be a great addition. Thanks for writing and for the suggestion!

      • September 17, 2021 at 1:05 pm #

        I make my banana bread without white flour or sugar instead I make it
        with oat flour n bananas just trying it with the cardamom today

  4. December 3, 2017 at 11:07 am #

    i have made this a couple times recently. i put a splash more oil in the second time ala avocado oil as if a stick of butter wasn’t enough and doubled up the amount of sugar on top as i felt it could be a tad sweeter. and i cooked for a full hour and it was about perfect.

    • December 3, 2017 at 11:13 am #

      Thanks for the tip, Jeff! I have bananas ready to make this recipe again today.

  5. June 29, 2018 at 5:55 am #

    Just put this in the oven so no rating yet. The “boss” is a cardamom freak so I went a tad heavy on it. Thought about adding chopped walnuts but since this is my first time using this recipe decided not to diddle with it too much. Thanks for the post!

    • June 30, 2018 at 12:44 am #

      I would love to hear how the bread came out with a tad heavy on the cardamom. I tend to do the same thing as I could also be described as a “cardamom freak!”

  6. September 20, 2019 at 7:01 pm #

    I dust the greased pan with white sugar before adding the batter. It gives another layer of sweetness to this already-delicious bread.

    • September 23, 2019 at 11:54 am #

      Love that idea, Deborah! Thanks for the suggestion.

  7. December 21, 2019 at 8:14 pm #

    Added walnuts turned out fabulous!!!

    • December 22, 2019 at 5:30 pm #

      Sounds great, Ross. Thanks for sharing!

  8. April 9, 2020 at 1:00 pm #

    Made muffins with this recipe (upped temperature to 400 and baked for 20 minutes) with added walnuts and white chocolate chips! Thank you for this recipe I loved it!

    • July 19, 2020 at 12:00 am #

      Nyssa, I’m so glad you loved it! It’s a keeper.

  9. April 14, 2020 at 12:29 pm #

    I made this recipe 2 weeks ago and am going to make another loaf tonight. Amazing! The only slight change I made was to use Demerrara sugar on the top of the bread because I like the larger crystals

    • May 1, 2020 at 10:19 am #

      Stephanie, I like that idea!

      • May 12, 2020 at 9:20 am #

        I can’t stop making this banana bread! Pretty sure it’s the 5th loaf I just put in the oven :).

        • May 15, 2020 at 6:18 am #

          It’s addictive, isn’t it? Best banana bread ever!

  10. April 15, 2020 at 5:12 am #

    Fabulous recipe. The best banana bread I’ve ever had

    • May 1, 2020 at 10:18 am #

      Jennifer, I agree! It’s fabulous. Christopher Kimball has great recipes.

  11. May 2, 2020 at 4:17 pm #

    Hands down our favorite recipe for sweet baking! The only thing I adjusted is the salt – either I use sweet butter and use the tsp of salt, or I use the salted butter and only a dash or so of salt.

    I don’t even mash the bananas perfectly; my kids actually like bits of banana in there. I think this would also be nice with added chocolate bits or walnuts, or even pistachio!

    • July 18, 2020 at 11:46 pm #

      Your ideas for additions sound great, Patricia!

  12. May 15, 2020 at 2:15 pm #

    This is a 5 star Banana Bread!
    Of course, I love dark choc. and walnuts! Absolutely Divine!~
    Enjoy all the goodness!

    • May 15, 2020 at 8:53 pm #

      I agree Raymond. It is definitely a five-star!

  13. May 23, 2020 at 10:25 am #

    I put a little Bourbon in it, took a chance, it was delicious…
    I think I’ll add nuts and raisins on the second loaf I’m making today….I have really black bananas this time, should be a sweeter bread overall.

    • May 23, 2020 at 7:59 pm #

      Sounds good to me, Lucllle! Thanks for sharing.

    • August 26, 2020 at 3:16 am #

      How much bourbon did you add?

  14. June 1, 2020 at 2:38 am #

    Beautiful bread, soft and moist, even my non cake eating partner gave it two thumbs up. Going to throw in a cup of chopped pecans next time. Thanks for sharing.

    • June 2, 2020 at 8:50 pm #

      So happy you and your partner loved it, Drew. I’ve thrown in some pecans too! Thanks for writing.

  15. September 12, 2020 at 11:43 am #

    Made this yesterday. It filled a loaf pan and 6 regular muffin pan. It is ok. Very rich in banana flavor. The cardamom and brown butter didn’t come through enough for me. So, today I made brown butter cardamom icing and that helped considerably. I used fresh cardamom and brown butter made with Kerry Gold. I recommend at least twice the cardamom. Not sure if I would make this again.

  16. October 16, 2020 at 8:51 pm #

    Would adding about 3/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp nutmeg overpower the cardamom?

    • October 17, 2020 at 9:14 pm #

      Hi Adam, that amount might overpower the cardamom, but I bet it could be good too! I say add your favorites and see how it turns out. I’d love to hear how much you added and how it tasted with the cardamom. Your kitchen will smell so wonderful, that’s for sure!

  17. September 18, 2021 at 1:03 pm #

    I have made this two times the first time my bananas were not as brown as the second time but both batches were delicious I will make my banana bread this way from now on. The first time I’ve ever made banana bread it was banana nut bread I didn’t miss the nuts at all

  18. June 8, 2022 at 6:55 am #

    I made this yesterday and it was delicious, but I cut the salt down to about 1/4 tsp. It also needs more cardamom so the next time I make it, I will probably use 2 tsp.

    • June 8, 2022 at 11:46 pm #

      Shay, I love cardamom and will take your advice and add more! Thanks for the tip.

  19. October 28, 2022 at 12:35 pm #

    Hey I thought cardamom was a Swede thing…I am part Swedish. My relatives always had cardamom rolls and a pot of coffee (with a raw egg and shell) on when I visited.
    I will definitely try this bread.

    • October 28, 2022 at 9:50 pm #

      Hi June- Cardamom is a Finnish and Swede thing in many baked items, but also loved in other countries too, both savory and sweet. I hope you enjoy it in this banana bread. It’s so good!

  20. December 30, 2023 at 4:28 pm #

    Afraid of cardamon so I substituted cinnamon…I was concerned about the amount of flour because 11 ounces which is over 300 grams and usually All Purpose is 240 for 2 cups….but not dry; moist and addictive…I used Demerara sugar which I highly recommend and may adopt the suggestion to dust the pan with it

  21. January 21, 2024 at 8:00 am #

    Made this this morning – really good and not too sweet which I really liked. I did cinnamon and sugar on the top. Ginger would be excellent with the cardamom. Maybe candied ginger hmmmm… My past 35 some-odd years of making banana bread, I’ve never baked it the full time recommended. I found 40 minutes good, a few less would have been better.

    • January 21, 2024 at 9:37 pm #

      Thanks for your tips, Beth!

  22. February 14, 2024 at 4:56 pm #

    I made this bread today and it was fantastic. I switched it up and made 6 muffins. This recipe is a keeper. Thank you.

    • February 14, 2024 at 6:57 pm #

      Cathy, I agree. This is a great banana bread, and I’m glad to know how many muffins you made. I love Christopher Kimball recipes. Thanks for writing!

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