Slow cookers are most often used for cooking roasts or soups, but they make moist cakes and quick breads, as well. Although cooking banana bread in a slow cooker takes more than double the amount of time needed in a conventional oven, the bread turns out moist and tender, with less risk of burning it or drying it out. Don't fill the slow cooker more than two-thirds full, and keep the lid on throughout the cooking time. Once the bread is done, allow it to cool completely before wrapping and storing it. The bread will taste even better the next day.
Why It Works
Slow cookers come in small, medium and large sizes and include a ceramic insert surrounded by a double-walled pot. The walls are lined with electric coils that slowly heat the ceramic insert, maintaining an even temperature. Although slow cookers won't brown cookies or pie crusts, they work well for cooking dense, moist cakes and breads, including banana bread. Unlike an oven, slow cookers retain moisture, so banana bread emerges moist throughout with no cracked crust.
Find a Recipe
You don't have to use a special recipe to make banana bread in a slow cooker. Any standard recipe will do. Once you've found a recipe you like, try new variations. Replace butter with regular olive oil or vegetable oil to reduce saturated fats. Replace some of the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat flour for a hearty, nutty flavor. Add a bit of orange zest, chocolate chips, blueberries or chopped nuts to the batter.
Make It Delicious
Unlike most slow cooker recipes that call for food to be cooked on the low setting, banana bread and other quick breads should usually be cooked on high. The low setting won't set the bread. Line the bottom of the ceramic insert with a round of parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper, as well as the sides of the insert, with a non-stick cooking spray. Mix and pour the batter into the slow cooker and place the lid over the slow cooker. Set the slow cooker to high and bake for two to three hours, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Turn the cooker off and remove the lid. Allow the bread to cool for 15 minutes. Run a spatula along the bottom of the pan to remove the bread.
Tips for Success
No matter how you bake banana bread, the way you mix the batter can make a difference in its taste and texture. Start with very ripe bananas and mash them thoroughly. Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another bowl. Mix the two and combine them gently. Overmixing toughens quick breads. Some slow cooker manufacturers sell special inserts for baking in a slow cooker. You can use one of these -- especially if you want the bread to have a traditional loaf shape -- but they're not necessary. For a drier loaf, stretch a clean dish towel under the lid to absorb droplets of water that condense on the lid.
- Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook; Beth Hensperger
- Fine Cooking: Make the Most of Your Slow Cooker
Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."