Whole Wheat Banana Bread

While made without butter, oil, or white flour, this 100% whole wheat banana bread tastes just as flavorful and moist as my regular banana bread. In this healthier banana bread recipe, swap butter with unsweetened applesauce, all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour, and replace some of the refined sugar with honey. With glowing reviews from taste-testers and readers around the world, this quick bread doesn’t even taste lightened-up!

sliced whole wheat banana bread

I know I say I’m obsessed with a lot of different recipes, which might make convincing you to try something a little tough. If I love so many, which ones are actually the best?

My whole wheat banana bread completely blew my mind. To be honest, I didn’t have high expectations. This loaf was merely a way to get rid of 3 overly ripe bananas and a random jar of applesauce. I make my regular banana bread with butter and all-purpose flour because that’s where all the goodness hides. Well, after 1 bite of this “whatever, it won’t be good” banana bread, I was proven wrong.

Healthy ingredients CAN make incredible things.

whole wheat banana bread slice

healthy whole wheat banana bread cut into slices


This Whole Wheat Banana Bread Is:

  • Wholesome, healthful, & hearty
  • Extra moist and cinnamon-spiced
  • Not overly sweet, so the banana flavor shines
  • 100% whole wheat
  • Prepared without butter, oil, or white flour
  • Ready to bake in less than 10 minutes

Plus, this whole wheat banana bread slices and freezes like a dream. I love having a loaf on stand-by in the freezer for when I need homemade breakfast option or wholesome snack for al of us– adults and toddler alike. We all love it. (Especially with peanut butter spread on each slice!)

Let me quickly run through how you can make it.


2 images of bananas before mixing and mashed bananas after mixing in glass mixing bowl

Quick Tip: Mash Bananas with Your Mixer

Did you know you can use your electric mixer to mash bananas? Break or slice your peeled spotty bananas into large pieces and place in the bowl of your stand mixer– or use a regular mixing bowl and your hand mixer. Begin beating on low, then gradually increase to medium-high speed as the bananas break down into mashed banana. You can use this bowl for the rest of the banana bread ingredients. I do this for my banana cake, too!

You need 3 spotty medium size bananas for this recipe.

whole wheat banana bread batter in mixing bowl

How to Make Whole Wheat Banana Bread

After you mash the bananas with your mixer, add the remaining wet ingredients. You need:

  • Unsweetened Applesauce
  • Honey
  • Brown Sugar or Coconut Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Vanilla Extract

Unsweetened applesauce takes the place of butter or oil. Additionally, I’m very light-handed with the added sugars–  we really want the banana flavor to shine through here. If you don’t want any added refined sweeteners in this healthier banana bread recipe, swap the brown sugar with coconut sugar. To keep this banana bread dairy free, use dairy free milk.

After that, mix the dry ingredients together and add to wet ingredients. You need whole wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mostly the same dry ingredients I use in my Whole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins. Lastly, fold in chopped walnuts. The nuts are completely optional. Sometimes I add chocolate chips and/or raisins instead.

whole wheat banana bread in loaf pan

whole wheat banana bread slices

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whole wheat banana bread slices

Whole Wheat Banana Bread

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 1 loaf
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

In this healthier banana bread recipe, swap butter with unsweetened applesauce, all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour, and replace some of the refined sugar with honey. With glowing reviews from taste-testers and readers around the world, this quick bread doesn’t even taste lightened-up!


Ingredients

  • 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed (about a heaping 1 and 1/4 cups)
  • 6 Tablespoons (90g) unsweetened applesauce*
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup (72g) honey*
  • 1/4 cup (50g) packed light or dark brown sugar*
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) milk*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (220g) whole wheat flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup (67g) chopped walnuts

Instructions

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Lowering the oven rack prevents the top of your bread from browning too much too soon. Spray a 9×5 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
  2. You can use an electric mixer or mix everything by hand. I like to use an electric mixer because I use it to mash the bananas. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment on medium-high speed, beat the mashed bananas, applesauce, and eggs together until combined. (Or whisk by hand.) Add the honey, brown sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium-high speed (or whisk) until combined. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. Pour into the wet ingredients and beat on medium speed (or by hand) until combined. Fold in the walnuts.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 60-65 minutes, making sure to loosely cover the bread with aluminum foil halfway through to prevent the top from getting too brown. The bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with only a few small moist crumbs. This may be before or after 60-65 minutes depending on your oven, so begin checking every 5 minutes at the 55 minute mark or so.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack before slicing and serving.
  6. Cover and store banana bread at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Banana bread tastes best on day 2 after the flavors have settled together.

Notes

  1. Freezing Instructions: The best way to freeze quick bread is to tightly wrap the loaf or slices (individually or grouped) in 2-3 layers of plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place wrapped banana bread in a large freezer-friendly storage bag or reusable container. Freeze up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
  2. Muffins: Use this banana bread recipe to make about 2 dozen muffins. Pour the batter into a lined or greased muffin pan and bake for 5 minutes at 425°F (218°C) then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C). Bake for an additional 16-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The total bake time for the muffins is about 22-23 minutes. The initial burst of hot air helps those muffins rise nice and tall! Or try my whole wheat banana nut muffins.
  3. Applesauce: If needed, melted coconut oil (or canola or vegetable oils) can be used instead of applesauce.
  4. Sweetener: Pure maple syrup or agave can be used instead of honey and coconut sugar can be used instead of brown sugar.
  5. Milk: I use skim milk, but any milk fat is OK. Nondairy milks work too!

Keywords: whole wheat banana bread, healthy banana bread

125 Comments

  1. Very delicious! Second time making it. Always need to do two portions and finished up in minutes. No time to keep in the fridge to taste the settled flavour. Thanks for the recipe which also leaves no greasy utensils to clean up.

  2. Yum!!! I make this all the time. Sometimes exact recipe, other times with variations. It’s delicious no matter what.

  3. Some of the best banana bread I have ever had. Did not have applesauce so I substituted organic pumpkin puree and added pecans (allergic to walnuts). I made two loaves thinking I’d give one to my daughter. Nope! Hubby and I ate both!

  4. Elizabeth Hullender says:

    Amazing! I made four mini loaves instead of one loaf. Used pecans since I didn’t have any walnuts, added chocolate chips to two of the loaves. Baked for 40 minutes—came out awesome!

  5. Phenomenal recipe! Super moist. Added a bit more banana. Had to leave in the oven a little longer…..this recipe is a keeper. Thank you!

  6. This recipe is a keeper, for sure! Although it’s a “lightened” version of banana bread, the taste is still banana bread goodness. Love this, will be making it again!

  7. This is going to be *the* banana bread recipe for me. Thanks a bunch!

  8. I made it today. It was awesome,try not to eat the whole thing……Yummmy

  9. Can you add nutrition info please?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ginger! We don’t usually include nutrition information as it can vary between different brands of the same ingredients. Plus, many recipes have ingredient substitutions or optional ingredients listed. However, there are many handy online calculators where you can plug in and customize your exact ingredients/brands. Readers have found this one especially helpful: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

  10. Sandra Hall says:

    Does this version still come out moist even though it doesn’t have the yogurt like the other banana bread recipe?? Trying to find healthy recipes for my toddler but don’t want to sacrifice taste too much.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sandra! We love the texture of this healthier banana bread, it gets moisture from the bananas and applesauce. Would love to hear what you think if you give it a try!

      1. can I sub plain yogurt for the applesauce?

  11. Greetings. Your site is terrific. Great thanks. What should I change if I have to use sweetened apple sauce. It’s all I have and it should be used up. Thanks again.
    PS A six-inch three-layered Coffee Cake with Bailey’s Cream Frosting published around St Patrick’s day made me a star at a friend’s birthday.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Chip, we’re so happy that cake was a hit with your friends! You can use sweetened applesauce in this recipe. It’s a small amount, so that extra sweetness won’t really change the final recipe’s taste. If you’d like, you can slightly reduce the honey. But I personally wouldn’t.

  12. Hi, your recipes are AWESOME.

    I am trying the healthier ones nowadays and if I had like to avoid the sugar and perhaps replace with more honey instead to make it furthermore healthy, what other changes might be needed… given I am replacing sugar with a thick liquid like honey.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Soumya! We’re so glad to hear you’ve been enjoying our recipes. We’d love to help but we are not trained in baking with sugar substitutes. For best taste and texture (and so you don’t waste your time trying to adapt a recipe since it may not work properly), it may be more useful to find a recipe that is specifically formulated for sugar substitutes. Thank you!

  13. I totally agree. Her recipes are phenomenal. I even read all the tips which are very helpful. I am going to make this today but I will give it 5 stars because I know if I follow what she says, it will be soo good.

  14. Maisha in Maryland says:

    Just made some delicious, healthy banana bread following the recipe to the letter. Had to freeze some or I would have eaten the entire loaf in a couple of days. I might add another banana next time to see how much more ‘bananery’ I can make it. Thanks so much.

  15. Spectacular Recipe! I used coconut oil and chocolate chips instead of walnuts and it was delightful. It had that wonderful moistness and density we all love in banana bread without being to heavy. Well done!

  16. Ramya Ashok says:

    Hi.. loved your recipe. Came out perfect. Is there anything else we can substitute eggs with?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ramya, We haven’t tested this recipe with any egg substitutes but let us know if you try any. If interested, here are all of our egg free recipes.

  17. We made a couple of changes to the recipe according to the ingredients we had, like swapped the applesauce with butter and added blueberry jams + blueberries. Turned out DIVINE!!! Was slightly stressed that making changes to the recipe may not work, but was delighted that it turned out better than expectations. The best whole wheat cake we’ve attempted so far thank you!

  18. Hi, don’t have applesauce or the suggested oil replacements, can I just use peanut oil for this? Or is butter also fine?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Melted butter would definitely work here. Enjoy!

      1. Love the look of this recipe!
        I’d like to use butter, instead of the applesauce, how much shall I put in do you think?
        Thank you!

  19. I followed the recipe exactly, but after covering it for 30 minutes with foil at 350 degrees, I uncovered and cooked for another 30 minutes – the center was completely raw, but the outer edge was clean when I inserted a toothpick.
    I used a traditional loaf pan. The mixture filled the pan almost completely though.
    What happened???
    I ended up “scooping out the raw batter” and cooking it for an additional 10-15 minutes and it was then cooked thru. It tasted great!!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Dawn, Thank you for trying this recipe and we are happy that you enjoyed the taste! Next time, bake the loaf uncovered first – then halfway through the bake time cover it. Also, oven temperatures and loaf pan sizes and materials vary so don’t be surprised if yours takes a bit longer in the oven to bake through. Happy baking!

      1. Dawn Paparelli says:

        Thank you for your reply. I actually made it again, and used a Bundt pan and it came out perfect!!! I believe it baked for about 40-45 minutes. No raw middle 🙂

  20. Love how simple this recipe is and the variations that can be used. I left out the nuts since I didn’t have them on hand. I have long used applesauce as a sub for oil. I also have used banana to sub for an egg. Works great! Thank you for a healthier version of banana bread. Its going in my ‘favorite recipes box’.

  21. Heather L Queto says:

    I used this recipe and tweaked by using 3/4 C Splenda and not using sugar or honey and it was fantastic

  22. Thanks for the amazing recipe. My wife and friends loved it. The bottom part of the cake was a bit raw in parts. I baked it for 65 mins at 350 F but I think I used the eggs and milk directly from the refrigerator so their cold temperature might have caused this?

  23. Hi my banana bread came out a bit dense like it didn’t have the crumbly cake texture even though the toothpick came out clean. But it was still a bit raw. Does it need longer time in the oven then? Or any other tip to bake it properly? The taste was good though!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Humna, Banana bread by nature is more dense than a cake. But if the bread is really too dense, it sounds under-baked, especially if it’s still a bit raw. If you decide to try again, we recommend baking for longer next time. Also be careful to just mix the batter until combined – over-mixing can lead to dense bread. Hope this helps!

  24. What do you think about substituting agave syrup for honey? (it’s what I have on hand 🙂

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Elaine, that should work just fine — same amount.

  25. Thanks for the amazing recipe. It came out perfectly . I baked for 45 minutes then checked it every 5 minutes until cooked. I also added blueberries and fresh mango. Amazing

  26. I had reduce the brown sugar to half and the bread tasted flour. is it possibly due to the reduce of sugar?

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lynnda, That could definitely be it. Keep in mind, when you alter the recipe, the results will be different.

  27. I haven’t made this yet but know it will be great as every single recipe I have tried from your website is amazing. Your recipe for banana bread is my go to but I do have some whole wheat flour so I figured I’d give this one a try. I am wondering how to alter the recipe if I am using sweetened applesauce? Should I use less honey? I also like the combination of cinnamon/nutmeg/ginger as a spice mixture. So far, I have to say that everything I have made with the whole wheat flour comes out amazing. I used it to make oatmeal raisin cookies and they were the best ever. Thank you for sharing your baking expertise.

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Donna, You can use sweetened applesauce in this recipe. It’s a small amount, so that extra sweetness won’t really change the final recipe’s taste. If you’d like, you can slightly reduce the honey. But we personally wouldn’t.

  28. This has become my go-to banana bread recipe! Thanks!

  29. Very, very good. I was a bit short on the bananas, mine came out to slightly more than a cup, but still great banana fragrance while baking and tastes just fine. Used maple syrup. I may add chocolate chips and/or raisins next time, as a variation.

  30. This is delicious! I used Brazilian pepper honey and I think it really enhanced the flavor. My only change was to substitute chocolate chips since I didn’t have walnuts on hand. Amazing how good this is without butter and white flour. Thanks Sally!

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