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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.

I should have learned my lesson when I made the most soft and flavorful whole wheat pizza dough. 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

More Healthful Baked Goods

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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 1x
  • 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

Scale
  • 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed (about a heaping 1 and 1/4 cups)
  • 6 Tablespoons (90g) unsweetened applesauce*
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup (85g) 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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. First, this banana bread is AMAZING. I did some substitutions because I don’t have some of the ingredients. I swapped the applesauce for the canned apple filling, swapped maple syrup for pure wild honey and I used almond milk. They still came out wonderful and it’s so addicting!

    This will definitely be my DEFAULT banana bread recipe from now on.

  2. We LOVE this recipe! . My husband thinks it’s OUTSTANDING
    Thank you !

  3. We LOVE this recipe! . My husband thinks this banana bread is OUTSTANDING
    Thank you !

      1. Hi Keitha, 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://www.verywellfit.com/recipe-nutrition-analyzer-4157076

  4. Absolutely delicious. I’m going to call it my “heart healthy” banana nut bread. Followed it exactly except I used non-sweetened almond milk.
    This recipe is a keeper!

      1. Hi Monica! We test recipes in a Thermador oven. We always recommend using conventional settings (not convection) as convection can dry out baked goods.

  5. I was looking for healthy version for banana loaf and this is an amazing recipe. It tastes absolutely delicious and one I will make again. Thank you so much

  6. I stopped baking banana bread in loaf form because I was constantly disappointed with the outcome, so I rejoiced when each slice of this bread was SO perfect Delicious, soft, lightly sweet, AND whole wheat?! Heaven. Thanks, Sally!

  7. Hi Sally! Could I add raspberries and chocolate chips to this batter to make a healthier version of the dark chocolate raspberry banana bread? If so, how much could I add? I wasn’t sure if the berries would be too wet for this batter, hence the question.

      1. Thank you! Ran out of raspberries before I had a chance to make the bread with them, but it’s perfectly great plain, too!

  8. This recipe is fantastic! It definitely tastes better on day 2, and I’m so happy I get yummy goodness without all the butter/refined sugar. I used almond milk and used a 9″ square pan since I didn’t have a loaf pan- it took 37 minutes. This will become one of my go to’s for when I find another stockpile of frozen ripe bananas in my freezer. Thanks for another winner, Sally! ♥️

  9. I don’t have applesauce on hand. If I use melted butter would that be ok? How much of melted butter should I use? Thank you

  10. The recipe is marvellous. I used mild flavoured olive oil instead of applesauce. The cake is so delicious. Everyone loved it.

  11. Hi, This recipe looks fantastic! A question before I make it: could more banana, thinned with water to the texture of applesauce, work instead of applesauce? I have more bananas than this calls for and no applesauce (though I can buy some if necessary)
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Ellen, we haven’t tested that but let us know if you do!

  12. Do you have the nutrition value for this recipe? My mother is on a low salt, which I omit, and a diebetic.

    1. Hi Bernadette, We don’t usually include nutrition information as it can vary between different brands of the same ingredients, and many recipes have ingredient substitutions or optional ingredients. However, there are many great online calculators where you can plug in your exact ingredients like this one: https://www.verywellfit.com/recipe-nutrition-analyzer-4157076.

  13. Hi Sally, I was looking for a healthy version of banana bread and found this recipe. This banana bread is DELICIOUS! We don’t like overly sweet things in our house and this bread was perfectly sweetened for us. I was also amazed by how moist this banana bread is. Will be making this as a family favourite from now on! Next I’m trying your wholemeal Apple cinnamon muffins!! Thanks for the brilliant recipe! Anna (from Australia) 🙂

  14. Great recipe! A couple of questions:
    This was my first time using frozen bananas. I thawed them first, but wondered whether that was the right thing – there was so much water!
    Also, I baked it at 350 convection, because I was short of time. The edges were overcooked by the time the middle was done. Is that a possible effect of convection? And it took me > 1 hour even at that temperature.

    1. Hi Ellen! Thanks so much for giving this recipe a try. Frozen bananas do give off quite a bit of water once thawed. For next time, if using frozen bananas, you can try to blot away as much excess water as possible before adding to the batter. We always recommend conventional settings for baking (not convection/fan). The flow of air from convection heat can cause baked goods to rise and bake unevenly and it also pulls moisture out of the oven. If you do use convection/fan settings for baking, lower your temperature by 25 degrees F and keep in mind that things may still take less time to bake. If you find the edges are browning more quickly than the center, we recommend tenting the loaf pan with foil about half way through baking time. Hope this is helpful!

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