Whole Wheat Banana Bread

No butter, no oil, 100% whole wheat, 100% actually tasting good.

Whole Wheat Banana Bread Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com No oil, no butter, whole wheat, and actually tasting GREAT.

I know I say I’m obsessed with a lot of recipes which may be convincing you that I’m either (1) out of my mind or (2) just really in love with a lot of food. Or both? Definitely both.

This whole wheat banana bread is absolutely no exception. It blew my mind. To be honest, I didn’t have high expectations. It was merely a way to get rid of 3 overly ripe bananas and a random jar of applesauce. I usually make banana bread with butter and/or oil because hello! That’s where all the goodness hides. Well well well. After 1 bite of this “whatever, it won’t be good” banana bread, I was left proven completely wrong.

Healthy ingredients CAN make incredible things.

Take that, full fat white flour banana bread.

Whole Wheat Banana Bread Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com No oil, no butter, whole wheat, and actually tasting GREAT.

Before we get into some details on the ingredients, let me tell you exactly how this deeply satisfying, yet lightened-up banana bread tastes. It’s hearty and thick. Pairs wonderfully with a cup of coffee in the morning. Dense and tight-crumbed like regular banana bread, but definitely not as sweet. The bread is slightly nutty from the whole wheat flour (and, uh, the walnuts) and tastes incredibly tender thanks to the bananas, applesauce, and eggs. You’ll taste a lot of pure banana flavor. Complimenting the banana’s flavor are vanilla, cinnamon, brown sugar, and honey. I am very light handed with those last two ingredients as I don’t want sugar to overpower the banana’s flavor.

Power Ingredients

Applesauce. Why? Applesauce takes the place of oil and butter in this banana bread recipe. I am very careful saying this because this isn’t a universal rule in the baking world. It requires testing. Oftentimes when applesauce is subbed for butter, you’re left with a very mediocre baked good. I would rather eat a plate of raw broccoli than pound cake made without butter. Ick. Some recipes just cannot be made without fat. But banana bread is not one of them. In fact, applesauce is a wonderful, healthier ingredient you can work into a lot of breads and muffins. Again, some testing is often needed before you land on the perfect combination of ingredients. If you’d like to include the wildly popular ingredient that I am personally obsessed with (see? obsessed)– coconut oil– then feel free to use that instead of applesauce. I’ll note that in the recipe notes for you.

Eggs. Why? Like I tell you all the time, eggs do about 1,000,000 things in baking. Binding, structure, texture, coagulating, emulsifying, and moisture to name a few. Most importantly, they provide some fat (i.e. richness) to this bread.

Bananas. Why? Well, duh. Besides the obvious reason (flavor!) the bananas lightly sweeten the bread. As I mention above, this banana bread isn’t overly sweet. Naturally sweet bananas are supplemented with a little honey and brown sugar. The mix of these three ingredients make the bread pleasantly sweet. You won’t feel like you just ate a banana bread sugar bomb. Not only this, bananas provide moisture. So much moisture! Bananas are a bread maker’s dream. Oftentimes, low fat baked goods are dull, flavorless, and (I shudder!) dry. Not this bread. Bananas, applesauce, brown sugar, eggs, and milk to the rescue. Talk about moisture!

Remember… the riper the bananas, the better. Go for yellow and spotty.

Whole Wheat Banana Bread Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com No oil, no butter, whole wheat, and actually tasting GREAT.

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. ♥


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


No butter, no oil, 100% whole wheat, 100% actually tasting good.


  • 6 Tablespoons (90g) unsweetened applesauce*
  • 1/4 cup (72g) honey*
  • 1/4 cup (50g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) milk*
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed (about a heaping 1 and 1/4 cups)
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (215g) whole wheat flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup (67g) chopped walnuts


  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. In a medium bowl, whisk the applesauce, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and milk together until combined. Then, whisk in the eggs and bananas until combined. The mixture should be smooth. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and walnuts together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and slowly whisk until *just* combined. Absolutely do not overmix this batter. I like to add the walnuts to the dry ingredients rather than mixing them in last because it helps avoid overmixing. Overmixing = too heavy tasting.
  3. 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. I strongly suggest using an oven thermometer to test your oven’s temperature.
  4. Allow the bread to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before slicing.


  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: The bread will stay fresh in an airtight container (it tastes better on day 2!) at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. But it won’t last that long. For longer storage, baked bread can be frozen up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Muffins: For 14-15 muffins, bake at 350°F (177°C) for around 18-20 minutes, give or take. Use a toothpick to test doneness.
  3. Applesauce: 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.
  5. Milk: I use skim milk, but any milk fat is OK. Soy, rice, coconut, and almond are also fine.

Keywords: whole wheat banana bread, healthy banana bread

Here's how to make healthy whole wheat banana bread with applesauce! You can't taste the difference!


  1. I made this today and it is DELICIOUS! I only had 2 bananas so I grated an apple and added that too. Also I used regular old vegetable oil as that’s what I had, ditto for regular white flour. Mine was a tad less healthy maybe… Thanks Sally!

  2. This is exactly what I was looking for, healthy applesauce instead of butter or oil. Can’t wait to make this after work. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Hi,

    Thank you for the great recipe. I used coconut oil and multigrain flour. It’s just gone into,the overnight. Fingers crossed. Will post pic if it comes out alright. Also could you please mention the quantity for coconut oil substitute. Thank you

  4. I’ve made these many, many times with the “help” of my grandsons. I use agave nectar instead of honey and brown sugar. I increase the oil to 7 tbls. This makes the muffins more moist.

  5. I have tested about 5 of Sally’s recipes. 2 cupcakes. 2 cookies. and this bread. Her recipe is my go to of all blogs. They come out exactly how she has written them. This pumpkin bread is delicious and perfectly moist. I did use oil instead of applesauce. I love the rich taste of honey and perfect crumb. I thought the sweetness was just right. Definitely do not over stir. Mix until just blended. I doubled the recipe and it came out perfect.

  6. I tried it, turned out okay but very very wet – I may have used too much applesauce!

    I left it baking for over 70 minutes as I was a tid afraid it wasn’t done! But the taste – delicious!

    Definitely will try it next time with less applesauce!

  7. I’ve done a lot of low-fat baking and this is one of the best recipes I’ve ever tried. I just made it, and unfortunately I couldn’t wait for it to cool completely 🙁 This is a character flaw… But seriously, this is SO good and SO moist! I used buttermilk because I had it, and because I have another low-fat banana bread recipe that calls for buttermilk. But that one was always too sweet and one-dimensional. This one is absolutely my new favorite!

  8. Hi Sally,
    This is my FAVORITE banana bread recipe! But I wanted to make them as mini muffins this time; could you recommend baking times/temperature, please?
    Thanks a lot. Huge fan!

  9. I made this recipe, and it is WONDERFUL. Glad you said the bananas should equal 1.25 cups. Mine only went to 1, so I added a little canola oil, but could have adjusted with more applesauce. I also added a little fresh grated nutmeg. Dori Greenspan says nutmeg and bananas just go together. Very moist and fabulous!! Thanks!

  10. Hi Sally
    I love your recipes and they always deliver but I just don’t know where I went wrong with this one. I made the banana bread on Friday and cut it yesterday (in m experience, banana bread always tastes better when it’s been left a few days before cutting) but I’ve had to compost it . It was very very claggy and heavy in texture despite a skewer having come out clean before removing from the oven. The only differenc in the ingredients was that I had to use Greek yogurt as I didn’t have any sour cream. I’m in the UK and we don’t have All Purpose Flour so I used our Plain Flour for cakes and muffins.
    Any advice would be appreciated.
    Best wishes

  11. I’ve made this recipe several times and it is always FANTASTIC! I make the loaves and muffins. I usually mix really ripe bananas (basically black ones) and fairly ripe ones to even out the sweetness. I also freeze my ripe bananas and this recipe works really well with frozen bananas. I also add a touch more vanilla and cinnamon; I’ve even substituted pumpkin pie spice LOL Thank you for the guilt-free recipe!

  12. So I’m not usually into the whole wheat thing because it usually doesn’t taste as good as… well literally anything else. I’m about to make this banana bread for the 3rd/4th time because its so amazing!!! Great taste, great texture, it has it all. I don’t always have applesauce, so sometimes its plain yogurt or sour cream, but its always amazing! Thank you!

  13. I made this bread this afternoon and it’s truly is delicious. I think I’ll through chocolate chips in it next time instead of walnuts 🙂
    Also, FYI….nutrition information is greatly appreciated, so I plugged in the information in a recipe calorie count and nutrition website: verywellfit.com (approx. 188 calories per slice)
    I have more whole wheat recipes to try. Thanks for sharing.

  14. I just made this recipe and it’s great! Perfect texture and not overly sweet like your white flour recipies. I was looking for a healthy banana bread recipe to make for my husband. My husband approved and you will too!!!

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally