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!

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


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.


mashed bananas in 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

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whole wheat banana bread

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 (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

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

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

272 Comments

  1. This sounds delicious!! Strangely enough, I own a round springform pan but not a loaf pan…would it be okay to make in that instead? Thank you!

    1. I can’t see why not! I’m unsure of the exact bake time.

  2. Do you think it would be possible to use this recipe for microwave “muffin in a mug”?
    My oven isn’t working!

    1. Oh no, I hope you can fix it soon! I have never tried converting this into a mug muffin so I’m unsure of the results.

  3. Maryann Elliott says:

    This is a great recipe! I didn’t have applesauce and butter was low so substituted yogurt and it worked beautifully! 🙂

    1. I’m so happy you were able to make it work with yogurt and that you enjoyed it, Maryann!

  4. So, so good! My roommates couldn’t believe this was a whole wheat recipe – they said it’s the best banana bread they’ve ever had and I agree. It is incredibly moist and tasty. My only suggestion would be to keep an eye on it while it’s cooking – I checked on it at the 40-minute mark and it was already done!

  5. Do you have nutrition value for this recipe? Carbs? Fiber?

    1. I’m unsure of the nutritional info of this recipe, but there are many great online calculators like this one: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

  6. will reducing the sugar change anything in the recipe? Can I sub greek yogurt for apple sauce?

    1. Hi Maddy, the taste and texture of the bread will change by reducing any ingredient. Feel free to use Greek yogurt instead of applesauce. (I do love the flavor the applesauce brings though!)

  7. Do you think I could make this into a bundt cake?

    1. Hi Kyra, there isn’t enough batter for a bundt cake. I recommend making the batter twice and combining it. (Rather than doubling, which could lead to over-mixing or under-mixing.) The cake will be pretty dense. 350°F (177°C), but I’m unsure of the exact bake time.

  8. Hi! i’ll be attempting to make this tomorrow during this lockdown. i wanted to ask, what do you mean by lower third position? put it near the way bottom?

  9. “In this healthier banana bread recipe, swap butter for unsweetened applesauce, all-purpose flour for 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!”

    Great recipe. Thanks. For clarity you’ve got to say you swap “with” not “for”. When you use “for” your recipe suggests that you should use butter instead of applesauce and AP flour instead of whole wheat.

    1. Thanks Kate!

    2. This is my first time rating a recipe, but this banana bread is so good I had to do it! It is delicious, moist, very filling and looks exactly like your picture. I used chopped almonds insteaf of Walnuts (allergies) and doubled the recipe. It worked just fine. I will make this again, and again for sure. So ridiculously yummy!! Thank you Sally : )

  10. “In this healthier banana bread recipe, swap butter for unsweetened applesauce, all-purpose flour for 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!”

    Great recipe. Thanks. For clarity you’ve got to say you swap “with” not “for” or change the order of butter/applesauce and AP flour/whole wheat flour. As written your recipe suggests that you should use butter instead of applesauce and AP flour instead of whole wheat.

  11. This has NOTHING on your overnight cinnamon buns, but I’m not sure anything does. Fantastic recipe. Not too sweet.

  12. Great recipe. I replaced the apple sauce with coconut oil . Taste is great but it’s a little dense and feels unbaked in the inside . Not sure why . Perhaps I shut the oven a tad early . Thx

  13. Stephen Chen says:

    Have made this twice as per recipe. Great results. Trying a third time with yogurt because I’m out of applesauce. From comment above sounds like it will be fine.

  14. I don’t have applesauce or coconut oil. but I do have salted and unsalted butter and greek yoghurt? What would be best to use for this recipe and in what quantities?

  15. Wow, amazingly good. Not too sweet, perfectly moist, slices easily. Love the healthier swaps. I’ve switched the milk with oat milk and cashew milk and each time was delicious. Thanks for the recipe!

  16. Really delicious. I used 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 3/4 cup of rolled oats and the texture is fantastic. It turned out to be a lot of batter and only left about an inch or so room at the top of the loaf pan. I was wondering if I should separate it into two loves, but as it turns out the bread didn’t rise much so I had no issues with the pan over flowing. Even though it didn’t rise much, the cake is very light and airy and not dense at all.

  17. I tried this recipe with flax eggs and it worked perfectly. I love your recipes, Sally! Hello from the Philippines!

  18. Meghan Donahue says:

    If I only have sweetened applesauce around, how much should I reduce the brown sugar by?

    1. Hi Meghan, You can use your sweetened applesauce. 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.

  19. Rumela Bhowmick says:

    I tried with stevia and a spoon of honey. But it became very dense and not like the cake structure. How does the brown sugar help the structure?

  20. Wow, this is my favorite banana bread and trust me I have tried a ton of recipes. Also the ingredients make me feel less guilty about eating so much of it! The only change I made was using chocolate chips instead of walnuts. Super easy, super delicious.

  21. This is THE best banana bread ever! It was such a hit! Made it twice already in 3 days. Got over in an hour. ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT. Thank you so much for the recipe. I replaced the applesauce with full fat yoghurt.

  22. Thanks for the recipe, I made this today with a couple changes–

    Didn’t add the 1/4 brown sugar to keep it less sweet
    Subbed cream for milk
    Added dried cranberries and pecans

    Tasted mildy sweet, and the dried cranberries made up for the ommitted sugar. Had a strong underlying flavor or honey as well which was lovely.

    The one thing I can’t understand is the bread came out… Slightly salty? Is it because there wasn’t enough sugar to mask the salt flavor? Would try this again, bit definitely reduce the salt down to 1/4 teaspoon maybe.

    1. Hi Jenna! By reducing the sugar, the salt would stand out more. Thank you so much for trying the recipe and feel free to make adjustments to the salt as you’d like!

  23. Is it possible to add frozen blueberries to this, maybe coated with a bit of flour? Or would that make the dough too wet? Maybe should reduce one banana and add half cup frozen blueberries?

    1. Hi Anna, Frozen blueberries will be a delicious addition (though they may turn the batter a little blue!). I’d toss them in a little flour before adding to the batter. Add 1 cup of blueberries.

  24. Thank you Sally for posting this! I tried it tonight having to omit the cinnamon and milk as I was out with a bit of cloves and plain yogurt for milk. Eating it now, dangerously alone.

  25. Bobbee McNeely says:

    I absolutely love this recipe!! So easy to make and store. Even my picky eater partner loves it… And that’s saying alot!!!

  26. Absolutely brilliant!!! Love this banana bread oh so much.. thank you Sally! Can’t wait to try some of your other healthy recipes!! Definitely helps me give healthy dessert to my 15 month old baby

  27. I love this recipe and have made it several times. I’m wondering if anyone has swapped zucchini for the banana and if so…how much did you use and how did the bread turn out?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Erin, We haven’t tested using zucchini in place of banana, but you can try using 3/4 cup mashed banana and 1/2 cup shredded zucchini. You might also like our recipe for Greek yogurt zucchini bread!

  28. Made this banana bread today for my kids and it turned out awesome. Love that it’s healthy yet so tasteful. I added some chia seeds to the mix to give it an extra healthy twist!

  29. This was amazing! I have been on the hunt for a healthier banana bread and found it! I made muffins and added a few chocolate chips and it was delicious! Thank you for a great recipe!

  30. Do you think this could work in muffin tins?

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