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 healthy 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!
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.
This Whole Wheat Healthy 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 all 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.
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.
Can I Use Frozen Bananas?
Yes, frozen and thawed bananas work in this recipe and you can read more about How to Freeze & Thaw Bananas for Baking if you’d like. Two important things to remember:
- The riper the banana, the better. When you bake with bananas, you want to use brown, spotty super-ripe ones.
- Strain off excess liquid. As bananas thaw, they let out a lot of liquid, which can throw off the wet ingredients in any baking recipe. I always recommend draining off most or all of that excess liquid before mashing and measuring them for your recipe.
How to Make Healthy Banana Bread
After you mash the bananas with your mixer, add the remaining wet ingredients. You need:
- Unsweetened Applesauce
- Brown Sugar or Coconut Sugar
- 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. I’ve even added the cinnamon layer from this cinnamon swirl banana bread.
Love peanut butter + bananas? Try my peanut butter banana muffins (as muffins or a loaf). That recipe uses many of the same ingredients we use here.
More Healthful Baked Goods
- Morning Glory Muffins & Healthy Apple Muffins
- Whole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins
- Breakfast Cookies
- Greek Yogurt Zucchini Bread
- Baked Oatmeal Cups
- Vanilla Almond Granola
- Bran Muffins
- Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal Cups
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!
- 1 and 1/4 cups (288g) mashed bananas (about 3 medium or 2 large ripe bananas)
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack before slicing and serving.
- 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.
- 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.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Stand Mixer or Handheld Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | Whisk | 9×5 Loaf Pan
- Muffins: Use this banana bread recipe to make about 18 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.
- Frozen Bananas: You can use thawed frozen bananas in this recipe. Thawed bananas are extra wet, so drain off as much of the excess liquid as you can before mashing. See How to Freeze & Thaw Bananas for Baking.
- Applesauce: If needed, melted coconut oil (or canola or vegetable oils) can be used instead of applesauce.
- Sweetener: Pure maple syrup or agave can be used instead of honey and coconut sugar can be used instead of brown sugar.
- Milk: I use skim milk, but any milk fat is OK. Nondairy milks work too!
Keywords: whole wheat banana bread, healthy banana bread