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!

263 Comments

  1. Hi Sally! First, thanks so much for this wonderful recipe.
    I have one question though. I can’t buy applesauce at supermarkets because they don’t sell those where I live. So is it okay if I buy apples and grate them? Or do I need to add anything else?

    Oh and btw I sent you two emails because you told me to, but I don’t think you never read them :'(

    1. Hi Flora, I do not see any emails from you in my inbox. Perhaps try sending again? Thank you. I recommend using oil as suggested in the recipe instead of applesauce. Or you can make your own– it is different than grated apples. I’ve made this before and it is fantastic: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/sarahs-applesauce/

  2. I will definitely be trying this soon! Finding a recipe for a reasonably healthy banana bread that doesn’t contain yogurt/sour cream has been like looking for a unicorn, lol. So many of your recipes look amazing, then I see yogurt and have to click away. I’m dairy-free and no stores in my area carry soy yogurt, and I’ve not yet had the courage to start subbing ingredients!

  3. This sounds great, like a mix of regular sandwich bread and banana bread. I actually prefer plain wheat bread to any kind of sweet bread, so this is a perfect mix of the two! I bet it’s fabulous for peanut butter and jelly 😉

  4. These look super yummy AND healthy….so happy that exists!!!! 🙂

  5. Elle {Styelleish } says:

    Love the way you made a banana bread that actually tastes like bananas–so often they are waaaay too sweet. Besides, with a name like banana bread, one would expect it to be healthy! I am surprised that this works with the substitution of applesauce. I may make this with the extra applesauce I have on hand!

  6. I made a lemon poppyseed bread this week that is VERY similar to this recipe… And I thought the same thing! “This is going to suck.” Well, it didn’t, but it was gone before I could take pictures of it. Whoops! I guess I’ll just have to make it again (darn). Sounds delish, Sally!

  7. Maryea {happy healthy mama} says:

    I love this!! Healthy most definitely can taste great. 🙂

  8. I find that banana is very forgiving, which is why it rocks! I often use oat flour and it’s fantastic.
    This looks so perfect. Too wrong to throw in chocolate chips? 🙂

  9. Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures says:

    It’s so great when healthier food items are delicious too!

  10. Kimberly | Chic & Sugar says:

    I am always on the lookout for bread and muffin recipes that I can bake for my kids’ breakfasts. This is perfect! Sounds like good tastes without the mom guilt.

  11. jenna @ just j.faye says:

    I just bought a sack of whole wheat flour, so I’ll be trying this! Just need to wait for some bananas to ripen…

  12. My family and I are trying hard to find recipes that are both healthy and delicious. I love the idea of adding apple sauce to baked goods. Thanks Sally!

  13. Banana bread is a great “vehicle” for sneaking in whole wheat flour and other healthy substitutes! 🙂

  14. Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch says:

    Yummy banana bread can be healthy! Looks delicious!

  15. I was wondering if this recipe would work as muffins? I always have trouble cooking banana bread evenly in my oven and prefer muffins. Love all your recipes! Thank you.

    1. Yes– please see notes. Enjoy!

  16. I love that healthy can still be ‘good’ and what a great way to use up old bananas and that random almost empty bag of walnuts. Have a great day!

  17. I have white whole wheat flour on hand…can that be used instead? I’m always confused as to whether or not I can use white whole wheat and regular whole wheat interchangeably in recipes!

    1. Yes, you can use white whole wheat instead of whole wheat flour in this banana bread recipe. When subbing whole wheat flour for any other flour, whether that be white whole wheat or all-purpose, be careful because its baked texture is much heavier.

  18. I was packing my lunch for work this morning, and I grabbed a banana. Noticing how ripe they were getting, I thought “I should bake something.” This banana bread will be coming to life in my kitchen this evening. I looooove banana bread and all of your healthy recipes. I have made several of them recently. Thanks Sally!!

  19. Wow this looks amazing. Gonna bake it for my sister at the weekend, is the wholemeal flour self-raising or plain? Thanks

    1. Plain whole wheat flour.

  20. Hi Sally, this looks fantastic (as always!!).

    Do you think it would work as well with other flours? I only have spelt in my kitchen at the moment. Thanks!

    1. I’m unsure; I’ve only made this as directed. Feel free to test it out.

  21. Trang's corner says:

    It looks amazzzingggggg! So delicious! Need to try this recipe.

  22. Monica @ Mocha and Moccasins says:

    I love the no butter/no oil in this recipe! Applesauce and bananas are amazing for texture and volume. The addition of chunky nuts is always a hit in banana bread.

    Monica – Mocha and Moccasins

  23. Eve @ Baking the Day says:

    This looks delicious! I am still yet to jump of the zero-added fat wagon, I am always weary that my baking will be as rubbery as a tire, so I normal just add 2 tbsp of oil. However, this bread looks perfect not rubbery or dry! Can’t wait to try this. x

    1. Eve, just as a suggestion– I love adding coconut oil to baked goods so if you’re nervous to leave out any oil, try doing 3 Tablespoons melted coconut oil with 3 Tablespoons applesauce. I made the bread this way last week and it’s fantastic.

  24. Anna @ Sunny Side Ups says:

    I LOVE this recipe! 🙂 It looks so light and moist–I love that I can eat this or make it for my family without any guilt! Just delicious! 🙂

  25. Ashley (QLCC) says:

    I love how versatile banana bread is! It’s so editable. I love your version here, whole wheat seems like it’d actually taste really great in a banana bread!

  26. Well, I saw two spotty bananas at the bottom of our fruit dish this morning so once one more takes the plunge… I know what I’ll be baking up 😉 I love subbing applesauce for 1/2 the oil in most bread/muffin recipes. It really doesn’t make a difference at all (to me, anyway!). There’s nothing better than the smell of banana bread baking in the oven. I can hardly wait to make this!!!

    1. I have a yankee candle “banana nut bread” scented candle. you’d appreciate it!

  27. Averie @ Averie Cooks says:

    I love banana bread of all kids….so much! I’d rather have banana bread than many ‘fancy’ desserts! I just made some a couple days ago. Testing out a new recipe. But it’s not as whole wheat and healthy as yours 🙂 I’d love to try this! pinned of course!

  28. I have used maple syrup and applesauce in my banana bread for years- comes out very moist I call them my secreet ingredients but I havent tried whole wheat flour but I will now. Thanks!

  29. Phillip || SouthernFATTY.com says:

    I am one of those people that love a sugar-color-whatever-additives sweets, but have to totally agree that a solid, simple banan bread is where it’s at.

    I usually just freeze in slices (wrapped well) and pop them out into the microwave for breakfast options. Looks great!

  30. Nancy Carlson says:

    Hi Sally,
    I was wondering if you can think of anything to
    replace the 2 eggs with. I love this recipe for
    heart health (no butter, no oil) but I could do
    without the eggs. I know it won’t be the same
    but oh well..LOL Do you know what might work?
    Since there is already applesauce I’m not sure
    what it would be.
    Thank you in advance.
    Sincerely,
    Nancy Carlson

    1. I’m unsure without testing replacements myself. There’s little wiggle room since so much has already changed from a traditional banana bread recipe.

      1. Nancy Carlson says:

        Thank’s so much for that fast reply Sally!!
        Love your recipes.
        Sincerely,
        Nancy

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