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. ♥

Print

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

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


Ingredients

  • 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

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. 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.

Notes

  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!

211 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. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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? 🙂

  7. 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.

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

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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!!

  14. 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!

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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! 🙂

  18. 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!

  19. This looks amazing!! Seems like a perfect fit for my new eating habits – do you possibly know the nutritionals/calories for this recipe?

  20. 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!!!

  21. 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!

  22. 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!

  23. 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!

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