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!

209 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. Oh, this sounds good, Sally. Our family loves banana bread, and I’m curious what they will say about this one. Because they don’t like me to change a thing in my classic banana bread. I will let you know. 🙂

  3. I use pureed apple in my quick breads and muffins all the time! It’s definitely important to find the balance between health and taste though, so if it’s cookies we’re talking about then it’s butter all the way baby!
    I love the idea of adding walnuts to the banana bread, I don’t know why I haven’t tried that before! That’s what makes bakery banana bread so delicious! This one’s going on the make-GF list! Thanks Sally 🙂

  4. This sounds great. Can I substitute whole wheat pastry flour in this recipe.
    Thanks for all of your great recipes. Joyce Mangels

  5. This bread looks so delicious, Sally! I absolutely adore banana bread, probably one of my top go-to bakes and I’m absolutely loving the addition of chopped walnuts (my personal favourite!) and honey! I cannot wait to give your recipe a go- super yummy.

  6. I made this yummo bread yesterday and it is already half gone (and I have not even shared with my family :0). I subbed in mini-chocolate chips for the nuts. Thanks for another great recipe!

  7. This looks so good and it’s perfect for me trying to eat a little healthier at the moment. I love your healthy recipes because then I don’t have to completely give up baking when I’m trying to be good!

    I’m going to try this weekend but in muffin form because I struggle with getting banana bread to cook evenly. Thanks for giving that option!

    1. Rebecca, do you own an oven thermometer? Your oven temperature may be off (it’s very common– mine is!) and that could be the reason you have trouble with banana breads. Buy one! They are so cheap. It will save you from many ruined loaves, cookies, brownies, cakes, etc. Also, rotate the loaf pan as the bread bakes. This helps with even baking. I know you weren’t looking for advice on baking banana bread but just wanted to help if you ever want to give it a try again.

      1. I do have an oven thermometer, I actually started using one when I started coming here and seeing you recommend them. 🙂 My oven temperature does get wonky sometimes (technical term). It will sometimes randomly spike 5 degrees out of nowhere so I do usually keep a close eye on it. Gotta love apartment living and weird ovens!

        But thank you for the advice, I appreciate it! I will definitely try rotating the pan more. I have made a few of your other bread recipes too (pumpkin chocolate chip, apple with brown sugar glaze, cinnamon chocolate chip) and it’s kind of random if I struggle or not…I usually just end up stalking the oven and hoping for the best haha. But I don’t get complaints so maybe I’m being hard on myself?!

      2. Probably just being hard on yourself. Sounds like your oven has hot spots. Mine does too. Try using a light colored or even a glass loaf pan if you aren’t already. I find my breads turn out more evenly baked in those as opposed to darker metal.

  8. I love banana bread, especially whole wheat! I love your blog so much, I have been following for a long time and I have made many of your recipes. However, I went vegan a little while ago, which makes a lot of them out of the question for me to eat. I was wondering if you had any suggestions on how to make a vegan version of this bread?

    1. I’m no expert on vegan baking, so I’m not sure how to achieve the same exact texture and taste. Maple syrup would definitely work for the honey, a well as dairy free milk, and I’m sure flax eggs work for the eggs though the texture may not be the same as what I’ve had using eggs. Perhaps try searching for a vegan banana bread that is developed to be vegan?

    2. I made these vegan by using two chia ‘eggs’ (i’m sure any egg substitute would work; banana bread always seems fairly forgiving), agave instead of the honey, and almond milk as opposed to dairy milk.

      I also made the bread mini muffins and they came out beautifully. Seriously one of the best banana breads I ever had and it will now be my go to recipe because it is healthy too!

      I’m going to play around with it in the future and make a pumpkin variation.

  9. Hi Sally,

    I just had to make this on the weekend and wanted to let you know that it turned out perfectly! I followed your recipe to the letter and the banana bread was perfect – what a fantastic breakfast or after dinner treat 🙂 Next up on my list, your baby 45 calorie chocolate chip muffins – so excited to try those. Thank you for your amazing recipes and tips.

  10. I loved the bread so thank you so much! Two questions:
    1-do you happen to have the nutrition facts?
    2-my hubby requests that I add choc chips next time I make it (he’s a choc-a-holic). Any thoughts on how it might affect the recipe?

  11. Hi Sally! Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes! I was wondering if I substituted frozen blueberries for the nuts (my son is too young for nuts still), do you think they will be too soggy? Also, if I wanted to add some bran to these how would you suggest I adjust the liquids?

    1. Amber, with the added liquid of frozen blueberries, adding bran would be just fine. I’m unsure of an amount of bran that would work perfectly. I do not suggest switching up any liquids.

      1. Thank you for yet another amazing recipe! I don’t normally mess with your craft but I wanted this to be a bit more toddler friendly. I used only 2tbsp of brown sugar, added 1/4 cup ground flax, 1/2 cup bran, and subbed 1 cup frozen blueberries for the 2/3c nuts (too young for nuts the Internet tells me). I made mini muffins instead of a loaf and they were light, fluffy, and of course, delicious! You’re a joy to follow! Thanks again!

  12. Can I use a different sugar besides dark brown sugar? Have been trying to stay away from sugar…….but also can you just use regular or does it have to be brown?
    Thanks,
    Amy

    1. Feel free to test out with liquid sweeteners. I was not a fan of the bread using liquid sweetener (I tested with all honey and with half honey/maple syrup).

  13. Hi Sally,
    I have to first thank you for posting this recipe. I made a batch of the muffins a couple days ago and let me tell you, they were AMAZING! My 3 year old absolutely loved them, I love them, as does my mom and husband. I had to hide one away just for me.
    The muffins felt a little dense to the touch, but quite “airy” to the bite. I love how they have just that right amount of sweetness…needless to say these are a hit in my house…thanks again Sally ☺

  14. Made this banana bread last night and used two smaller loaf tin pans (8X4) since I don’t own a regular loaf pan. The bread came out DELICIOUS! I’m not the biggest fan of cooking with bananas, but this bread was the best! Pretty sure this is what I’m going to do whenever I have overly ripe bananas hanging around. Thanks!!!

    1. Yes  I  I just added a grated apple to the mix  With grated  apples,you get more moisture and no chunks of apple.  I also added 1/cup organic shredded coconut as I had no walnuts on hand.  Finally  I only added 1/3 cup organic sugar to the dry mix as the bananas were  overripe  and very sweet.Just waiting for the loaf to finish baking. 

  15. Hi Sally! I just made this and it’s absolutely delicious. So light and just the right amount of sweet. I can’t wait to cut off another massive slice for breakfast 🙂 I was really craving a chocolate version so I subbed out 1/2 c of the flour for cocoa powder and it totally works. Indicative of a very robust recipe. You’re the best!!

  16. Thanks for this detailed recipe. I have found many recipes for this bread and also looking for a recipe that can interchange with carrots or apples or other shredded veggies,a one size fits all recipe. Hopefully. I read that buttermilk or yogurt acid adds some goodness to breads so thought I would try try half milk and yogurt and see what happens. With 3 overripe bananas in kitchen I can try this. I might add more cinnamon but that’s a flavor I like as well as a pinch of nutmeg. This is a very nice and thoughtful recipe. I think substituting eggs get’s tricky if you want to come out with a good result. I still believe in sifting flour and if bran gets left behind I can still toss it in. The baking powder and salt then can be distributed more evenly on the second sift. Of course,that takes more time and ease out of the making. Either way it will be good. Bless you

  17. I LOVE all your bakes Sally!
    I changed the apple sauce for peanut butter, added raisins instead of walnuts, and halved the honey. Came out beautiful!

  18. Made this yesterday with my kids, came out great! Everyone enjoyed it. Including the measurements by weight made it super simple and quick to put together also. Thanks for the great recipe.

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