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 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!

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 for 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 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!


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!

229 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. I just posted banana bread on Monday. Whole wheat too. But with chocolate chips of course. Nuts sound like a tasty option too.
    YUMMY!

    Happy Wednesday Sally!

  6. 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.

  7. Hi Sally! I use applesauce as the egg replacer in most of my baked goods and it works wonders. This bread looks delicious!

  8. Love love love! Healthy banana breads rule my world… especially with peanut butter smeared on top. 🙂

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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?

  14. 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!

  15. 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).

  16. 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 ☺

  17. 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. 

  18. 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!!

  19. 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

  20. 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!

  21. 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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