Whole Wheat Banana Bread.

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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. ♥

Whole Wheat Banana Bread

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

Ingredients:

  • 6 Tablespoons (90g) unsweetened applesauce1
  • 1/4 cup (72g) honey2
  • 1/4 cup (50g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) milk3
  • 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 (measured correctly)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup (67g) Diamond of California (my favorite!) chopped walnuts

Directions:

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Lowering the oven rack prevents the top of your bread from browning too much too soon. Spray a 9x5 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.
  5. Make ahead tip: 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.

Recipe Notes:

For 14-15 muffins, bake at 350F for around 18-20 minutes, give or take. Use a toothpick to test doneness.

  1. Melted coconut oil (or canola or vegetable oils) can be used instead of applesauce.
  2. Pure maple syrup or agave can be used instead of honey.
  3. I use skim milk, but any milk fat is OK. Soy, rice, coconut, and almond are also fine.

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More banana goodness: Banana Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies

Banana Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies made with wholesome, healthy ingredients. 1 bowl, ready in less than 25 minutes!

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Whole Wheat Banana Bread Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com No oil, no butter, whole wheat, and actually tasting GREAT.

I’m working with Diamond of California to bring you this recipe!

Here's how to make healthy whole wheat banana bread with applesauce! You can't taste the difference!

205 Comments

  1. Sally,
    I am so in love with your website! EVERY time I need to bake something, I go to your site first. I have made so many of your recipes and the only time they turn out bad is when I attempt to make a substitution lol! I need to make this recipe tomorrow, the only problem is that I have been on a bread making kick and have gone through several jars of honey in the past 2 weeks. I cannot come up with a good enough excuse to be able to buy another jar of honey. Do you think substituting the honey with molasses and a tiny bit of sugar would work? I do like my banana bread sweet.
    Thank you!

      1. Thank you Sally! I ended up going to the store anyway (being out of trash bags is an excellent excuse to buy more baking products!), so I just used honey. However, I did add an additional 2 tb of brown sugar to make it more sweet, and I threw in some semi sweet chocolate chips. I also left a few bigger chunks of banana. This bread turned out amazing!!! It was just the right mixture of density but airy. I cannot wait to take it to the ladies at my bible study group this morning. Thank you for another amazing recipe!

  2. Hi Sally –
    I wanted to make this for a friend who has an apple allergy, but still retain the zero added oils. Do you think I could make this with low fat plain Greek yogurt in place of the apple sauce?

  3. Hi Sally –
    I just wanted to say that I love your blog!! SBA has become my baking addiction too…. I am on here like twice a day! (especially when I am in class and supposed to be working). Soooo many yummy things to make and so little time…… I especially love your healthy recipes, because my life is a constant battle between wanting to eat too much dessert and not wanting to exercise 🙂 I was super excited to try this recipe, but when I made it today, it didn’t turn out well:
    I know the recipe said that the bread bakes for a long time, but mine was in for a reeeeeeaaally long time…. like 80 minutes. I kept checking on it and it didn’t seem to be cooking. When I finally took it out, let it cool, and sliced it, it was super dense, had sunk in the middle, and was still not cooked through! So not what I waited like 80 minutes for! 🙁 I am not sure what I did wrong…. The only thing I changed about the recipe was to use all purpose flour instead of the whole wheat. I didn’t think that would make a difference. Help!! Any wisdom to share?? 

    1. Grace, I’m so glad that you enjoy my blog and recipes. This bread– that is crazy it wasn’t even baked through after an hour and 20 minutes. Is your oven temperature accurate? I would pick up an oven thermometer just in case. My oven temperature is off and I am able to control it with a thermometer. Also, on which position were your oven racks? You may want to move the bread to the center of the oven.

      1. I know that my oven is a little bit off, but usually it bakes hotter than it should. I will definitely get a thermometer soon. I baked the bread in the bottom third of the oven as specified in the recipe, but maybe I should try the centre next time.
        Thanks so much for the suggestions! 

      2. Grace, mines took 90 minutes to bake and could have baked for another 5-10 minutes if I wasn’t rushing to work this morning. My mistake was I used normal spoon for applesauce which I think was bigger than a tablespoon because the jar was 270 grams and after 6 spoons there was only half of it left. So next time it will be 4-5 spoons and no sugar because its a sweetened applesauce. But its edible and actually tastes really nice a bit sweet though 😀

  4. Hi Sally. Yesterday I tried your whole wheat banana bread recipe. Oh my, it was delicious! I love the fact it’s healthy ingredients. My family loved it! We agreed, it doesn’t need sugar at all. Believe it or not, recently this early morning, I went to the kitchen and it was gone! Lol. I’m excited to try your new chocolate zucchini bread recipe :-).

  5. Hi! I don’t want to use the applesauce since I cannot find any. What can I substitute it with? Would regular fats such as butter suffice or should I go with yoghurt as the other person you recommended to? Thanks!

  6. Hello Sally, I love your blog and have baked lots of different recipes from your site (and always have success). I really appreciate how much effort you go into in researching and testing all your recipes. You are my “go to ” Blog site whenever I want to bake a treat and I love your pictures. Trying to clean out my pantry and freezer before a move and wanted to use up some Valhrona Cocoa, whole wheat flour, hazelnuts and a Lindt white chocolate coconut bar. I wanted to let you know how great it turned out and how adaptable this recipe was. I basically just added 1/4 cup and a TBSP of cocoa, subbed coconut oil for the applesauce, added the cut up chocolate bar but omitted the cinnamon. I still have about a dozen Rocher Ferraros and may just make another loaf to use up those in the batter. Thank you for another great recipe!

    1. Thanks so much Nova– your variation of this recipe sounds INCREDIBLE. Thank you so much for sharing! Good luck with your move.

  7. Thanks for this awesome recipe. Tried it out today…and kids are loving it!  To be honest I made some changes to the recipe…I ran short of banana pulp, so added some mango pulp along with it and put dried cranberries and chocolate chips instead of walnut! Yummy

  8. LOVED THESE! I made them into muffins and they turned out great. Moist, perfectly sweet and hard to believe they are healthy. Do yourself a favor and make them ASAP!!

  9. Fabulous recipe! I followed it verbatim, except I used whole wheat pastry flour (which I suppose has a finer texture than regular whole wheat flour). The bread is very similar to full-fat versions I’ve made, with just a slightly chewier bite to it. Will definitely add this to my baking arsenal!

  10. These were surprisingly delicious! Like you said, wheat flour usually gives baked goods a heavy thick texture, but these were light and soft! I actually halved the recipe and used coconut oil instead of applesauce, and (wait for it) RAISINS because I didn’t have any walnuts. 😉 They came out a little sweeter than I would have preferred, probably because of the raisins. So if anyone else tries that, maybe dial back on the amount of sweetener used. I would have added a tiny bit more salt, too, to help balance the sweetness with the added raisins. Excellent recipe!!

      1. Thanks! I made it tonight and it’s a winner! It’s not like my mom’s… but it also doesn’t have a cup of sugar and a ton of butter, either! A nice, healthy option. Also loved your tip to add foil to the top to keep it from getting too brown–genius.

  11. Hi Sally,

    Been getting your newsletter for a while but this was the first time I actually managed to try one of your recipe. 

    The taste is quite good but because of a slight mistake the shape wasn’t as good. I didn’t grease the pan so while trying to get it out the middle bit came off first and then had to get the bottom and sides off. Still not bad for a first attempt. I made it in a breadmaker instead and it worked just as fine. I didn’t let the dough cycle to fully complete just ran it for 15 minutes but had to bake it for 90 minutes, maybe because I used too much applesauce and I didn’t realise it was sweetened so next time will go easy on sugar.

    All in all good result with few disasters 😉 

    Thanks for a great recipe.

      1. Hmm.. i used a mix of wholemeal flour(We dont have wholewheat flour here) and all purpose flour. Could that be the problem?

      2. Hi Joy,
        I have made it few times now with slightly variations and it was chewy everytime and I had to bake it for nearly 2 hours. I was using a bread maker to mix and bake it so maybe the temperature is not right. Will try it in the oven next time. It tastes good regardless 😉 Oh and I have made my own unsweetened applesauce now because the super markets don’t do unsweetened applesauce in the UK.

  12. I love, love, love this recipe. I made it without the sugar and the bread came out moist and sweet. So happy I can make a banana bread with no butter, white flour and sugar. Thank you!

    1. Hi, did you add any extra honey to make up for not using the sugar or did you keep to the 1/4 cup of honey only? I really want to try it but don’t want to use sugar. Thanks 🙂

  13. Hi Sally, 
    Absolutely loved this banana bread. I’ve been searching for a healthy version. My questions to you is if I wanted to bake this in a mini muffin pan, how long should I bake it for?

  14. Thanks for another great recipe! I cut both the sugar and honey by more than half and added 1/3 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips and it tasted delicious.  Thanks for anothe great recipe! 

  15. I made this today as my “Birthday Bread” (my birthday was actually 4 days ago but shhhhhh) and my family members loved it! (Of course, I did too.) I ran out of applesauce so I used 2 tablespoons of oil, and it was one of the best banana breads I’ve ever had. Definitely using this recipe again! 🙂

  16. can I just take a moment to thank you for this amazing receipe.. you made my day, and my night too lol! the bread tastes the same as a banana bread I had in my trip to Bali and I wanted to taste somethibg semilir ever since. to top it all of, IT’A FREAKIN HEALTHY! which I also need! I love your work! THANK U THANK U THAAAANK U!!!

  17. Hi there!  I am trying to make eggless desserts.  I usually sub flax meal “eggs” for the eggs to bind baked goods.  Do you think it would work here?  thanks 🙂

  18. This was amazing! Admittedly, I was unsure at first– I tried omitting oil in a banana bread recipe in the past, and they turned out really chewy– but this recipe kept the bread soft and light. I made the muffins and sadly had to omit the nuts because I had none on hand. Already they’re almost gone! Thanks for such a great recipe 🙂

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