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!

272 Comments

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  1. I’d love to add oats to this but wondering if I have to put less flour then? What do you think?

    1. I would test things out and only sub a small amount of oats for flour and work up from there.

  2. Christina Giuliano says:

    Can this be baked in to muffins?

    1. Absolutely. Please see recipe notes.

  3. 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?

    1. Absolutely! Yogurt would be great.

  4. Hi Sally! Could I replace the walnuts with blueberries? Thanks!

  5. 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 😀

  6. 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 :-).

  7. 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!

    1. yogurt, oil, melted butter– all would work here!

      1. Hi Sally. In case of coconut oil, would the quantity be 90ml instead of 90g ??

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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!!

  11. 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!

  12. 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!!

  13. I have a similar recipe but I bake it in a bundt pan. Do you think I could do that for this recipe?

    1. Hi Jacquelyn! The recipe would have to be doubled– not nearly enough batter for a bundt.

      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.

  14. Hi Sally

    I just found this recipe and can’t wait to try it. Will almond milk work instead of milk?
    Thanks!

  15. Just made this! I love anything that has bananas in it.  This bread came out delicious! Thank You for a great recipe!

  16. 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.

  17. Hello Sally! Made this yesterday and it tasted so wonderful (: I have a question though- is it meant to be chewy?

    1. Not too chewy– soft and dense. Did you sub any ingredients?

      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.

  18. 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 🙂

  19. Monica campos says:

    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?

    1. I’d say 11-13 minutes in a mini muffin pan.

      1. Thank you. 13 minutes was perfect in my convection oven!

  20. 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! 

  21. Love this recipe! 

  22. 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! 🙂

  23. 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!!!

  24. Can i use unsweetend almond milk? 

  25. It might, I’ve never tried it.

  26. Hi! Could I replace the whole wheat flour with ordinary AP flour? Thanks!

    1. Absolutely!

  27. Thyme @ Angel's Food Cake says:

    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 🙂

  28. When I make banana bread I get good results using whole wheat pastry flour.
    Still the advantages of whole wheat, but gives a lighter texture than
    regular whole wheat flour.  I also like w/w pastry flour for cookies and biscuits as
    well.

  29. Hi

    I would love to make this with no sugar while maintaining its original sweetness. So should I simply omit the sugar entirely or would u recommend adding more honey to replace the omitted sugar? If I need to add more honey, how much?

    1. I’d add more honey. The bread would be quite bland. Feel free to play around with the recipe.

  30. Really good! To be honest I thought I would end up with a brick but it was yummy. My husband had two slices and noticed that it could be used to make muffins. This is definitely a keeper/

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