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. I made this today and it is DELICIOUS! I only had 2 bananas so I grated an apple and added that too. Also I used regular old vegetable oil as that’s what I had, ditto for regular white flour. Mine was a tad less healthy maybe… Thanks Sally!

  2. This is exactly what I was looking for, healthy applesauce instead of butter or oil. Can’t wait to make this after work. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Hi,

    Thank you for the great recipe. I used coconut oil and multigrain flour. It’s just gone into,the overnight. Fingers crossed. Will post pic if it comes out alright. Also could you please mention the quantity for coconut oil substitute. Thank you

  4. I’ve made these many, many times with the “help” of my grandsons. I use agave nectar instead of honey and brown sugar. I increase the oil to 7 tbls. This makes the muffins more moist.

  5. I have tested about 5 of Sally’s recipes. 2 cupcakes. 2 cookies. and this bread. Her recipe is my go to of all blogs. They come out exactly how she has written them. This pumpkin bread is delicious and perfectly moist. I did use oil instead of applesauce. I love the rich taste of honey and perfect crumb. I thought the sweetness was just right. Definitely do not over stir. Mix until just blended. I doubled the recipe and it came out perfect.

  6. I tried it, turned out okay but very very wet – I may have used too much applesauce!

    I left it baking for over 70 minutes as I was a tid afraid it wasn’t done! But the taste – delicious!

    Definitely will try it next time with less applesauce!

  7. I’ve done a lot of low-fat baking and this is one of the best recipes I’ve ever tried. I just made it, and unfortunately I couldn’t wait for it to cool completely 🙁 This is a character flaw… But seriously, this is SO good and SO moist! I used buttermilk because I had it, and because I have another low-fat banana bread recipe that calls for buttermilk. But that one was always too sweet and one-dimensional. This one is absolutely my new favorite!

  8. Hi Sally,
    This is my FAVORITE banana bread recipe! But I wanted to make them as mini muffins this time; could you recommend baking times/temperature, please?
    Thanks a lot. Huge fan!

  9. I made this recipe, and it is WONDERFUL. Glad you said the bananas should equal 1.25 cups. Mine only went to 1, so I added a little canola oil, but could have adjusted with more applesauce. I also added a little fresh grated nutmeg. Dori Greenspan says nutmeg and bananas just go together. Very moist and fabulous!! Thanks!

  10. Hi Sally
    I love your recipes and they always deliver but I just don’t know where I went wrong with this one. I made the banana bread on Friday and cut it yesterday (in m experience, banana bread always tastes better when it’s been left a few days before cutting) but I’ve had to compost it . It was very very claggy and heavy in texture despite a skewer having come out clean before removing from the oven. The only differenc in the ingredients was that I had to use Greek yogurt as I didn’t have any sour cream. I’m in the UK and we don’t have All Purpose Flour so I used our Plain Flour for cakes and muffins.
    Any advice would be appreciated.
    Best wishes
    Margaret

  11. I’ve made this recipe several times and it is always FANTASTIC! I make the loaves and muffins. I usually mix really ripe bananas (basically black ones) and fairly ripe ones to even out the sweetness. I also freeze my ripe bananas and this recipe works really well with frozen bananas. I also add a touch more vanilla and cinnamon; I’ve even substituted pumpkin pie spice LOL Thank you for the guilt-free recipe!

  12. So I’m not usually into the whole wheat thing because it usually doesn’t taste as good as… well literally anything else. I’m about to make this banana bread for the 3rd/4th time because its so amazing!!! Great taste, great texture, it has it all. I don’t always have applesauce, so sometimes its plain yogurt or sour cream, but its always amazing! Thank you!

  13. I made this bread this afternoon and it’s truly is delicious. I think I’ll through chocolate chips in it next time instead of walnuts 🙂
    Also, FYI….nutrition information is greatly appreciated, so I plugged in the information in a recipe calorie count and nutrition website: verywellfit.com (approx. 188 calories per slice)
    I have more whole wheat recipes to try. Thanks for sharing.

  14. I just made this recipe and it’s great! Perfect texture and not overly sweet like your white flour recipies. I was looking for a healthy banana bread recipe to make for my husband. My husband approved and you will too!!!

    1. Hi Sonny, I haven’t tested this with cashew flour but usually nut flours are not a 1:1 swap and your bread will likely turn out too dense without changing anything else.

  15. What size pan if I’m making It in the round. My loaf pans are just not the size given. I have tiny ones. Can I use them? How high should I fill them? Thanks

  16. I have made many, many of your recipes, sometimes changing them to fit my sons medical diet. They are always wonderful. I was wondering if Homemade oat milk would work in this? I use it in a lot of baking and it adds a wonderful flavor but the texture is a bit different. What are your thoughts.

  17. I have homemade applesauce but it is sweetened. Should I leave out the other sweetener in the recipe or will it change the consistency of the bread? I’m a loyal believer in all of your recipes

    1. Hi Carol! You can still use it. It’s a small amount, so that extra sweetness won’t really change the final recipe’s taste. If you’d like, you can slightly reduce the honey. But I personally wouldn’t.

  18. FELICITACIONES POR ESTA RECETA, LO HICE Y DE VERDAD ES INCREIBLE EL SABOR DEL PLATANO SE SIENTE SU SABOR ES ÚNICO, HÚMEDO Y SUAVE
    DE VERDAD ME QUEDO ESPECTACULAR
    GRACIAS POR ENSEÑARME TUS MARAVILLAS

  19. I made the recipe into muffins (got 12), and added chocolate chips instead of walnuts. Really yummy! I only used 30g honey and no granulated sugar, with the chocolate, it’s sweet enough for me. Thanks for another great recipe!

  20. I have been using the same great banana bread recipe for years but today I made my first batch of your recipe. It is truly wonderful and will now be my gold standard. Every recipe you write is an upgrade from what I have been using. Thanks for all your hard work.

  21. This was excellent, and my husband loved it too! I made it with dark chocolate chips instead of nuts. I doubled the recipe and baked both loaves at the same time. I had no issues with over or under mixing; they turned out great and were done after 1 hour in the oven. Without all the extra added sugar that banana bread often has, I think the banana flavor shines through even more. It’s just sweet enough, so I think the amount of sugar is perfect. I did double the amount of cinnamon the recipe called for, since I love cinnamon (2 tsp for 2 loaves, maybe a pinch more).

  22. I’ve made this recipe twice already, both baking it as muffins: they taste great, and are so moist! My hubby and I love them!
    The only thing is I keep ending up with 12 muffins instead of 24 as expected. Not a big issue though, as they are super easy to prepare!

  23. Someone may have asked this but I don’t have time to read all the comments, so sorry if it’s a repeat. Any changes needed if I substitute apple butter instead of apple sauce? I have some apple butter on hand from making your fab breakfast cookies!

    1. Hi Hilary! I wouldn’t personally make any changes, but you could try slightly reducing the brown sugar or honey because apple butter is on the sweeter side.

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