This whole wheat banana bread recipe is perfectly moist, lightly sweetened, and full of flavor! You can make this healthy banana bread plain, with chopped walnuts, or even with chocolate chips. It all begins with ripe bananas…or does it?
We’ve had a bounty of ripe bananas in this house and I had to do something about it. The thing is, I’m kind of a banana freak. It’s my absolute favorite snack…especially with a little bit of peanut butter on top. However, I prefer my bananas super yellow, and almost on the green side.
I know. That has a tendency to gross a few people out. My apologies.
Once a few brown specks form, I’m done. But I’m not done entirely because those brown specks are a sign. It means they’re ripe and ready to be made into banana bread.
Why is Whole Wheat Banana Bread Healthy?
Whole wheat is healthier because it includes the bran. That bran has fiber in it and we all know the benefits of added fiber in our diets. That’s one reason this whole wheat banana bread is healthier than a typical recipe. That said, I’ve also reduced the sugar content too.
Honestly, I was so happy when I decided to make banana bread with whole wheat flour. I love the idea of making this moist quick bread a little bit healthier!
Truth be told, I think this is the best ever banana bread! But don’t tell my other vegan banana bread recipe. It’s pretty good too! I think you could set the two side-by-side, and you wouldn’t be able to tell this one is the healthier, low sugar, whole wheat version. That’s impressive!
What if you don’t have ripe bananas?
If your bananas are not ripe, there’s an easy trick to get yellow bananas ready for banana bread — bake them! Here’s how you do it. Place unpeeled, individual bananas on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 30 minutes at 300°F. The first thing you’ll notice is that the outside of the banana skins will turn black. That’s a good sign they’re getting tender and sweet inside.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow them to cool. Now you can peel the bananas and use them to make bread.
How to Mash Bananas
There are many ways to mash bananas for your bananas recipes. First things first, you need to peel them. For the fork method, place the bananas on a plate and use a fork to mash away. You can also use an electric mixer. To that, place the bananas in a mixing bowl and use a mixer on medium to medium-low speed. My favorite tool is the food processor. Place the bananas in a food processor bowl and pulse in quick bursts until the bananas are mashed.
Whichever process you use, be sure to leave some texture of the bananas because that will increase the banana flavor in your bread.
Banana Bread Ingredients
I’m so happy to tell you that this recipe has only nine ingredients. I pared it down to the most basic, best ingredients necessary. I also love that they’re all fairly available ingredients.
- Ripe bananas — I used 4 small bananas. You could also get by with 3 large bananas. See my tips above if you don’t have ripe bananas.
- Vegetable oil — We’ll use just a bit of vegetable oil for the moist texture.
- Coconut sugar — I love using coconut sugar because I think it’s a bit healthier and the caramel flavor is nice too. No coconut sugar? Substitute brown sugar, granulated sugar, or even maple syrup.
- Apple cider vinegar — It seems strange to add vinegar to a quick bread, but it works. The vinegar activates the baking soda causing a chemical reaction (you can hear it bubbling when you combine the wet and dry ingredients). This creates lift, resulting in a moist crumb.
- Water — Yes, it’s tempting to use plant-based milk, however, the goal is to activate the flour’s gluten to create structure. Water does the trick just right.
- Whole wheat flour — I used basic whole wheat flour, although you could use white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour.
- Baking soda — I’m relying on the baking soda combined with the vinegar to give this banana bread its high rise in the middle.
- Salt — We’ll use just a little bit of salt to enhance the flavor of the sweetness
- Walnuts — I toasted whole walnuts in the oven for 5 – 7 minutes (don’t bake them too long or they’ll burn). Then I let them cool and chopped them. I find toasted walnuts yield the most flavor. If you don’t want a nut bread, simply leave them out or substitute some dark chocolate chips.
Here’s what you don’t see in this recipe:
- Vanilla extract — I use high-quality vanilla extract, but not with this banana bread. In fact, I’ve been guilty of adding vanilla extract out of habit, but it’s not necessary for a recipe as flavorful as a banana quick bread.
- Applesauce — A lot of banana bread recipes call for applesauce, but I find it makes the bread gummy in the middle, even when baked longer.
- Eggs — Another completely unnecessary ingredient is eggs. Of course, I’m a vegan baker so I never cook with eggs. That said, many recipes don’t need any eggs at all. In fact, bananas are a common egg replacer, so you never need eggs in a banana bread recipe.
How to Make Whole Wheat Banana Bread
Now that we’ve discussed what’s in (and not in) this recipe, let’s talk about my favorite part, how to make it.
Step One: Recipe Prep Work
First of all, you’ll want to situate your oven rack in a lower position in the oven. Why? To prevent the top of the loaf from getting overly browned. You’ll also want to preheat your oven to 350°F. Finally, spray a standard 10X5 loaf pan with vegetable spray.
I also like to add a small sheet of parchment paper, cut to size, in the bottom of the loaf pan. This step helps when it comes time to remove the loaf from the pan. Also, because the loaf is baking in the lower part of the oven, I find it helps prevent the bottom of the loaf from getting overdone. Once you’ve added a piece of parchment paper, go ahead and spray it with vegetable oil too.
Step Two: Prepare the Wet Ingredients
In a food processor add the bananas, oil, sugar, and water. Pulse this in short bursts until everything is combined, leaving some banana chunks.
I find leaving some texture from the bananas adds greatly to the flavor of the banana bread. Also, if you’re not certain if you’re using the right amount of bananas, you can pulse the bananas separately and then pour them out into a measuring cup. After you make this recipe a few times, you can skip this step because you will feel more comfortable with a visual cue of how many bananas are needed.
New to Vegan Baking?
The idea of making cookies, cakes or muffins without eggs or dairy can seem like a hill too tall to climb! But with the simple tips in my Guide to Vegan Baking, you’ll be baking like a vegan pro in no time!
Step Three: Prepare Dry Ingredients
Next, pour the whole wheat flour, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl. I like to use a whisk to give it a good stir to make sure it’s all combined.
Here’s where you’ll chop the toasted walnuts and fold them into the flour mixture.
Step Four: Make the Batter
Pour the banana mixture in with the flour mixture and stir it all together. When it comes to a quick bread, you don’t want to overmix the batter. This overworks the gluten and can cause the bread to be chewy. But you also don’t want to leave big clumps of flour either.
So, stir until you don’t see clumps of flour and you should be fine.
Note: Have your oven preheated and prepare the baking pan before combining the wet and dry ingredients in this recipe. You’ll want to get the pan in the oven quickly once the batter is prepared.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Use oven mitts to remove the pan from the oven and allow it cool before slicing and serving warm.
Storing Banana Bread
When I make whole wheat banana nut bread, there’s not usually any leftovers. That’s because I love making it when guests come over. But when it’s just me and Shawn, we definitely don’t finish off the loaf in one sitting.
To store it, I recommend refrigerating any uneaten bread in an airtight container. Because banana bread is moist it can go bad quickly at room temperature. If it’s not overly warm in your kitchen and you feel confident you’ll eat it in a day or two, then that would be fine. Otherwise, I recommend going with refrigeration.
You can also freeze bananas bread. Cut individual slices and place them on a tray and then place the tray in the freezer. Alternatively, you can wrap slices in waxed paper. Either way, transfer the frozen slices to a freezer bag.
Stored correctly, they will keep up to 2 months in the freezer.
Overall, this is my favorite recipe for healthy banana nut bread!
Favorite Banana Recipes
Here’s some more of my favorite banana recipes for you to try:
- This vegan banana cake is everyone’s favorite
- I love vegan banana pancakes for breakfast
- Make this healthy banana chia pudding for dessert or breakfast
- This chocolate peanut butter protein smoothie is full of bananas too
- Banana-infused nice cream is the simplest dessert ever
- Finally, be sure to try these tasty vegan banana muffins!
I hope you love this recipe as we do! Have you tried it? Be sure and leave a comment and a rating of this recipe below and then take a quick photo and share it with me using #namelymarly on Instagram. I love seeing your creations!
Whole Wheat Banana Bread
- 3 ripe bananas about 1⅓ cup, mashed
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup water
- 1¾ cups whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup walnuts toasted*
- Situate rack on a lower position in the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a standard 10X5 loaf pan with vegetable spray.
- In a food processor add the bananas, oil, sugar, vinegar, and water. Pulse until combined, leaving some banana chunks. Set aside.
- In a large bowl add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine.
- Chop the toasted walnuts and fold them into the flour mixture. Stir until the nuts are coated. Add the wet ingredients. Stir until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, until a the crust is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and cool before slicing and serving warm. Refrigerate any uneaten bread in an airtight container. Individual slices can be frozen by placing them on a tray and freezing, then transfer frozen pieces to a freezer bag. Stored correctly, they will keep up to 2 months in the freezer.
The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.