Whole Wheat Banana Bread

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?

A loaf of whole wheat banana bread has several slices cut out. There's a small bowl of walnuts behind 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 health 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 a 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 a 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 a 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 yields the most flavor. If you don’t want a nut bread, simply leave them out or substitute some dark chocolate chips.

What’s Missing?

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 in 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.
A slice of banana bread sits in front of the rest of the loaf. There's a measuring cup with whole wheat flour and a bowl with walnuts behind it.

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 on a lower position in the oven. Why? To prevent the top of the loaf 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.

Bananas and other ingredients are in a food processor.

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.

A bowl of flour is being poured into batter.

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 a the crust is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Use oven mitts to remove the pan from oven and allow it cool before slicing and serving warm.

A slice of banana bread has a bite taken out of it and is sitting on a plate in front of the rest of the loaf and a bowl of walnuts.

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 refrigreation.

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:

Looking straight on at a lot of bread with slices cut out. There's a blue kitchen towel and a bowl of walnuts behind it.

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!

Looking straight on at a lot of bread with slices cut out. There's a blue kitchen towel and a bowl of walnuts behind it.

Whole Wheat Banana Bread

This simple whole wheat banana bread is a healthier version of the traditional recipe, but still yields a tender, sweet quick bread with a crispy crust. This loaf is made with walnuts, but feel free to make it with or without nuts.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Bread
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Banana Nut Bread, Vegan Banana Bread, Whole Wheat Banana Bread
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 230kcal
Author: Marly

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe bananas about 1⅓ cup, mashed
  • cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup walnuts toasted*

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

* Toast walnuts by baking for 5 minutes at 300F
** You can use smaller loaf pans but be sure to reduce the baking time. 
Make two loaves by doubling each ingredient as written (no adaptations necessary).
Nutrition Facts
Whole Wheat Banana Bread
Amount Per Serving
Calories 230 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat 12g18%
Saturated Fat 6g30%
Sodium 185mg8%
Potassium 229mg7%
Carbohydrates 31g10%
Fiber 4g16%
Sugar 10g11%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 23IU0%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 15mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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.

Enjoy!

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4 Responses to Whole Wheat Banana Bread

  1. I definitely want to try your recipe but I have a question too. I have a family favorite banana bread recipe that does call for 2 eggs. If I remove them from the recipe do I need to add something in their place? If you are able to let me know that would be great. Thanks!

    • Hi Lydia. I’m taking a guess here because I haven’t seen your family recipe or tried it, but I think you would be safe to try it without the eggs. The way I look at it, the eggs in banana bread serve two purposes: 1) binding and 2) moisture. You’ll achieve the binding thanks to the flour and moisture thanks to the bananas. Let me know how it goes!

  2. Finally, a whole wheat banana bread recipe that has that great traditional texture and flavor. I put the AVC in with the wet ingredients and that must have been the right thing to do, since it baked up wonderfully. Just for the record, I doubled the recipe and it worked very well.
    Thank you, Marley, I’ve been waiting a long time for a really good banana bread recipe like this. I can’t stop eating it!

    • Hi Kat! You just made my day. I feel like we’re kindred spirits here — both of us see the value in a really good banana bread with whole wheat flour. I agree with you that the texture needs to be right. Thanks for the doubling tip. I’ll add that to the notes too so others will have that as well.

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