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.
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. And once they start to turn brown, I’m more than happy to make some banana bread.
What are the best bananas for banana bread? You should be using bananas with lots of brown spots. To be honest, the browner the better! Overripe bananas will add a nice banana flavor and moist texture.
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- Because whole wheat flour doesn’t develop gluten the same way that all-purpose flour does, this recipe doesn’t require an egg substitute
- Ripe bananas add the perfect flavor, density, and moisture
- Apple cider 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.
What You Need
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:
- Ripe bananas — I used 4 small bananas. You could also get by with 3 large bananas. See my tips if you don’t have ripe bananas.
- Vegetable oil — We’ll use just a bit of vegetable oil for the moist texture.
- Sugar — I love using coconut sugar because I think it’s a bit healthier and the caramel flavor is nice too. Substitute brown sugar, granulated sugar, or even maple syrup.
- Apple cider vinegar — I used apple cider vinegar or you can substitute white vinegar or lemon juice.
- 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 — Baking soda combined with the vinegar gives 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 around 5 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 dark dairy-free chocolate chips.
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.
- Pulse the bananas, oil, sugar, vinegar, and water with a food processor, leaving some banana bits.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
- Chop the toasted walnuts and fold them into the flour mixture. Stir until the nuts are coated.
- Make the batter by stirring together the wet and dry ingredients until just combined.
- 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.
- Remove the bread from the oven and cool before slicing and serving warm.
Here are the step-by-step process on how to make this whole wheat banana bread:
Step One: 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.
Step Two: Prepare Dry Ingredients
Next, stir together the whole wheat flour, baking soda, and salt into a mixing bowl.
If using them, chop the toasted walnuts and fold them into the flour mixture.
Step Three: Make the Batter
Pour the banana mixture in with the flour mixture and stir it all together. Stir until you don’t see clumps of flour.
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 to 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.
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!
Transfer the bread to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Because banana bread is moist it can go bad quickly at room temperature. If it’s not overly warm in your kitchen it should keep up to 3 days at room temperature. You can also freeze banana bread. Place either the whole loaf or individual slices in a freezer-safe container or bag for up to 2 months.
Why is whole wheat banana bread healthy?
Whole wheat is healthier because it includes the bran. That bran has fiber, and we all know the benefits of added fiber in our diets. That’s one reason banana bread made with whole wheat is healthier than a typical recipe.
What if you don't have ripe bananas?
If you have unripe bananas, there’s an easy trick to get yellow bananas ready for banana bread — bake them! Place unpeeled, individual bananas on a baking sheet and bake for around 30 minutes at 300°F. The banana skins will turn black, indicating they’re tender and sweet inside. Remove the pan from the oven. Once the bananas are cool enough to touch, you can peel and use them to make bread.
How to Mash Bananas
Here are three ways to mash bananas for banana recipes:
- Fork — Place peeled bananas on a plate and use a fork to mash away.
- Mixer — Add peeled bananas in a mixing bowl and use a mixer on medium to medium-low speed.
- Food Processor — Place peeled bananas in a food processor bowl and pulse in quick bursts until the bananas are pureed.
Be sure to leave some texture of the bananas because that will increase the banana flavor in your bread.
Favorite Banana Recipes
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
- 1 ¾ 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 10×5 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.
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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.
This post was originally published in 2020 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2021.