Want to make someone’s day? Bake them some banana bread! Banana bread is one of those classic, comfort food recipes that fills the whole house with warmth and makes everything better. Banana bread is magic.
I perfected this banana bread recipe for my cookbook and wanted to share with you here. This recipe has all the hallmarks of classic banana bread—it’s fluffy, moist, infused with sweet banana flavor, and beloved by toddlers and adults alike.
Bonus? This recipe requires just one bowl, a few measuring cups and some basic ingredients.
What makes this banana bread healthy?
- This banana bread recipe is made with 100 percent whole wheat flour, unlike traditional banana bread recipes that call for refined flour and lots of processed sugar.
- This banana bread is naturally sweetened with honey or maple syrup, which offer some trace nutrients that white sugar does not.
- Lastly, this recipe calls for a reasonable amount of unrefined oil rather than whole sticks of butter (choose from virgin coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable oil).
As you can see, my homemade banana bread has plenty of redeeming qualities, chief being that it won’t send your blood sugar levels for a loop. You can keep them all to yourself, though. No one will be able to tell that this is healthy banana bread!
Banana bread flour options
This recipe is flexible! Any of the following flours will work well. I love to use white whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour—they offer all the whole wheat nutrients, without the characteristically nutty flavour.
- All-purpose flour
- Gluten-free all-purpose flour blend
- Oat flour*
- Spelt flour
- Whole wheat flour
- Whole wheat pastry flour
- White whole wheat flour
*To substitute oat flour, you’ll need to use 2 1/2 cups, for reasons elaborated in my guide to oat flour.
Want to make your banana bread with almond flour? You sure can, but it’s not a simple substitute, so follow my almond flour-based banana bread recipe instead.
Tip: How to measure flour
For best results, it’s important to measure your flour properly. Here’s how to measure flour in cups using the “spoon and swoop” method:
- Gently stir your flour with a large spoon to loosen it up.
- Spoon the flour into your measuring cup (don’t scoop it in!).
- Level off the excess with a butter knife.
Banana bread variations
Now that I’ve finally perfected this basic banana bread, feel free to change up this recipe and make it your own. Toss some chopped pecans or walnuts into the batter! Same goes for chocolate chips. You could also add raisins, chopped dried fruit or slices of bananas.
Craving muffins instead? Follow my recipe for healthy banana muffins.
Following a special diet? With a couple of minor tweaks, you can make this bread vegan (so dairy free and egg free, too) or gluten free. Check the recipe notes for details.
Healthy Banana Bread
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 55 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
- Yield: 1 loaf
With this healthy banana bread recipe, you’re only a few simple ingredients away from the best banana bread ever! It’s made with whole wheat flour and naturally sweetened with honey or maple syrup. You can easily make this banana bread vegan or gluten free—check the recipe notes for details. Recipe yields 1 loaf (about 10 slices).
- ½ cup honey (168 grams) or maple syrup (155 grams)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup (225 grams) mashed ripe bananas (about 2 ½ medium or 2 large bananas)
- ¼ cup (56 grams) milk of choice or water
- 1 teaspoon baking soda (NOT baking powder; they aren’t the same!)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more to swirl on top
- 1 ¾ cups (220 grams) white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour**
- Totally optional: ½ cup mix-ins like chopped walnuts or pecans, chocolate chips, raisins, chopped dried fruit, fresh banana slices…
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius) and grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
- In a large bowl, beat the oil and honey together with a whisk. Add the eggs and beat well, then whisk in the mashed bananas and milk. (If your coconut oil solidifies on contact with cold ingredients, simply let the bowl rest in a warm place for a few minutes, like on top of your stove, or warm it for about 10 seconds in the microwave.)
- Add the baking soda, vanilla, salt and cinnamon, and whisk to blend. Lastly, switch to a big spoon and stir in the flour, just until combined. Some lumps are ok! If you’re adding any additional mix-ins, gently fold them in now.
- Pour the batter into your greased loaf pan and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. If you’d like a pretty swirled effect, run the tip of a knife across the batter in a zig-zag pattern.
- Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (typically, if I haven’t added any mix-ins, my bread is done at 55 minutes; if I have added mix-ins, it needs closer to 60 minutes). Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for at least 10 minutes. You may need to run a butter knife around the edges to loosen the bread from the pan. Carefully transfer the loaf to a wire rack to cool before slicing.
Storage suggestions: This bread is moist, so it will keep for just two or three days at room temperature. Store it in the refrigerator for five to seven days, or in the freezer for up to three months or so. I like to slice the bread before freezing and defrost individual slices, either by letting them rest at room temperature or lightly toasting them.
*Oil options: I love coconut oil here. I used unrefined coconut oil and can hardly taste it in the final product. Olive oil might lend an herbal note to the muffins, if you’re into that (I tested with California Olive Ranch’s “Everyday” variety and couldn’t even taste it). Vegetable oil has a neutral flavor, but the average vegetable/canola oil is highly processed, so I recommend using cold-pressed sunflower oil or grapeseed oil if possible.
**Flour alternatives: In place of the whole wheat flour, you can use an equal amount of all purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, spelt flour, or gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. Or, substitute 2 ½ cups oat flour.
Make it vegan: Use maple syrup instead of honey, replace the eggs with flax eggs and choose non-dairy milk (I used almond milk) or water.
Make it dairy-free: Choose non-dairy milk (I used almond milk) or water.
Make it egg-free: Replace the eggs with flax eggs.
Make it gluten-free: Use an equal amount of Bob’s Red Mill’s gluten-free blend or 2 ½ cups certified gluten-free oat flour. Do NOT substitute coconut flour.
Make it lower in fat: I would argue that this bread contains a healthy amount of fat, but you can replace the oil with applesauce if you’re following a low-fat diet.