Whole wheat banana bread is a staple in my house – my kids love it and it’s a perfect way to use ripe bananas. It freezes well and makes a great lunchbox treat!
Why you’ll love it: You’ll love the one bowl method I use to make this bread, for easy cleanup.
How long it takes: 15 minutes to stir up, 1 hour to bake
Equipment you’ll need: large bowl, measuring utensils, masher, loaf tin, oven
Servings: makes 1 loaf
This banana bread recipe is one of my favorites and it’s one that I make so frequently. I even let my type-A personality take the backseat sometimes and let my kids help me out with it. They love using the potato masher to mash the bananas. They also love talking me into adding some chocolate chips.
I’ve shared a few varieties of this bread: whole wheat caramel banana bread, whole wheat banana bread with chocolate chips and coconut, reduced-fat chocolate banana bread, and banana bread muffins! Healthy banana bread is another favorite. We really do love this whole wheat banana bread in every shape and form.
About This Banana Bread
Even with all its different variations, this recipe is the one I go to most often. If I have enough bananas, I almost always make two loaves. I’m all about doubling up on things because it isn’t much more work to use a bigger bowl and wash two loaf pans. Then we have one loaf to enjoy right away AND a loaf to freeze. Yay!
I’ll run through the recipe here with lots of additional tips but feel free to jump to the recipe card below. You’ll find complete instructions and nutrition information.
What You’ll Need
- Bananas! It wouldn’t be banana bread without bananas. You’ll need one and a half cups of mashed ripe bananas which is about 4 large bananas. Use nice ripe bananas, the riper the better. Bananas with brown speckles or even completely brown are best for banana bread.
- Applesauce: You’ll need a half cup which happens to be just the amount that’s in the snack sized servings of applesauce. The applesauce replaces much of the oil that’s usually added to quick breads. I usually use unsweetened applesauce.
- Oil: While most banana bread recipes have up to a cup of butter, this healthier recipe has only 2 tablespoons of oil!
- Whole Wheat Flour: Whole wheat flour adds lots of nutrition and fiber and gives the bread a hearty texture. If you prefer, all-purpose flour can be substituted or even a combination of the two flours.
- Sugar: Use regular granulated white sugar. There’s a lot of natural sweetness from those ripe bananas and the applesauce.
- Eggs: Most quick breads contain eggs and this bread is no exception.
- Pure Vanilla Extract: Adds a nice sweet flavor. If you like to vary things a bit, try maple extract.
- Baking Soda, Baking Powder, and Salt: Normal quick bread ingredients, they add leavening and keep the bread from tasting flat.
How To Make Banana Bread
When I first began making this banana bread, I’d always use three bowls. One bowl for mashing the bananas, one to combine the wet ingredients, and one final bowl for the dry ingredients. It’s the type-A in me again, probably. Everything in its place!
My one-bowl method! However, since I don’t like to do dishes (who does?), I switched to the method I use now for most of my quick breads and muffins. With this method, you only need one bowl.
Guess what? Your bread turns out the same whether you use three bowls or one. And it’s a third of the dishes. That’s a beautiful thing, right?
Here’s how to do it: Start off by mashing the bananas in the bottom of a large bowl. To the bananas, add the sugar and the rest of the wet ingredients: eggs, applesauce, oil, and vanilla.
Give the contents of the bowl a vigorous stir, making sure the eggs are well blended. You shouldn’t be seeing runny whites or yellows.
On top of that mixture, gently add the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt. Give those a little toss together – I use my fingertips! – before stirring them into the wet ingredients.
Gently fold the flour mixture into the banana mixture until there’s no dry parts. Try not to overmix the batter. It will look a little lumpy and that’s okay. Overmixing makes the bread tough or have a lot of big holes.
Scrape the batter into a loaf pan and bake! It will take about an hour. Use the toothpick method to test if it’s done.
Wondering how to tell when your bread is ready to take out of the oven? Stick a toothpick halfway into the bread, near the center of the loaf. If the toothpick comes out clean or with a crumb or two attached, the bread is ready to take out of the oven. If it comes out with sticky batter, let the bread bake a bit longer.
Cool the loaf in the pan for 10 minutes or so before removing it from the pan. Finish cooling on a wire rack.
When it’s completely cool, slice the bread into ten delicious slices.
While this bread is completely delicious on its own, to dress it up, try spreading it with gingerbread butter, orange honey butter, or just plain butter. Peanut butter is really good, too. For fancier brunches, serve it with vanilla bean whipped cream cheese.
I know you guys are going to absolutely love this whole wheat banana bread as much as we do!
Like most baked goods, banana bread is a sweet treat that should be eaten on a “once-in-awhile” basis. Bakery banana bread is often high in added sugar and fat, making it “bad” for you.
However, I would consider this recipe a healthier choice because it’s made with whole wheat flour (for added nutrition and fiber), less sugar, and very little added fat. Most of the sweetness comes from the bananas and applesauce.
Hmm, are we talking about taste or health attributes? Banana bread is a better choice nutritionally. It has less fat, sugar, and usually isn’t frosted like a banana cake is.
There’s certainly a place in my heart for banana cake though! If you’d like a recipe, try the best banana cake. It’s wonderful frosted with homemade cream cheese frosting or even better, chocolate cream cheese frosting!
Because banana bread is quite moist, it’s a good environment for mold and bacteria growth. It will be fine on your counter for a few days but if you notice fuzzy mold, black or white spots, or a strange odor, discard it.
Make It Your Own
- Add chocolate chips or mini chocolate chips to the batter. My kids love this variation. If we weren’t a nut-free family, I’d add peanut butter or butterscotch chips for a treat.
- Make banana nut bread. Add chopped toasted pecans or walnuts to the batter.
- Try cinnamon banana bread. If you like warm spices, a teaspoon of cinnamon adds a whole new dimension of flavor. Add it with the dry ingredients.
- Not crazy about bananas? Try healthy pumpkin bread (or pumpkin streusel bread!), applesauce bread, or whole wheat zucchini bread.
Make a double batch. One loaf to eat fresh, and one to freeze! You’ll need six ripe bananas which is a lot of bananas. Whenever I have extra ripe bananas, I peel them and put them into a freezer safe container for later use, like baking that extra loaf of bread. Thaw them slightly before using. They may look a bit juicy and brown but don’t worry, the bread turns out fine. If that sounds like a good plan to you, you can read more about freezing bananas.
Always make sure home-baked breads or muffins are completely cool before storing in an airtight container or resealable bag. Warm bread in an airtight container will produce moisture which promotes spoilage.
This bread will keep on the counter for three days or in the fridge for up to a week.
This banana bread freezes well. It will keep at least a month in the freezer. Freeze the loaf whole or cut up into slices so you can easily grab one and go. It makes a great lunchbox treat.
more Banana Recipes
Have a bunch of brown-speckled bananas sitting on your counter? The riper the better! All of the recipes listed below are delicious ways to use up ripe bananas.
- Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
- Triple Chocolate Banana Muffins
- Healthy Banana Pancakes — whole wheat
- Banana Bread Muffins
- Creamy Mango Banana Smoothie
- Banana Popsicles
- Take a look at my complete list of banana recipes!
- 1 ½ cups mashed ripe bananas (4 bananas, depending on size)
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup applesauce
- 2 tablespoons oil (vegetable, canola, or coconut)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place mashed bananas in a large bowl (I'd mash them right in this bowl to save dishes!). Add eggs, sugar, applesauce, oil, and vanilla. Whisk to combine wet ingredients.
- On top of wet ingredients, add whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Gently mix the dry ingredients together before stirring into the wet ingredients.
- Whisk all ingredients together just until combined.
- Spray a 8- or 9-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add banana bread batter and smooth out into an even layer.
- Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs.
- Cool for 10 to 15 minutes in the pan before turning out of the pan onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing.
- Banana bread, wrapped well, will keep at room temperature for a few days. For longer storage, store in refrigerator for up to 1 week or in freezer for up to a month. If desired, slice first before freezing so individual slices can be removed.
- If desired, replace whole wheat flour with all-purpose flour, or a combination of the two.
- Sugar can be reduced to ½ cup, if you’d like to reduce added sugar. The bananas and applesauce add lots of natural sweetness.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.