Better-for-You Whole Wheat Banana Bread Recipe

Since banana bread is packed full of potassium-rich fruit, many people assume that it's a healthy breakfast option. While banana bread certainly does taste good, many recipes aren't necessarily good for you. Fortunately, you can make your next banana bread healthy and delicious with whole wheat flour!

Why use whole wheat for banana bread?

Whole wheat flour can be tricky to substitute into some recipes. It has less gluten than a comparable amount of all-purpose flour, leading to baked goods that are denser and don't rise quite the same way as their all-purpose flour counterparts.

Whole wheat flour also has a deep, nutty flavor, which can stand out in some recipes and take away from the flavors you're trying to showcase. 

Fortunately, banana bread is actually a great candidate for whole wheat flour.

Banana bread should be dense, with a moist and tender crumb, and is often flavored with spices like cinnamon that complement the nuttiness of whole wheat. Bananas themselves also bring a lot of moisture to the loaf, so you don't need to worry about your banana bread becoming dry unless you overbake it. In short, whole wheat flour can make an excellent addition to your banana bread. 

This recipe comes together in much the same way as any other banana bread recipe: a mixture of dry ingredients are added to a mixture of wet ingredients that prominently features mashed banana. 

I made a few small changes to the basic ratios in regular banana bread to make it work well with whole wheat flour. 

These changes include adding a touch more sugar than I might typically use, to counteract the savory nuttiness of the whole wheat flour without making the bread overly sweet.

I also used slightly less flour than I might have in a recipe that uses all-purpose, which — combined with the other ingredients — produces a bread with a tight and tender crumb that is also very moist.

And finally, I was generous with my addition of ground cinnamon.

Choosing bananas for your bread

Bananas are the most important part of a banana bread, and the bananas you choose can have a big impact on your finished loaf. I'm not talking about choosing between conventionally grown and organic bananas here — I'm talking about the ripeness.

As bananas ripen, their starches break down into sugars and the bananas soften. While a firmer banana might be a more tempting choice for a snack, you want very ripe bananas for best results in banana bread.

Let your bananas ripen until they are heavily speckled, or even a bit black/dark brown in places. These over-ripe bananas will puree easily, pack in lots of natural sweetness and bring a great banana flavor to your banana bread. 

Whole wheat banana bread recipe

Makes 1 loaf; Serves 10


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large bananas (about 1 cup mashed banana)
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup milk

Step 1:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease a 9" x 5" loaf pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. 

Step 2:

In a large bowl, mash the bananas until pureed. Stir in sugar, vegetable oil, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Add half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk. Stir in the remaining flour mixture and mix until no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Step 3:

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached. Allow loaf to cool completely before unmolding and slicing. 

Hungry for more? Check out these sweet potato ginger muffins!

April 14, 2018
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Better-for-You Whole Wheat Banana Bread Recipe