Banana bread is one of those afternoon snacks (or anytime snacks!) that just can’t be beat. It’s sweet, dense, and undeniably delicious.
This recipe makes some healthy swaps, like using maple syrup instead of refined sugar as a sweetener, and the final result is easily the best banana bread I’ve ever had.
How is this banana bread so healthy?
If this is your first time making banana bread, get ready for a real treat!
Banana bread is often considered to be pretty unhealthy. It’s full of sugar and white flour that can spike your blood glucose levels and cause inflammation. But this dish isn’t necessarily “bad” for you if you use the right ingredients. If it’s made using my healthy swaps, it’s actually a nutrient-rich snack.
I call this “healthy banana bread” for a few reasons:
- Bananas are loaded with essential nutrients like potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. They also contain small amounts of vitamin A and iron.
- Instead of massive amounts of butter or vegetable oil, this recipe uses a mix of butter and coconut oil.
- It’s loaded with antioxidant-rich spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Rather than just using all-purpose flour, this recipe calls for a mix of regular flour and fiber-rich oat flour.
- It contains walnuts, which are high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Simply sub a gluten-free flour for the all-purpose flour, and this banana bread is quickly gluten-free (more on substitutions below).
- This recipe is *almost* dairy-free and just uses a small amount of butter. If you’re sensitive to dairy, you can sub the butter for ghee, which almost always solves the problem.
Is banana bread good for weight loss? I don’t think any diet plan says to load up on banana bread to lose weight. However, this healthy banana bread can undoubtedly be a part of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle that contributes to weight loss.
Best Flour Options for Banana Bread
I love a mix of all-purpose flour and oat flour in my banana bread because it results in a final product with such an ideal density, moisture content, and flavor profile. The oat flour also gives this banana bread a nice fiber boost.
Instead of all-purpose flour, you could also try one of the following flours in this recipe:
- white whole wheat flour
- gluten-free all-purpose flour blend
The whole wheat flour offers more fiber and a slightly more earthy flavor. Whichever flour you choose, your final result is sure to be delish.
What’s the difference between banana cake and banana bread? Depending on who you ask, banana cake has similar ingredients to banana bread, but banana cake typically has more eggs, contains buttermilk, and uses only all-purpose flour. The other big difference is that a banana cake is generally topped with frosting.
How to Make This Recipe Gluten-Free
To make this healthy banana bread recipe gluten-free, you can substitute the all-purpose flour for a gluten-free all-purpose flour of your choice. I like the King Arthur Brand Gluten Free Multi-Purpose Flour and get it on Thrive Market.
With zero gluten, this healthy banana bread will be slightly less dense and a bit more delicate. But it will still be absolutely delicious, and you likely won’t miss the gluten one bit.
How to Store Banana Bread
Ideally, you don’t want to refrigerate your banana bread because it will dry out. It’s best to store your healthy banana bread at room temperature in an airtight container. It can last this way for at least 3 days, if not longer. After 3 days, it will last another 203 days in the refrigerator.
What if you’re not going to eat this loaf of banana bread quickly enough, or you want to save some for later? You can freeze your loaf in a freezer-safe airtight container for up to 3 months. You may wish to pre-slice the uneaten loaf, so it’s easy to grab a slice and thaw it out when that banana bread craving strikes.
This banana bread is so easy to make and equal parts rich, simple, AND tasty. Bonus points: it can be made gluten-free as well!
- 1 ½ cups mashed banana (from 3 large or 4 small ripe bananas)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- ⅔ cup real maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg (or pumpkin pie spice, if you happen to have any)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup oat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Optional: ½ cup chopped walnuts, pecans, or other nuts
Optional pre-step: Make your own oat flour by processing 1 cup of whole rolled oats in a food processor for about 2 minutes, pausing every 30 seconds to let it settle. Process until milled into a fine flour. OR, buy oat flour in the bulk bins at your store.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line a 9×5 loaf pan with parchment paper so it spills over the long sides.
- Spray the whole thing with a healthy cooking spray or grease with coconut oil (this ensures your loaf easily comes out of the pan).
- In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas with a fork.
- Add the unsalted butter, coconut oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg/spice, and vanilla.
- Mix the wet ingredients together until well incorporated with a hand-mixer, about 60 seconds.
- Add the two eggs and mix again for 30 seconds until the mixture is uniform. Be careful not to whip too much air into the egg whites (that’s why we add them last).
- Measure both of the flours by spooning them into measuring cups to not compact them.
- Add the flours to the bowl.
- Sprinkle the salt, baking soda, and baking powder all over the top of the flours.
- Mix again for about 30 seconds until the dry ingredients are well incorporated but not over-mixed. The batter will be thick: use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and finish mixing if needed.
- Pour batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake 50-55 minutes until a toothpick comes out of the center clean.
- Allow bread to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then use the parchment paper’s overhang to bring the loaf to a cutting board to cool another 5-10 minutes.
You can keep your homemade banana bread covered at room temperature for up to 3 days. It also freezes well for up to 3 months.
The key way to end up with the yummiest and rich banana flavor is to use very ripe bananas. Overripe bananas are perfect — the more brown spots, the better. If you have to use frozen bananas instead of fresh, make sure they are completely thawed out first.
It is an option to make this unsweetened banana bread by leaving out the maple syrup. Even without an added sweetener, your banana bread will still have sweetness, thanks to those ripe bananas. You also could use brown sugar, agave, or coconut sugar instead of maple syrup.
If you’re vegan, you can substitute applesauce for eggs (¼ cup of applesauce for each egg), or you can use flax eggs. Check out my tutorial: How to Make a Flax Egg (Vegan Egg Substitute).
However you decide to tweak this recipe or if you follow my recipe as-is, don’t be surprised if this turns out to be the best banana bread you ever tasted in your life.