Easy Whole Grain Pumpkin-Banana Bread: best of both worlds

Hey, has this summer gone by fast, or what?

Kids are already heading back to school in many parts of the country, and Labor Day is less than 2 weeks away.

Which means it’s time to think about – gulp! – fall baking.

Did you know that by clicking anywhere on this block of pictures, you can enlarge them to full size? Go ahead, give it a try; it’ll work for any of our photos.

And fall flavors. Like apple. And cranberry.

And pumpkin – star not only of pie, but of some of our favorite muffins and breads.

Now, there are those who immediately think “yeast” when they hear the word “bread.”

And then there are those whose thoughts turn to “banana.”

Yeah, banana. As in banana bread, THE most searched-for bread recipe on the Web.

That’s right. As it turns out, when the world is looking for a bread recipe online, they want banana – not baguette.

So I’m thinking pumpkin bread, and then I’m thinking banana bread, and the cerebral neurons start firing – as still occasionally happens, even in us older folks.

Light dawns on Marblehead: Pumpkin-Banana Bread!

Why not? Both breads are tasty on their own. Their textures are nearly identical; and their flavors feel complementary, the mildness of pumpkin playing nicely with assertive banana.

Plus, both are easily converted to a 100% whole grain version – score!

Introducing Easy Whole Grain Pumpkin-Banana Bread, this fall’s newest bake sale, potluck, and hostess gift favorite.

Let’s start by preheating the oven to 350°F.

Lightly grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan.

In a large bowl, beat together the following:

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) soft butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons honey
2 large eggs
1 cup (7 1/2 to 8 ounces, 1/2 can) puréed pumpkin
1 cup (8 ounces) mashed banana, the riper the better
2 tablespoons orange juice or water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add the following, stirring to combine:

1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour or Premium Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Stir in 1/2 cup diced, toasted pecans, if desired. Don’t like nuts? Nuts don’t like you? Leave ’em out.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top of the loaf with Praline Pumpkin Seed Crunch or coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired.

Praline Pumpkin Seed Crunch – what’s that?

You know those crunchy burnt-sugar peanuts? This is the pumpkin seed equivalent.

Allow the batter to rest for 15 minutes, uncovered.

Bake the bread for 55 to 70 minutes.

Remove the bread from the oven. A cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf will come  out clean; and that same tester stuck about 1/2″ into the top of the loaf won’t encounter any totally unbaked batter.

Do you have an instant-read thermometer? The bread’s temperature will be around 195°F about 3/4″ under the top crust.

Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack.

DO NOT cut this bread while it’s warm! It’ll crumble and seem gummy. When it’s completely cool, wrap it well in plastic wrap, and store it overnight before serving.

Is this 24-hour rest period really necessary? My, my, aren’t we impatient!

Since you’re the baker, I give you permission to slice yourself a small sample ahead of time – for tasting purposes only.

However, the bread’s texture and flavor really do benefit from an overnight rest.

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Easy Whole Grain Pumpkin-Banana Bread.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. SheenaC

    Mmmm. This looks good. With triple digit heat in my town, summer’s end is nowhere near. Still., I can pretend that much-awaited cooler temps are not far away with the aroma of this bread filling my kitchen. One question: can I use KAF all purpose flour? If so, how much? Thanks for another great recipe!

    Sheena, cooler weather is just a few weeks away – it’s inevitable, and very welcome after this blistering summer we’ve had. Sure, using AP flour is another option; use the same amount, and the bread should come out just fine. Enjoy – PJH

  2. Ros

    The bottom inch or so of that bread looks slightly underbaked there.

    It does look it, but it tasted just fine. I like a dense, moist bread; you could up the leavener by 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon if you want to try making a slightly less dense loaf… PJH

  3. ndp79

    Are there any recommendations for temp, time & fill capacity for baking this bread in a mini loaf pan? The large loaf was so delicious, and I would like to bake small loaves to give as gifts in the fall.
    The general rule of thumb for filling pans is to fill 1/2 to 2/3 full. Baking time will vary depending on the size of the pan, the batter etc. Try starting with about 20 minutes, and go from there in 5 minute increments. ~ MaryJane

  4. ndp79

    Last night was my second time to make this bread since posted. It rose from the sides first this time & both times it kinda charred the edges before the middle was completely clean on my tester. Any advice?
    Your oven may be running a little hot if the outsides are overcooking like that. Try reducing the oven temp by 25°F and see if that helps. ~ MaryJane

  5. moasmom

    I made this on Sunday. It was the perfect recipe to come along, since I had canned pumpkin and a banana needing to be used. And 100% whole wheat flour? Icing. 😉

    It’s such a moist, dense, flavorful loaf (and yes, I let it rest overnight). Thanks for the great recipe!

    It’s always great to have another way to use up that last lone banana, isn’t it 🙂 ~ MaryJane

  6. Teresa

    I’m still learning my convection oven, which supposedly cooks more evenly and faster. Should I shorten the baking time or lower the temp if I use the convection bake?

    Teresa, sorry, we don’t have convection ovens in the test kitchen here, and aren’t experienced using them. Just from anecdotal knowledge, I’d say lower the temperature 25°, and start checking the bread sooner to see if it’s done. Good luck – PJH

  7. "All Thats Left Are The Crumbs"

    I loved this bread! I actually made a double batch and they were both gone in no time. I used regular all-purpose flour because that is what I had on hand, but I will try the whole wheat next time. I was super impatient as it smelled so wonderful as it was baking, so once it cooled a little I had to try a slice with a cup of coffee. Perfection. I didn’t find that it crumbled very much and the flavor and texture was amazing. I am making it again tomorrow.
    Wow, your name really does say it all, doesn’t it? So glad you liked the recipe! ~ MaryJane

  8. Ella's mom

    I had the very same problem as ndp79, which is rather disappointing. I used the same USA pan as shown in the picture. My bread is not quite finished baking and obviously I have not tasted it, but it is not a pretty looking loaf of bread. I bake multiple times a week and have no indicators otherwise that my oven runs hot. Any other ideas?

    Yes – make sure your bread is in the middle to lower (not lowest) part of the oven; its top shouldn’t be at all close to the upper element. And as soon as it appears set (it’s risen fully, and isn’t at all batter-like) tent it gently with aluminum foil; this should help with the over-browning. Hope these tips work for you – PJH

  9. Ella's mom

    Thanks so much for the suggestions PJ. It is a delicious loaf of bread! Incredibly moist and I do not think anyone would be able to detect it was made with whole wheat flour versus all purpose. I will try your suggestions for a prettier loaf, but it is already a winner on taste alone.

    Glad to hear it tasted good – maybe beauty is only crust-deep! 🙂 PJH

  10. Motherearthpam

    I definitely want to try this as I have leftover pumpkin from last year to get out of the freezer and my husband brought home bananas today from our coop. Yeah…how fortuitous.
    I do have a tip to share. I freeze leftover bananas and then I do not have to mash them. I just cut the tip off and gently squeeze into a measuring cup.
    Thanks for the great recipe.
    Don’t you just love the squashy banana from the freezer? Such a timesaver! ~ MaryJane

  11. rochelle_keefer

    This bread is incredible! Pie pumpkins just came out in stores so I roasted and pureed a bunch so I couldn’t resist this recipe. I hulled some of the pumpkin seeds for the top and put some Heath Bar toffee bits in with them. Probably not as good as the KAF topping you used, but I’ve been eating every slice from the bottom to the top. 🙂 Thanks for another winning recipe!

  12. kaf-sub-wheretonowrose

    HAD exactly SAME PROBLEM AS ndp79 and went to foil pans (greased with homemade ghee which works best for me) which turned out perfectly. This is a real keeper recipe, though, for taste, looks and serving and using those brown bananas in the ‘bestest’ way! Addictive when served with mix of cream cheese and butter! When opening large pumpkin can, I put rest in silicone muffin holes (most are 1/2 cup), freeze, then into baggie in freezer for the next time! thanks for such a great encouraging blog!

    1. aadaisyy

      I wanted to make muffins too, did you bake it for the same amount of time? & did u use whole wheat flour or white whole wheat?

  13. catalavaino

    Yum. Really different, as the picture kind of shows. Less bread-y, more custard-y. Everybody loved the texture, and I will definitely be making this again, but I think I will play with the spice mixture/level. I agree with the previous poster that it would benefit from nutmeg and cloves, and this bread can probably handle a pretty hefty amount of cinnamon. Delicious, unusual texture.

  14. Gina

    I just purchased 25 lbs of buttercup squash at the farm stand, so I hope it’s all right to use it instead of pumpkin!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Antoinette, we hope you and your mom do try our recipes, and then let us know how you like them. Barb@KAF

  15. Michele

    Need gluten free for my husband. Recently purchased your GF Baking Mix but have not used it yet. Any suggestions for using it in this recipe? Do I need to alter the ingredient quantities when using the GF Baking Mix, prep process, baking time?

  16. sharon

    Perhaps you have already addressed this issue but I prefer using salad oil to butter to make this bread. Can it be done? What, if any, would the equivalent be? How will it change the bread?

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Sharon, try substituting6 tablespoons vegetable oil (a generous 1/3 cup) for the butter. You may lose a bit of flavor, but I suspect the loaf will come out just fine. Enjoy – PJH

  17. CherylG

    I was hoping to make this bread without the added sugar. What adjustments should I make to the recipe to use honey in place of the brown sugar?

    Thank you so much!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I’m sorry to say that quick breads require sugar for both texture and structure. You can certainly try using the honey as a replacement, it is still made of sugar. Jon@KAF

  18. Beverly

    If you wanted to bake this like a 9×13 cake, would you need to increase the recipe? Change the temp/time? We have a church group that feeds local families as an outreach and I’m thinking of adding this to my idea box. I like the “baking ahead and resting” part for that reason.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I would recommend doubling this recipe if you’d like to bake it in a 9 X 13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees, but the baking time should be less than the recipe calls for. I would start checking at 35 minutes and go from there. Check early and oven is a good rule to follow when changing pan sizes with a recipe. Barb@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Prav, feel free to use 1/3 cup of oil instead of the 1/2 cup of butter in this recipe. No other changes need to be made. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

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