Whole Wheat Banana Bread: The Perfect Comfort Food

Banana bread is not the belle of the bakery ball.

Banana bread is plain and rustic. You can dress it up with chocolate and cinnamon sugar, but it’s never going to stun the way a three-tier layer cake will.

Still, when it comes to pure comfort, banana bread delivers like nothing else.

Banana bread via @kingarthurflour

Consider a tender, chewy forkful of moist banana bread. Being so humble in looks and ingredients, it has to really deliver in terms of pleasure. There’s no frosting to hide behind, no sugary glaze or candy coating to distract from the taste.

I’ve made a lot of banana bread recipes in my life, and I’m fairly exacting in my standards.

Banana bread should highlight the fruit, not mask it. It should be sweet but not too sweet, and rich in flavor.

If you, like me, have ever typed “best banana bread” into your search bar, then you’ve come to the right place.

Today I’m going to show you two excellent, reliable banana bread recipes. Depending on your preferences, you can choose your favorite. Both use white whole wheat flour: an essential in my book for baking substantial, moist loaves that elevate the taste of banana.

Banana bread via @kingarthurflour

Unlike whole wheat flour, which has a strong “wheat” flavor that can taste bitter, white whole wheat flour has a mild flavor (closer to what you’d expect from all-purpose flour). This makes it an excellent candidate for banana bread: It’s heartier than all-purpose, but it lets the banana flavor shine much more than whole wheat would.

The perfect banana bread should be moist and hefty. Here’s where white whole wheat really improves your loaf: It produces a denser baked good than all-purpose flour will, but it’s lighter in texture than whole wheat. It’s the ideal compromise, texture-wise, between AP and whole wheat.

Loaf 1: 100% Whole Wheat Banana Bread

Banana bread via @kingarthurflour

Looking for a classic banana bread? You’ve come to the right place.

This loaf is dense and compact, thanks to 100% white whole wheat flour. Butter gives it richness and brown sugar adds an earthy sweetness that pairs well with bananas.

Loaf 2: Whole-Grain Banana Bread

Banana bread via @kingarthurflour

In the mood for something a little more elegant? This loaf is lighter and loftier. It has all the classic banana bread flavor in a more sophisticated package.

Thanks to a 50/50 blend of all-purpose flour and white whole wheat flour, it rises higher above the pan and has a slightly cakier texture than the first loaf.

This loaf uses vegetable oil instead of butter, which helps keep it ultra-moist. And the best part? A crackly crust of brown sugar on the top.

Banana bread via @kingarthurflour

See the difference (whole-grain recipe on the left, 100% whole wheat on the right)?

Once you’ve chosen your ideal recipe, you can keep customizing! These two recipes both call for walnuts, but you can swap in any nut you like. And don’t stop there: Dried fruit, spices, crystallized ginger, and chocolate chips are all excellent additions to banana bread.

Here are a few ideas to get you into the kitchen:

Go bananas!

About

Posie grew up on a farm in Maryland and spent her summers in Vermont. As an editor for King Arthur and Sift magazine, she feels lucky to bake every day and connect through writing. She loves homemade bread warm from the oven, raw milk cream, ...

comments

  1. Mark

    Whenever I bake whole wheat banana nut bread, I always add some rum extract along with spiced rum AND vanilla extract. That addition seems to really enhance the banana flavor. Think Bananas Foster!

    Reply
  2. Barb Schnitzer

    We really love and make often…..the one that uses 1 cup regular and 1 cup whole wheat flour. Got bananas to make more but we live in Stuart, Fl and expect “Matthew” to hit by the end of the day….so no baking today!

    Reply
  3. Pamela Robinson

    Many years ago, I threw some banana chips into my banana bread in addition to the usual walnuts. I received so many compliments that they are now a part of my recipe.

    Reply
  4. Carol

    I have a Chicago Metallic set of four mini loaf pans. They are approximately 5 3/4 x 3 x 2 at the top of the pans, though they do taper in toward the bottom. How would I adjust the time and temperature?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Carol, you could keep the temperature the same–350–but reduce the baking time down to about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Bryanna@KAF

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