Healthy Banana Bread takes as quickly as 15 minutes to whip together in just one bowl and makes a healthy, but sweet, breakfast, brunch, or dessert. Completely rich and moist with bold banana and spice flavors. Gluten-free options!
I honestly can't stop eating this banana bread once it's made. My favorite part of the process is the last few minutes where you begin to fully smell the sweet aroma of this banana bread being freshly baked. The way that the scent fills the rooms of my house is amazing.
Granted, this isn't my first time making banana bread and it won't be my last, but I couldn't remember the last time I made a banana bread without a crunch topping. My original Vegan Cinnamon Crunch Banana Bread is by far my go-to recipe whenever I'm in the mood for an easy sweet treat. However, this healthy banana bread is definitely refreshing and actually is a strong contender although I'm obsessed with a good nutty topping. Haha.
This bread is actually a bit closer to the Jamaican version that I grew up eating, therefore, it's really nostalgic whenever I make it.
This is a simple recipe to make when it comes to this healthy banana bread. And chances are you probably already have the ingredients on hand. Here’s what you need to know about the ingredients for vegan banana bread.
Bananas. You’ll want to use really ripe bananas for the densest, sweetest flavor.
All-purpose flour. I like Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur’s organic flour, which is certified vegan.
Baking powder and baking soda. Works as a leavener. See further post below to ensure that they are still fresh.
Almond milk. You can use any plant-based milk, including a nut-free option like oat or soy milk.
Apple cider vinegar. My trick is to combine vegan milk with some ACV to make vegan “buttermilk.” It’s tangy and acidic, which helps the baking soda rise. You can also use white vinegar.
Vegan butter. I like to bake with the buttery sticks from Earth Balance, they’re easy to measure.
Agave syrup. You can also use maple syrup, but I love the light sweetness in this banana bread.
Cinnamon and Nutmeg. I love using these spices for a nice warm flavor.
How Ripe Should Bananas be for Banana Bread?
When it comes to making banana bread, the level of ripeness of your bananas matter. I've made my banana bread with both types of bananas and to be honest, the VERY ripe bananas have made the BEST banana breads.
Very ripe bananas make for a sweeter and more moist bread and the mashing is also a lot easier.
How to Know If Your Baking Powder + Baking Soda are Fresh
Baking is such a science, but more importantly because certain ingredients like your leaveners (aka baking powder + baking soda) are completely fresh so that your banana bread (and other baked goods) fully rise and bake through nicely.
-Add 1 teaspoon baking soda with ¼ cup vinegar or lemon juice in a bowl and if it's fresh, the mixture should "bubble/fizz". If no bubble/fizz is present, then your baking soda needs to be replaced.
-Add 1 teaspoon baking powder with ¼ cup Hot tap water in a bowl and if it's fresh, the mixture should "bubble/fizz". If no bubble/fizz is present, then your baking powder needs to be replaced.
How to Ripen Bananas for Banana Bread
Have you ever had bananas that weren't fully ripe, but you were dying to make a banana bread? Well, I totally understand. I've definitely been there. Luckily, I've come across a few hacks to help you ripen your bananas if you're in a pinch and here's what you can do:
Keep the banana bunches together to avoid the ripening process from stalling.
Store your bananas in a warm place like near a heater or atop your refrigerator. This helps them to ripen faster.
Using a paper bag, add your bananas inside and fold it over to close it. The gases from inside the bag once shut tight will ripen the bananas within 24-36 hours.
If you're looking to ripe your bananas more quickly for baking purposes then you can do one of the following:
Oven Method: Preheat the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit and place bananas (with peels on) unto a baking sheet and let them bake for 15-20 minutes or until skins are black. The bananas at this point should be soft and sweet.
Microwave Method: Poke holes into the peel bananas (all around) and microwave for 30 seconds at a time until the bananas are soft enough.
Can I Use Another Plant-Based Milk for Banana Bread?
Yes, you can use any dairy-free milk you like to make this vegan banana bread. Here are some easy recipes to make your own milk that’s cheaper and so easy!
If you'd like to spruce things up with this healthy banana bread, then that's super easy! You can add any of the following ingredients to your banana bread for a nice bite:
Nuts or seeds (chia seeds, pecans, walnuts, almonds, etc.)
Cocoa or Cacao
Can I Make Gluten-Free Healthy Banana Bread?
Usually when turning my breads into gluten-free bread, I simply swap regular all-purpose flour for the gluten-free all-purpose flour or 1-to-1 baking flour from Bob’s Red Mill. I recommend using a GF Flour Blend (Bob’s Red Mills has a great version!) for greater ease. However, if using only GF All-purpose flour, be sure to add Xanthan Gum so that it acts as regular flour would.
Also, when making this Healthy Banana Bread gluten-free, I had success with the following adjustments:
Reducing the use of bananas to only 3 instead of 4.
Reducing Agave to ⅓ cup instead.
Using only 2 Tablespoons of a healthier oil like canola instead of melted vegan butter.
Everything else remains the same throughout the recipe.
How to Store and Freeze Banana Bread
Refrigerate leftover banana bread by tightly wrapping it in foil paper or keeping it fully covered in a cake stand—lasts up to a week. Can also be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days. You can freeze leftovers by wrapping the whole loaf in aluminum foil. Store it in a zip-top bag. Squeeze as much air out as you can without smooshing the bread.
WHY I LOVE USING MAPLE SYRUP OR AGAVE AS A SWEETENER.
When it comes to both syrups, I often use them interchangeably, although I love to use pure maple syrup mostly. Agave is said to have a lower glycemic index, which makes it perfect for those with diabetes. On the other hand, pure Maple syrup has tons of antioxidants because it comes directly from a plant’s sap.
Tips When Baking Banana Bread
I know that many people have trouble with the amount of time needed to bake banana bread or have it fully cook through. Since the batter is pretty thick, it can be a bit tricky to ensure that the middle is fully solid and cooked through.
However, after a bit of trial and error with many types of breads, I've found that the following tricks have be full proofed in baking my bananas breads perfectly:
Ensure that your batter is the "right" consistency. You want the batter to be "scoopable" which means that it's thick but also easily stirred versus really "liquidy" or super thick where it's hard to manage.
Midway through the baking time, poke small holes (using a toothpick or cake tester) around the tops of the bread to allow for the heat to penetrate through more easily and cook everything evenly. NOTE: I do this twice. Once halfway through the baking time and the second time in the last 10-15 minutes.
Place your bread at the top rack so that it browns but doesn't burn since it's in the oven for at least 1 hour.
Ensuring that your leaveners are fresh plays a role in the texture while your bread bakes, which also helps it to bake through more easily.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease it using vegan butter or coconut oil and line with parchment paper, leaving a hanging over on the sides for an easy "pull-out".
In a bowl or measuring cup, add the milk and apple cider vinegar together, whisking until combined. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes until the mixture slightly thickens.
In a large bowl, combine the mashed bananas, melted butter, Agave, vanilla, and Almond milk-ACV mixture, whisking them together until well combined.
Next, add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt into the wet ingredients, stirring until just combined. NOTE: DO NOT OVER-MIX!
Pour/scoop the batter into the prepared loaf pan and evenly spread it out.
TOP THE BREAD:
Add the sliced bananas atop the bread batter, lining them side by side until the top is fully covered. Add a pinch of cinnamon atop everything.
Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife that is inserted in the middle comes out clean. NOTE: Midway, I like to poke VERY SMALL holes all over the bread to allow heat to penetrate through and to ensure it cooks through so that the centers aren't uncooked.
Once done, remove bread from oven and let it cool for 25-30 minutes before gently removing it from loaf pan to cool completely.
Once cooled, slice and enjoy!
Tips & Tricks
STORAGE: Refrigerate leftover bread by tightly wrapping it in foil paper or keeping it fully covered in a cake stand—lasts up to a week. Can also be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days. You can freeze leftovers by wrapping the whole loaf in aluminum foil. Store it in a zip-top bag. Squeeze as much air out as you can without smooshing the bread.
SWEETENER: If you choose to opt out of Agave syrup, you can always substitute with maple syrup or Date syrup as well.
GLUTEN-FREE OPTION: See recipe post for greater details for making this bread GF!
OIL: Instead of vegan butter, you can also use vegetable oil coconut oil, if preferred.