Healthy Banana Bread Recipe (No Refined Sugar!)

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Recently, my sister-in-law asked if I had a recipe for healthy banana bread without refined sugar. I didn’t, but since I’m the kind of person who loves a good cooking challenge, I decided to give it a try — make that several tries — until I came up with a winner.

Healthy Banana Bread Recipe with No Refined Sugars

Freshly baked loaf of banana bread without sugar in a parchment-lined pan

Why Avoid Sugar?

Shortly after my husband’s cancer diagnosis, I began doing research into dietary and lifestyle changes we could make that would complement his medical treatments. Dr. Patrick Quillin’s book, Beating Cancer with Nutrition is one I turn to time and again. (Others include The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen and Anticancer: A New Way of Life.)

My husband and his sisters have a history of cancer on both sides of their family tree. I’m adopted, so I don’t know my inherited medical stuff. As a result, we’re all trying to be proactive with nutrition changes to counteract whatever hand genetics dealt us.

I don’t want to spend my life eating food that tastes like cardboard, either. So, last week I bought three dozen bananas and set out to create a recipe for a refined sugar free banana bread.

Swap This for Sugar

I tried many things to replace sugar in banana bread. Both honey and agave are on the no-no list according to Dr. Quillan, so I tried making banana bread with stevia in a 1:1 swap for sugar (awful!) and making banana bread using maple syrup (which changed the flavor too much). What I needed was something unrefined yet sweet.

Then I remembered having breakfast at a vegan friend’s home one morning. She served toast with raisin puree in place of butter, and it was delicious. Incredibly sweet, but delicious. How would that work in bread? Turns out: brilliantly!

No Added Sugar Does NOT Mean Sugar-Free

If you have diabetes or another health concern leading you to limit sugar, please check with your doctor before making this. I am neither a nutritionist nor a doctor. This recipe is offered as a delicious way to make banana bread without adding refined white sugar.

As the nutritional notes below indicate, there are fruit sugars in this recipe. While it is lower-carb banana bread, it is not a completely sugar-free banana bread recipe and may not fit into your particular dietary needs. Please consult a professional.

Healthy Banana Bread Without Sugar Recipe

You’d think that people who’d tried four unsuccessful banana bread recipes in two days wouldn’t have been all that interested in eating more, but you’d be wrong.

As soon as this loaf was cool enough to eat, we could see and smell that I’d succeeded in my task. After the first nibble, my husband and I broke into broad grins… which we quickly shoved full of more banana bread.

How to Ripen Bananas Quickly

Don’t worry if your bananas aren’t ripe yet. Wash and dry each one, then put them on a cookie sheet and pop it into a 300°F/149°C oven for an hour. The skins will turn black as the heat converts the fruit’s starches to sugar, which is exactly what happens in the ripening process.

This one’s a winner. Enjoy!

Banana Bread Without Sugar Added
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4.92 from 12 votes

Banana Bread Without Sugar

This Banana Bread Without Sugar recipe creates the sweet, moist banana bread you love without the refined white sugar you're trying to avoid.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword banana bread without added sugar, lower-carb banana bread, no sugar added, no white sugar
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Makes 1 loaf
Calories 296kcal
Created by Katie Berry

Ingredients

  • 1 oz. raisins or sultanas
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 5 large bananas - very ripe (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour - or 1 cup (120g) whole wheat and 1 cup (120g) all-purpose
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup butter - softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp stevia - optional

Instructions

Soak the raisins

  • Soak the raisins in the warm water until they swell. (At least 10 minutes or up to overnight.)

Make the bread

  • Preheat the oven to 350F / 180 C / gas mark 4. Grease a 9×5″ loaf pan.
  • Drain the raisins and transfer them to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add the bananas and blend until they’re pureed.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. These are your dry ingredients.
  • In the bowl of stand mixer or large bowl, beat butter and eggs well. Add vanilla to the mixer bowl and continue beating. Add banana/raisin mixture and continue mixing until well-combined. Taste, and add stevia if desired. These are your wet ingredients.
  • Stir the dry ingredients by hand into the wet ingredients. Do NOT over-mix. (Batter will be very thick.) Scoop batter into loaf pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
  • Bake in preheated oven 60-75 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. Remove loaf from oven, let cool 10 minutes, then tip the loaf out to continue cooling on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, with or without butter.

Notes

Each loaf makes 8 slices. Nutrition facts are estimates based on 1 slice. I am not a nutritionist and this information is only provided as a courtesy. If you have a specific health concern, you should consult your physician or registered dietician before consuming this food.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 296kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 350mg | Potassium: 417mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 450IU | Vitamin C: 6.6mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 1.6mg

Want to try more quick breads? Check out these recipes:

75 Comments

  1. Gayla Mitchell says:

    My Mother has cancer also and trying to find ways to cut white flour and sugar out of my banana bread, I found that the riper the sweeter the bananas are so I let them get real ripe almost black and I put them (peeled) in the microwave for 5-7 minutes. Then I run them through a sieve and boil the juice down until it is clear but real thick.(That way it has concentrated the sugar instead of evaporating while cooking). It helps sweeten the bread as well as giving the bread an extract banana flavor. This might help you as my Mom doesn’t feel like eating, but will not turn banana bread down.

    1. Gayla Mitchell says:

      PS Your recipes have helped us a lot. Thank you for your time in keeping this web-site and God Bless you.

    2. Katie Berry says:

      Thank you so much for those tips, Gayla! My husband won’t turn down banana bread, either. (He even ate two of my four earlier attempts which I thought weren’t fit for human consumption.) God bless you and your Mom. We’ll keep you both in our prayers!

    3. 5 stars
      Iโ€™m going to try this. I have had Cancer twice and now serious liver issues. Thank you. God bless ?

    4. Katie Berry says:

      I’m sorry you’re going through that and hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.

  2. 5 stars
    Thanks – I’m excited to try this bread, it’s in the oven now! I’m trying to cut down on sugar, and am on my second week of no sugar, cold turkey. But mama wants some banana bread! I wanted to let you know about a small typo on step number 7, which, because i didn’t fully read the recipe before starting I made a minor misstep (my fault!). You write to put the butter AND EGGS in the mixer. Funny thing, I paused and had several conflicting thoughts at that step, but justified following it to the letter because you normally do butter/sugar first then eggs (but I didn’t read the very next step, duh). Anyhow, that part didn’t work out too well, but I’ll expect it’ll taste just fine. If you remove ‘and eggs’ from step 7, ridiculous people like myself *might* not make this misstep! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Thanks again!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Ah, thank you for pointing that out, Alex — it’s fixed now! Good for you, going without sugar. It’s difficult to do cold turkey, but you’ve about turned the corner now that you’re going on week 2. I think it was close to that before we really started noticing changes. Of course, we ignored it over the holidays and now are weaning ourselves again. Oh, the horror!

  3. Paddycake says:

    Your recipe is sweet and delicious. I used olive oil instead of butter, whole wheat flour only, and omitted the salt and the stevia. I added the eggs, vanilla and olive oil to the bananas in the blender. Without fluid the bananas would not puree. Best wishes to you and your family.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Paddycake! It’s become a family favorite around here.

  4. Jeannette says:

    Thank you so much for all of your hard work in refining this recipe. I always feel so inept trying to make substitutions. I am eating my first piece right now and it is even a hit with my kids. I am transitioning into a life without refined sugar and this was a real gift. Thank you and God bless you.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Jeannette!

  5. Debi Fishman says:

    My sister is a diabetic. Will the raisens make her glucose level rise? I guess I’m wondering if using raisins has an advantage over sugar when baking banana walnut bread for a diabetic. Please let me know. I’d like to bake in the morning. Glad you told me that substituting Stevia did not work!!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Debi, I’m not a nutritionist nor do I have diabetes, so I don’t know a certain answer to your question. I did find this Harvard Health article which seems to indicate raisins are okay for people with diabetes, at least in the small amount that’s used in this recipe.

  6. I’m curious, do you prefer it with only whole wheat flour, or the 1/2 and 1/2 way?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I prefer it half and half. It’s lighter, and has a nicer mouth-feel.

  7. 5 stars
    This banana bread is delicious, you would never know that it has no sugar and whole wheat flour. My kids and I loved it! Thank you for sharing this recipe.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Did anyone try to replace the butter with applesauce? This recipe sounds great! Thanks for sharing it

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I haven’t tried it, but can’t see why it wouldn’t work!

    2. 4 stars
      I added apple sauce to mine. Used Kerry Gold butter. The flour I have to use (no gluten, wheat or grain) tasted a bit thick without it.

    3. Katie Berry says:

      Kerry Gold butter is delicious stuff!

  9. Stephanie says:

    Hi I’m wondering if you have had any luck replacing sugar with raisins in any other recipes? And if so at what ratio? It sounds like a viable option. Thanks.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      The only other recipe I’ve tried it in is oatmeal. Sorry!

  10. Thank you so much for posting this recipe! I only used 4 bananas and it turned out awesome! I know it’s refined sugar free, but do you know how much sugar (from raisins, bananas) per slice is in the loaf?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I really don’t, but you should be able to run the ingredients through a nutritional site to find out. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. 5 stars
    My husband and I have gone mostly sugar-free for the last 6 or so weeks, so I’ve been trying a lot of sugar-free desserts. I just made this tonight. I soaked the raisins for only about 1.5 hours. I used 5 ripe bananas, but they definitely weren’t extremely ripe. They liquified easily in the blender. My loaf pan is kind of long and narrow – I ended up taking it out of the oven after about 53-55 minutes. It turned out of the loaf pan perfectly (I used Pam spray). It is AWESOME. Oh yes, I added a cup of chopped pecans. Thank you so much for developing and sharing this recipe. I will definitely make it again!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Mary! Thank you for the tip about shortening the soaking time. I’ll give that a try when I next make it — planning my baking ahead is not my strong suit. ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. You’re welcome! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. kate Kovach says:

    Why is 100% agave/monkfruit not ok, and naturally local unprocessed honey a no-no? I use agave to sweeten my cooking, and just a tiny bit of local unprocessed organic honey.I have made it before for diabetics, but it did not come out as sweet as I like it…stevia is bitter. don’t you agree? And has a gross aftertaste. Although I do love myself some Zevia cola.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Well, I didn’t recommend agave, monk fruit, or honey, so I’m not sure what you mean when you ask why they’re okay but local unprocessed honey (which also isn’t in my recipe) isn’t. Unless you’re referring to their general use by diabetics. If that’s what you meant, I don’t know the answer — I don’t have diabetes nor does my sister-in-law, who’d asked me to come up with a no sugar added banana bread recipe. From what I’ve read, agave is no longer recommended for people with diabetes. It was once believed to be a low-glycemic sugar substitute that diabetics could use, but more recent research shows that it causes bad blood sugar spikes. Ditto for honey. Monk fruit is still considered acceptable, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they changed that just like they did agave.

      And I am NOT a fan of stevia in most recipes. You’re absolutely right: it can have a bitter taste. In the few recipes that I use it in, I balance that bitterness out with other ingredients. ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. Marianne Barkman says:

      Hi, I’m diabetic 2 and have come to the conclusion that all starches, including banana’s and wheat flour change into sugar the moment they hit the saliva in my mouth! And so …felt shocked…oh! my goodness! What can I eat? Got a pile of books on Amazon, but that wasn’t the answer…I felt drained.
      Then I made banana bread with 2 ripe banana’s, pastry flour and Xylotol as sweetener. Not strong bread flour because banana bread tastes more like cake in this way, which is what I wanted. Xylotol is the pure bark of a birch tree and its organic and made in a lab. It looks exactly like sugar and is dear. Watching and monitoring my bloodsugar daily, I came to the conclusion that this was it! This is the best for me. The glycemic index of Xylotol is just 7. It tastes like sugar. It is white like sugar, it looks like sugar. And nowadays I buy it in bulk and have shopped around and get good prices. I only use Xylotol. In my tea, my coffee, my cocoa night time drink.
      So basically I come from a positive and sunny disposition and halve the amount I would normally eat. Instead of two slices of toast for breakfast, I have one. Then for elevenses I would have another. I now have one helping of lunch and leave the other for supper. For tea I may have a homemade Dutch crunchy butter cookie..just one. And so on. And I’ve cracked it for me…I’m just over the line of not diabetic/diabetic!
      Good luck!

    3. Katie Berry says:

      It’s fantastic that you found a solution that works for you! Xylitol gives many people serious GI problems, which is why I like the soaked raisin solution. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Hi! I was wondering if you would have any ideas for using coconut flour in replacement of the flour used in your recipe, I’m new to the ingredient and I’m trying to incorporate it as it’s not refined. Thanks in advance ?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m sorry, but I haven’t tried it with coconut flour. To be honest, I haven’t had a lot of luck baking breads with that since it absorbs so much liquid.

  14. Do you think this would work with dried cranberries in place of raisins?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I really don’t know but I don’t think they would. They’re not as sweet as raisins. If you give it a try, let me know how it turned out with the dried cranberries, please?

  15. Mae Huber says:

    5 stars
    Thank you so much for sharing your recipe! I tried it because I realized that I was out of sugar and everyone loved the banana bread! I will be substituting from now on since my blood sugar level is extremely high! I especially loved your recipe since I love organic or golden raisins!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Mae!

  16. Keri Grogan says:

    5 stars
    I absolutely love this recipe!! The only things I change are I use gluten free oat flour, raw butter and I use 4 oz of homemade date paste instead of purรฉed raisins…my favorite treat! And now that I am pregnant, it satisfies my sweet tooth so I can stay on a healthier diet..,

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so glad you liked it, Keri! Your date paste sounds delicious. Congratulations on the new addition to your family. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Jan MacQuarrie says:

    I have a sugar allergy , it goes straight to my brain and is alarming.
    However for 15 years now I have had to live with out even milk . starched foods except some veg for 15 years
    not exciting especially when I travel but necessary. if I am to enjoy life
    What I have learned is that so many things turn to sugar forms ,even milk so our own assessment etc is up to each of us.
    in the end sugar is a real addiction in any form and yes our body needs some for energy and processing other things but we take in too much
    I am now 80 and still fine and long for some good fruit . that is all
    So bets of luck on your searches and knowledge gathering

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Thank you, Jan. I cannot imagine the difficulties you must face with a sugar allergy! Best of luck and health to you.

  18. Anne Spence says:

    Thank you for sharing this recipe .. We love it .. I have made it at least 7 times… I have never had to add any sweetener it is great without .. To change it up a bit I will add blueberries and or strawberries, respberries in place of 2 bananas and it works every time …

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so glad you like it, Anne! Adding raspberries sounds absolutely delicious. I’ll give that a try, too. Have a wonderful weekend. ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. 5 stars
    yum! i substituted coconut oil for butter and this recipe still tasted great despite no added sugar. thank you!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so glad you liked it! I’ll have to try it with coconut oil soon. Love that stuff. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. I dont have sugar and cant go pick any up, which is what led me to this recipe but I also dont have raisins because I think they’re gross, have you tried it without raisins? And if so how did it turn out?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      The raisins are what adds the sweetness. Without it, I think it would taste like bananas and flour.

  21. Does anyone know the calorie count for Banana Bread Without Sugar? I can figure it out but thought I would ask first

  22. This one is a keeper.. I replaced half of flour with mixed millet flour and added cinnamon too

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Your changes sound delicious!

  23. This sounds so good. Appreciate any further ideas for loaves of bread.i am retired and find making bread to freeze and save for gifts very rewarding. When you get older a lot of people like to watch diet issues.

  24. Hi Katie, I’m very excited to try this recipe! I’m no baking expert – do you think this could work with, say, walnuts or whole raisins or dried cranberries mixed in?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Oh, that sounds delicious, Willem! It should work fine with them mixed in, but don’t swap dried cranberries for the raisins in the sweetening puree. Let me know how it turns out and how much you used.

  25. 5 stars
    Thank you! I wanted to say thank you for this great recipe. My son loves banana bread but was eating way too much sugar and not eating enough slow burning carbs and experiencing overnight hypoglycemia. He loves this bread and couldn’t even tell the difference or liked it better I’m not sure. I have baked the bread three times now and substituted some of the banana for pumpkin. He eats it everyday. I really appreciate your work in creating this recipe and sharing it with us.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so glad your son enjoys this!

  26. I’m happy to give this recipe a try. I wondered if you had tried using dates in lieu of the raisins as one of your experiments. They seem to be a likely substitute. I also wanted to thank you for posting your ingredients with gram measurements. Cheers!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Suzanne,
      I haven’t tried dates but I bet they’d work brilliantly! And you’re quite welcome for the metric measurements. I hope you enjoyed the recipe.

  27. 5 stars
    This is such a great idea. I have used gluten free flour and it comes out just fine. I also have tried added 4 tsp baking powder and putting it in a muffin tin instead. It cooked really fast and they look like muffins but taste like banana loaf. I am planning on freezing them for future breakfast treats and serving them with butter.

    thanks so much!!!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Paula!
      I’m so glad you liked it. Good to know it works with gluten-free flour, too. Which flour did you use? I’d like to give it a try and maybe let people know about the GF option. Thanks so much!

  28. Wow!! Excited! At last you answer my prayer for baking without sugar. The alternative is a welcome. I have baked sweet potato pudding with the same alternative, raisins, and it was a winner. GOD BLESS!!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Barbara,
      Sweet potato pudding sounds delicious!

  29. Hi,

    Why is honey on the no-no list?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Merv,
      The specific restriction against honey and agave are Dr. Quillan’s, not mine. He sets forth his reasoning in his book.

      Best,
      Katie

  30. I also recommend you taste the blueberries you re going to use. I ve made it before and my blueberries were a bit too sour! I like using sweet blueberries for the best tasting blueberry banana bread.

  31. 5 stars
    Wow.
    I just put it in the oven. So my five star rating is for the batter at the very least. I can only imagine how delicious it will be when it comes out of the oven.
    I only had white flour on hand, my kids and I are doing no refined sugar for the month of January. I found your recipe, and though I didnโ€™t have any raisins, I used some very ripe/sweet grapes I had on hand. I found a recipe for roasted grapes, which in essence makes a raisin purรฉe and a sweetened syrup (which I didnโ€™t need to use). Itโ€™s similar to reconstituting raisins like your recipe calls for. (So i omitted the hot water/raisin step..and used the pulp from the grapes). I blended them along with the bananas. The batter tastes amazing. As good or better than typical banana bread batter. Delicious! I donโ€™t typically like things overly sweet, so this is an exciting alternative to using refined sugar in baking.
    I realize nutritionally, white flour is bad and turns to sugar in your body, or something like that.. so Iโ€™ll try to use whole wheat flour next time. Also roasting grapes creates a sugary alternative to refined sugar. But it still feels great to use a more natural process.. Thank you for the amazing recipe. I added some walnuts because they are yummy ๐Ÿ™‚
    Blessings to all you bakers out there!

  32. Carleen Nelson says:

    Hello can you tell me how you used the raisins in your oatmeal? Or since this article is old have you tried them in anything else and do you think it would work in Zucchini bread? I’m going to try and make this bread for my self since I’m diabetic I was looking for a healthier way to make it.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Careen,
      In my oatmeal, I just add a few spoonfuls of raisin puree until I like the flavor. I don’t have diabetes, though, and I’m not a nutritionist, so I don’t know the impact of this on blood sugar.

  33. Great recipe, Thsnk-You Katie. I love the taste, very satisfying without the sugar. I read the comments and used apple sauce instead of butter.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so glad you liked it, Var. Applesauce really does work well in place of butter in baked goods, doesn’t it?

  34. Please could you tell me the size of your cup. My cup says 240ml.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      To convert the measurements from US to metric, click on the “metric” option below the ingredients.

  35. 5 stars
    Amazing texture and taste! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so glad you liked it, Megan!

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