Date-sweetened banana bread recipe – Pamela Salzman
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Date-sweetened banana bread recipe

Notes

One of my pet peeves is when people label a dessert as “healthy,” and not because that is grammatically incorrect, but rather because desserts have sugar of some form and that will never be “good” for you no matter how much whole wheat flour you throw in there.  Of course, you could say one dessert is more healthful than another or that it will lead to the demise of your health less quickly than its traditional counterpart.  But to call a dessert healthful because we use yogurt instead of butter, but then add in 3 cups of sugar, is just plain delusional. Would you call me a hypocrite if I told you I have a recipe for a healthful dessert?...

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Date-Sweetened Banana Bread | Pamela Salzman

One of my pet peeves is when people label a dessert as “healthy,” and not because that is grammatically incorrect, but rather because desserts have sugar of some form and that will never be “good” for you no matter how much whole wheat flour you throw in there.  Of course, you could say one dessert is more healthful than another or that it will lead to the demise of your health less quickly than its traditional counterpart.  But to call a dessert healthful because we use yogurt instead of butter, but then add in 3 cups of sugar, is just plain delusional.

Date-Sweetened Banana Bread | Pamela Salzman

Would you call me a hypocrite if I told you I have a recipe for a healthful dessert?  I don’t blame you, but stay with me here.  I know of a sweet something that calls for no sugar of any kind — not even my favorite, maple syrup.  Don’t be silly, I am not going artificial on you!  It is a delicious banana bread sweetened only with ripe bananas and pureed dates.  Dates grow locally in Southern California, so we have access to some fantastic varieties here, my favorite being the Medjool.  If you are ever craving something sweet, but don’t want to give in to processed junk, take a pitted date or two and stick a pecan in the middle.  Amazing.  I digress.  The dates do double duty as sweetener and add moistness so we cut back on some of the butter, too.  The key, though, with any banana bread is using super ripe bananas, well-speckled with lots of black dots (the kind many people toss in the garbage — arrgh!).

Date-Sweetened Banana Bread | Pamela Salzman

Banana bread freezes beautifully and makes a terrific muffin, as well.  I adapt this recipe according to the season, adding blueberries in the summer, fresh cranberries in the fall and walnuts or pecans in the winter.  This banana bread is not as sweet as the ones you may be used to, so yes, you can add chocolate chips or a drop of maple syrup if you must.  Just don’t call it healthy!

Date-Sweetened Banana Bread | Pamela Salzman

Date-Sweetened Banana Bread | Pamela Salzman

4.8 from 45 reviews
date-sweetened banana bread recipe
Author: 
Serves: Makes 1 9X5 loaf
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dried dates (about 7 ounces), pitted
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter or unrefined coconut oil, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour, spelt flour or sprouted spelt flour
  • ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 3 large, ripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ cup raw walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped (or fresh blueberries or cranberries)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan. (Can be lined with parchment if it is aluminum.)
  2. Place the dates in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the hot water and allow the dates to soften for at least 10 minutes. (I usually get the rest of my ingredients ready while the dates are softening.)
  3. Turn the mixer on low speed and blend until the water has incorporated with the dates. Turn the mixer to medium low speed and beat the dates until a smooth puree forms.
  4. Add the butter or coconut oil and beat until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and mix.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter-date mixture and mix until just combined.
  6. Fold in the mashed bananas and walnuts.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes (I made it in many different ovens with this range of time), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out barely clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool on a rack.

Comments

211 Comments

  1. If I were to add an extra banana or two do I need to adjust any other ingredients or increase cooking time to make sure it isn’t too gooey?

    • Probably! But since I have never tried that, I can’t advise what to do to make it right. Why not doubel the recipe and make 2?? 😉

  2. Great recipe but didn’t think about it until after baking. It’s missing banana bread spices needs at least cinnamon will add next time !

  3. What would the sub be to make it all baking powder, and with white flour?

    • You can use an equal amount of white flour for the whole wheat flour. I’ve never made this without baking soda, so I’m not sure how it would turn out if you only use baking powder.

  4. Wow this recipe was the bomb. I’m a first time baker and this came out perfect. Looking forward to trying more recipes soon! Lots of love!

    • I’m so happy to hear that! I love adapting this recipe according to the season by adding blueberries in the summer, fresh cranberries in the fall and walnuts or pecans in the winter. Enjoy!

  5. Hi ! If i want to sub apf with oat flour, how much oat flour do i need for this recipe ? Thanks so much ! I love your original nal recipe , it tastes amazing and is sooo fluffy !

    • I haven’t made this recipe with all oat flour, but from what I’ve read you would multiply the wheat flour amount in the recipe by 1.42 to convert to oat flour. For this recipe, that would convert to 2 3/4 cups of oat flour. Again, I’m not sure if it will work, but it’s worth experimenting. I also wanted to note that Bob’s red mill advises adding some xanthan gum if you are going to use only oat flour since xanthan gum is a stabilizer.

  6. I am lucky to have bananas growing in my backyard in Southern California, but of course they all came ripe at the same time, so I just finished making my 3rd loaf this week! I love this recipe for so many reasons, not the least of which is versatility. First time I followed the recipe exactly with chopped pecans. Second loaf I subbed 1/2 c cacao for 1/2 c flour as recommended in comments plus added 1/2 c dark chocolate chips. Oh my, amazing! Today’s loaf added fresh chopped strawberries and it too is amazing! I’ve got enough bananas for 1 or maybe 2 more loaves and looking forward to a new flavor combo, tho not sure what yet. Btw, I used coconut oil instead of butter and fresh dates. So easy, so delicious! Thank you!!

    • That’s so great to hear! Love that you are creating your own flavor combos. Coconut, hazelnut, blueberries, pumpkin spice, peanut butter or even a banana-carrot cake twist would be nice here.

  7. Tastes amazing and is very filling. This is my new favourite breakfast and it fills me for 4/5h! (1/4 of the full bread)

    • That’s amazing! Glad you love it.

  8. Just tried this banana bread for the first time and absolutely love it. It’s so moist and fluffy and really like how there is no sugar! Highly recommend

    • Thank you, Teesh! It’s a family favorite. Glad you gave it a try.

  9. If I want to substitute with pre made date paste, how much would I need?

    • I’m guessing about 3/4 cup date paste would be equivalent to 1 cup dates + 1/2 cup hot water.

  10. My go to banana bread recipe! In fact I’ve used it as a base for lots of other quick breads. Pumpkin is delicious. And I’ve successfully made a chocolate version by swapping out 1/2 c flour for cocoa powder. Date sweetened life is the best! Thank you for sharing.

  11. Hi! Me daughter is vegan. Can I sub the eggs for flax in this recipe? Tried to do so with the tahini bean brownies & it didn’t turn out. Wondering about this one. Ty

    • I made it with chia egg today & it was tasty.
      Also, i didnt add nuts & opted for warm coconut milk instead of water to puree the dates but increased the measurement to 3/4 of a cup of coconut milk.

    • Remember to let the flax-water mixture sit for about 15 minutes before using.

    • Made this today and was delicious. It will now be my go to banana bread recipe. Thanks!

  12. This recipe is fantastic! 100% my new banana recipe go-to from now on. I’ve been searching for a recipe for ages that isn’t too high in sugar and this was truly fantastic. 🙂 It baked and rose wonderfully, cooked all the way through the way you’re always hoping it will haha, and is deliciously moist and the perfect amount of slightly sweet. Absolutely loved it Pamela and will be making this many more times to come!

    • I know what you mean about banana breads sometimes not cooking all the way through and it’s a bummer! Glad this worked well for you!

  13. Love this recipe! Really great and easy. But sometimes I get chunks of dates because I find it hard to break them down using the mixer.

    • Then puree the dates in a food processor!

      • I have made this about 5x now, always turned out well. I have been using sprouted spelt and coconut oil. I have added dark chocolate a couple of times because I’m naughty but it’s delicious whatever. I have a loaf in the oven right now!

        • I love sprouted spelt flour in baked goods. Such a nice mild flavor and the sprouting makes it more digestible. Chocolate sounds LOVELY!

  14. I discovered this recipe via google. I have eliminated refined sugar from my diet, and I had plenty of bananas and dates. I made it in muffin tins just to speed up baking time. The taste is amazing and the sweetness is understated (not overpowering) and I will be making these many times in the future. Thank you for this recipe, as it ticks all the boxes! Gives me a little bit of sweetness without using sugar.

    • Oh, I’m so glad! It’s the only way I make banana bread. I agree that the sweetness is just right. Thanks for your feedback!

  15. Our go to recipe for banana bread! We use coconut oil and whole wheat flour, always comes out great! Thank you for the healthy way to enjoy a family favorite.

    • Coconut oil and bananas are a great combo! Glad you are enjoying the recipe. 🙂

  16. I dont have the mixer, can i do this in a regular blender?

    • To make this gluten free what flour would you be ideal to use in your opinion? Oat flour?
      Thank you!

      • I would say the ideal would be a split between a GF oat flour + your favorite GF flour blend + a little xanthan gum. Otherwise yes, try all oat flour.

    • We used our Vitamix for the wet ingredients, worked great!

  17. Thank you for your reply. Made muffins and loaf this morning. Was a hit with the family.

  18. Made this recipe and it was DELICIOUS! I blended the bananas with the wet ingredients and I think that’s why it was so moist. I also added in some vanilla bone broth protein powder for some extra protein!

  19. Will this work with just self raising flour if i don’t add banking powder? My supermarket is too far to get the other flour and i really want to try this tomorrow xx

    • Sorry i meant baking powder! Bloody predictive text!

      • Yes, I knew what you meant! I haven’t tried this with self-rising flour, so I don’t know if it would work. Do you have regular all-purpose flour? You can use that in the same amount as the whole grain flour…

  20. First time I made this exactly as reads, opted for 1/2 butter 1/2 coconut oil as the fat selection. I liked it, but a little baking soda-y and even though it had plenty of oily type fat (wasn’t too much though!) it felt like it could be richer somehow. Second time I wanted more richness, so I soaked the dates overnight in 1/2c + 1 T (to try to account for the solids in it) milk. My bananas were all a tad riper this time (like one step before molded lol). I also added the banana mush in with the wet ingredients instead of folding in last this time because it makes more sense and seems like it would help prevent overmixing. Both times I added extra spice (nutmeg, clove, cinnamon). This time the baking soda taste was even stronger. My guess is the riper bananas were less acidic and thus left unreacted baking soda. Also it was a little dry even though I took it out at 50 mins so thinking the extra T of liquid was not enough to account for the milk fat solids from my substitution of milk for water. I want to keep using very ripe bananas to maximize the natural sweetness in the recipe because hubby is very accustomed to added sugars in things, so I want to get this close to what his taste buds like but without adding sweeteners. I’m thinking next time I will try adding some plain yogurt (maybe 1/4 c?) as it will both increase acidity and moisture. Will let y’all know what happens! Thanks for sharing this unique, tasty and healthful recipe idea!

  21. Mine came out very “pudding”-like and there was slightly too much batter for the tin. I am wondering what I missed as the cake although damp tasted exceptional and I can see it has come out well for you and most of your commenters. I live in the UK where our fruit tends to be smaller than yours and I wonder if subbing 4 small bananas was a mistake. I also pureed them rather than mashed them so I wonder if that also made it too damp? It hasn’t stopped us eating it and I’m looking forward to giving it another go!

    • My guess is that your tin was too small. The loaf pan I use in this recipe is 9 x 5 inches. 9 inches is about 23 centimeters. If you don’t have a large enough tin, you can bake this in a cake pan or as muffins as well. Different cook times, though.

  22. Dear Pamela;
    I made this for my mum’s birthday a couple days ago and I simply felt obliged to write a few words to thank you. Your recipe and everything about the way you explained the steps were so perfect that I managed to bake this as a cake (round and with less height).. Side note: I had never actually made a cake that was not either stuffy and undercooked, or brick-like and overcooked. My cakes never gained any volume.

    So thank you for this. Keep going, you’re amazing!

    “10 STARS!” ^_^

    • Oh and not to mention it was super delicious. (I baked the coconut oil version and added no sugar.. loved it)

      • I’m delighted to hear that, thank you!

  23. Hi Pamela, I look forward to trying this recipe! I purchased date paste at my local farmers market. Do you have an idea of how much date paste would be equivalent to the 10 Medjool dates in your recipe? Thanks!

    • Hmmmm, 1/2 cup maybe?? I’m just guessing but it can’t be far off that.

  24. Lovely banana bread recipe! I am cutting added sugars so the dates I added (+ the banana) gave it just enough sweetness! Thank you so much for the recipe!

    • I didn’t mean to rate it 2 stars! It should have been 5 stars!! 🙂

  25. Hi,
    I made date puree today and was looking for a banana bread made with dates as the solo sweetener. I’ll make the bread tomorrow but wish to comment right now regarding the use of the words healthy vs healthful to describe a food. I have a friend who has the same pet peeve re use of healthful. However, according to the Oxford English Dictionary both healthy and healthful can be used describe a healthy banana bread. Quote: “It’s OK to use healthy and healthful as synonyms for conducive to good health: have a healthy snack or a healthful one. But if you’re referring to someone who enjoys good health, however, use healthy because it’d be weird to call a person healthful. Save healthful for the granola and healthy for your personal trainer.”
    I agree that calling something healthy or healthful when it’s loaded with sugar is not a good practice, though I have caught myself doing just that. 😉
    Thank you for the recipe.

    • Ah, yes. You make perfect sense. My mother has her PhD in linguistics and has told me that many words and grammatical structures which used to be incorrect have now become acceptable. I assume that if people say things a certain way long enough, there’s no fighting it ;)!

  26. Thank you for this lovely banana bread. I have tried many sugar free versions and this is my favourite. I’m sure you get sick of people playing around with your recipe, however I am gluten intolerant, so I subbed the flour for 1 cup almond flour (ground almonds) and 1 cup cornflour, ( I think you call it cornstarch). It worked a treat. so again thank you for this lovely recipe

    • Actually, I LOVE hearing how people tweaked the recipes with success! Thank you for sharing that. 🙂

    • You’re looking for something to substitute to omit the butter? You could try subbing an equal amount of avocado or apple sauce. I don’t know if they would work, but you could try.

      • First of all this recipe is the only one I ever commented on because I am so pleased!!! I used an avocado instead of the oil and it turned out perfectly. Thank you!!

        • I am so honored, thank you! It’s an oldie, but goodie!

        • I just re-read your comment which originally I thought said you used avocado oil. But you used AN AVOCADO! I’m so intrigued! Awesome!

  27. This is my go-to banana bread recipe! I purchase fresh medjool dates from the Coachella Valley which are already gooey and blend easily. I like to add frozen cranberries or blueberries and top with a sprinkling of Trader Joe’s super seed blend.

    • Ooooh! I never thought to sprinkle with the TJ’s super seed blend. Good idea!

  28. Hello. How many cups are the bananas? I find bananas vary in size so I don’t want to end up using too much or too little.

    • I never measure the bananas and the bread always turns out well. I would guess 3 medium bananas is about 1 generous cup of mashed banana.

  29. Tried this today and it turned out great!! I blended the dates (after they were soaking for 10 minutes) to make more of a puree out of them. I also ground the walnuts (my children prefer them ground) and I added about 1 T of pure maple syrup. Also, I ended up just mixing the batter by hand. It turned out perfectly! Thanks for a great recipe, one that truly is healthy!

    • I love all your adaptations. Lately I have been pureeing the dates too because my son prefers the bread that way. Thanks for sharing, Marina 🙂

  30. Very easy and delicious banana bread-not too sweet, which is the best!

    • That’s the way I like cakes and breads — not too sweet 🙂

  31. Really great recipe and delicious results. So nice to find sugar free recipe and dates are a brilliant alternative. I used frozen blueberries without defrosting which worked really well too.

    Thanks very much for sharing the recipe.

    • OH yes, this bread is lovely with blueberries. I’m glad you could appreciate the subtle sweetness of the dates. 🙂

  32. Hi, I like your recipe. I used almond flour. I think I may have used too many dates also because my date egg mixture was very wet. Anyway, it came out like it needed more flour. It was wet inside. Baked,yes,but wet or overmoist. I am at this point not knowing what to do. Any tips?

    • Hi Helen, unfortunately we cannot substitute almond flour one-for-one with grain flours in baking recipes like this one. The properties of almond flour are so different from grain flours. You can search for and take a look at the recipe for my carrot-banana-almond flour cake and see how those proportions are different. That is a lovely recipe that you will enjoy.

  33. Hi! I used 2.5 smaller eggs, 4 Tbsp of vegetable oil & then boiling water to soak the dates – I couldn’t blend the dates as I haven’t got a blender at the moment, but soaked them in the boiling water for a while and used my hand mixer to smash them up/mix them. All this worked out great and it tastes yummy! It has a slight bicarb taste (maybe I was heavy handed on the bi carb?) ..but will definitely make it again (oh and I didn’t have nuts so omitted these ) 😀

    • Sounds like you made the recipe work for you! 🙂

  34. Hello!!!! Love this recipe….any idea on calories or nutrition info?

    • Hello!!!! Not sure, Denise. A lot of other bloggers recommend My Fitness Pal to their readers, so that’s worth a try. Sorry!

  35. This was wayyyy too dry, couldn’t even mix it. I followed the proportions exactly and it was impossible to work with…. did I miss something? Nothing about the end resulting batter is pourable and now I’m just going to throw it all away. Disappointing

    • Hi Ashley, So sorry that this didn’t work for you. I am going to say with all due respect, yes, you missed something. The reason being that I have taught this recipe at least 30 times in different kitchens with different ovens and different pans and I’ve been making it for my family for at least 15 years. This is one of my oldest and most road-tested recipes. The batter is not pourable, but it shouldn’t be “impossible” to work with. I wonder if you had baked the batter you made, if the bread would have turned out. You might have been expecting the batter to have a different consistency when in fact it was the way it should have been. Sorry, it’s hard when I’m not in the kitchen with you to know what went wrong.

  36. Will this work with a egg substitute? Do you have a fail proof one

    • Yes, you can try aquafaba (liquid from canned chickpeas), a flax egg, or Neat Egg which is garbanzo and chia powder to which you add water. Have you ever used aquafaba or a flax egg in baking?

  37. I love the recipe. I just had a question. Can i use olive oil instead of butter?
    Thanks

    • I haven’t tried it with olive oil, although I do make my zucchini bread with olive oil and I have an olive oil cake on the blog. It’s worth a try, I just can’t say how it will turn out. Let me know if you try it!

  38. This is a wonderful recipe! I halved all the ingredients, and it was perfect for six muffins. Baked them for 20 minutes at 350. Will definitely make these again. Cheers!

    • So glad you enjoyed this recipe as muffins! I should be making this as muffins instead of a loaf — I might eat less of it! 😉

  39. I had date paste (dates and hot water) and frozen bananas in my fridge and use the amount that is stated in your recipe. This recipe is delicious as it is stated and I will be using it again with some of the other suggested ingredients. Thank you for sharing such a great recipe. It is hard to find recipes with out added sugar that really taste good. I have also decided to look for quality baking whole wheat flour instead of always using almond or coconut. The other flours have been hit or miss. There is so much fear surrounded by food and it is the one thing that you want to enjoy. I like your 90/10 rule on your about page. It makes sense and it gave me a better understanding about the relationship and purpose of food. I have bookmarked your site and will be visiting often.

    • Thank you, Pamela. Nice to have you here! You can also try sprouted flours like spelt and wheat. They are a little more digestible but perform equally as well. 🙂

  40. My sister in law asked for a birthday cake without sugar, sweetened naturally with bananas and dates, so this is perfect! I just had a few questions. First, do you think this would work with white flour? I usually bake with white whole wheat flour but ran out. Second, do you have a suggestion for a “frosting” that is naturally sweetened since this will be a birthday cake? I was thinking maybe plain fresh whipped cream and sliced strawberries (since I just bought some from the farmer’s market) but I don’t know if that will be too bland or if the strawberries will even go with this bread? Thank you so much for your help!

    • Yes, it will work with white flour. What about doing a date-sweetened cream cheese? You can take a look at my grain-free carrot cake and use cream cheese plus soaked dates and a little vanilla. I think that would work if you put it all in the food processor to get the dates super smooth. 🙂

      • OOOhhhh! Perfect! Thank you for your quick response! 🙂


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