Beth Dreiling Hontzas; Buffy Hargett
Makes 2 loaves

Enjoy banana bread without all the guilt with this healthy banana bread recipe. For more recipes like this, see our complete banana bread recipe collection.

How to Make It

Step 1

If you've never worked with whole wheat flour, accurate measuring is everything. Be sure to spoon the flour into a dry measuring cup (do not pack) rather than scooping the cup into the flour, and level it off with a straight edge. Expect a denser bread with this recipe. It won't rise as much as traditional breads, and the texture will be very moist. (If you use frozen, thawed bananas, you might experience more wet patches throughout the bread.) We liked this version at the taste-testing table, but if you prefer a less dense bread with a little more rise and slightly lighter texture, then double the baking powder but leave the baking soda the same.

Step 2

Preheat oven to 350°. Place 3/4 cup pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake 12 to 15 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring after 6 minutes.

Step 3

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Step 4

Combine whole wheat flour and next 4 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in bananas, 3/4 cup toasted pecans, and vanilla. Spoon batter into 2 greased and floured 8- x 4-inch loaf pans. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup pecans.

Step 5

Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean and sides of bread pull away from pan, shielding with aluminum foil during last 15 minutes to prevent excessive browning, if necessary. Cool bread in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks. Let cool 30 minutes.

Step 6

Note: To make ahead, proceed with recipe as directed through Step Cool loaves completely, and tightly wrap with plastic wrap. Wrap again with aluminum foil. Freeze up to 1 month.

Step 7

Toasted Coconut-Cream Cheese-Banana-Nut Bread: Reduce pecans to 1 cup. Prepare recipe as directed through Step 1, toasting all pecans. Remove and reserve 1/4 cup toasted pecans. Proceed as directed through Step 3, omitting pecans sprinkled over batter. Bake as directed. Meanwhile, cook 1/4 cup fat-free evaporated milk, 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar, 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, and 1 Tbsp. butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, 3 to 4 minutes or until bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut, reserved toasted pecans, and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract. Remove bread from oven; immediately spread tops lightly with coconut mixture. Broil 5 1/2 inches from heat 2 to 3 minutes or until topping starts to lightly brown. Cool in pans on wire racks 20 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks; cool 30 minutes before slicing.

Step 8

Cinnamon-Cream Cheese-Banana-Nut Bread: Prepare recipe as directed through Step 3, omitting pecans sprinkled over batter. Stir together 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup chopped pecans (not toasted), 1 1/2 tsp. all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp. melted butter, and 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon. Lightly sprinkle mixture over batter in pans. Bake and cool as directed.

Step 9

Peanut Butter-Cream Cheese-Banana-Nut Bread: Prepare recipe as directed through Step 3, omitting pecans sprinkled over batter. Combine 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar in a small bowl. Cut in 2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter and 1 1/2 tsp. butter with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles small peas. Lightly sprinkle mixture over batter in pans. Bake and cool as directed.

Chef's Notes

Prep: 15 min.; Bake: 1 hr., 15 min.; Cool: 40 min. The original recipe was sent to us by Willie Monroe from Homewood, Alabama. To get perfect slices, let the bread cool 30 minutes and then cut with a serrated or electric knife.

Ratings & Reviews

Dansana's Review

March 13, 2014
I have used this recipe for years but I also found it to be dense, so I decided to upgrade it a bit, so to speak. I follow the recipe as is, however when the bread has baked for about 30 minutes, I poke holes all over the bread with a skewer. I then add the glaze I have mixed up ahead of time. The glaze consists of cream cheese, cinnamon, butter and a little bit of honey.....mmmmm, good. The glaze caramelizes while finishing baking. When it is done and you may have to bake it anywhere between 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes. Let it sit to allow the glaze to harden. Everyone that has ever tasted my banana bread has absolutely loved it, even the babies!

skidwell's Review

February 23, 2014
My favorite banana bread recipe, since it was featured Feb 2008 in Southern Living magazine.

dalltard's Review

October 16, 2012

karin68's Review

March 03, 2012
We love the taste of it, but it doesn't seem to cook through...Somebody knows what is wrong? I followed the recipe to the dot...

shirly's Review

August 02, 2011
This picture looked to die for and I love cream cheese so I thought this would be delicious. To my dismay this bread was very dense and very heavy. I had to throw out a loaf and a half because no one liked it.. It was just very heavy and expensive to make as someone else mentioned. I will not be making this again.

AliceCooks's Review

May 25, 2011
This is definitely not the original recipe posted here that everyone is looking for. The recipe we all loved can be found by searching for Cream Cheese Banana Nut Bread dated Jan. 2005 Southern living - but it is not on their site. I googled it and did find it. Original has no WW flour or buttermilk for one, but does have more sugar and butter... Ah well ....but great. Make with the crispy cinnamon topping and guests and family will smile and gobble up.

BarbaraFlorida's Review

May 18, 2011
The original recipe was the very best ever. I didn't even read this recipe as I thought it was the same; if it isn't ...bad on you, Southern Living, because the original recipe was perfect. I make it all the time with the toasted pecans and OJ glaze. It is perfect...

punkinpie's Review

February 13, 2011
I remembered seeing the beautiful photo and the recipe for this bread in the '08 magazine, and knew that someday I had to make it. That someday came this week. After reading all the reviews, I decided to just hand mix the ingredients as little as possible. I used whole wheat flour and bread flour (sifting after measuring), 4 very ripe bananas, organic sugar, doubled the baking powder and even doubled the baking soda. No buttermilk on hand, so Evaporated milk + vinegar, generous amount of vanilla, 2 medium eggs. Gotta have spices, so 1 heaping tsp. cinnamon and 1 tsp. nutmeg. Lined the pan with butter, then sugar for a nice outside crunch. The result was a medium light texture and a fantastic taste. For the glaze, I added some frozen OJ concentrate (right out of the freezer) to some powdered sugar. It was my most successful Banana Nut Bread ever.

Tmcrow's Review

January 01, 2011
I used applesauce for 3/4 of the butter and it was even better and healthier!! We really enjoyed this recipe.

ssssshar's Review

December 12, 2010
This recipe is very bad. The words are this is a denser very moist bread. It is not moist it is gummy! I kept trying to bake it longer hoping to get rid of that gummy texture. It is a very expensive bread. I had to through mine away. It is like mush in your mouth. Be sure that is the texture you want before buying all these expensive ingredients.