Shhh Banana Bread

Shhh! This simple banana bread is so good, let's not tell that it's low-fat! And the thing is? No one's going to notice, it's got the right taste, the right texture, the right banana richness, just like other recipes with much more fat and many more calories.

Shhh Banana Bread ♥, healthy low-fat banana bread, just 1 tablespoon oil and whole wheat flour. Weight Watchers Friendly!

Real Food, Fresh & Flexible. A Year-Round Classic. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Weight Watchers Friendly.

Trick #1: Just One Tablespoon Oil

Good banana bread recipes are common but this one is heady with banana and vanilla and more than a little bit good.

And shhh! It’s low fat.

But I promise, no one will guess from the taste.

My dad asks for it special, toasted and unbuttered – and he’s one of those Greatest Generation Guys who slathers butter on most everything.

Most quick breads like banana bread, Autumn Pumpkin Bread and Zucchini Bread call for a stick of butter, eight whole tablespoons.

This recipe calls for just one tablespoon of the more healthful unsaturated fat in vegetable oil.

Trick #2: Lots of Very Ripe Bananas

The trick to SHHH or any other banana bread is patience, for the bananas must be very, very, VERY ripe.

Even the ripest ones from the grocery store must sit untouched for ten days or more to gather the soft sweetness that imparts banana essence. They’re not baking-ready until they’ve turned brown, almost black, all over.

Last fall, I learned to push the very limits of "ripe" bananas for banana bread. It takes planning ahead but is then perfect for impatient bakers.

Once in awhile, the grocery sells bags of slightly riper bananas on the cheap. Buy one or two and let the bananas ripen on the counter to that brown-turning-black stage, definitely not a banana you'd want for the top of your cheerios or breakfast peanut butter toasty, say. Put them, still in their skins, in freezer bags and freeze. When you feel the urge for banana bread, thaw three or four for an hour, then slip the almost syrupy fruit out of the skins for mixing.

I call these "black bananas"! More info? Ripe Bananas for Baking: How Ripe Should Bananas Be?

I'm Here to Say: You Just Might Need Another Recipe for Banana Bread

I'm a big believer in fixing on a "one and only" recipe for certain things, banana bread among them. Since I don't bake that often, I want good results every single time!

For years, that's meant my very first banana bread recipe. Cheery Cherry Banana Bread goes way back into high school, though I do occasionally branch off, dressing it up for Christmas, say, a la Christmas Banana Bread.

I mention this because it's not like me to introduce a second recipe when I've already settled on "my" banana bread recipe. Yet here I am, baking one loaf after another of this simple, unadorned and low-fat banana bread, Shhh Banana Bread.

What's In Shhh Banana Bread? Pantry Ingredients!

In all my recipes and most well-written recipes, every ingredient serves a purpose. Each one matters. Each one contributes to the overall dish. It's not that an ingredient can't be substituted by something else but when choosing the substitute, it's important to understand why the original ingredient was present in the first place.

  • Eggs One of the tricks to this banana bread is using the eggs to add both structure and air by mixing them for a long while, until thick and ropey. That means this recipe really needs a mixer, either a hand mixer or a stand mixer.

  • Bananas, Of Course It takes a little patience but the best banana bread is made with the ripest bananas you can muster.

  • Sugar Either brown or white sugar, your call. I like that added bit of molasses that comes from brown sugar, it seems to match up with the rustic, whole-wheat flour.

  • Buttermilk Do you keep buttermilk in the fridge? Me too, it's inexpensive and keeps for weeks. And for pancakes, muffins and many other baked goods, it just adds a certain oomph. That said, if you don't have real buttermilk, yogurt or sour cream thinned with a little milk are great substitutes. And in a pinch, a touch of vinegar will turn milk into something kinda-sorta like buttermilk, just measure 1/3 cup of milk and add a teaspoon of white vinegar.

  • Vegetable Oil Only a little, just a tablespoon but even this much adds to richness and moistness.

  • Vanilla I shake my head when recipes call for a tiny spoonful of vanilla. You want vanilla? Add vanilla! I use an entire tablespoon! I love to pump up low-cal flavors in low-cal dishes.

  • Two Flours Use both all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour. No whole wheat flour? Just use more all-purpose flour. But using all whole-wheat flour isn't recommended, it just turns out a product that's a little dry. (That said, I haven't tried all whole-wheat flour with this particular recipe, it just might work.)

  • Leavening Leavening is what makes our baked goods "rise" just like yeast does for regular breads. This recipe uses both baking powder and baking soda. Whenever you use buttermilk, you'll need a little baking soda.

  • Spices Who else is Team Nutmeg for banana bread? But Team Cinnamon, you'll be happy with that choice too.

  • Salt Be sure to include salt in baked goods, it makes all the difference.

  • Raw Sugar I like to sprinkle a little raw sugar (those are the small, distinct brown crystals) to create a slightly crispy topping. A light touch of white sugar would work too.
  • "It was delicious!" ~ Maxine
Shhh Banana Bread ♥, healthy low-fat banana bread, just 1 tablespoon oil and whole wheat flour. Weight Watchers Friendly!

Just updated! First published way back in 2006.


Banana ripening time: 10+ days
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time-to-table: 90 – 120 minutes
Makes 1 standard loaf pan, about 16 slices
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (150g) sugar or brown sugar
  • 3 – 4 very ripe bananas, mashed (350 – 400g)
  • 1/3 cup (80g) buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (94g) whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg (my favorite) or cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • Raw sugar, for the top, optional but lovely

Heat the oven to 325F/165C. Spray or butter a standard loaf pan.

#1 UNUSUAL TECHNIQUE Mix the eggs and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low for 5 minutes until the mixture becomes yellow and almost ropey and syrupy. Then thoroughly mix in the bananas, buttermilk, oil and vanilla, scraping the sides of the bowl and the beaters if necessary.

#2 UNORTHODOX SHORTCUT Dump the dry ingredients onto the batter without mixing them in. With a spoon, lightly combine the dry ingredients right on top but still without incorporating into the wet batter. Now use the mixer to combine the dry ingredients and wet batter but just until barely combined. (Too much mixing will create small holes in the bread when it bakes.) Alternatively, the more usual way to mix in the dry ingredients is to stir them together well on their own in a separate bowl, then turn into the wet ingredients.

SPRINKLE WITH SUGAR Turn the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle the top generously with raw sugar.

BAKE until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 60 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, then turn onto a rack to finish cooling.

Slice and serve! And shhh! No sharing our low-fat banana bread secret!

ALANNA's TIPS Shhh Banana Bread announces itself when it's in the oven. It just smells so good! Be careful about using too much banana, there's a sweet spot between "too little" (and thus too little banana flavor and too little natural sweetness) and "too much" (and thus too much moisture and a soggy bread that needs refrigeration and will turn quickly). Because bananas vary so much in size, I've taken to weighing the mashed fruit rather than counting the bananas. I hope you will too! Consider the raw sugar on top of the loaf optional but it does provide a nice, crisp top crust and also a surge of sweetness that's noticeable. Do you ever have trouble figuring out when your baked goods are "done"? Sure, there are visual cues (color, pulling away from the sides of the pan), even touch cues (touching the center to see if it bounces back). But I'm a cook who loves precision and consistency so I've taken to inserting a digital thermometer (affiliate link) into the center and baking to 190F/90C. It works out perfectly every single time!
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Slice, assumes 16 slices, 2 tablespoons raw sugar, 375g banana: 135 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 26mg Cholesterol; 186mg Sodium; 27g Carb; 1g Fiber; 14g Sugar; 3g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 3 & PointsPlus 4 & SmartPoints 6 & Freestyle 4 & myWW green 5 & blue 4 & purple 4 CALORIE COUNTERS 100-calorie serving = 3/4 slice (2g protein).

More Ripe Bananas? Beyond Banana Bread ...

~ more banana recipes ~
Triple-Banana Oat Pancakes ♥, just wholesome oats, banana and egg. Taste and texture just like ordinary pancakes!
Banana Oatmeal Cookies ♥, oatmeal cookies with a banana twist.
Banana Nut Cake with Caramel Frosting ♥, my mom's famous recipe, a great special-occasion cake yet simple enough to make often. Plus, a new banana technique: no more waiting for bananas to ripen! Recipe, tips, nutrition & WW points included.

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ banana recipes ~
~ buttermilk recipes ~
~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2006, 2007, 2018 & 2020 (repub)

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Anonymous7/21/2007

    love the uniquly identifiable inner surface of banana bread!

    Really, no sharing? :)

    Alana, what do you like to use to figure out nutritional content for recipes?


  2. Okay mcauliflower, YOU can share. But no one else, okay? Re: nutrition analysis, I use software called AccuChef. It's a little clunky but I love the import feature, also how easy it is (once you figure it out) to add your own ingredients. I'd be happy to give some tips if you get it -- also I've had good experience w their technical support.

    And on a related note, I definitely recommend analyzing what you cook -- especially beforehand for doing what-ifs, What if I use less butter? cut the cheese in half? reduce the portion size? I've learned SO MUCH, doing this, it's completely changed how I cook.


  3. Anonymous7/21/2007

    Thanks- this is right up my geek alley.

    I've been looking at some of the free analyzers online, but their technical help is nonexistent, and their databases seem to be overloaded with brandname products! i understand how that's useful, but to someone like me who doesn't want to know the info on *$ brand granola bar- just wants plain old oatmeal stats, its a bit frustrating to wade through everything.

    I guess that was a suffient side note rant! :)


  4. Maxine9/06/2012

    It was delicious! I used the whole wheat flour and turbinado sugar (less than recommended). I didn't have walnuts or pecans so I added almonds. From another recipe, I saw that they added bourbon so I used about 1 tablespoon.

  5. Karen in Miami4/15/2020

    THANK YOU for putting the weight of the bananas! I grow several sizes of finger bananas in the yard, which will generate 25 -75+ bananas ripe all at once. Into the freezer they go. Thawing them in the microwave turns them pretty nicely ooey-gooey, no need to wait so long and put up with fruit flies. I also have an Allspice tree (Pimenta dioica) and vote for Allspice in banana bread every time. More of that and less vanilla, since vanilla has gotten very expensive lately. Sometimes I use Fiori di Sicilia in place of vanilla - also pricey but a nice citrus note. And a mix of white whole wheat and AP flour seems to come out just right.

    1. Karen ~ You are totally welcome! Oh I wish I had the same great reason to benefit from banana weights! Love the idea of the Fiori di Sicilia though haven’t baked with it in a long while. Bourbon might be a good substitute for the expensive vanilla, for sure. Thanks so much for making the time to write! Be safe, be well ...

  6. QuiltingAgain4/24/2020

    I made this yesterday and it was wonderful! I used plain non fat greek yogurt instead of buttermilk. I weighed out 80 grams of yogurt and whey, then thinned it a little. I was concerned about adding to much water, but it worked out fine. Also added chopped walnuts for my husband.

    1. QuiltingAgain ~ Great news! So glad to know you’re using a scale! Stay well, stay safe, stay strong ...

  7. Susan on Pinterest3/10/2021

    So good! We add pecans & mini chocolate chips!

  8. Anonymous2/06/2024

    325 is too low . I followed the recipe to a T and the center is still raw!

    1. Alanna2/09/2024

      Oh dear, so sorry that happened to you. Here’s what I advise in the recipe to prevent this from happening, it works even better than the toothpick test.

      “Do you ever have trouble figuring out when your baked goods are "done"? Sure, there are visual cues (color, pulling away from the sides of the pan), even touch cues (touching the center to see if it bounces back). But I'm a cook who loves precision and consistency so I've taken to inserting a digital thermometer into the center and baking to 190F/90C. It works out perfectly every single time!”

    2. Anonymous7/03/2024

      Thanks for the tip, however, the reason it was still raw is because the temp of the oven is too low to bake in the amount of time the recipe calls for....every bread recipe I looked up calls for the oven to be set at least 350 for 1 hour of baking..


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna