Saturday, June 12, 2021

Banana Bread with Applesauce & Yogurt

An easy & healthy recipe for cozy banana bread made with unsweetened applesauce & plain Greek yogurt (no oil) + fresh orange zest and juice, chopped nuts & dark chocolate chips. Cut it into thick slices & store it in the fridge or freezer for a fragrant & flavor-packed snack any time of the day. (gluten-free & dairy-free option)

Banana Bread with Applesauce & Yogurt (Easy & Healthy Recipe)

One of my favorite snacks is a thick slice of homemade banana bread or a banana muffin (like strawberry or double chocolate). I like to smear it with creamy peanut butter for extra protein, pair it with a tasty beverage, and settle down with a good book for a cozy reading session.

When I'm craving something a bit lighter (usually in the warmer months), I swap out part or all of the oil in my banana bread recipes for applesauce, which adds moisture + a mild sweetness without the extra fat.

In today's recipe I decided to do half applesauce & half plain Greek yogurt so I could add back in some healthy fat + protein to make the bread more balanced nutritionally. I always buy whole milk yogurt (better for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins D, E & K), but you can use low-fat or non-fat if that's what you prefer.

Even without the oil, this "healthier" version is still moist & packed with tons of flavor from the combo of banana + orange + vanilla. The major difference? It's not quite as rich & tender in terms of texture. If you want your banana bread to have those qualities, omit the yogurt and use your favorite cooking oil instead (mine is avocado oil).  

I'm perfectly fine losing some of the richness in this case, as it's a good excuse for me to use up the half empty containers of unsweetened applesauce + yogurt lingering in my fridge. Surely I'm not the only one!

It seems like the only times I use applesauce these days is for my pumpkin apple muffins or make-ahead lunch boxes, so I need extra ideas if you have them!  

Ingredients For Making Banana Bread with Applesauce & Yogurt

Ingredients For Banana Applesauce Bread

The ingredients are super simple, so you likely have everything you need on hand right now. I almost always keep a few navel oranges in my fridge (it extends their shelf life) for smoothies or baking since it's a cheap way to add a ton of flavor. If you have any extra, use the zest for herb & citrus salt

  • Ripe Bananas: Make sure they have plenty of black spots, as it gives the banana bread way more flavor, natural sweetness + a heavenly fragrance when you bake it. 
  • Sugar: I use coconut sugar in most of my baked goods these days. It's lower on the glycemic index, imparts a slight molasses flavor & gives the banana bread a lovely color. Don't have any? Use brown sugar or maple sugar instead. 
  • Eggs: I used regular-sized eggs but if you have extra-large that would be even better
  • Unsweetened Applesauce: This adds extra moisture & lowers the fat content since you'd normally use oil
  • Plain Greek Yogurt: This adds moisture and richness (similar to sour cream) + healthy fats & protein. If you don't have any yogurt, you can substitute sour cream or cooking oil instead (I prefer avocado oil or melted coconut oil). 
  • Fresh Orange Juice + Zest: This gives the banana bread a bright, sweet & uplifting scent that smells heavenly. It's the secret ingredient that will take your average banana bread recipe from ho hum to stellar. 
  • Vanilla Extract: homemade or storebought - use the real stuff here!
  • Flour: I use unbleached all-purpose flour (weighing it with a cheap digital scale helps a lot with consistency), but you can also substitute this Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour. I prefer its texture to other GF blends, plus it's easy to find. 
  • Baking Soda: Since the sweetener is acidic (coconut sugar or brown sugar) this helps the bread to rise
  • Baking Powder: I also add baking powder to give the bread extra lift since there are so many moist ingredients
  • Cinnamon Powder: Ceylon cinnamon (a.k.a. "true" cinnamon) is my absolute favorite because it has a mild, fragrant scent + flavor
  • Sea Salt: Just a tidbit to accentuate the sweetness
  • Nuts (Optional): This adds a bit of crunchy texture & extra protein to make the bread more hearty. I used chopped walnut halves, but pecans would be an excellent option.
  • Chocolate Chips (Optional): I add just enough dark chocolate chips to give it pops of sweetness without feeling like dessert, but you can definitely omit the nuts and increase the chocolate. :)
How to Make Healthy Banana Bread with Applesauce & Yogurt (Easy Recipe)

How to Make Banana Bread with Applesauce & Yogurt

The prep is quick & easy for this healthy banana bread. Grab what you need out of your pantry & fridge and you'll be ready to bake in 10 minutes or less. 

  1. Pre-heat the Oven: The batter comes together super quick so you want to turn on the oven first to give it a headstart (it usually takes 10 minutes or less). 
  2. Grease Your Pan: It's really important to use cooking spray, butter, or coonut oil to grease your loaf pan first because the banana bread itself doesn't contain any oil. This makes it more prone to sticking, which we want to avoid! I use this avocado oil spray (get it on Amazon or at Costco).
  3. Mash the Bananas: These days I mash my bananas in a bowl until they're pretty liquidy and add them to a measuring cup to ensure I have enough since the sizes can vary. If you're not the measuring type, I've found (on average) that 4 small bananas yields about 1 1/2 cups, which is what I most often use for my recipes.
  4. Mix Together the Wet Ingredients: That's the mashed banana, sugar (yes, even if it's granulated), eggs, applesauce, yogurt, orange juice + zest, and vanilla extract. 
  5. Stir Together the Dry Ingredients: You want to do this in a separate bowl than the wet ingredients so the lifting agents are thoroughly dispersed in the flour & the nuts + chocolate chips get lightly coated in flour (this prevents them from all sinking to the bottom).
  6. Combine The Wet + Dry Ingredients: Mix everything gently until there are no more big pockets of flour in the batter (if there's a tiny bit left on the nuts after baking that's okay). We don't want to overmix the batter, otherwise it will turn tough & dense.
  7.  Pour the Batter into the Pan & (Optional) Top with Chopped Nuts: I reserved 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts to sprinkle on top as it gives the bread a rustic look + some extra crunch.
  8. Bake, Cool & Slice: Bake the banana bread until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (about 50-60 minutes depending on how hot your oven runs). Let it sit on your stove or counter for 8-10 minutes, then run a knife or spatula along the outer edges of the bread to loosen it, and pop it out of the pan. Place on a wire rack or plate to finish cooling (hard to do when it smells so good), then slice and eat! 

Easy & Healthy Banana Bread with Applesauce & Yogurt

More Banana Recipes You'll Love:

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baked goods
Yield: 10 servings
Author: Elaina Newton - The Rising Spoon
Banana Bread with Applesauce & Yogurt

Banana Bread with Applesauce & Yogurt

Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 50 MinTotal time: 1 Hour
An easy recipe for cozy banana bread made with applesauce & Greek yogurt (no oil) + fresh orange zest and juice, chopped nuts & chocolate chips. Cut it into thick slices & store it in the fridge or freezer for a healthy, fragrant & flavor-packed snack any time of the day. (gluten-free & dairy-free option)


  • 1 1/2 cups of mashed ripe banana (about 4 small bananas)
  • 1 cup of coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt (sub a neutral cooking oil like avocado oil for a dairy-free version)
  • 2 teaspoons of orange zest (from 1 orange)
  • 2 tablespoons of orange juice (from 1/2 an orange)
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (9.5 oz) of unbleached all-purpose flour OR this gluten-free 1 to 1 baking flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder (I used Ceylon cinnamon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup of chopped nuts, divided (I used walnuts)
  • 1/4 cup of chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate chips)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan with cooking spray (or rub it down with butter or coconut oil).
  2. In a medium bowl, add the mashed banana, sugar, eggs, applesauce, yogurt, orange zest + juice & vanilla extract. Stir well to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, measure in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon powder & salt. Stir everything with a fork then add the chopped nuts & chocolate chips (if using). Toss the add-ins lightly in the flour mixture until just coated (this helps to prevent sinking).
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and gently fold the two together until everything is combined and there are no large flour pockets in the batter (avoid over-mixing as this will make the bread tough).
  5. Pour the batter into the greased pan and top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of chopped nuts (if using).
  6. Bake the banana bread for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.
  7. Let the bread sit for 8-10 minutes to cool slightly, then remove from the pan to a wire rack or cutting board. If eating right away, slice into thick pieces while still warm (the chocolate will be melty). Otherwise, cool completely and store any leftovers in the fridge and consume within 4-5 days.


DAIRY-FREE + RICHER OPTION: Omit the yogurt and use 1/2 cup of cooking oil instead (like avocado oil or melted coconut oil). This will create a richer banana bread so if that's what you're looking for while still getting some of the extra moisture from the applesauce, then go for this version.

MEAL PREP + FREEZER OPTION: If you're making this ahead of time, cool the banana bread completely, slice it into thick pieces, place squares of parchment paper in between each piece so they don't stick together, and store the loaf in a ziptop bag in the freezer. Pull out what you need and it will come to room temp fairly quickly (30-ish minutes). This is the best option for ensuring that your banana bread stays super fresh.

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Update (June 2021): This recipe was originally published in January 2015, but I've recently updated the post with all new photos, a printable recipe card with updated ingredients & additional helpful tips. 

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An easy recipe for cozy banana bread made with unsweetened applesauce & plain Greek yogurt (no oil) + fresh orange zest and juice, chopped nuts & dark chocolate chips. Cut it into thick slices & store it in the fridge or freezer for a healthy, fragrant & flavor-packed snack any time of the day. (gluten-free & dairy-free option)

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