In a fit of organization earlier this week, I started to clean out our pantry, a well-intentioned task that stopped abruptly when I came across a stray can of pumpkin. Right around this time, I felt the lightest twinge of hunger, and we also happened to have a few spotty bananas lurking on the kitchen counter. Fate had spoken. Forget the pantry reorg—it was time for healthy Pumpkin Banana Bread!
Moist, lightly springy, and pleasantly spiced, this mashup of my two greatest quick bread loves, banana bread and pumpkin bread, is whole wheat, naturally sweetened with honey, and defies seasonal designation.
Pumpkin bread feels quintessentially autumn and banana bread like a delicious default (“have ripe bananas, will bake”).
I adore them both, but this week I was craving something a little more out of the ordinary, which ironically enough turned out to be something in between.
This Pumpkin Banana Bread recipe takes the best of these two classic breakfast recipes and combines them into one of the most tender, moist, and satisfying healthy quick bread recipes you’ll ever bake.
Healthy Pumpkin Banana Bread—The Best of Both Worlds
Considering my laundry list of healthy pumpkin bread recipes (Vegan Pumpkin Bread, Healthy Pumpkin Bread, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread) is rivaled only by my collection of healthy banana bread recipes (ahem, classic Healthy Banana Bread, Paleo Banana Bread, Cream Cheese Banana Bread…), it was only a matter of time before the two got together to create a tasty pumpkin and banana bread baby.
Although this bread is melt-in-your-mouth tender thanks to the combo of the banana, pumpkin, and Greek yogurt (a key ingredient in Cream Cheese Banana Bread), all of which make baked goods magnificently moist, it has enough density to make it taste satisfying and leave you feeling nourished and complete.
I love to warm up a big slice of this bread for breakfast (try it smeared with peanut butter) or snitch it cold from the fridge when I’m craving an instant pick-me-up, and it makes a lovely treat for coworkers, neighbors, and anyone whose day you’d like to brighten.
This pumpkin bread has notes of vanilla and honey, the spice is subtle but present, and it rises beautifully in the pan.
What to Add to Pumpkin Banana Bread
- I added toasted chopped pecans, which give the bread a pleasing warmth and satisfying crunch.
- Toasted walnuts would also be scrumptious (they’re my favorite in these Healthy Banana Muffins).
- I don’t think I need to tell you this, but a handful of chocolate chips, either in place of or in addition to the nuts, would not be remiss.
- Dried fruit, such as dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots, would be lovely.
Dietary Considerations and Substitutions
- As written, this healthy bread is 100% whole wheat but doesn’t taste it at all thanks to white whole wheat flour, which is mild and tastes like regular white all-purpose flour in this recipe.
- If you’d like Pumpkin Banana Bread gluten free, you can use the same amount of a 1:1 gluten free baking blend like this one.
- To make the Pumpkin Banana Bread vegan is trickier. Because this bread is already so moist, I fear using flax eggs in place of the regular eggs would be risky, and the yogurt would need to be swapped too. I’d suggest scratching your pumpkin itch with these Vegan Pumpkin Muffins instead.
- I haven’t yet tried this recipe as Pumpkin Banana Bread muffins or Pumpkin Banana Bread mini loaves, but I think that either would work nicely with the same batter (you could also try these Healthy Pumpkin Muffins instead). Simply check early and remove your muffins/mini loaves when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- For paleo Pumpkin Banana Bread, I’d refer you to either this Paleo Pumpkin Bread or this Paleo Banana Bread. I haven’t developed a paleo version that combines both banana and pumpkin yet, but you could try swapping part of the pumpkin/banana in either recipe for some of the other to create a combo of your own.
If you do want to play around with the banana and pumpkin ratios in these recipes, see below.
How to Substitute Pumpkin for Banana in Bread
Generally, you can substitute pumpkin for banana in bread (so you can play around with the paleo recipes above if you want a pumpkin/banana combo), but please note a few key things:
- Ripe banana usually tastes sweeter than pumpkin, so if you are swapping pumpkin for banana, you may want to add a tablespoon or two of brown or granulated sugar (don’t add too much or you may throw off the consistency of the batter). Do not add liquid sweeteners like honey or maple syrup, as they can throw off the consistency of the batter by making it too moist.
- Pumpkin is also fairly bland on its own, so I recommend adding more spices.
When in doubt: look for a recipe that’s already written for the type of bread you want to bake. I have many pumpkin (see my list of healthy pumpkin recipes) and banana bread recipes (see my full list of healthy baked goods/breads), so I’m betting there’s one to meet your needs!
The next time you are craving a cozy breakfast treat that tastes extra special, are ready for a relaxing baking session, or stumble upon a loose can of pumpkin waiting to meet its tasty purpose, give this Pumpkin Banana Bread recipe a try. It’s one of the best bread recipes I’ve baked, and I know it will a favorite of yours too!
Recommended Tools to Bake This Banana Bread
- 8×4 inch loaf pan (I am a diehard fan of this pan and this brand’s entire line of bakeware)
- Non-slip mixing bowls
Pumpkin Banana Bread
- 1/2 cup pecan halves or walnut halves optional; you can also swap other mix-ins of choice such as golden raisins, cranberries, or chocolate chips
- 1 cup mashed banana the riper the better (about 2 large bananas)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar or light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup pure pumpkin puree NOT pumpkin pie filling
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and a pinch of ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. If using nuts for the mix-ins, spread them onto a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until toasted and fragrant, about 8 to 12 minutes depending upon the size of the nuts. Do not walk away during the last few minutes of baking (this is when nuts love to burn). Immediately transfer to a cutting board. Let cool a few minutes, then roughly chop. Lightly coat an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
- In a small bowl, mash the bananas measure them out to ensure that you have 1 cup. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and coconut sugar until smooth and combined. Beat in the measured banana, Greek yogurt, honey, eggs, pumpkin (feel free to reuse the measuring cup you used for the banana to measure the pumpkin), and vanilla. Sprinkle the pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt over the top. Sprinkle the flour over the top, then with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir by hand, just until the flour disappears. Fold in the pecans or another mix-ins.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and let rest uncovered at room temperature for 15 minutes (Don’t skip this step! Resting helps the flour absorb the wet ingredients and will give you a better texture and flavor).
- Bake the bread for 55 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Another quick check is to see if the bread reaches 190 to 200 F degrees F on an instant read thermometer. Check the bread at the 35-minute mark. If it is browning more quickly than you would like, loosely tent the pan with foil and continue baking as directed. Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool completely, then remove the bread from the pan wrap the loaf tightly in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or even better, overnight (I know this step sounds odd but it works and makes the bread taste incredible). Slice and devour!
- This bread recipe works well when doubled! For the pumpkin, use the full (15-ounce) can. It will be a scant 1 cup of pumpkin per loaf, but the recipe will turn out fine.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. I like to cut the cooled bread into slices, then wrap and freeze them individually and pull them out as I need/want/CRAVE them.
- To bake as muffins (not yet tested but based on my best judgment): Line a muffin pan with paper liners or lightly coat with baking spray. Fill the muffin cups 3/4 or so of the way to the top. Bake at 375 degrees F for 22 to 27 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
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