Stop right there, it’s not what you think. These Banana Bran Muffins are tender, moist, and naturally sweet. No dry, cardboard-esque muffins for us!
Of course, I say this assuming you’ve been scarred by bad healthy bran muffins in the past.
I know more than one timid taster who flinches at the word “bran.”
As someone who has long enjoyed (and I say this with the utmost affection and respect) old lady food (Grape Nuts and All-Bran were my favorite cereals for years; I do not mind raisins in my oatmeal cookies and Trail Mix Cookies; etc.), I am a bran believer.
THAT SAID, with the number of banana oat bran muffins and wheat bran muffins out there that are more akin to hockey pucks than yummy, healthy muffins, I can 100% understand how they’ve earned their tooth-cracking reputation.
These moist banana bran muffins are here to change bran’s rap one tender bite at a time!
5 Star Review
“My family was skeptical when I told them I was serving bran muffins and guess what? They GOBBLED these! They are so moist and the amount of sweetness and banana flavor.”— Ashley —
How to Bake Moist Banana Bran Muffins
These bran muffins are healthy, courtesy of the bran itself. They are sweetened with honey, use yogurt, and don’t go overboard on excess oil that the muffins do not need.
What is Bran?
Bran is the outside layer of the wheat kernel (contrast it with the starchy endosperm, which is inside the kernel and used to make white flour). Bran is packed with nutrients, high in fiber, and tastes slightly nutty.
Thanks to its high fiber content, bran can even help promote digestion.
If a bran muffin recipe is dry (assuming you did not overbake it) it is because the recipe didn’t call for enough liquid ingredients in the batter.
Thirsty bran (and other whole grain flours like the whole wheat used to bake my Applesauce Muffins) is much drier than white, all-purpose flour. Whole grains drink up more liquid.
That’s why we are coming at this muffin recipe with liquid in multiple ways!
- Banana is naturally sweet and moist. It gives the muffins both taste and texture. (If you are a banana muffin fan, don’t miss my classic Healthy Banana Muffins, Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, and toddler-approved Banana Oatmeal Muffins.)
- Greek Yogurt plays several roles in baked goods. It’s a liquid (moisture), and it also has acid which, similar to what buttermilk does in muffins, tenderizes them further.
With its creaminess and tanginess, adding plain Greek yogurt to the recipe acts as if we were baking banana bran muffins with sour cream.
Since it is high in protein and low in calories, using yogurt instead of sour cream is a great trick to make your breakfast muffins more healthy (I have even more sneaky swaps like this in my cookbook).
- Honey. This golden nectar makes the muffins moist, sweetens them naturally (this banana bran muffin recipe has no sugar!), and is a delightful flavor pairing with the bran and the banana.
- Olive Oil (or canola oil). These healthy banana bran muffins contain no butter. Instead, I prefer to use oil which adds the necessary fat to the batter to make them taste yummy, not gummy. This recipe uses a moderate amount, thanks to the addition of the yogurt.
Let me say again: THESE HEALTHY BRAN MUFFINS ARE NOT DRY!
They do have some heft to them, which as a lover of wholesome, whole grain muffins, I appreciate. It’s part of bran’s brand.
They will not, however, dry out your mouth and cause you to chug a gallon of orange juice.
If you prefer a lighter muffin more similar to what you’d find at a bakery, try these Cranberry Orange Muffins.
In addition to having enough liquid to make the muffins tender, this recipe also includes a range of ingredients to give them cozy flavor (e.g. these muffins do not taste like cardboard).
- Cinnamon pairs wonderfully with the banana flavor and adds warmth.
- Pure Vanilla Extract. For that delightfully cozy vanilla flavor.
- MIX-INS! Since we are shattering banana bran muffin’s poor reputation here, let me add one more. You don’t have to add raisins!
In fact, our banana bran muffin base is fit for a wide range of mix-ins.
- Toast the walnuts, then chop them. Whisk the dry ingredients together.
- Stir the wet ingredients together. Gently incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
- Stir in the bran, walnuts, and other mix-ins.
- Divide the batter between the wells of a muffin pan. Bake for 24 to 28 minutes at 350 degrees F. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then finish cooling on a rack. ENJOY!
- To Store. Store muffins in a paper towel-lined airtight storage container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
- To Freeze. Individually wrap muffins in plastic wrap, and freeze them in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Thaw and enjoy as desired.
Meal Plan Tip
Muffin batter can be made the night before. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic, refrigerate the batter, then scoop and bake in the morning.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Muffin Pan. Perfect for muffins on demand.
- Mixing Bowls. These bowls are stackable, dishwasher-safe, and microwave-safe.
- Batter Scoop. For beautifully domed muffin tops.
We’ve already gone through two batches of these banana bran muffins in the last two weeks.
Ben’s favorite is walnut. Mine is chocolate chips AND walnuts, because why choose?
Which version do you want to try first? I’d love to hear from you!
Banana Bran Muffins
- 2/3 cup walnut halves
- 1 cup whole wheat flour*
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup mashed ripe banana about 3 medium bananas
- ½ cup honey
- 1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt at room temperature
- 1/4 cup canola oil or light olive oil
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2½ cups wheat bran
- 1/2 cup additional mix-ins of choice: dark chocolate chips, raisins, or golden raisins, or fresh or frozen blueberries (if using frozen, do not thaw first)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a muffin pan with nonstick spray or fit with paper liners.
- Spread the walnuts in a single layer on an ungreased rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until they are fragrant and toasted. Watch carefully to makes sure they do not burn. Transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.
- In a large bowl, combine the mashed bananas (if mashing them directly in the bowl, double-check to make sure you have 1 full cup, not more or less), honey, yogurt, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
- Add the flour mixture to the bowl with the wet ingredients. By hand with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir gently just until the flour disappears.
- Gently stir in the wheat bran, walnuts, and any additional mix-ins, just until combined. The batter will be very thick.
- Portion the batter into the muffin cups, dividing it evenly (I recommend using a batter scoop like this or try a 1/3 cup dry measuring cup).
- Bake for 24 to 28 minutes, until the tops are golden brown, a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, and the tops spring back lightly when touched. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then gently unmold and transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- *We love the hearty texture of using 100% whole wheat flour, but if you’d like a slightly lighter texture, use all-purpose flour instead. Keep in mind though, bran muffins are very hearty by nature of the wheat bran itself, so if you are looking for a melt-in-your-mouth cake-like muffin, you may want to try one of these other muffins recipes instead.
- TO STORE: Store muffins in a paper towel-lined airtight storage container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
- TO FREEZE: Individually wrap muffins in plastic wrap, and freeze them in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Thaw and enjoy as desired.
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