Naturally Sweet Banana Bread 10.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Marie Ostrosky for The Washington Post

Feb 5, 2020

Soaked dates are the key to a tender banana bread with no added sugar. Make sure your bananas are ripe — on the dark side with speckles — so that they, too, lend their natural sweetness. The result is a loaf that's restrained enough that you could enjoy leftovers toasted for breakfast.

We liked the look and texture of both the sliced banana and chopped nuts on top of the bread, but you can choose one or the other if you prefer. If you decide to use only nuts, increase the amount to 1/3 cup.

Make Ahead: Store the bread tightly wrapped or in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 10 servings; makes one 8 1/2-inch loaf

  • 10 ounces (283 grams) Medjool dates, pitted (about 18)
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 3 medium very ripe bananas
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (166 grams) plain whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups (213 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup (58 grams) coconut oil (may substitute unsalted butter), at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (53 grams) chopped pecans or walnuts (see headnote)


Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with baking spray or line with parchment paper, leaving 2 inches of overhang on each side and coating the paper with cooking spray.

Place the pitted dates in a medium bowl. Cover the dates with the water. Set aside until the dates are softened, about 10 minutes. Drain the dates, reserving 2 tablespoons of the soaking liquid.

Mash 2 of the bananas (you should have about 180 grams of flesh) in a medium bowl and add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Combine the dates, reserved soaking liquid and yogurt in a food processor. Process until smooth, about 2 minutes; some flecks of skin may remain, but there should be no pieces of fruit left. Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the banana mixture and stir together until smooth.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and coconut oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer. Beat on low speed until the coconut oil and flour are a mealy powder, about 30 seconds. Add the date and banana mixture and continue beating until just combined and no visible flour remains.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Peel the remaining banana and cut in half vertically. Press the halves, cut sides up, into the batter so that they are slightly offset. Sprinkle the nuts into the S-shaped gap in between the bananas and bake until the bread is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes, loosely tenting the cake with foil for the last 15 to 20 minutes to prevent the top from becoming too dark. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn or lift out the bread from the pan. Cut into slices and serve, warm or at room temperature.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "Half the Sugar, All the Love: 100 Easy, Low-Sugar Recipes for Every Meal of the Day," by Jennifer Tyler Lee and Anisha I. Patel (Workman, 2020).

Tested by Becky Krystal.

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