Fluffy, tender, and rich, banana bread is undoubtedly one of the most delicious and nutritious baked treats that you can easily whip up in no time.
Most banana bread recipes call for sugar to boost the sweetness of the bake and make the texture extra moist. But what if you’re out of sugar?
Well, no need to panic yet! Today, we’re sharing a list of 9 alternative ingredients so you can make tasty banana bread without sugar.
Sugar is important to add sweetness and moisture to your banana bread, but you can easily make up for its effect by using a suitable sugar substitute.
How to Make Banana Bread Without Sugar
The following is a guide to substitutes that can make banana bread without sugar and still have it taste as delicious as ever!
The first stand-in for sugar that most bakers think of is honey. This 100 percent natural ingredient doesn’t just taste great, but it affects the texture of banana bread similar to how sugar would.
Honey is a liquid though, so expect extra moisture in the texture of the banana bread. It’ll also brown quicker when baking.
Not to mention, honey boosts the honey notes that ripe bananas bring to banana bread, making it more obvious.
Honey is much healthier than sugar as a sweetener. The viscous liquid contains less concentration of glucose and fructose while being loaded with enzymes, antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.
Speaking of enzymes, these are added by bees to the honey, and thanks to them, honey is much easier to digest although 1 tablespoon of honey has more calories than 1 tablespoon of sugar (64 calories vs 49 calories). So, you’ll burn honey calories a lot faster than sugar calories.
When replacing sugar with honey to make banana bread, think of the first couple of bakes as experimental because you’ll still be figuring out your preferred ratio of honey to sugar.
For example, some folks like the taste of banana bread better with 1/2 a cup of honey for each cup of sugar. Others prefer a 3/4 cup or even a whole cup.
Additionally, you may need to reduce the liquids in your recipe by 2 to 3 tablespoons to keep the balance between the ratio of dry to wet ingredients.
When you take apples and mash them into a concentrated concoction, you get applesauce.
Some versions of applesauce are left to be naturally sweet while other versions are made sweeter by adding sugar or honey. Either way, applesauce can step in place of sugar when making banana bread.
Besides adding sweetness, applesauce has a decent amount of liquid so it’s great for tenderizing the banana bread.
Additionally, applesauce has pectin in it from the apples, which helps stick the ingredients of the batter together. This binder effect means that applesauce can also substitute eggs!
To use the puree of a vegetable instead of sugar when making banana bread, this veggie needs to offer a suitable level of sweetness. Most vegetables don’t have that, but not sweet potatoes.
The sugary taste of sweet potatoes paired with their nutritional value makes their puree a reliable substitute for sugar in banana bread. Here’s how you can make it:
- Grab a few sweet potatoes.
- Bake them until soft.
- Peel their skin off then mash the flesh until you get a smooth, creamy texture.
- Mix some of the puree (to taste) into the banana bread batter and bake as normal.
Besides serving as a sweetener, sweet potato puree can also act as a thickening agent thanks to the starch it contains. It can make your banana bread denser and less airy, but you can work around this effect by adding some more milk to your batter.
Produced from the sap of maple trees, maple syrup is basically a warmer and richer version of honey. It’s generally healthier than sugar as it contains fewer calories, is packed with a higher concentration of minerals, and has a lower glycemic index.
The conversion ratio will depend on your preference. Also, you’ll probably need to use less of the liquid content in the recipe batter to keep it from turning runny.
If you’re out of sugar and don’t have the time for a trip to the grocery store, you can still make banana bread with molasses instead.
However, keep in mind that the flavor of your banana bread will change a bit to a warmer, smokey profile if you add molasses. It’s also a liquid, so you’ll need to use less of the other liquid ingredients to preserve the consistency of the batter.
For every cup of white sugar in your recipe, substitute with 1/3 cup of molasses.
Similar to applesauce, you can use purees of other fruits as a sugar alternative. You can leave them at their natural level of sweetness or add some honey to the puree to make it even sweeter.
Generally, fruit purees can be a healthier option because their natural sugar content is easier to burn and their levels of nutrients are higher.
Keep in mind that fruit purees can alter the flavor of your banana bread. The intensity of the change depends on the type of fruit and how much puree you use in your recipe.
This doesn’t have to be a bad thing though — there’s a good chance you’ll end up loving the new flavors and promote them to regular bakes.
Some of the best fruits you can puree and add as substitutes for sugar in banana bread recipes include pumpkins, pears, pineapples, apricots, and raspberries. We also like peaches, figs, and prunes, but you feel free to try whatever fruit comes to mind!
Cane sugar is sourced only from sugar cane, unlike white sugar which can come from sugar cane or sugar beets.
As the unrefined version of white sugar, cane sugar still has most of the vitamin content intact because it wasn’t processed as much.
Appearance-wise, cane sugar also looks granulated like white sugar but not as fine. It’s also more golden in color compared to the pure white of regular sugar.
Despite the various similarities and differences between cane sugar and white sugar, they act the same when it comes to baking and sweetness with a conversion ratio of 1:1 in any banana bread recipe.
To make recipes healthier, many baking enthusiasts are substituting sugar with agave nectar.
Also known as agave syrup, this sweetener has a lower glycemic index than sugar so you don’t really need to worry about its glucose content.
However, if you eat too much agave nectar, its fructose content may be problematic.
When making banana bread using agave nectar, add 2/3 cup for each cup of white sugar. Also, don’t forget to cut down the liquid content of your recipe to keep it balanced.
Last but not least, you can use coconut palm sugar to make banana bread without sugar.
You may think that we get coconut palm sugar from coconuts, but it actually comes from the sap of coconut palm trees following an extraction process.
Compared to regular sugar, all-natural coconut palm sugar has a lower glycemic index. This makes it a healthier alternative to add sweetness to banana bread recipes.
The two sugars do share a similar level of “strength”, so keep the conversion ratio 1:1 in your recipe.
If you’re looking for a substitute to make banana bread without sugar, today’s list will save you the trouble of research and experimentation.
Any of the 9 options we discussed above can replace sugar in your recipe while maintaining its yumminess score!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.