Nutritious Banana Bread Loaf with Dates

03/24/21

(Updated 05/18/24)

Are you unsure what to do with those spotty overripe bananas in your fruit bowl? Give them a proper send off with this fruit-sweetened banana bread loaf! In this post, learn how to make this reader favourite recipe with step-by-step photos and helpful kitchen tips.

This wholesome banana bread has quickly become a favourite recipe to date (geddit? ba-dum-tss). 

It’s sweetened with fruit alone, just overripe bananas and big juicy flecks of dates scattered throughout the batter.

There’s no extra maple syrup, honey, or granulated sugars added. I promise, the fruit, along with cinnamon and vanilla, leaves it sweet enough.

As a Registered Nutritionist, I’m often asked for nutritious breakfast recipes and wholesome dessert recipes lower in added sugar (while satisfying a raging sweet tooth!). One approach is to celebrate fruit’s natural sweetness, which this banana bread with dates does.

A birds-eye photo of the ingredients needed to make banana date loaf, including spotty yellow bananas, dates, eggs, flour, yoghurt, vanilla, cinnamon and greek yoghurt.

Gather Ingredients

  • Flour. This recipe uses regular stock standard flour (plain or gluten-free), as well as almond meal. The latter adds a glorious rustic vibe, and a boost of heart-healthy fats and dietary fibre.
  • Really ripe bananas. Look for bananas that are yellow and streaked, with brown or black freckles. Absolutely no green! These will provide sweetness and a luscious deep banana flavour.
  • Dates. Cooking dates down into a paste infuses an even caramel-sweetness throughout the batter, and encourages a moist, tender texture.
  • Greek yoghurt. A magical underrated ingredient in baking, with a trio of perks here. Greek yoghurt adds creaminess, keeping the loaf moist for days; it imparts a very subtle tanginess to offset the sweetness; and its acidity helps activate baking soda, baking this fluffy and light.

You’ll also need the basics: leavenings (baking powder and baking soda), vanilla and cinnamon for flavour, eggs (size 7, around 62g each) and a pinch of all important salt.

Step-by-Step: How to Make Banana Date Loaf

Dates on a chopping board. One pile is whole, the other pile is finely chopped.
Chop the dates into small pieces. Add to a saucepan with ½ cup of water, over a medium-low heat. Stir often.
A bowl of date puree.
After five or so minutes, the dates will resemble a thick and chunky paste. Spoon into a bowl and set aside to cool.
Banana being mashed in a bowl with a potato masher.
Remove the bananas from their skin and add to a large mixing bowl. Mash with a masher or fork until a thick purée.
Eggs and vanilla being whisked into mashed banana.
Crack in the eggs and add the vanilla essence. Use a whisk to mix the ingredients together until smooth.
Flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon and date paste being folded together.
Sift in the flour, baking powder and soda, and cinnamon. Add almond meal and date paste. Gently fold.
Greek yoghurt being folded into batter using a spatula.
Add the Greek yoghurt. Gently fold until there are no more yoghurt streaks – be careful not to overmix!
Banana date loaf batter in a lined loaf tin.
Spoon the batter into a lined 25cm long x 12 cm wide loaf tin. Bake for one hour at 160 degree celsius.
Cooked banana date loaf in a lined loaf tin.
Remove from oven and stand for 10 minutes in the tin. Remove the loaf from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

Kitchen Tips

  • Cool your cooked date puree in the fridge or freezer. This speed things up while you prepare other ingredients. Otherwise, brew yourself a tea, water the plants or put away the washing, and wait for it to reach room temperature!
  • Sift dry ingredients. Sifting promotes consistency in the batter by breaking up larger lumps. So easy to say ‘meh!’ and skip, but please don’t friends.
  • Gently fold. Folding is where you combine ingredients together without stirring, beating or agitating the mix. Instead, the lighter delicate mixture is placed on top of the heavier thicker one, again and again, until combined. Air becomes trapped into bubbles, helping it rise. Use a wide flexi spatula here. 
  • Don’t overmix. This can lead to a denser loaf – boo! Mix ingredients until the batter is just evenly incorporated.
  • Size matters. A different sized or shaped tin may need an adjusted baking time. Test done-ness with a fork or toothpick – if it comes out clean you’re good.
  • Cover with foil. If you notice the top of your loaf starting to over-brown in the last 10 minutes or so of baking, use foil to your aid by loosely covering.
  • Mix-ins? Make this loaf your own. It’s be ace with a handful of chocolate chips, raisins or walnuts tossed through the batter before baking!
A close up of sliced of banana date loaf slathered with butter.

Plate Up

This banana date loaf is the perfect breakfast or snack slathered with nut butter, ricotta & honey or just classic beloved butter. Kick back with a cup of tea and enjoy!

I love serving it warm as a wholesome dessert along with a dollop of ice cream.  If I’m not feeling it anymore, I’ll repurpose it into a delectable bread and butter pudding. There’s oodles of inspiration for recipes online.

Thanks for reading! If you give this recipe a go, I hope you love it. It’s a favourite and took many loving attempts to get right. Are you a mega-fan of bananas, like me? Be sure to try this creamy banana porridge or these banana oat cookies next time you have spotty bananas in the fruit bowl🍌

Nutritious Banana Bread Loaf with Dates

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Rating:

Ingredients:  

  • 1 cup pitted dates with ½ cup water
  • 3 very ripe bananas, medium
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cup flour (plain or gluten-free)
  • 1 cup almond meal*
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder (use gluten-free if required)
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • A good pinch of salt
  • cup plain greek yoghurt**

Method:

  • Finely chop dates. Add to a small saucepan with the water measure. Cook over a medium-low heat, stirring regularly, until the water has evaporated – this will take less than five minutes.
  • Remove from heat and leave to cool to room temperature. To speed up the process, scoop date mixture into a bowl and place in the fridge or freezer.
  • Preheat oven to bake 160 degree Celsius. Line a loaf tin with baking paper (I used a 25cm long x 12 cm wide rectangular tin – a different shaped tin might produce different thicknesses and require a slightly different cooking time).
  • Add to a mixing bowl the bananas. Mash with a fork or potato masher. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla essence.
  • Sift in flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add almond meal and date puree. Using a spatula, gently fold together until just evenly incorporated.
  • Add yoghurt and gently fold through – be careful not to overmix!
  • Bake in the oven for 1 hour. It’s best baked in the middle the oven, not the top. If it looks like it’s starting to overbrown, cover loaf loosely with foil the last 10 or so minutes of baking. Check to see it’s cooked by inserting something thin and sharp into the middle to the loaf e.g. toothpick or knife (it should come out pretty clean, if not, keep it in for a smidge longer).
  • Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes in tin. Remove from tin, slice and enjoy!

Notes:

*Almond meal is almonds that have been finely ground into a flour-like consistency. In NZ you’ll usually find this in the baking section of supermarkets where the nuts and seeds are.
 

Leave a Comment & Rate this Recipe

If you enjoyed this dish, please consider giving it a star rating when you post a comment. Star ratings help others discover my recipes online (and your reviews make my day! 🙂 ). Happy cooking and baking. Danijela x

4.97 from 51 votes (7 ratings without comment)

Recipe Rating




    113 Comments

  1. I’m so excited to have all (almost!) the ingredients to bake this tomorrow… is there anything I can use instead of yogurt since I have none? 🙁

    • Hi Krista! Oo exciting! I haven’t tried making it without yoghurt. You could try coconut cream maaaybe – but as I haven’t tried it, I can’t promise on the end product. I hope you enjoy it if you go ahead and make it x

    • Hi
      If you have no yoghurt try butter milk.
      Buttermilk can be made with ordinary milk add lemon juice or whit vinegar, leave to sit and it will curdle a bit, hey presto you have buttermilk.
      I use yoghurt, buttermilk and even sour cream to lighten cakes and muffins, So should work for bana bread.
      I’m looking forward th making this recipe as it does use copious amounts of vegetable oil.

    • Hey Amit – I haven’t tried replacing it, but I reckon you could replace it with flour and it should turn out okay! Happy baking – hope it turns out okay if you do.

  2. I am SO excited to try this! Do you know how many calories are in each slice? Thanks so much 🙂

    • Hi Danielle! So nice to hear your enthusiasm, this is a favourite recipe of mine from the blog so I do hope you try it! I’m not sure the calorie/macro breakdown for it, sorry. A platform I used to use in Nutrition Practise to check the nutrition breakdown was Cronometer – they have a nifty free calculator (which also breaks down micronutrient comp too!). Depending on how you cut it (the thickness) will be a key consideration xx

    • Hi there, I have done some research and as buckwheat is a denser flour it may not be the best 1:1 swap – I think more so better in recipes that do not need to rise (e.g.cookies). You could probably use it in combination with lighter flours, maybe aiming to replace 50% of the regular flour. I hope this helps xx

    • Hi Jen! Thanks for your message. I haven’t tried it myself, so I cannot say for sure. I’ve done a bit of research and I think white spelt is AOK in a 1:1 ratio swap with regular flour, but whole meal spelt may work better with just a portion swapped (e.g. 1/2 cup spelt, 1/2 cup flour). In saying that, it might be great!

      If you do an total swap maybe just keep an eye on the texture – if it’s dry, it may need more moisture (the fibre in whole meal may soak up more liquid I am thinking?). I am all for adventures in the kitchen, so good luck if you give it a go 🙂 x

      • 5 stars
        Thank you! The wholemeal spelt flour sub was a success. I added 1/4 cup more water to the date paste mixture and a little more yoghurt, and it was lovely and moist. 5 stars from me 😀

  3. 5 stars
    This ones a keeper recipe! Always go back to it when I have overripe bananas. A hit in this household🙌🏻

  4. Have made this morning, omg it is sooooo good. I used 3/4 cup wholemeal flour as only had 1/4cup of almond. Added extra yoghurt & chopped walnuts. My yoghurt is sugar free & I left out the salt.
    Absolutely delicious, I’ll be making again & again & again. A keeper of a recipe.

  5. 5 stars
    I’ve made this three times in the latest lockdown and it has worked a treat every time. I find chopping the dates finely is key and the addition of Greek yoghurt is genius. Works well as muffins too. With a coeliac in the house we make it gf, but it stays lovely and moist all the way to the end, although that is not usually very long as it is so delicious !

  6. 5 stars
    I love this recipe and have made a few adjustments to suit my taste. I used bran instead of flour and added walnuts. It is beautiful and moist and keeps well.Thank you for an amazing and healthy recipe

    • Hi Rosita – thank you for this lovely comment! I am so happy to hear you enjoyed it, and love the substitution ideas. I’m definitely going to give your suggestions a try myself – walnuts, yum 🙂

  7. 5 stars
    This worked well, thanks for the recipe! I substituted regular flour for the almond flour and coconut yogurt for Greek yogurt.

  8. 5 stars
    I love this recipe. I have adapted it to substitute the bananas for cooked pumpkin and walnut or stewed apples and raisins. Sooo yummy

  9. Can I make it without eggs? Would love to try it for my 3 years old if there’s some substitute for egg!

  10. 5 stars
    Rather than a loaf I make muffins…great for breakfast or a healthy protein enriched snack on the run. Always have some in the freezer followed the recipe as stated. It’s great thank you.

  11. Hello
    Thank you for this recipe, and I plan on making it.
    The recipe calls for almond meal. Can I use almond flour? It does consist of almonds only. I am a Kiwi living in Canada, and sometimes the terminology gets a little confusing. Thank you Danijela for your reply.

    • Hey Yvonne, thanks for your question! Almond flour is AOK – as long as it’s 100% ground almonds it’ll work well. I prefer almonds that have had their skins removed and then ground, but you can also use ground almonds with their skin on (it’ll be a browner colour) – the latter will just be a bit more ‘rustic’ texture-wise, but it’s really just a small thing :). The terminology can get confusing for sure, it can mean different things in different places around the world! I hope you enjoy it, it’s one of my favourite recipes on here xx

      • Thank you for your reply Danijel. I am really looking forward to making this recipe. And no sugar which is wonderful for my health, and I’m sure for others also.
        I appreciate the work you put into all your recipes.
        Blessings Yvonne

  12. 5 stars
    Such a lovely change to the usual banana loaves I have found. My house smells amazing while it’s cooking and the family cannot wait to try it. Thank you so much for sharing x

  13. 5 stars
    I use GF flour and added some Walnuts and Pumpkin seeds for a little texture with great success, Moist and very moreish.
    Thank you for a great recipe. It has gone on my favourite list.

  14. 5 stars
    Fabulous recipe, easy to make, quite healthy & super delicious!
    Will definitely be making again & again!

  15. 5 stars
    Just made it and it was so moist and flavoursome omg I will be making it again! Do you have the “Nutritional Information” please?

    • Thank you for your kind comment, I’m so glad you like the recipe Dawn! It’s a favourite of mine from the blog 🙂 I don’t post a nutritional information panel alongside recipes, but do recommend Cronometer for any nutrition analysis – it’s very accurate. I hope that helps xx

  16. Hi, can I replace the plain flour for either another cup of Almond Meal or coconut flour?

    Thank you

    • Hi Rosi, you can swap the plain flour for almond meal in a 1:1 swap. I wouldn’t advise the coconut flour as it is much more absorbant so there would also need to be adjustment to wet ingredients too. I hope that helps xx

  17. 5 stars
    Easy recipe, delicious outcome will make this again and refer others. I added pecan nuts for a bit of variety. Thankyou Danijela for sharing this 👍🤣

  18. 5 stars
    I love that the banana bread loaf is mixed all by hand – such an easy recipe with a delicious result!

  19. 5 stars
    Just made this morning and went down a treat with Husband’s diabetic family. So easy and I’m not the world’s greatest cook, tips were really helpful. I put Cacao crunch topper on the top. It’s a Woolies Macro Brand in Australia, has seeds, honey, almonds, cacao, puffed quinoa & cinnamon mix. We thank you for your recipe.

  20. 5 stars
    Only had one egg but the result was still delicious. I also added too much yoghurt. A bit heavier. Could you use self raising flour instead of baking soda?
    Thanks for an interesting alternative. Very healthy.

    • Thank you for the kind review and rating Marianne! It’s great to know it was still good with the recipe modifications. I add the baking soda to react with the yoghurt, so my thoughts would be to rather sub the plain flour for self-raising and remove the baking powder, but leave the baking soda? I haven’t tested it though, so can’t conform it’ll turn out like the original x

  21. 5 stars
    i used four very ripe bananas and added a few walnuts was absolutely
    yummy, no fail receipe and i will make it again and pass it on

  22. 5 stars
    This so so good! I’ve made so many healthy banana loafs over the years and they always go dry quickly – this one I made yesterday and it’s still super moist:)

  23. I can’t eat dairy so greek yogurt doesn’t work for me. What would you suggest I sub for that, or can I just omit it?

    • Hi Nicole, thanks for your message. I’ve had a few people do a 1:1 substitute with plain coconut yoghurt and they’ve said it worked well, which would be my recommendation. If you give it a go, I hope you enjoy it x

  24. 5 stars
    We have lots of bananas here in the Philippines and I’ve made this many times. This is our favorite banana bread recipe of all. Not too sweet and oh so moist! Super love love the taste of this.

  25. 5 stars
    Very tasty & easy to make. It even worked cooking it in the air fryer, I just adjusted the shape of the tin (flatter & wider), temp and cooking time slightly to accommodate for that. You really don’t miss the lack of processed sugar in the recipe, the natural sugars from the fruit is all it needs!

    • Hey Pen, you blew my mind with the air fryer tip, I wouldn’t have ever thought of that – genius! And agreed, I reckon the date pasta/banana combo is totally sweet enough (and I have a sweet tooth heh). Thanks for your comment and kind rating xx

  26. 5 stars
    This recipe is amazing. No added sugar and no butter or oil. The texture is amazing. I added 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. Thank you D

  27. Loved all the components of this recipe! Followed the recipe exactly and added chopped walnuts! Had to bake an extra 15 minutes. Looking forward to trying it! Thanks again!

    • Thanks for giving it a whirl Liliana – I hope you enjoy it! 🙂 Baking time can be a finicky one hey. Sometimes the moisture of ingredients, pan size/shape, even the altitude we live at can influence how much longer (or shorter) we bake for. Thanks for your patience while it baked away x

  28. 5 stars
    Best recipe ever. Not bread like and heavy, just a light, moist, very tasty cake type confection. I used buttermilk and and a whole orange whipped in a high powered blender instead of yoghurt and it still worked, with the extra orange flavor added in. Awesome!

  29. 5 stars
    Thank you for creating a NUTRITIOUS recipe, rather than using the meaningless buzzword “healthy” that I saw tacked on every other recipe online. I’ll be staying around.

  30. Thank you for the lovely recipe. Going to try it out today/tomorrow.

    Could please let me know what is 1 cup in grams? Is it 120g or 250g. I always get confused with this cup measurements. Thank you.

    • Hi Riya, thanks for your comment and question. I really do need to get around to adding gram measurements to my baking recipes, it’s a much more accurate way to bake! The gram weight will vary based on the ingredient – for the flour around 120g, and the almond meal will be a little less at 96g. Thanks for trying the recipe, I hope you enjoy it xx

  31. 4 stars
    Loved it.baked in a glass loaf pan which took much longer to cook. About another half hour. Will try a metal pan next time or perhaps bake at 350f instead of 320f. Nicely sweet and very moist.

    • Hi Vicki, so glad you enjoyed it. Yes, metal pans, especially dark-coloured ones, tend to absorb and retain heat more quickly, which can lead to faster cooking times (opposed to glass). This loaf has a high moisture content (mashed banana, yoghurt), so it would have needed the extra time for sure. Thanks for your insight, it’s helpful xx

  32. 5 stars
    This is a delicious recipe!
    I used frozen bananas from my freezer (thawed) and added both the heated dates and bananas into the food processor along with eggs and vanilla.
    Then followed the recipe accordingly. It took 1.5 hrs to cook and was moist and delicious served warm with butter 😍

    • So glad you enjoyed it Julie! Cool to hear it worked blending the dates with the bananas, I bet that would have infused a nice even date-caramel flavour throughout xx

  33. 5 stars
    Really love this recipe. This will be a regular for me. I like the idea that the sweetness comes from the banana and dates instead of adding sugar and the yogurt substitutes fat. Thanks for sharing this.

  34. 5 stars
    Loved this recipe. 39 weeks pregnant and wanted a recipe to incorporate some dates (IYKYK) and this was the perfect one. Wondering if cut into slices and wrapped individually if it would freeze well? Thanks

  35. 5 stars
    Such a stellar recipe, thanks Danijela! The dates and banana combo deliver moistness, depth of flavour and all the necessary sweetness, yum! The only change I made was subbed wholemeal for white flour and topped my loaf with flaked almonds – both of which worked a treat. A slice has been ticking all the breakfast boxes this week, topped with fresh ricotta, a drizzle of peanut butter + seasonal blackberries. Will be making again.

  36. 5 stars
    Been making banana cakes for many years, I love this one because it has no sugar or butter (partner is a diabetic) , the other great thing is it can be all made in one bowl so easy to clean up ! And it’s a great banana cake , the date adds so much interest and natural sweetness .

  37. 4 stars
    Mine came out a bit too wet for my liking. Not sure whether it was the Greek yogurt or the water in date puree. The bottom of the baking tin between the parchment paper was wet with condensation after the bake. Sweetness was just about right.

    • Hi Elmer, thank you for giving the recipe and go and leaving honest feedback. Sorry it hear it was a bit too moist – that’s not my desired outcome for you! It’s possible that one or more of ingredients had a higher moisture content (there can be a bit of variation based on yoghurt brand or banana ripeness, as well as how cooked down the date puree is – the water should evaporate/mix into a paste), which would in theory affect the baking time. I like to stick a skewer in the middle to test it’s done, but of course it’s a balancing act to not over-bake it too (which is where the foil on top can help). Sorry again, I hope it was yummy anyway x

  38. 5 stars
    Hi
    I’m looking for some healthy recipes by a nutritionist and so gladthat I’ve found your blog. Can you make this into muffins instead? Would it be possible to have a button in the recipe where we can toggle between US customary and Metric as we used the metric over here in Australia? Thanks., Lyn

    • Hi Lyn, thanks for your query and kind words – glad to have you here! Yes, I’ve had a few readers say they can be baked into muffins. Keep the temperature the same at 160 degrees Celsius (or 320 degrees Fahrenheit), to ensure they still bake evenly without burning the exterior. Start checking for doneness around 20 minutes into baking, though they may need more time. Use a toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin; if it comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, they’re done. Great idea re a toggle button – I’ll look into that! x

  39. 5 stars
    All my family love this healthy cake. They even enjoy it for breakfast. I also add grated whole apple in place of yoghurt which assists in moisture.