Sweet Banana Bread with Yeast: A Bread Machine Recipe

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Sneak Preview: Sweet Banana Bread with Yeast is a bread machine recipe and contains less sugar and fat than traditional banana bread. I’ll show you two different ways to shape the bread.

a slice of Healthy Banana Whole Wheat Bread next to some mini-loaves.Pin

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What do you do with ripe bananas? I peel mine, throw them into small plastic bags, and freeze them. I don’t know about you, but I swear those little bags have babies once they get into the freezer.

This bread recipe is my answer to the “ripe banana” problem. Use those ripe, dark, soft bananas to make this healthy Banana Yeast Bread with whole wheat flour. When you taste it, you’ll barely notice how much fiber is in this bread.

Five Reasons Why This Recipe Could Replace Traditional Banana Bread

  1. Overripe bananas don’t have to be an excuse to eat cake.
  2. This recipe is slightly sweet, with an optional sugar-cardamom mixture sprinkled over the top.
  3. Besides the bananas, this bread gets most of its sweetness from the raisins and dates. Leave them out if you’re not a fan. Your bread will still be fantastic.
  4. Eat this special bread for breakfast, make a jelly sandwich for lunch, or eat it with chicken salad for a light supper. If there are any leftovers, make sweet cinnamon melba toasts with leftovers the next day.
  5. Make this recipe with the DOUGH cycle on your bread machine. No worries if you don’t have a bread machine. See the recipe notes for how to make this recipe with a stand mixer or by hand.

Happy Bakers Speak Up

“Very good, not your grandma’s gooey banana bread. Banana taste is subtle. I added the raisins. I’m definitely going to make sure I have the dates on hand next time to add for just a little more sweetness.”LAURIE

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • FLOUR: This recipe specifies one cup of whole wheat flour. More fiber and protein never tasted so good. Bread flour constitutes the rest of the flour requirement. You could use all-purpose flour instead of bread flour and/or wheat flour, but you may need to add an extra tablespoon. Make that decision after mixing the dough, and check the dough’s consistency.
  • MILK: I used milk for years. But since homemade yogurt has taken over my life, I substitute it whenever possible. The milk or yogurt does not need to be warmed. Room temperature or cool is fine. The bread machine paddle will heat the ingredients quickly.
  • BANANAS: If your bananas are not very soft, you may need to add some extra water.  Peek at the dough after the bread machine runs for a few minutes to determine if more liquid is required.
  • HONEY: Because of this recipe’s dried fruits and bananas, you could leave the honey out. Maple syrup will work if you don’t have honey in the house.
  • YEAST: Use instant or bread machine yeast (no difference) as the recipe specifies. You can now substitute active dry yeast without dissolving it first. Be aware that it may be a little slower to activate and raise your bread dough.
  • NUTS: This recipe specifies pecans or almonds. Walnuts or macadamia nuts would make a good substitute. Be sure to toast the nuts for maximum flavor. It’s easy to toast nuts with a paper plate in the microwave.
  • DATES AND RAISINS: Leave out either of these ingredients if you prefer. They add quite a bit of sweetness, though. Chopped dried figs are a good substitution for the dates.
    • If your dried fruit is dry, plump it up by soaking the fruit in hot water for 5-10 minutes. Drain well.
  • CARDAMOM: Fragrant cardamom comes in pods or seeds. For this recipe, you want the green seeds in powdered form. This spice is easy to find in the jarred spices section at the grocery store. If you are wondering what to do with the rest of the jar, here are 25 Suggestions for Ways To Use Cardamom from the Cooking Channel. Try it in this Crazy-Good Cardamom Bread made in a bread machine.

    📌Kitchen Secret📌 Since you only sprinkle the sugar-cardamom mixture on top of the bread, it can be left out. Sprinkling sugar on top has the same effect as sprinkling salt on food at the table. You can taste it more, so you might not need as much.


Banana-Pecan Yeast Bread: Replace the whole-wheat flour with a cup of bread or unbleached all-purpose flour. Replace the honey with 1/4 cup of sugar.

sliced banana-pecan yeast bread with bananas on the side.Pin

How To Assemble Yeasted Banana Bread Dough Using a Bread Maker

Dough ingredients inside the bread machine.Pin
Add all the dough ingredients except the dates, raisins, and nuts to the bread machine pan in the order listed. Please weigh the ingredients for the best outcome.
the dough should be smooth and elastic after it has kneaded for awhile.Pin
After one minute, lift the lid to ensure the paddles are engaged correctly. 12 to 15 minutes later, recheck the dough. It should stick to the sides of the pan, then pull away cleanly.

If the dough is too wet to pull away, add flour one tablespoon at a time, waiting 2 minutes between each addition. If the dough is too dry and rides freely on top of the post, add liquid one tablespoon at a time, waiting 1-2 minutes between each addition. You may have to intervene with a small spatula to press the liquid into the dough.

adding the dried fruit and nutsPin
When your machine beeps that it’s time for add-ins, throw in the raisins, dates, and pecans. If you miss the signal, knead these ingredients by hand when you shape the dough.

An Easy Way To Shape Banana Yeast Bread

pulling the dough out of the bread machinePin
At the end of the DOUGH cycle or whenever the dough has doubled its original size, pull the dough out onto a floured surface such as your counter or a silicone mat (seen here).
shaping the dough into a ball.Pin
Lightly knead the dough with your hands to compress any bubbles left from the first rise.
3 balls of doughPin
Divide the dough into three equal portions and shape each into a tight ball.
three dough balls Pin
Place balls next to each other inside an 8½ x 4½-inch bread pan. Cover with a tea towel or plastic shower cap.
The bread is ready to rise.Pin
Allow the bread to rise until it peeks over the edge.
Brush the bread with cream or milkPin
Brush the bread with milk or cream so the sugar will stick.
Quickly sprinkle the cardamom and sugar mixture over the top of the bread.Pin
Sprinkle with sugar and cardamom.
Baked loaf cooling in the pan.Pin
Bake at 375˚F or 190˚C for 30-35 minutes or until the bread reaches 190-200˚F or 88–93˚C. Remove baked bread from the pan and cool on a wire rack before cutting.

Alternate Shaping: How To Make a 3-Strand Braid

If you’re not afraid of braiding, this dough is easy to work with.

banana bread dough divided into 3 equal piecesPin
Divide dough into three equally-sized portions. Roll each ball into a long, skinny log. Braid as shown below.

FAQ About Yeasted Banana Bread

How long does this bread stay fresh?

Because this bread loaf has no preservatives, it’s best eaten the day you bake it.

Can I freeze this bread after baking?

Yes. Slice the bread and wrap the slices individually in plastic wrap. Store in the freezer. When you need a snack or a jelly sandwich, take a couple of slices out to thaw for a few minutes or run them through the toaster. Delicious.

How do I freeze bananas?

I prefer to peel old bananas and drop them into a zippered plastic bag before placing them into the freezer.

Parting thoughts: Life is good as long as I have some of this bread in my freezer. It is much more filling than traditional banana bread, not to mention the extra fiber in whole wheat flour and dried fruit. I hope you love it. And don’t forget about making sweet melba toast with any leftover bread. Those sweet crispies are almost better than cookies.

Recipe Help at Your Fingertips: For questions or suggestions, email Paula at saladinajar.com. If you need help, I’m happy to troubleshoot via email (faster than leaving a comment). Attach pictures and as many details as possible for the best advice.

braided whole wheat banana breadPin
Yield: 12 slices

Sweet Banana Bread with Yeast: A Bread Machine Recipe

Break out of your same old banana bread routine. Use those old bananas with lots of black specks on the peel to make this Banana Yeast Bread with whole wheat flour in your bread machine. It’s slightly sweet with a sugar-cardamom mixture sprinkled over the top.

Rate this recipe

(5 stars if you loved it)

5 from 35 votes


Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Mix and Rise Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Total time: 3 hours 30 minutes



  • cup (76 g) milk or thinned yogurt or thinned yogurt
  • 1 large (50 g) egg
  • 1 tablespoon (21 g) honey
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons (28 g) butter chopped
  • 1 small (100 g) ripe banana, mashed (approximately 1/2 cup) You may need to adjust the amount of flour if the banana is larger, smaller, or riper.
  • 1 cup (120 g) whole-wheat flour
  • cups (210 g) unbleached bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons bread machine or instant yeast
  • ½ c. (65 g) toasted pecans or almonds
  • c. (50 g) raisins
  • ¼ c. (45 g) chopped dates


  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom


  • Combine all dough ingredients: ⅓ cup (76 g) milk or thinned yogurt, 1 large (50 g) egg, 1 tablespoon honey, ½ teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons (28 g) butter, small ripe banana, mashed, 1 cup (120 g) whole-wheat flour, 1¾ cups (210 g) unbleached bread flour, 2 teaspoons bread machine or instant yeast, (except the nuts, raisins, and dates) into a bread machine pan in the order given. Select the DOUGH cycle and press START.
  • Check the dough at least twice during the mixing and kneading phase by lifting the lid to take a peek. The first time, look immediately after the machine starts mixing to ensure the paddles are engaged correctly. 
    Look again 15 minutes into the DOUGH cycle to assess the consistency of the dough. For most recipes, the dough should stick to the side, then pull away cleanly.
    If your dough is too wet, add flour one tablespoon at a time.
    Conversely, if the dough is too dry, add one tablespoon of liquid at a time until the dough looks just right. Read more about this surprising secret to success with a bread machine here.
  • When the machine signals it’s time for “add-ins”, add ½ c. (65 g) toasted pecans or almonds, ⅓ c. (50 g) raisins, and ¼ c. (45 g) chopped dates.
  • At the end of the cycle, if the dough has risen to double its size, remove dough from pan. If not double, leave the dough in the machine until it has doubled. Remove to a lightly floured surface and form into a ball. Allow dough ball to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Divide into 3 equal portions. Form into 3 cylinders each about 12 inches long. Braid as shown in the picture, tucking the ends under.
  • Transfer to a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Let rise for about 45 minutes covered with a soft tea towel.
  • If the idea of braiding intimidates you, divide the dough into three balls and place them side by side into an 8½x4½-inch loaf pan.
  • Brush 1 tablespoon milk lightly over the raised loaf. Combine 1 tablespoon granulated sugar with ½ teaspoon ground cardamom and sprinkle on top of the braid.
  • Bake at 375˚F (190˚C) for 30-35 minutes or until done.
  • Note: You may need to cover the loaf with aluminum foil halfway through to protect the top crust from over-browning before the loaf is cooked in the middle. If you have a quick-read digital thermometer, which I recommend if you intend to make much bread, the temperature should reach 190°F (88˚C).
  • Allow the loaf to cool down on a rack for 30 minutes before cutting for the best slices.


Directions for making bread with a stand mixer or by hand:
  • To make this recipe in a heavy-duty stand mixer:  Add ingredients to the bowl in the same order. Turn on LOW to mix until all ingredients are moistened. Then, using a dough hook, turn the speed to 2 or 3. Continue beating/kneading until dough becomes smooth and elastic (about 5-10 minutes). Cover and allow to rise in a warm place. Deflate dough gently and shape as indicated in the recipe.
  • If making by hand: Combine all ingredients into a shaggy ball in a large bowl. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead with your hands until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Kneading will likely take 10-20 minutes, depending on your experience. Place the dough ball into a greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise until double. Deflate the dough gently and shape as indicated in the recipe.
  • Please note: If you only have active dry yeast, use 1/4 teaspoon more than called for in the recipe. It no longer needs to be dissolved first, but you can if you prefer.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 187kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 126mg | Potassium: 236mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 104IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg

All images and text ©️ Paula Rhodes for Salad in a Jar.com

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Recipe Rating


  1. I don’t have a bread machine to mix the dough. Can you give instructions if I was using a stand mixer?

    1. Hi Sandy,

      Instructions can be found in the notes at the bottom of the recipe. This applies to nearly all of my bread recipes.

  2. 5 stars
    The recipe is very similar to one my grandmother had in her files but her recipe lacked quantities of ingredients. So thank you Paula for a recipe that was easy to follow. I didn’t have cardamon so replaced it with a combination of half a tsp. of cinnamon and half a tsp. of nutmeg. Our home smells delightful! I’ll send you a picture of the finished product.

    1. Hi Stephen,
      Your grandma must have been a fabulous cook if she didn’t need quantities in her recipes. I wish I was there to smell it. The smell is almost the best part about making bread.

  3. 5 stars
    Once again, an outstanding recipe with perfectly detailed instructions that produced a stellar loaf of bread! Just about to put my third loaf in the oven. I originally made it just as written but the last two I added blueberries instead of the other fruit and nuts.

    1. Hi Marcus,
      Blueberries? Sounds delicious. This is what I like about making my own bread. It’s easy to get creative.

  4. Jacqueline says:

    5 stars
    Perfect recipe. I used 2 full bananas. Thank you for sharing.

    1. You’re welcome, Jacqueline. I couldn’t agree more.

  5. Don Harris says:

    5 stars
    This taste great. I put milk wash before baking and dusted with 1 T sugar 1/4 t ginger and 1/4 t nutmeg. I did have a problem though. On 1st knead it was super wet and I had to add probably 1/4 to 1/2 C of flour. I measured good and weigh all dry ingredients. Any idea of what happened? I know from your tips to always watch the first kneed to add liquid or flour so it was fixed right away.

    1. Hi Don, The banana can be a huge variable in this recipe. The older they are, the more liquid they are. I was thrilled to read how you evaluated the dough and fixed it. You may go to the head of the class!!

  6. 5 stars
    Very good, not your grandma’s gooey banana bread. Banana taste is subtle. I added the raisins. I’m definitely going to make sure I have the dates on hand next time to add for just a little more sweetness. The anti nut lobby in my family is quite vocal, but I’ll make a loaf with nuts next big holiday gathering for the nut lovers. It’s fabulous toasted the next day. Someday I’ll have enough left over for the cinnamon crisps! My braid wasn’t quite as pretty as Paula’s but easy enough for a first attempt.

    1. Welcome to the banana yeast bread lover’s society! This is one of my favorite recipes to make. I never make the traditional banana bread (cake, actually) anymore. If you like dates, you will love the flavor and sweetness they give this bread. Just writing this is making me want to go to the store and buy some bananas so they can age on my counter.

      p.s. The only way I have “leftovers” of this bread is to hide it in my freezer.

  7. I made this bread today and it is wonderful. I chased my kids (college age- and home for the summer) off telling them that it was for supper. Then I couldn’t resist and cut into it myself. Luckily they ran out to the store so there is no one here to see the scene of the crime. I did put a very, very light glaze over the top. Great recipe!!! Now I have to figure out how to disguise the fact that I ate some already.

  8. I will try it today .Do you know the calories and nutrition .?

    1. Calories are listed at the end of the post.

  9. I made this and we really loved it….and the recipe was easy to use too. I made it the traditional way, instead of using a bread maker.

    I am going to make variations of this recipe. I am thinking I could use applesauce instead of bananas, and then use finely diced apples, cranberries, and nuts…..

    Or pureed pumpkin instead of the bananas, and then use raisins, dates or figs, and nuts, and maybe cinnamon instead of cardamom.

    Thx for a great recipe.

  10. I made this last night – it was really good! I didn’t put in the dates or the nuts, and didn’t have cardamom, but we still enjoyed it.