Healthier Carrot Cake Banana Bread
Not sure if you guys remember when I first created this recipe, but if you’ve been fans of AK, you’d know that this bread is an all time reader favorite.
Last year I revamped the recipe just a bit to make it just a tad bit more delicious. AND TRUST ME, it’s pretty epic. Just imagine a slice of banana bread infused with carrot cake flavor. Basically love at first bite.
The first time I dreamt up this loaf, I was preparing to head to the grocery store and noticed the overly ripe bananas on the counter. An interesting idea came to me. What if I combined my love for banana bread + the lover everyone else has for carrot cake. Could this be a thing?
In my mind, absolutely.
Now the only thing I’m wondering is why didn’t I do this sooner? This carrot cake banana bread needs to be in my life at all times.
Key ingredients in this carrot cake banana bread
There are a few must-have ingredients for this recipe that you likely already have at home, making it the perfect quick bread to throw together in no time at all. The cinnamon cream cheese frosting makes this bread extra special, too. It’s thick with a hint of vanilla and cinnamon, yet still maintains that perfect cream cheese flavor. For this carrot cake banana bread, you’ll need:
- Whole wheat pastry flour: instead of all-purpose, I used whole wheat pastry flour. I recommend using it for a lighter, less dense bread (than regular wheat). It’s really great in carrot cake because it gives it a little bit of a nutty flavor and adds fiber. I’ll include subs in the note section!
- Oats: I only used 1/2 cup of quick oats, but it gives the bread a little tint of chewy texture. It’s amazing what oats can do. Plus they are a great source of fiber.
- Bananas: the bananas are great in this recipe because they actually make it so you don’t have to add as much sugar as you normally would. Make sure you use extra ripe bananas with lots of brown/black spots.
- Coconut sugar: this recipe only calls for a 1/2 cup of coconut sugar in the entire recipe. Feel free to sub with brown sugar if that’s what you have on hand.
- Applesauce: instead of using lots of oil, I replaced most of it with applesauce to keep this bread moist + add delicious flavor.
- Dairy free milk: because this recipe calls for whole wheat flour, you’ll need to add additional moisture to replace the lack of fat. Almond milk or coconut milk is a great dairy free option and it adds amazing flavor to the bread, along with some calcium and good nutrition.
- Carrots: the carrots also give the bread additional sweetness and moisture. They truly make this bread special and I absolutely love them when they are combined with the banana flavor.
- Add-ins: I added chopped walnuts to this bread but there are plenty of options you could try such as shredded coconut, raisins, or even pineapple. Go crazy! That’s usually what I do.
- For the frosting: you’ll just need cream cheese, powdered sugar, cinnamon and bit of vanilla extract to make the light & fluffy cinnamon cream cheese frosting.
How to customize this recipe
If you’re missing some of the ingredients listed here are a few easy swaps you can make:
- DIY quick oats. If you don’t have quick oats, simply place 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats in a blender and pulse for 20-30 seconds until the oats break down a bit.
- Swap your sweetener. You can use 1/3 cup honey or pure maple syrup in place of the coconut sugar if you’d like.
- Keep it refined sugar free. Feel free to try using my paleo powdered sugar in the frosting!
- Add your favorite mix-ins. Shredded coconut flakes, raisins, pecans instead of walnuts, or pineapple would all be delicious.
Can I use a different flour?
- All purpose flour. If you’re out of whole wheat pastry flour feel free to use 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 3/4 cup whole wheat flour.
- Gluten free flour. I haven’t tested it, but I think a 1:1 gluten free all purpose flour or oat flour would work to make a gluten free carrot cake banana bread.
Can I make it vegan?
Yes, I think a flax egg would work well in this recipe! Get all of our tips and tricks for making a flax egg here. Be sure to use a dairy free cream cheese in the frosting as well!
What makes this carrot cake banana bread healthier?
The biggest challenge was figuring out how to make this bread with more wholesome ingredients, but still make it feel a little indulgent and taste really incredible, too! Somehow I pulled it off and the recipe just works beautifully. The taste is deliciously moist, perfectly spiced, and it feels like an actual treat. This recipe is:
- Naturally sweetened. This healthier carrot cake banana bread recipe is baked with unrefined sugars and is naturally sweetened with just ripe bananas, applesauce, carrots and some coconut sugar. I use powdered sugar in the cinnamon cream cheese frosting, but you could also try using my paleo powdered sugar for it.
- Filled with whole grains. It’s also made with whole grains from whole grain flour and oats, making it a great, fiber-filled snack to enjoy anytime.
- Packed with vitamins. Hello, vitamin A, K, potassium and antioxidants from carrots!
- Lower in fat. I replaced some of the oil with applesauce, which still keeps the bread super moist and delicious. I’m all about incorporating healthy fats, which is where those delicious walnuts and the shredded coconut come in!
Try this bread out for Easter with your family. Better yet if you double it and keep a whole loaf for yourself. Trust me, you’ll want to.
Tips & tricks for making this carrot cake banana bread
- Follow the recipe. The best way to ensure the success of this easy carrot cake banana bread is to follow the recipe and use the exact ingredients as written (unless I note specific substitutes).
- Make sure your egg is at room temperature. If your egg is too cold you risk the little bit of coconut oil coagulating. To bring your eggs to room temp, simply place them in a bowl of warm water for 3-5 minutes before you use them.
- Do not overmix the batter. If you overmix batter you’ll end up with a bread that’s more dense and gummy instead of fluffy and soft.
- Use fresh baking soda. If your baking soda is older than 3 months, I suggest grabbing a new one for best baking results.
- Line your loaf pan. I recommend lining your loaf pan with parchment paper AND spraying it with nonstick cooking spray so that your bread comes out easily.
How to make carrot cake banana muffins
Turn this recipe into carrot cake banana muffins or cupcakes by following the recipe, adding the batter to a well-greased muffin tin and baking around 15-20 minutes. Otherwise, feel free to try my healthy carrot cake muffins!
Make it ahead of time
This carrot cake banana bread can be made a day or two ahead of time! Just wrap in plastic wrap to seal in moisture and frost before you serve. Banana bread is always best the next day.
How to store carrot cake banana bread
- At room temp: this bread can be left wrapped at room temp for 2 days, and you can absolutely make it a day or two ahead of time. Just frost it before serving.
- In the fridge: after 2-3 days at room temp I’d recommend storing the bread sealed in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- In the freezer: yes, you can freeze this carrot cake banana bread! Let it cool completely and either cut it into slices before place it in an airtight container or freezer-friendly bag in the fridge, or freeze the whole thing for up to 3 months. I recommend frosting the bread before serving. To thaw the whole loaf simply let the carrot cake banana bread thaw at room temp for a few hours. You can do the same with the individual slices, or you can reheat them in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
More carrot cake recipes you’ll love
Get all of our amazing easter recipes here!
I know you’re going to LOVE this carrot cake banana bread recipe! If you make it I’d love it if you would leave a comment and a rating to share how you liked it. Enjoy, xo!
Originally published: 2015. Updated and republished March 11, 2021, then republished April 4, 2022.
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