Baking with Whole Grains: Best Banana Muffins
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If you are new to baking and cooking with whole grains, I think one of the best places to start is with quick breads and muffins. I have already posted a recipe for whole-wheat banana bread and well, I guess I’m not very creative because here I go again with another whole-wheat banana recipe!

I have been working this last week on creating a muffin recipe that tastes great but has fewer calories and more fiber than the muffins I’ve made in the past. Since I love banana bread and I always have some extra-ripe bananas stored in the freezer, I have mostly been working on a banana muffin recipe.

My first couple of attempts were banana-coconut muffins. I was frustrated because I was having problems creating a recipe I liked and then I realized that the reason I wasn’t happy with them had nothing to do with the recipe. I simply didn’t like the texture of coconut in the muffin. I also kept trying to add cinnamon or nutmeg and was disappointed with the flavor. Then I remembered that I prefer my banana bread without any extra spices. So finally, I went back to basics and came up with a banana muffin that tastes like bananas.

I prefer nuts in my quick breads and muffins but many people (including my husband) prefer them without. My solution was to add ground pecans to batter. This adds a more complex texture and flavor but is subtle enough to please the “no nuts” crowd. I used pecan meal that I recently purchase from the King Arthur Four Baker’s Catalogue but it should be easy enough to grind your own in a food processor or blender. I was really impressed with the results so I suggest that even people who love a “chunkier” texture, try using the pecan meal at least once.

I also added some oat bran to increase the fiber and this contributed even more flavor and texture. I’ve never used oat bran in baking before and I loved the results! It added a “chewiness” to the texture that was a really nice surprise. The oat bran I used was Hodgson Mill’s Oat Bran Hot Cereal.

The idea for using buttermilk came from the muffin recipes in Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. After using some of her muffin recipes, I’ll never make muffins without buttermilk again! I think it adds tenderness and although you can’t really taste the buttermilk, it does add that little extra “something” to the flavor.

The recipe below is now my absolute favorite banana muffin recipe. It gives you exactly enough batter to fill 12 regular muffin cups (I hate recipes that only give you 9 muffins!). These muffins are low in fat and high in fiber. They are full of carbohydrates but if you’re on a low-carb diet, you shouldn’t be looking for muffin recipes anyway!! They are 100 percent whole grain which means these muffins do contain a good amount of complex carbohydrates (the good ones). At just over 150 calories per muffin, they are the perfect snack!

Best Banana Muffins

1 ½ C. whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur’s new Organic White Whole Wheat)
½ C. Oat Bran
½ C. Pecan Meal (1.5 oz ground pecans)
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
½ t. salt

2 T. butter, melted
½ C. honey
3 egg whites
1 C. banana
2/3 C. buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 12 regular-sized muffin cups or line with paper cups.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (first six ingredients) until well combined. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients (last 5 ingredients).
4. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.
5. Immediately spoon batter into the 12 muffin cups, filling each cup almost to the top.
6. Place immediately in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Start checking early!
7. Turn muffins out of pan and cool on wire rack.
8. Enjoy!

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Nutrition data calculated and retrieved using tools from NutritionData.com

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29 Comments
  1. Connie

    wow, quite the post! I love your almost scientific method approach to finding a good & healthy muffin. Plus the nutrition data… bravo. I have cooked with whole wheat flour in the past, like to make yeast bread… but it never rises quite as well and the dough is always super-sticky. I guess I have to give whole wheat baking another go… and with bran or a nut meal! Wow, so many things to try out from your post… now if only my landlord would fix my oven…

    12:50 pm  Aug 24th, 2006
  2. Nicole

    Yes it’s true about the dough being much stickier when baking whole wheat yeast breads. Once you get used to it though, it gets easier to work with. Usually I use some all-purpose flour along with the whole wheat in my breads to make a little bit of a lighter loaf.

    2:41 pm  Aug 24th, 2006
  3. Jennifer

    These look awesome! Banana muffins are one of my all-time favorite things, but since my husband doesn’t like them much I don’t get them very often. I’ll just enjoy yours vicariously.

    3:10 pm  Aug 24th, 2006
  4. bloglily

    I’ve heard the King Arthur whole wheat white is terrific, and I’m so happy you’ve given us this wonderful recipe. We love banana bread in our house, but sometimes you want it to show up in smaller sizes, like these muffins.

    4:14 am  Aug 25th, 2006
  5. Lisa

    Everytime I’ve tried baking anything with 100% whole grain flour I’ve been disappointed in the results–way too dense. But I’m going to try this delish sounding recipe with King Arthur flour–they know bakers and I bet the results will be much lighter. I was wondering what to do with all these frozen bananas in my freezer (besides making smoothies). Thanks for the recipe!

    4:34 pm  Aug 26th, 2006
  6. Pearl

    Now that looks like a good idea. And me with frozen bananas. Hm…

    1:31 am  Aug 30th, 2006
  7. Tiffin Thursday: Banana Whole Wheat Mini-Muffins « The Tiffin Tin

    [...] Here are the banana whole wheat mini-muffins.  First, let me say that I’ve never actually substituted whole wheat flour in a recipe that’s designed for all-purpose (i.e., white) flour.  But I was emboldened to try this by a great blog which recommends using King Arthur White Whole Wheat because it’s, apparently, less wheaty tasting than regular whole wheat.  I love King Arthur flour, both the flours, but also the catalogue and the store, which I visit religiously once a year in Norwich, Vermont, when we go to see my father-in-law, who lives just across the Connecticut River in Hanover, New Hampshire.  [...]

    2:26 am  Sep 1st, 2006
  8. peabody

    I love making my banana bread with graham flour. Ever used it?

    2:35 am  Sep 2nd, 2006
  9. Nicole

    I haven’t tried it, I’ll keep it in mind :-)

    7:57 pm  Sep 2nd, 2006
  10. Jenny

    this looks great but what do you do if you need to keep things nut free?

    10:48 pm  Sep 5th, 2006
  11. Flavors of Fall « Pinch My Salt

    [...] I am continuing my quest to create healthy but tasty muffin recipes and I think this one is another winner. These whole grain muffins are substantial and filling, perfect for a quick breakfast on the run. The addition of oat bran and wheat germ adds not only complexity in flavor and texture but boosts the protein and fiber content. A bit of ground flaxseed contributes healthy Omega 3 fatty acids. But most importantly, these taste really good! [...]

    12:05 am  Sep 11th, 2006
  12. Detlef

    Thanks for the recipe. My wife suggested I look for a banana muffin recipe so here I am. (I think that she is hoping that my recent success with muffins will translate into more cooking generally!). Anyway, I have had success with whole wheat muffins (although I usually mix half/half with regular flour). I have read that WW flour is more “fatty” than white so may explain why it works differently. I’ll let you know how it goes. Great site!

    8:41 pm  Oct 5th, 2006
  13. Birdie

    I also am a white whole wheat flour convert. I found a recipe today for a lemon/orange juice/zest fresh cranberry ginger muffin. Yeah, a mouthfull! I want to up the fiber, so I will also be adding some bran.

    9:45 pm  Oct 19th, 2006
  14. Brett

    Your excellent fotos and nutritional information really add to your recipe’s complete package!

    1:36 am  Nov 4th, 2006
  15. mamakin

    I also have just discovered the King Arthur store online, and happened upon it when I had seen the jars of yeast in the grocery store had been raised to over $8.00 for 4 ounce jars! I buy the 2lb bag of the red star yeast there for less than ten dollars, even with the shipping, I’ts a steal! I also wanted to leave a tip about the wheat flour, I always replace 1/3 of the wheat flour with all-purpose white flour. It makes the dough easier to deal with, and also helps the yeast do it’s rising better. As for the banana muffin recipe, FOUR STARS!!!!!!!! The kids loved them, the husband loved them, and I loved them, thank you so much!

    12:25 am  Mar 2nd, 2007
  16. Tired of Banana Bread? Try this Recipe! — Pinch My Salt

    [...] Best Banana Muffins [...]

    6:36 pm  Sep 27th, 2007
  17. Amanda

    I scoured high and low looking for a healthy bran muffin recipe to incorporate my three overly-ripened bananas into, and I’m so glad I went with this one!! I made them last night, and was tempted to comment then but I decided to wait until I had a second one (cold) today to give my full opinion since everything pretty much tastes good warm out of the oven. Both “versions” were awesome–moist, slightly sweet, and perfectly “nutty” throughout (without any distracting nut chunks).

    Slight alterations as follows: I ground up my own toasted pecans in the food processor (along with the bran so that I got a finely textured meal), used nonfat yogurt instead of the buttermilk, added a 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp banana extract, and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. I folded in blueberries to half of the batter, and topped them all off with a little streusel topping (extra ground-up pecan meal, brown sugar, and cinnamon).

    The best part about these muffins is that they taste just as delicious as the butter-laden varieties, but they pack a lot less guilt. Thanks so much for posting this recipe.

    1:50 pm  Feb 10th, 2009
  18. Ana

    delicious !

    8:22 am  Mar 8th, 2009
  19. Sara

    Just made these with my son, so of course had to throw in a couple of handfuls of chocolate chips! Subbed wheat bran for oat bran, two eggs for the egg whites and finely ground walnuts for pecans – result was wonderful. Such a great base recipe. Thanks!

    10:32 am  Mar 30th, 2009
  20. Amanda

    Just wanted to report I made this again, but a slightly different version, and they were great. Instead of the 1 c. banana, I subbed 3/4 c. applesauce and 1/4 c. molasses and used plain yogurt instead of buttermilk. Finally, I threw in some cinnamon, vanilla extract, and 1/2 c. raisins. Oh, and I used ground walnuts rather than pecans. Lots of changes and they still came out excellent–especially when spread with a little peanut butter :) thanks!

    7:25 pm  Apr 14th, 2009
  21. Nicole

    Amanda, thanks for checking in! Your variations sound wonderful!

    7:33 pm  Apr 14th, 2009
  22. Dawn

    I have been looking for healthier banana muffins and I made them last night! My little girls couldn’t stop eating them (neither could I). Fabulous, moist, easy recipe. I can’t wait to check out some of the other recipes.

    1:20 pm  May 1st, 2009
  23. Cherry Pecan Bran Muffins — Pinch My Salt

    [...] Whole Wheat and Oat Bran Banana Muffins [...]

    7:45 am  Jan 19th, 2010
  24. Tarnation

    I am going to try these and use coconut oil instead of butter. That might give the slight coconut flavor you were hoping to add.

    7:23 am  Jun 7th, 2010
  25. Emily

    I just made these and they’re sooooooo delicious! Thanks for the awesome recipe!

    They taste sinful, but they’re really not!

    The only thing I did differently was add 1 tsp of vanilla because I love it so much.

    The pecan meal was tricky to grind in my magic bullet, though.

    I like the idea of using coconut oil given above instead of butter, as I have a lot of that to use up.

    10:45 pm  Jan 25th, 2011
  26. Malcolm Reding

    I have been baking banana bread and/or muffins for years and I like this recipe but I cannot imagine using bananas without nutmeg. It’s like cherry pie without almond extract, so I added 1 tsp. ground nutmeg, 1 tsp vanilla and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. I did not have oat bran so I substituted wheat germ. I made bread and it turned out great.

    6:26 am  Feb 6th, 2011
  27. Amanda R

    This is a great recipe. I usually don’t put in the pecan meal.

    Today I made them with pumpkin instead of banana, and added pumpkin pie spices – they came out great!

    5:03 pm  Oct 2nd, 2011
  28. Brooks

    I love baking with fruits. I like use oranges strawberry and other. Of course, banana is my favorite. Your Banana muffins looks amazing! Thank you for sharing your recipe. I like to add nutmeg and walnuts at my muffins like herehttp://cookiteasy.net/recipe/banana-muffins-211159.html

    2:34 pm  Nov 21st, 2013
  29. Brooks

    I love baking with fruits. I like use oranges strawberry and other. Of course, banana is my favorite. Your Banana muffins looks amazing! Thank you for sharing your recipe. I like to add nutmeg and walnuts at my muffins like here http://cookiteasy.net/recipe/banana-muffins-211159.html

    2:35 pm  Nov 21st, 2013
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