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MotherBee’s Food Science Talk : Banana Substitutes in Banana Bread

Updated: Sep 17, 2023

Banana bread is a beloved treat known for its moist, sweet, and banana-infused flavor. But what if you want to replace bananas due to dietary restrictions or simply for variety? To understand this, we need to explore the science behind why certain fruits and vegetables make suitable banana substitutes in banana bread.

The Role of Bananas:

Bananas serve multiple purposes in banana bread:

  • Moisture: Bananas contribute a significant amount of moisture, keeping the bread soft and tender.

  • Natural Sweetness: Their natural sugars add sweetness without the need for excessive added sugar.

  • Binding: Bananas act as a binder, helping to hold the bread together.

Alternative Ingredients and Their Science:


  • Components: Plantains, like bananas, are rich in moisture, thanks to their high water content. They contain natural sugars, predominantly glucose, fructose, and sucrose, which contribute to sweetness.

  • Why They Can Replace Bananas: Plantains are a logical substitute because of their similar texture and moisture content. When ripe, they have a slightly sweeter taste, making them suitable for sweet bread like banana bread.

  • Sugar, Fiber, and Starch: Plantains have comparable sugar content to ripe bananas but may vary slightly in flavor due to their different sugar composition. They also provide dietary fiber and starch, though the specific amounts can differ based on ripeness.


  • Components: Applesauce primarily consists of apples, water, and, depending on the processing method, may contain added sugar or be unsweetened. Apples contain natural sugars, primarily fructose.

  • Why They Can Replace Bananas: Applesauce contributes moisture and sweetness to the bread. Its natural sugars provide a sweet taste, and the water content helps maintain a moist texture.

  • Sugar, Fiber, and Starch: Applesauce contains natural fruit sugars, similar to bananas. The fiber content in applesauce varies based on whether it’s made from whole apples (higher fiber) or peeled apples (lower fiber). It typically contains minimal starch.


  • Components: Avocado is rich in healthy fats, primarily monounsaturated fats. It also contains a small amount of sugar (mainly glucose and fructose) and fiber.

  • Why They Can Replace Bananas: Avocado offers a creamy texture that mimics the smoothness of mashed bananas. While it lacks the same sugar content, it adds a unique buttery richness to the bread.

  • Sugar, Fiber, and Starch: Avocado has a negligible sugar content compared to bananas. However, its fiber content is relatively higher, contributing to the bread’s structure. Avocado does not contain significant amounts of starch.


  • Components: Zucchini is primarily composed of water, with minimal natural sugars (mainly fructose and glucose) and fiber.

  • Why They Can Replace Bananas: Zucchini contributes moisture to the bread while imparting a mild, slightly sweet flavor. Its water content helps maintain a soft crumb.

  • Sugar, Fiber, and Starch: Zucchini contains less sugar than bananas, but it does provide dietary fiber. It has minimal starch content.


  • Components: Mangoes are rich in natural sugars, primarily fructose and glucose, and they contain water. They also provide a pleasant tropical sweetness.

  • Why They Can Replace Bananas: Mangoes bring both moisture and sweetness to the bread. Their sugars add a delightful flavor, and their water content helps maintain moisture.

  • Sugar, Fiber, and Starch: Mangoes have a higher sugar content than bananas. They provide dietary fiber but are not a significant source of starch.

Understanding the science behind banana substitutes in banana bread allows for creative culinary exploration. Each substitute brings its unique characteristics, and by knowing how they function in the recipe, you can craft a delicious loaf that suits your taste and dietary requirements.

While these substitutes can effectively replace bananas in your banana bread recipes, it’s important to note that while they bring their own unique qualities, the flavor and taste may not be identical to traditional banana bread. To preserve that classic banana essence, it’s advisable to combine these substitutes with a touch of real banana and enhance the flavor further with banana extract. This combination ensures you retain the beloved banana flavor while exploring exciting variations of this classic treat.

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