No Sugar Banana Bran Muffins! These refined sugar free banana muffins are sweetened with nothing but bananas and dates. Made with whole wheat flour, oats, lots of bran, and studded with walnuts and banana chunks, these healthy bran muffins make a great breakfast, snack, or lunchbox treat.
What comes to mind when you think of healthy bran muffins?
Is it cardboard? Wait, it's sawdust, isn't it?
I get it. Put the words "healthy" and "bran muffins" together and it conjures up images of dry, tasteless health food. What if I tell you that these banana bran muffins are made without any sugar? Good or gross?
Before you start running for the hills, let me assure you that *this* healthy bran muffin recipe is in fact the BEST bran muffin recipe you'll ever taste. Yup, I said it. I went there. And I'm gonna put my money where my mouth is.
You want healthy bran muffins? You got them! In the mood for sugar free banana muffins? This is that! And you want them to actually taste good? You can have it all! You really can! Err, if by "all" you mean an incredibly delicious no sugar banana bran muffin recipe. Let's do this!
What's in these banana bran muffins?
If you want to make delicious no sugar banana muffins, you're going to need:
- Bananas --> The browner the better!
- Oil --> Just a few tablespoons will do the trick.
- Dates --> This is where we're getting our sweetness from.
- Bran --> Keeps ya regular, if you know what I mean.
- Flour --> Going in with some white whole wheat flour today.
- Milk --> Choose your favourite!
- Eggs --> Two large ones, please and thank you.
- Baking powder / baking soda --> Leaveners joining the party.
- Walnuts, raisins, and banana chunks --> The texture support crew.
Is there really no sugar in these muffins?
Well, yes. And no.
There's no sugar in that we're not adding any refined sugar, maple syrup, honey, or any other kind of sweetener. However, we're sweetening these muffins with dates, and dates contain an actual butt-load of naturally-occurring sugar.
I ate one of these muffins after a swim and before a prenatal check up, and when my midwife checked my blood-sugar she was like, omg wtf did you just eat?!
So if your definition of no sugar is no refined sugar, then yep, these muffins are sugar free! But if you're diabetic or trying to control your blood sugar, be warned that there is indeed a mighty amount of sugar from the dates.
We'll discuss why it's still a better choice than refined sugar below!
How do you make banana bran muffins?
Before you do anything else, pre-heat your oven and grease up your muffin tins! I use butter to grease my tins.
We're going to start by making the date paste! It's a super simple and fast process that involves mixing chopped dates with some water, bringing them to a boil, and adding baking soda.
When the baking soda hits the hot water it will fizz up in a super fun way, and cause the dates to break down into a paste. The fizzing part only lasts a minute or so, and though it looks like your pot might boil over, it won't.
Simply give the dates a good stir, then remove from the heat to cool down. It doesn't have to be cold, but we don't want to scramble the eggs when we add it in, so cool-ish.
Then you're going to want to mash up your brown bananas and mix them with oil, eggs, and milk. Add in the oats and bran, and then the cooled date paste.
Now add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix everything together until just combined - we don't want to over mix and end up with tough muffins. If you're adding chunkies (as my husband calls them) now is the time.
We like to add chopped walnuts, chopped banana, and raisins.
I like to make large, coffee-shop sized banana bran muffins. You may look at the amount of batter you have and the size of your muffin tins and think oh hell no, this isn't going to work. But it is. It does. Trust me.
How can I tell when these muffins are done?
When the bran muffins are done baking they're nicely domed and golden on top. I've made these muffins approximately one million times, so I can tell whether they're done or not just by pressing my finger into the top.
Feel free to also stick a knife or skewer into the centre of one muffin - some crumbs should cling to it, but it shouldn't be wet or gooey.
I like to let them cool for about 5 minutes in the muffin tins, then twist the muffins out of the tins and lay them on their sides to finish cooling.
Can I freeze these healthy bran muffins?
You can and you should!
I actually prefer these banana bran muffins once they've been frozen. I think they're a little bit sweeter and a little bit moister that way. To freeze, simply wait until the muffins are completely cool, and then throw them into a freezer bag. They'll last about 3 months in the freezer.
Hey Nutrition Lady, what's the deal with dates?
Glad you asked!
Dates are wonderful things. They truly are nature’s candy. They’re sweet and caramelly, and they are jam packed with sugar.
100g of dates contains roughly 265 calories, 75g carbohydrates, 2g protein, and only traces of fat. Of that 75g carbohydrates, about 90% is sugar, which is mostly in the form of glucose and fructose.
This means that of those 265 calories, about 240 come from sugar. So when we’re baking with dates and saying ‘this recipe has no sugar!’ what we’re really saying is ‘this recipe has no REFINED sugar!’
But don’t let the calories stop you from eating dates! They are also an excellent source of dietary fiber (about 7g in that 100g serving), and dates are especially rich in soluble fiber, which is the kind that helps maintain healthy blood cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels.
Plus dates are rich in a host of different vitamins and minerals (more info after the recipe), so eat ‘em up!
Other healthy muffin recipes you might enjoy:
No Sugar Banana Bran Muffins
- 1 ½ cups chopped pitted dates about 200g dates
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 large very ripe bananas mashed
- 3 tablespoon of soft butter OR olive oil I've used both with the same results
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 ½ cups wheat bran
- ½ cup rolled oats
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 banana diced
- 1 cup walnuts chopped
- Grease your muffin tins (I use butter), and preheat your oven to 200°C/ 400°F.
- In a small (but not too small!) pot, combine the dates and water and heat to boiling on high heat. As soon as the water boils, add the teaspoon of baking soda, and stir to combine. Marvel at the foamy science that is happening and do not be alarmed, just make sure your pot is large enough that it won't foam over. Set mixture aside to cool.
- In a stand mixer, mix together mashed bananas and butter or olive oil until it is light and frothy.
- Add the eggs and mix to combine them.
- Stir in milk, bran, and oats, and set aside.
- Add the dates to the wet mixture, and stir to combine.
- Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until just combined.
- Mix in diced banana and walnuts.
- Spoon the mixture into prepared muffin tins.
- Bake for 20 - 25 min, until tops are golden and a knife inserted into the middle of one of the muffins comes out clean.
- Nutrition values are an estimate only
This recipe was originally published November 17, 2010. It was retested, rephotographed, and updated March 22, 2019.