No Sugar Banana Bran Muffins

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.

a banana bran muffin on a blue plate with walnuts and banana chunks

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!

bananas, eggs, dates, walnuts, bran, oats, flour, milk, and oil on a grey background

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!

photo collage of date paste being made

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.

photo collage of banana bran muffin batter being made

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.

banana bran muffin batter spooned into muffin tins

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.

banana bran muffins cooling in muffin tins

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!

three bananas and banana bran muffins on a grey background

Other healthy muffin recipes you might enjoy:

Whole Wheat Muffins with Cinnamon Roasted Apples
Healthy Cherry Muffins with Dark Chocolate Chunks
Carrot Pineapple Muffins

banana bran muffins on a blue plate with a banana to the side
5 from 18 votes
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No Sugar Banana Bran Muffins

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. 

Course Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword banana bran muffins, healthy muffins
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 12 muffins
Calories 295 kcal
Author Katie Trant

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pitted dates about 200g dates
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 large very ripe bananas mashed
  • 3 Tbsp of soft butter OR olive oil I've used both with the same results
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups wheat bran
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 banana diced
  • 1 cup walnuts chopped

Instructions

  1. Grease your muffin tins (I use butter), and preheat your oven to 200°C/ 400°F.

  2. 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 tsp 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.
  3. In a stand mixer, mix together mashed bananas and butter or olive oil until it is light and frothy.

  4. Add the eggs and mix to combine them.

  5. Stir in milk, bran, and oats, and set aside.
  6. Add the dates to the wet mixture, and stir to combine.
  7. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until just combined.

  8. Mix in diced banana and walnuts.
  9. Spoon the mixture into prepared muffin tins.

  10. Bake for 20 - 25 min, until tops are golden and a knife inserted into the middle of one of the muffins comes out clean.

Recipe Notes

  • Nutrition values are an estimate only
Nutrition Facts
No Sugar Banana Bran Muffins
Amount Per Serving
Calories 295 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat 12g18%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Cholesterol 29mg10%
Sodium 224mg9%
Potassium 588mg17%
Carbohydrates 45g15%
Fiber 8g32%
Sugar 17g19%
Protein 8g16%
Vitamin A 95IU2%
Vitamin C 3.1mg4%
Calcium 102mg10%
Iron 2.4mg13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This recipe was originally published November 17, 2010. It was retested, rephotographed, and updated March 22, 2019.

 



 

Comments

  1. Tara says

    Thank you so much for this Katie! I started “clean eating” a couple of weeks ago, and have really been missing my muffins:) This is exactly what I have been looking for:)

    • themuffinmyth says

      Ack! I can’t believe I forgot to write down the eggs. Oh well, looks like everyone figured out there were supposed to be two based on the instructions. I’m glad you made them, Tara, and glad they turned out 🙂

  2. Cammy says

    Just made my second batch of these and added 2 big handfuls of frozen organic cherries. They are truly the best muffins to date (and that’s saying a lot).

  3. Dennis says

    Dennis is hinting that I should make these to replace his ‘staple’ Capers bran muffins … and he knows that’s asking a lot. You know I don’t ‘bake’.
    Did I read right, no need for a mixer?

    • themuffinmyth says

      I don’t have a stand mixer here, I just used an electric hand mixer that I picked up at the second hand store across the street. It helps get the banana fluffy, but you could achieve the same thing with your uber cute All Clad whisk and elbow grease. I’d say these would kick the Capers muffins out of the ballpark.

  4. Cammy says

    Re: the mixer, I actually just “whipped” the banana and oil by hand and they turned our perfectly. Also, I’ve heard a lot of guys asking their wives to make these, do they know that men can bake too?

  5. emilytakesabreak says

    I just made these muffins today and they were awesome. It was a labour of love – after I made the mixture I realised that I only own 5 single silicone muffin cups, so could only bake 5 muffins at a time.
    Now having to hide them from myself so I don’t eat the whole batch at once.

  6. Allison says

    I finally got around to these when a bunch of very freckly bananas were staring me down. Amazing! Just the perfect amount of sweetness.

    • themuffinmyth says

      I’m so glad you got around to trying these. They’re totally my favourite standby muffin recipe now. I buy extra bananas every week so I have some for them. Paul likes to add an extra banana, diced, and a handful of walnuts as well. Yum!

  7. Lisa says

    I just read your ‘muffin myth’ page and agree completely with everything you said! I’ve started trying to bake a healthy muffin/bread to take for lunch each day and last week I made a carrot/date cake which was an absolute disaster. I still love the idea of using dates as the sweetener though, so I’m going to try this recipe next I think! Is there anything that I could substitute the wheat bran for though? I’m not too sure what it is and it’s definitely not something that is regularly in the pantry. Thanks!

    • themuffinmyth says

      Hi Lisa,

      There isn’t really a good substitute for bran in a bran muffin 🙂 Wheat bran is the outer husk of the wheat kernel, which is removed (along with the germ) when wheat is refined into white or all purpose flour. Whole grain flours have the bran, the germ, and the endosperm all ground up together. Adding extra bran into the muffins adds texture and dramatically increases the dietary fiber, which is part of what makes these muffins so nutritious. You should be able to find wheat bran (it might just be labeled ‘bran’ though you can also find corn bran, oat bran, etc) in the baking aisle of your local grocery store, or sometimes with cereal grains like oats. Just ask! I hope you try them, let me know how they turn out.
      KT

      • Lisa says

        Fair call hahah. Thanks for the explanation, I’ll have a look for it next time I’m at the supermarket!

    • themuffinmyth says

      I’ve never tried using oat bran in this particular recipe, so I can’t say for sure. Wheat bran is a softer texture than oat bran, so the texture may be rougher if you sub it in. Give it a go and let me know how they turn out!

      • Christine says

        Ok, tried with the oat bran, and I used skim milk. They came out fine. From your nutrition info I thought it seemed a big recipe for 12- obviously it does make more than 12! I would be interested in a more precise measure for the bananas.

        I had two medium bananas, from frozen. I didnt include the “meltd liquid” in the bowl after they thawed. I wasnt getting any banana flavour in the batter, just an extreme bitter tang aftertaste. I added two more bananas, the same issue remained, and I was certain i would have altered the liquid/solid ratio too much. (and I wont even tell you how I messed with the directions as my daughter had taken over my ipad. Lets just say, simple dump method.) The muffins were done in 20 minutes and as I said, they came out great. They seem like they will freeze very well. There is no bitterness now that they are baked, but still, I’m not getting any banana flavour. (True confession: given my bitter batter concern, I threw choc chips in the kids’ muffins. (so good, but not what I was going for!) They liked these muffins alot, and they are not on no sugar tastebud train, so huge potential for movement here!) Husband gives thumbs up as well, but says tastes just like bran, not banana. I’m thinking carrot pineapple… Hmmm. Thank you!

        • themuffinmyth says

          Hi Christine,

          It does make 12 large muffins. You can certainly make more smaller muffins if you prefer.

          When using frozen bananas I always include the liquid that comes out when they thaw. Remember that liquid would have been in a fresh banana and we definitely want it in the recipe for both moisture and flavour.

          I find these muffins freeze really well, and are usually a little sweeter after they’ve been frozen and thawed (just like bananas are).

  8. Devi Duerrmeier says

    Hi there – Love your blog. I live in Switzerland – do you have any idea what wheat bran is called here? Or even what wheat bran is called in German? Our packaging has ingredients/names/titles/whatever in French, German and Italian.. I know that I can get whole wheat flour here with no problem.. I’m always a bit confused though about what things like wheat bran are. Thanks for your help.

      • erika says

        So I haven’t actually tried these banana muffins yet because I don’t have bran, but I tried using your boiled date/baking soda technique in another recipe (to make bean blondies) and it worked like a charm. Thanks for that cool trick!

        • themuffinmyth says

          Oooh, good idea! The original idea actually came from a sticky date pudding recipe, so I imagine you could use it in many different desserts or other baked goods successfully.

  9. Cathy says

    I just made a batch of the delicious banana branners and after I gave a few to the neighbours the rest disappeared overnight they were so good and nutritious! Great blog, too. I”m really enjoying all of the recipes and links. Congratulations on a fantastic idea. Cathy

  10. Shelly says

    You wouldnt happen to know how many grams of carb are in each muffin? My boyfriend is T1 diabetic, I am always looking for healthier options of typically non-diabetic friendly food.

  11. EmZ says

    Quick question after looking in my cupboard: Could I substitute wheat germ for the wheat germ for wheat bran?

    • themuffinmyth says

      Good question, I’ve never tried that before. I don’t think it would impact the texture all that much, but it would definitely impact the nutritional composition the muffins quite considerably. Wheat bran is high in insoluble fiber, whereas wheat germ is quite oily and rich in healthy fats. If you try it out, let me know how it turns out.

  12. jonvs says

    Just for reference, you probably shouldn’t use olive oil in this recipe. Its smoke point is only five degrees warmer than the oven temperature, and at that point it forms trans fat molecules and pretty much all health benefits of the oil are lost. Grapeseed oil’s smoke point is slightly higher if you want an oil with similar flavour, and some oils like sunflower and safflower (both of which I’m allergic to) have super high smoke points so you don’t have to worry about using them in baking.

  13. Ava Werstlein says

    I made these this weekend after watching FED UP and looking for some low sugar breakfast options, which, after you start reading labels is VERY hard to find! I feel like the cereal companies have been pulling a fast one on me for years.
    Great muffins, healthy, but still tastes like a MUFFIN (and not like cake either).

    My husband and my guests loved them. Will try your ginger/carrot ones for my Dad’s visit this weekend.

    ?? Have you ever used vegan egg substitutes? I am trying to move away from animal products but am always leery in baking. Thanks, Ava

    • Katie Trant says

      Hi Ava, I usually just use the best eggs I can get my hands on rather than using an egg substitute. I haven’t tested any of my muffin recipes with flax or chia eggs, but you could give them a try and let us know how they turn out!

  14. Kate says

    Thanks soooo much, these are brilliant. My first batch I followed the recipe to the letter except that I didn’t have walnuts so left that out. I was scared they wouldn’t be sweet enough, but they were superb. I was a bit ambivalent about the bits of diced banana so on my second batch I added some chopped apple, chopped almonds and some raisins – heavenly. Such a great recipe to experiment with adding things – but also perfect just the way you first made it. Delicious! Thanks a million. Will be making the third batch tomorrow morning. My family can’t seem to get enough.

  15. Claire says

    I love these muffins. I’ve made several batches so far and have been bringing them to work for a post-workout breakfast. I just realized today that I’ve been using 1 tbsp baking soda instead of baking powder, and they still have turned out wonderfully! So, if you’re out of baking powder, just use baking soda and the world will not explode. Secondly, I also realized today while preheating the oven that I didn’t have enough dates to make the 200g, so I subbed in some dried, chopped figs. The muffins aren’t quite as sweet this time around, but they are still good and the flavor has become pleasantly figgy. Thanks for the recipe, I love it!

    • Katie Trant says

      Glad you like them! I’ve also tried dried figs, apricots, and even prunes in the past, and like you I find that they don’t turn out quite as sweet as with dates, but they work in a pinch!

  16. Leah says

    I found this recipe and made them when my first baby was starting solids as a great sugar free muffin. I am now making them for my second baby and thought I would let you know how much the whole family loves them! Thanks!

    • Rachel says

      Wow!! These are everything you promised they would be!! So sweet and delicious! For the flour I milled 120 grams spelt and 120 grams soft white winter wheat together. For the bran, every time I baked bread for the last while I would sift out the bran from my freshly milled flour (usually spelt) and store it in the freezer till I had enough bran for these muffins. Thank you for this amazing refined-sugar-free recipe!

  17. Justine Pitt says

    As someone with a super-sweet tooth, and a long-time fan of a ridiculously fattening banana bran muffin recipe that I’ve used for years, I was sceptical on how these would turn out, but I have to say, they weren’t bad at all! I’m already looking forward to breakfast tomorrow (the meal I tend to skip the most), and it helps so much with my daily calorie intake! Thank you!

    Just one question – once you put the baking soda in with the dates, are you supposed to keep it cooking on the stove for a while, or take off the heat immediately once combined?

    Thanks again!

    • Katie Trant says

      Hi Justine! That’s high praise from someone with a super sweet tooth! My recommendation is to turn off the heat just before adding the baking soda, but keep the pot on the burner for a couple of minutes longer. The residual heat will do just fine to create the date paste.

  18. Natalie says

    Recipe sounds amazing!!
    Do you use fresh dates or dried dates for this recipe? Just want to ensure I buy the right sort.
    Thank you, Natalie

  19. Natalie says

    Thank you! Appreciate the swift response.
    Will update you here when I’ve made my first batch 🙂
    All the best, Natalie

  20. Heather says

    If I could give this recipe 10 stars I would! I’ve been making them since 2010. They’re a stable in my freezer. Lately I’ve been adding frozen blueberries along with the walnuts. Sometimes I muck with the recipe a bit and use applesauce but the date mixture always stays the same.

  21. Alice says

    Like Heather (above) I’ve been making these delicious, nutritions muffins since the recipe first appeared, which I gather was in 2010. So delicious, and frequently requested in my house! Thanks for always steering me to nutritious and healthy options!

  22. Maclean Nash says

    I love this recipe! I have made it MANY a time since you first posted it way back when and they always turn out perfect and delicious! Plus they make the house smell wonderful!

  23. Pamela says

    Can’t believe this has been around for 9 years! One of my all time fave recipes, and a go to! Need to go buy some bananas!

  24. Emily says

    I love these and always feel slightly antsy when my freezer supply runs low. Lately I’ve been leaving out the walnuts and throwing in a small amount of chopped dark chocolate to give them an extra indulgent feel.

  25. Terri says

    OMG! The dates in water instead of sugar! Soooo good! I wonder where else I can substitute them for sugar.
    I didn’t have bran so I used oatmeal. But this weekend I’m picking up some bran to try again.
    Unbelievably sweet and no sugar!

    • Katie Trant says

      Definitely try with bran, it’s quite a different texture! I’ve used this date paste to make sticky date pudding (though also with added sugar) and I know some other people who have used it to make blondies.

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