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Whole Wheat Buttermilk Banana Nut Muffins

So, I’ve been working on these Whole Wheat Buttermilk Banana Nut Muffins since February.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Banana Nut Muffins-5

They didn’t start out as this exactly. I was just bent on developing a great banana muffin. I first mentioned them in my Dutch Apple Pie Muffin post, because a banana muffin was the recipe I was planning to make that day, until my reserved ripe bananas ended up in a post work out smoothie. Since then, I’ve made at least 6 or more attempts at a great banana muffin. The problem is, we don’t always have over ripe bananas hanging around, so the planets have to align on the day I want to make the muffins. And then if I do have bananas hanging around, there’s usually only enough to make one or two batches/test trials.

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So that’s what I would do…make one or two batches, switching and changing things around each time. Then weeks or months would pass and I would do it again. Every time I went into banana muffin mode, I would start over with a completely new idea…using different fats, different liquids, different add ins. With so much time passing between each trial, I would get inspired to try different things looking to make something a little unique. And, as usual, they were all good, but not good enough.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking what’s the big deal about a banana muffin? They’re a dime a dozen. (I must be channeling my mother with that old phrase. You can’t get a dozen anything for a dime these days.) When you start testing them, you notice different levels of sweetness, moisture, texture and overall banana flavor. When you start comparing recipe after recipe, suddenly banana muffins have nuances (yes, I did just use nuance and banana in the same sentence :) that you might not have noticed when grabbing a quick muffin to go.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Banana Nut Muffins

Last week, when I saw some over ripe bananas staring me down from the fruit bowl, I thought, “Here we go again.” This time, I decided to make a classic banana nut muffin.  I had my notes on the other 6+ trials to learn from and instead of lots of bells and whistles, I simply wanted to create a good wholesome muffin with as much banana flavor as I could pack into it. Muffin recipes can tend to be high in fat and sugar. I wanted this one to be one you could feel a little better about eating, so I started with whole wheat.

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My secret weapon for whole wheat baking is using whole wheat pastry flour.  I love it because you don’t have to split it with all purpose flour as some recipes call for. You can just use it as the only flour and know that your texture won’t be too heavy or “wheaty.” I use it in Dutch Apple Pie Muffins, Whole Wheat Gingerbread Pancakes and Raspberry Rugelach, just to name a few. They are all delicious and beloved and the fact that they’re whole grain never really comes up because they just taste so good.

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My other secret weapon in the recipe is buttermilk.  I love, love, love using buttermilk and the more recipes I can develop using it the better. Why? Because buttermilk is a refrigerator staple for me. I know that if I have it on hand, I can make Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits, or Cream of Wheat Griddlecakes or 10 Minute Buttermilk Caramel Sauce.  I’ll also add it into scrambled eggs which makes them fluffy and tender.

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Buttermilk was what finally made these muffins a success for me.  I simply needed to get my liquid, sugar, flour and banana ratios right and we had a winner. It’s full of really true banana flavor. (It’s funny…when you don’t have the right ratio of sugar and moisture in the muffin, the banana flavor can get lost.) The muffin has a wonderful fluffy open crumb, not a dense banana bread texture. I decided to add nuts only to the top, so they could get toasty and sweet from a generous sprinkling of raw sugar. These are slam dunk delicious Whole Wheat Buttermilk Banana Nut Muffins. They were a long time coming…

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but well worth the wait.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Banana Nut Muffins

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Banana Nut Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins


For the muffins:

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, I used extra large
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana, (about 2-3 bananas depending upon size)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the topping:

  • 3 Tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 1 Tablespoon raw sugar, turbinado


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper baking cups.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl until combined.
  3. In another medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and eggs until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the mashed banana, oil, buttermilk and vanilla and mix well.
  4. Pour your wet ingredient mixture into your dry ingredients and stir just until the wet mixture is fully incorporated into the dry.
  5. Divide batter evenly among cups. I use a scoop for ease. Each cup will be almost full to the top.
  6. Top each cup with chopped walnuts, then sprinkle the raw sugar on top of the nuts.
  7. Bake for 8 minutes at 425 degrees F. Then, without opening the oven, reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F. and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Mine were done at the 5 minute mark. Take care not to over bake.
  8. Allow to cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  9. Store lightly covered at room temperature.


*If you find that you don't have quite enough mashed banana to fill the cup, and you've either run out of bananas or don't want to peel one just for a small portion, you can always use applesauce to make up the difference.

*Take care not to over measure your flour. Too much will produce a drier muffin. I use the spoon and sweep method.

The Merchant Baker Copyright © 2015

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Wednesday 17th of August 2022

Was so happy to find this recipe using WW pastry flour. I had it on hand and made the recipe exactly like it was given. This was a tip from a popular chef in our town- always make the recipe the first time as stated. This advice has saved me many failures. I feel like next time I might reduce the brown sugar a little since we try to cut back on that ingredient. This recipe is now in my Paprika App with 5 stars. Thanks so much.


Wednesday 17th of August 2022

You're welcome, Marilyn! I too try to cut back on sugars, more so now than when I originally posted this recipe back in 2015. Now, when I make one of my older recipes, I'll try to see how much lower I can go and still maintain texture, leavening and moisture since sugar plays a role in all of those things as well. I do think you could probably cut back to 1/2 cup sugar without issue. Thanks for the rave review!


Sunday 10th of July 2022

In addition to my changes below, I also added 1 Tbl vanilla and 1 tsp cinnamon (more is good!). :-)


Sunday 10th of July 2022

Turned out good! Used whole wheat flour (didn't have pastry). Added an extra egg, which helped it rise beautifully. I creamed 1/4 cup butter with sugar before adding eggs (instead of using oil).


Sunday 10th of July 2022

Hi Meaghan, glad to see your subs and changes worked out so well for you :)


Friday 28th of May 2021

Delicious!! I also love buttermilk in recipes. I didn't have pastry whole wheat, just reg whole wheat and still turned out great. Thank you


Saturday 29th of May 2021

Hi Nicole! Glad you liked the muffins! I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed the muffins with just regular whole wheat. Some people in my family don't like the texture as much with regular (but they always eat it anyway :) If you ever get a chance to pick up some whole wheat pastry flour, it's really great to bake with. I use it in pancakes and muffins all the time.


Monday 15th of April 2019

Could I sub applesauce for the oil?stephanie


Tuesday 16th of April 2019

Stephanie, I haven't tried it, but I suspect it would be fine. I have already reduced the additional fat to just that 1/4 cup of oil, so there's not a lot left to reduce. Alternatively, I LOVE baking with mild olive oil. Maybe that could be an idea to make them "healthier?" I find baked goods with some fat are more satisfying than those with none, so I rarely take it all out, otherwise, recipes end up relying on sugar. The applesauce will help with the moisture, but it will also increase the sugar content. Let me know how it turns out for you.

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