This cinnamon swirl gluten free banana bread is naturally dairy free—and it’s incredibly moist and tender. The cinnamon-sugar just seals the deal. It’s going to become your new favorite way to save those dying bananas!
Banana bonanza (too much?)
My one bowl gluten free banana bread recipe is easily one of my favorite recipes in the history of ever. Whenever we talk about it on Facebook, so many of you say (sometimes as a sort of confession, but there’s no shame needed here!) that you make that banana bread once a week—at least!
We eat a lot of bananas in my house. Well, with 3 teenagers, we eat a lot of everything in my house!
But about a year ago, I finally got a little hook that sticks on to the underside of a kitchen cabinet to hold bananas so they don’t ripen unevenly. It even folds up and out of sight when it’s not in use.
I don’t care for those enormous “banana trees.” I can’t dedicate that sort of counter real estate to one fruit. But this hook is awesome. And my ripening bananas are always front and center!
Banana bread variety is the spice of life
Many of you have said that you add chocolate chips to your banana bread. Well, of course that’s genius. Chocolate and bananas are a match made in heaven, and I’m only ashamed that I never thought to try that myself.
Another match made in heaven is cinnamon-sugar and bananas. The cinnamon swirl flavors every bite, but of course is concentrated on the top and toward the center, as that’s where we put the swirl mixture.
Every single crumb of the banana bread itself is fork-squish tender (that’s a thing, right?), but the swirl itself is just on another level entirely. But somehow it doesn’t make the slices delicate or prone to falling apart.
How to make that cinnamon swirl
When adding a cinnamon swirl, I’ve found that virgin coconut oil works better than butter. That meant that, if I just used a dairy-free plain yogurt, this entire gluten free banana bread recipe would be safe for my dairy-free daughter.
Whenever you’re swirling batter with a cinnamon-sugar mixture, the enemy is a too-stiff batter that doesn’t want to, well, swirl. Melted virgin coconut oil is thinner than melted butter, and suddenly the entire recipe becomes easier to handle.
When you add melted coconut oil to the cinnamon sugar swirl, too, it tends to stay in place rather than melting throughout the batter like it would if we were using butter. A crumble, which has flour in it, is quite different from a swirl as a crumble has its own structure.
I’ll leave it there since we’re getting into the ingredient-and-recipe-development weeds, and I’m fairly certain I’m the only one still interested. Just trust me that you want to use melted coconut oil in this recipe where it’s called for, even if you’re not dairy free!
Ingredients and substitutions
Dairy: This recipe is already dairy-free, and I really recommend that you use the virgin coconut oil and not substitute it with butter. It helps keep the batter the proper consistency for swirling.
If you don’t have a problem with dairy, you can replace the plain yogurt with an equal amount, by weight, of sour cream or regular dairy-containing Greek-style yogurt.
Eggs: Since this recipe calls for 2 eggs, you should be able to replace each of them with a “chia egg,” which is just 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds mixed with 1 tablespoon lukewarm water and allowed to gel. I haven’t tried that substitution, though, so you’ll have to experiment.
Coconut oil: Even though I believe that coconut oil is the very best fat to use in this recipe, you may not be able to use it. If you don’t care for the coconut flavor in coconut oil, try “triple-filtered” coconut oil, which has absolutely not coconut aroma. My local Trader Joe’s has it.
If you have to replace the coconut oil, I recommend using Spectrum brand non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening. I often get a lot of push-back when I recommend using Spectrum, but it’s not Crisco.
Spectrum shortening is made from sustainably produced palm oil that is free of hydrogenation and trans fats. Crisco is hydrogenated vegetable shortening, made from soybean oil and hydrogenated palm oil.
Bananas: Just kidding! We’re not making banana bread banana-free, silly! If you don’t like or can’t have bananas, try one of the many other gluten free quick bread recipes here on the blog.
Cinnamon Swirl Gluten Free Banana Bread
For the batter
2 cups (280 g) all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup (133 g) granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (112 g) virgin coconut oil, melted and cooled
2 eggs (100 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup (150 g) thick non-dairy plain yogurt, at room temperature (my favorite brand is Anita coconut yogurt)
1 cup (200 g) ripe bananas, peeled and mashed lightly (from about 2 medium-size bananas)
For the swirl
2 tablespoons (28 g) virgin coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup (67 g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease a standard 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, and set it aside.
In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar, and whisk to combine well. Add the coconut oil, eggs, vanilla, then the yogurt, mixing until just combined after each addition. Add the mashed bananas and mix them carefully into the batter, taking care not to further mash the bananas. Transfer half of the banana batter to the prepared loaf pan and spread it into an even layer with a wet spatula. Set both aside briefly.
Make the swirl. In a small bowl, place all of the swirl ingredients and mix to combine well. It will be a thick mixture. Place about one half of the swirl mixture on top of the batter already in the loaf pan and spread it gently into an even layer. Top with the remaining banana batter and spread that with a wet spatula into an even layer. Finish with the remaining swirl batter and spread again gently into an even layer. With a butter knife held perpendicular to the bottom of the loaf pan, swirl the batter from one short side to the other of the pan, back and forth in looping pattern (watch the video for a visual demonstration!). Smooth the top of the swirled batter into an even layer once more.
Place the pan in center of the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes. The loaf should be until golden brown on top, and mostly firm toward the center. Lower the oven temperature to 325°F and continue to bake until completely firm when pressed lightly in the center, another 10 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and serving. Leftovers can be wrapped very tightly and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days, and frozen for longer storage.