Let’s be honest—banana bread is a food group all its own, and if you have allergies or dietary restrictions, it can feel like you’re missing out on the best part of life.
We believe that everyone should have access to delicious banana bread, regardless of their dietary restrictions.
That’s why we’re here to tell you that walnuts are NOT the only way to make banana bread!
With a little ingenuity, you’ll be able to transform your favorite recipe into something that everyone can enjoy.
15 Best Substitutes for Walnuts in Banana Bread
Walnuts are one of the most commonly used nuts in banana bread recipes.
It is a common ingredient in many desserts and treats, especially if you are trying to stay away from butter or oil.
However, in many cases, substituting walnuts for other ingredients can be tricky.
There are a few things that you can use instead of walnuts in banana bread. If you don’t want to use walnuts, you can substitute pecans or almonds. You can also replace half of the walnuts with pistachios or hazelnuts. You can also use other nuts like almonds, cashews, and macadamia nuts.
Still looking for alternatives?
Here are our top 15 substitutes for walnuts in banana bread:
1. Slivered almonds
If you’re looking for a good substitute for walnuts in banana bread, look no further than slivered almonds.
Slivered almonds add the perfect amount of crunch to your banana bread without overpowering its flavor.
If you want to add some crunch but don’t want to detract from the banana bread taste, slivered almonds are an excellent option.
However, be careful not to use too many!
If you add too many slivered almonds, they can take away from the banana bread’s texture and make it drier than it would otherwise be.
2. Pine nuts
Pine nuts are another great substitute for walnuts.
They have good texture, and they’re relatively easy to find (unless you live in Italy, where there’s a pine nut shortage).
Most importantly, they’re a pretty good flavor match for walnuts.
People often make the mistake of not toasting the pine nuts before adding them to the recipe.
Toasting them will bring out their flavor, so be sure you toast them first.
3. Peanuts (crushed or whole)
Peanuts are also a fantastic substitute. Their flavor is similar, and they work well in both quick breads and baked goods.
The most common mistake people make with this substitute?
Using salted peanuts instead of unsalted.
If you’re using crushed peanuts in your recipe, it’s probably because you’re trying to add some texture to the finished product—they are a great way to give your banana bread some crunch!
If you use the salted kind, though, the salt is going to compete with the other flavors in your dish, and you won’t be able to taste them anymore.
4. Sesame seeds
Just like walnuts, sesame seeds are crunchy and slightly savory, which gives your banana bread a nice texture contrast.
They also have a similar buttery taste, so you’ll get most of the same flavors from your banana bread as if you used walnuts.
One common mistake people make with this substitute is thinking that quantity is important—it’s not!
If you’re out of walnuts or just don’t like them, don’t try to compensate by adding more sesame seeds than the recipe calls for.
They have a stronger flavor and you’ll risk overpowering your banana bread.
Just add the same amount that the recipe calls for in terms of weight and you’ll be fine!
5. Dried coconut flakes
Dried coconut flakes add texture to your banana bread without soaking up too much liquid.
A common mistake people make with dried coconut flakes is using fresh, unsweetened coconut instead of dried.
Even if you try to dry out the fresh coconut yourself, it will still soak up too much liquid, creating a very dense and unpleasant texture in your banana bread.
6. Chopped dried figs
One of my favorite substitutes is chopped dried figs.
They bring a similar texture to banana bread as walnuts—they’re crunchy and chunky without being too tough—and they have a natural sweetness that helps balance out the overall flavor of the bread.
They also bring some important nutrients to the table, including potassium and iron, which makes them an ideal addition to a healthy breakfast or snack.
Common mistakes you should avoid when using this substitute include:
- Making sure all of the stems have been removed from the figs before chopping them.
- Choosing high-quality figs that are soft and plump (not dried out or overly firm).
- Chopping them into small pieces so they don’t get caught up in your teeth while eating the banana bread.
7. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are an easy, nutritious substitute for walnuts that you can use in your banana bread recipe.
They have a pleasing, nutty taste and will add some texture to your bread.
A common mistake people make when using chia seeds is not soaking them long enough before adding them to their recipe.
If you don’t soak the seeds long enough, they’ll be too hard and will take away from the texture of your bread instead of adding to it.
If you want a softer bite, try soaking the seeds in warm water for 15 minutes before adding them to your recipe.
8. Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds definitely can be a suitable substitute.
Walnuts are quite expensive, while sunflower seeds are cheap and easy to find.
Walnuts also have a very distinct taste that can be overpowering in some recipes.
Sunflower seeds, on the other hand, are much more mild.
It’s important to avoid overdoing it with sunflower seeds.
If you try to use the same amount of sunflower seeds as you would walnuts, your recipe is going to be overwhelmed with their flavor and texture.
Plus, sunflower seeds don’t have the same crunchy texture that walnuts do—so if you’re looking for crunchiness from your banana bread, your best bet is probably another nut or even another ingredient altogether!
9. Toasted pumpkin seeds
Toasted pumpkin seeds have a lovely crunch, much like walnuts, but they also have a nutty flavor, which makes them blend in seamlessly with the flavors of your banana bread.
What to keep in mind when using toasted pumpkin seeds as a substitute:
- Make sure you toast the pumpkin seeds before adding them to your batter. This will give them a nice crunch, and it will also help bring out that delicious nutty flavor.
- You might need to adjust your cooking time depending on the size of the pumpkin seeds you used. If you use larger ones, you might need to cook your bread for an extra minute or two.
- Another thing to note is that sometimes pumpkin seeds can have a strong smell. While this doesn’t bother many people, it can be off-putting when paired with the other flavors in banana bread. It’s best to make sure your pumpkin seeds have had the time to cool down thoroughly before adding them into the batter!
10. Pecans (toasted or raw)
Pecans are a great substitute for walnuts.
They have a very similar texture, and they have a sweet, nutty flavor that pairs well with other common ingredients in banana bread, like cinnamon and brown sugar.
If you’re planning to use pecans in your banana bread, be sure to chop them up first—this is a great way to make sure they don’t take over your bread’s texture.
The chewy texture of raisins is similar to that of chopped nuts and they also help add sweetness to the banana bread.
However, there are some common mistakes that people make when using raisins as a substitute:
- Using too little of the substitute. Use about 2/3 cup of raisins for every 1 cup of chopped walnuts.
- Soaking the raisins in water before adding them to the banana bread batter. This makes them lose their texture and you won’t get the same goodness you would have gotten from walnuts or unsoaked raisins.
- Forgetting to chop them up before adding them to the batter.
Pistachios are a great way to add some flavor and texture to your banana bread, without the crunch of walnuts.
They have a pronounced buttery flavor that makes them a go-to for baked goods, especially when you’re trying to avoid nuts.
However, they can be very expensive compared to other nuts, so if you’re looking for a cheaper nut substitute, consider pecans or almonds instead.
Cashews have a nutty taste that goes well with the sweetness of the bananas, and they’re soft enough to be easy to break up and mix in with the batter.
Common mistakes people make when using this substitute:
- They don’t cut the cashew into small enough pieces, which can lead to weird or inconsistent texture in the baked product. That’s why we recommend chopping these very finely!
- Not surprising, but too many cashews can lead to an unpleasantly strong, almost bitter taste. Our advice is to use a ratio of about 1/4 as much cashews as you would use walnuts.
Hazelnuts will blend right in with the rest of the dish.
You can swap them out 1-to-1: if you’re making 2 cups of chopped walnuts, just use 2 cups of chopped hazelnuts instead.
If you don’t have time to roast your hazelnuts before baking with them, don’t worry.
You can always pick up an already roasted bag at the grocery store.
A common mistake people make when using roasted hazelnuts is picking up ones that have been covered in chocolate or sugar.
These can be too sweet for the bread, so make sure you only use plain roasted nuts.
15. Macadamia nuts
Macadamia nuts have a strong flavor that complements the sweetness of the bread.
They also add a nice crunch.
The only downside is that macadamia nuts are expensive, so you may need to save up if you want to use them often.
Some common mistakes people make when trying to use macadamia nuts as a substitute for walnuts include adding too many nuts and not tasting the batter before baking—this can lead to an overly-nutty bread!
There are so many great substitutes for walnuts in banana bread—and that’s a good thing!
After all, there’s nothing worse than having all the ingredients for an amazing recipe except one single ingredient, and not being able to find a suitable substitute.
15 Best Substitutes for Walnuts in Banana Bread
- Slivered almonds
- Pine nuts
- Peanuts (crushed or whole)
- Sesame seeds
- Dried coconut flakes
- Chopped dried figs
- Chia seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Toasted pumpkin seeds
- Pecans (toasted or raw)
- Macadamia nuts
- Pick your favorite alternative from this list to put in your recipe.
- Prepare the rest of your dessert.
- Be ready to munch on your cake in no time!