Banana Coconut Muffins

healthy banana coconut muffins

Being a grown-up is tough, isn’t it? Between spring cleaning, checkbook balancing and apartment hunting, I am oscillating between feelings of overwhelm about how much I have and do not have. I remind myself that I am a self-sufficient adult, fully capable of dealing with these sentiments and situations, but sometimes I just want to stomp my foot and shout, “I don’t wanna grow up!” Alas, outbursts don’t get me anywhere these days. Action! Action is the answer.

Anyway, I hope you don’t mind if we get a little tropical around here while we wait for local fruit to arrive at the markets. Given the popularity of this banana almond smoothie, my best-ever banana bread and the recent banana oat pancakes, I don’t think you will. If you like bananas and shredded coconut, I’m confident you’ll fall in love with the sweet, bright flavor and contrasting textures in these comforting little treats.

banana coconut muffin ingredients

I can’t remember where I found a link to Deb’s Double Coconut Muffins, but I was completely taken by her coconut-topped beauties. I immediately shared a link to the muffins on facebook with a status along the lines of “I’m fighting every urge to stop doing what I’m doing and bake these”. At the urging of Kelsey, Adrienne and Erin, I finally stopped working and baked muffins at an odd hour of the night.

whole wheat banana coconut muffins

I’m glad those three lovely ladies motivated me to make those muffins that night, because if not, I might not have made the substitution that made me fall for these muffins. In the original recipe, Deb gives a long list of suggested substitutions, including swapping mashed banana for the yogurt (did you catch that?! You can trade fruit purée for yogurt in baking. If you have experience making this swap, let’s trade notes). I was out of my staple Greek yogurt so I reached into my freezer for the bag of ripe, frozen banana chunks to defrost.

Healthy banana coconut muffins -

This turned out to be a serendipitous substitution because the banana adds the sweetness that unsweetened coconut flakes lack. In my second batch, I traded 1/4 cup honey for the 1/3 cup sugar, and found that the dry coconut soaks up the extra moisture of the honey. Lemon zest brightens up the flavor. It all works marvelously. Yogurt, on the other hand, produces muffins that are not sweet enough to delight. I’m three batches deep in this recipe and I can say with certainty that these muffins are best with banana, sweetened with honey and topped with a heavy sprinkle of coconut and some glittering raw sugar.

banana coconut muffins recipe

Banana Coconut Muffins
4.8 from 4 reviews
Recipe type: Breakfast, Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour or white/regular whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup white whole wheat flour (or regular whole wheat flour)
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • zest of ½ lemon, finely chopped
  • ½ cup virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 large egg, preferably at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup unsweetened shredded coconut, divided
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado (raw) sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a muffin tin or line the tin with muffin liners (note that this recipe produces about 10 to 11 muffins).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Stir in ½ cup shredded coconut.
  3. In a separate, medium bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, mashed banana, honey, egg and vanilla.*
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  5. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups, then sprinkle the muffin tops with the remaining ¼ cup coconut (about 1 to 2 teaspoons each). Top with a very light sprinkle of raw sugar.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer muffins to a cooling rack and let them cool.
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen's Double Coconut Muffins.
Yields 10 to 11 muffins.
*A note on the coconut oil: If your coconut oil goes back to its solid state when you're stirring the batter, just warm the mixture for short 30 second bursts in the microwave, stirring between each, just until it is melted again.
Freeze it: The muffins freeze well!
Serving suggestions: I like these muffins served warm for breakfast with a side of Greek yogurt, or with a little dollop of tart lemon curd for a sweet afternoon snack.


  1. says

    Mmmmmm, bananas are just so good in baked treats. Mind you, I’m a fan of yoghurt too. it’s probably a win-win for me either way!

  2. says

    Yum! I’m obsessed with muffins, although generally hard pressed to find one that is health supporting but doesn’t evoke cardboard/sand when eaten. Also, like you, I always find myself baking at odd hours when faced with the big life-y stuff. Growing up is stupid. Making muffins is awesome. You win. :)

  3. says

    Cheers to being a kid at heart in the midst of adult “things”, to fruit puree acting as yogurt, and to muffins that make my mouth drool!

  4. says

    I’m having an I dont want to be an adult day too! These muffins look DIVINE and after my success with your banana bread, this is next! And yay you! on the nomination!!

  5. says

    I couldn’t think of a better way to start your day, friend. So, so so excited for your nomination–it’s so well deserved. The space you’ve created here, your writing, your photography, your cooking style, and your encouragement within the community is just fantastic. Hats off to you!

  6. Joanne says

    I love your blog and your ideas.
    I have been subbing bananas and other fruit purees for yogurt and/or butter for some time.
    I’ve had the best luck with Bananas, Pumpkin, and (to a lesser degree) Apple butter. Getting the right balance of oil, moisture, and dry ingredients can be, as you mentioned, tricky. You said you’d like to trade notes? I’d be delighted too.

    Thank you for the wonderful recipes.

    • says

      Thanks so much for your fantastic comment, Joanne! So far I have only successfully swapped fruit purée for yogurt in this recipe. A couple of months ago I had a hunch that I could swap yogurt for the banana in my favorite banana bread recipe. I made the batter and had cooked the bread halfway when my friend called and urgently needed a ride, so I had to pull it out of the oven! I tried baking it the rest of the way later, but it was sunken in the middle. I will try again and let you know how a properly baked yogurt loaf turns out. :) I also want to experiment with strawberry purée—I am hopeful I will be able to blend fresh strawberries, drain off some of the juice and make strawberry bread.

      • Joanne says

        Thank you for the reply.

        Subbing Yogurt for Banana in banana bread? I’ve not tried that. Sounds like you may be on to a basic quick bread recipe to act as a palette for other flavors.

        When working with fruits (including bananas and even pumpkin puree) especially if a recipe is moisture sensitive (for example dough for cinnamon rolls) I like to freeze my fruit. When the fruit is thawed, it releases a lot of liquid. I like to drain off the excess liquid from the fruit, save it, and add it back in place of other liquids in the recipe. For example, if a recipe calls for milk or buttermilk, I use the fruit liquid along with buttermilk or milk powder in place of using actual milk. This way, I get the benefit of using the fruit puree in place of some of the fat, while controlling the texture and amping up the flavor with the reserved juice. It still takes some experimentation when converting a recipe to get the texture right in the results. Some times I end up having the adjust the bakingpowder/soda to account for the acidity of the fruit.

        I have one cinnamon roll dough recipe that I can make with pumpkin, banana or apple butter. I also have a scone recipe that I can make with yogurt or any fruit puree, and a muffin recipe that works with yogurt or any fruit puree. I’ve tried recipes that call for babyfood fruit purees. In my opinion, frozen fruit adds a lot more flavor to the end product than processed babyfood.

        I look forward to seeing your experiments make it onto your blog :)

        • says

          Joanne, I am totally intrigued by your freezing method and will definitely have to try it soon. I read about a cafe that freezes pineapple chunks for the same reason in The Flavor Bible just the other day. Thank you for elaborating on the method. I think I’ll try it with strawberries first!

  7. Denise Burris says

    I sweetened mine with coconut nectar. It’s thick and gooey so I warmed it up first it was good

  8. says

    Oh.My.Gawd…I’m going to be dreaming about these muffins now until I make them. I’m going to see if I can sub almond flour for the whole wheat flour for a gluten-free version. Mmm…coconut+banana. And triple congrats on the Saveur nomination!!!!!!! Woot woot. You deserve it. You work so hard and your blog is beautiful.

  9. christy says

    Hey! first time commenter, long time lurker. I have made both the original muffins and now your adaptation… I like them both. They are quite different. And yours are a tad more complicated–but it was worth it! Yum!

    • says

      Thanks for commenting, Christy! I’m glad you liked them! I just had one of Deb’s muffins for breakfast (her recipe, but with unsweetened coconut and added strawberries). Yum.

  10. says

    Made these muffins adapting few of the ingredients and was happy with the result. The addition of the lemon zest is a brilliant idea, as it works well with the flavour of the banana and the coconut.

  11. Lianne says

    Yum, yum, yum! These were delicious and perfectly moist! I love that they are sweetened with honey, and this is my first time cooking with coconut oil, so that was great too! I did not do the lemon zest, but will try that out next time. And, in addition to the sugar & coconut on top, I also added a sprinkle of pink Himalayan sea salt from the grinder – YUM! Just a touch of salty to offset to sweet! Off to explore the rest of your blog after this fabulous find! :)

  12. Holly says

    These muffins are absolutely delicious! I used 3/4 cup light spelt flour, 1/2 cup whole spelt flour, extra lemon zest and a flax egg. I also drizzled honey on top in place of the sugar. I will definitely be making these again, as soon as my next batch of bananas over ripens!

  13. Amy says

    Hi Kate, I am gathering ingredients to make these tonight. The rhubarb is up in our garden…any chance you have a healthy strawberry rhubarb muffin recipe? I can’t find one anywhere without butter and brown sugar! Is it just too sour to not use sugar?

    • says

      Amy, I’m sorry for my delayed response. I’ve never made strawberry rhubarb muffins. I just googled honey-sweetened blueberry muffins and found this recipe (haven’t tried it) but I bet you could sub strawberry and rhubarb for the blueberries. If the muffins are tart due to the rhubarb you could always add a drizzle of honey to the finished product!

  14. Juliana says

    So yummy! Thanks!

    I just made these, and am wondering if they could be made without any honey at all. Would that mess up the moisture? I find bananas to be so sweet (and I made it with very speckled ones, so sweet even for a banana) and the resulting muffins are delicious but more of a dessert than a breakfast accompaniment… ?? (I left the raw sugar off already)

    • says

      Good question, Juliana. I’m pretty sure you could skip the honey altogether. Maybe add a little more banana to make up for it? Please let me know if you try!

  15. says

    Holy smokes I just made these and I’m having one fresh out of the oven. DIVINE. Not too sweet, perfect texture, tasty coconut banana flavor, and the lemon (I used lime) zest makes all the difference. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  16. Sara says

    I just made these muffins and they are delicious!!! The flavor of the coconut and the banana pairs so well together. I made them exactly as written (using whole wheat pastry and whole wheat flour) and they turned out great. Thanks for the great recipe! I LOVE your blog!

  17. lauren says

    Hi! Just about ready to make these now that I have almost all of the ingredients except whole wheat pastry flour…could I substitute that for anything else??

      • lauren says

        perfect, thanks! I will make them tomorrow morning for breakfast then. I ended up making your trail mix bread that night instead, and my parents loved them! Ill have to make them w/o coconut next time so I can eat them. It made the house smell absolutely amazing though

  18. Alisha says

    These muffins are my favourite! I was wondering if you would have an idea on how to make them gluten free? I need to go on an elimination diet, and would love to have some tasty treats that are gluten free. Let me know if you have any ideas! Coconut flour? How much? It absorbs liquids more than typical flour, so usually less is required. Let me know what you think! Thanks!

    • says

      Hey Alisha, I bet an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend would work great. Coconut flour is really tricky and would probably require some serious adjustments, so I wouldn’t start with that one.

  19. Amber says

    Wow – I make muffins every week for my husband and boys. These were a huge hit. They are definitely going into the rotation. I did not have whole wheat pastry flour so I just used a combo of whole wheat and white. They still turned out delicious.
    My family thanks you!

  20. Klara says

    Wow these were so good!! I put unsweetened cocoa powder in mine and they turned out really well, they makes you feel full which for me is important. A perfect breakfast!

  21. Beth Brown says

    I’m thinking of substituting gluten free flour instead of what the recipe calls for. Any thoughts?
    P.S. I love your site! Have had great success with everything I’ve tried!

    • says

      Hi Beth! So glad to hear you’ve been enjoying my recipes. I don’t have much experience with gluten-free flour blends, but I suspect a 1-to-1 GF flour would work well here! Please let me know if you give it a try. :)

  22. Tereza says

    They are perfect! Super easy, super healthy (I love that they are without sugar.) and super tasty. I think I will make them again and again.

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