We’d never heard of banana bread brownies either, until we came across this version from author, Brandi Chang. Now we know — and there’s no going back. Make this gluten-free version and check out Chang’s recommendations for easy baking swaps…

Growing up in the Midwest, the only thing “clean” about eating was our hands. If you could believe it, I didn’t even know what an avocado was until college. When I moved to Los Angeles, I was in awe of this Wild West we call wellness. I found it eye opening that you could use clean, wholesome ingredients to create food that was both healthy and delicious. An urban myth as far as my Midwestern roots were concerned. 

I wrote the Family Style cookbook to give my favorite childhood recipes a second chance at being clean. I co-authored the book with my mom, who kindly contributed her family recipes for the book. On one page you’ll find my mom’s original recipe, followed by my modified version using healthier ingredients. 

One of my favorite recipes from the book is the banana bread brownies (see recipe below!), a cleaned-up version of my mom’s banana bread. When I had to decide whether to remake either my mom’s banana bread or brownies, I came to the conclusion that one should never have to choose between the two. These gluten-free (and nearly vegan) banana bread brownies are a hybrid of both classics. I prefer to enjoy mine warm and topped with almond butter. (And by topped, I mean covered.)

In testing and writing recipes, I cultivated somewhat of a guide on what to use when seeking healthier substitutes. Here are my go-to swaps for modifying mom’s recipes for a cleaner plate:

Recipe calls for: butter
Try: coconut oil, olive oil, non-dairy vegan buttery spread (I prefer Earth Balance)

Recipe calls for: granulated sugar
Try: coconut sugar, maple syrup, dates, honey, monk fruit sweetener (I prefer Lakanto)

Recipe calls for: all-purpose flour
Try: Almond flour, gluten-free oat flour, brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, coconut flour, or a classic all purpose gluten free flour is pretty fail-proof. I prefer Bob’s Red Mill.

Recipe calls for: whole milk
Try: unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, oat milk (I prefer Oatly)

Gluten-Free Banana Bread Brownies
Makes 7-8 slices


For the banana bread layer: 
1 ripe banana
2 Tbsp refined coconut oil melted
1 egg
1⁄2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 cup almond flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp baking powder
1⁄4 tsp baking soda
1⁄2 cup high-quality dark chocolate (I like Primal Chocolate 72% bars), roughly chopped

For the brownie layer:
1 egg
3 Tbsp refined coconut oil
melted 1⁄3 cup coconut sugar
1⁄4 cup high-quality dark chocolate, melted
1 Tbsp cacao powder
1 1⁄2 tablespoons arrowroot starch
1⁄4 cup walnuts, chopped
almond butter (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with parchment paper and lightly oil the parchment paper with coconut oil. Set aside.

For the banana bread layer:
In a large bowl or stand mixer, mix together the banana, coconut oil, egg and maple syrup. In a separate medium bowl, add flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and chocolate.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir well to incorporate. Pour batter into prepared baking dish and set aside.

For the brownie layer:
In a clean, medium bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, coconut sugar and chocolate. Add the cacao powder, arrowroot starch and walnuts. Carefully pour the brownie batter on top of the banana bread layer and spread.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let the banana bread brownies cool before cutting into squares. Enjoy plain or topped with almond butter.

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