Easy Recipes to Use Up Those Ripe Bananas
Going bananas with too many ripe ones? You need our best banana bread recipe, plus some fun and healthy banana recipes to help you think outside the loaf pan.
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Banana Bread; photograph by Olga Ivanova
Bananas have a way of taking over a kitchen: sitting on the counter, spotty and heading toward squishy, even creating a tidal wave of rigid black bananas that threatens to attack you when you open the freezer.
If splotchy, overripe bananas are hogging up valuable real estate and making you feel like a flaky food hoarder, take action! We’ve rounded up easy ripe banana recipes to shake things up — and use up food so you’re not wasting it.
You’re up to the challenge! Yes, everyone loves banana bread (and naturally, we’ve included the best banana bread recipe on Yummly), but how many loaves can one human bake? There’s a world of cookies, frozen treats, healthy recipes, and even a few savory ones, too, just waiting for you to discover.
Jump ahead to:
How to tell when bananas are ripe >>
What to do with ripe bananas >>
18 delicious recipes using ripe bananas >>
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How to tell when bananas are ripe
When bananas are unripe, they’re green, or green and pale yellow, and firm to the touch. As days pass, they’ll ripen and transform.
What do ripe bananas look like? First, they turn deeper yellow. As they continue to ripen, their peels will be covered with black spots. It’s not very pretty, but it means tender, creamy, sweet flesh inside. Ripe bananas smell more banana-y, and are noticeably softer.
How to store ripe bananas
Left on the counter or in a fruit bowl, bananas will continue to ripen. You can put them in the fridge to slow their ripening; the peels will turn black but this doesn’t harm them.
Otherwise, you can freeze ripe bananas. Here's how:
If you like to make smoothies, peel the bananas and cut them into chunks. Freeze the chunks on a parchment-lined tray, and once they’re firm, transfer them to a zip-top freezer bag. You’ll have banana chunks handy for making thick, icy smoothies.
If you’re a baker, just pop the entire banana right into the freezer, peel and all. I stockpile bananas this way until I have enough to make a batch of whatever I’m in the mood for. They’ll stay good for up to a year!
In the freezer they'll turn black and look like horror movie props, but trust me: These are the best bananas of all, with a concentrated banana flavor. Thaw frozen bananas on a plate, as they’ll weep out brown liquid (you can discard the liquid). They take about 4 hours to thaw on a counter, or overnight in the fridge. They’ll be squishy, so don’t use thawed bananas in recipes where you want chunks. To get the flesh out, just snip off the tip with scissors and squeeze.
When baking with thawed, frozen bananas, you may need to add extra liquid to the batter if you end up discarding some liquid. If the batter seems thick, add a few tablespoons of milk or water.
I actually prefer using previously frozen bananas when baking, because they make very smooth batters. Instead of mashing them, I whisk them with sugar, if the recipe calls for it. The sugar breaks down the banana for an effortless puree.
How to make bananas ripe
There are a few tricks to get bananas to ripen faster when you’re eager to get cooking and they aren't ready. One is to put apples nearby. Apples give off ethylene, a gas that makes other fruits ripen. Or put bananas in a paper bag and loosely fold down the top. In a few days, the bananas will be in baking shape.
What to do with ripe bananas
Because ripe bananas are so soft, they’re not well-suited to recipes calling for distinct chunks or slices. Recipes with mashed bananas or purees are what you want, except for things like bananas foster, where the appeal is the falling-apart chunks of banana in the dark, buttery sauce.
18 delicious recipes using ripe bananas
Ripe bananas are a riot of sweetness and tropical flavor. We’re sharing our favorite ripe banana recipes, from healthy to decadent, for breakfast to dessert. We bet you’ll see something so quick and easy, you’ll be digging into banana goodness in no time.
3-Ingredient Flourless Banana Pancakes
Keep this lean pantry recipe at the ready for those times when you’ve not been to the store in days and days. Ripe bananas, eggs, and rolled oats are the magic keys to this flourless, dairy-free recipe. Whip the batter together in a blender, which pulverizes the oats into ad-hoc oat flour.
Banana Bread Granola
Homemade granola is best when it’s snackable, and this rendition fits the bill. The addition of pureed banana not only adds flavor; it helps cut down on added honey and fat. The ripe banana itself adds sweetness, and its moisture helps contribute to a clumpy granola. Walnuts and pecans bring it over the top.
Caramelized Banana Oatmeal
This is like having bananas foster for breakfast. Maple syrup sizzled down to a drippy sauce for simmering banana slices makes a weekday morning an event. Use butter instead of the coconut oil the recipe calls for, if you like. Scatter the oatmeal with chocolate chips for a finishing touch.
Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter Banana Toast
I buy bananas by the bunch, with dreams of creative baking. But half the time, I just wind up eating sweet and ripe bananas on peanut butter toast. Mash the bananas and honey with a little cinnamon and spread over the peanut-butter-topped whole-wheat toast. A scattering of flax seeds adds extra crunch.
Here’s to a healthy milkshake recipe! You could call it a banana smoothie, but doesn’t a milkshake sound more fun? The recipe calls for almond milk, and your favorite plant or dairy milk works just as well.
Banana Coffee Cake
Looking for an easy but special brunch recipe? This cinnamon-spiced coffee cake has a buttery streusel topping plus a powdered sugar glaze.
The Elvis Sandwich
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! A peanut butter and banana sandwich turns irresistibly ooey-gooey when it’s grilled. The bacon adds a salty-porky crunch, but this combo is still worthy of The King if you leave it out.
Banana Curry Chicken Foil Packets
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts can get dry. Bananas to the rescue! A banana, coconut milk, and plenty of spices make a combination sauce/marinade to top the chicken. Add veggies to the packets and you have a full meal! Baking food in packets helps retain moisture, plus makes cleanup a snap.
Spicy Banana Ketchup
This fruit ketchup originated in the Philippines in World War II, when there was a shortage of tomatoes. Store-bought versions are bright red and packed with sugar. This homemade banana ketchup is more robustly spiced, with more body. Yes, it does have a banana flavor, but you can use it on anything you’d use its tomato-based cousin on.
Here’s the classic (and much-Yummed) quick bread recipe that you’re going to want to keep at your fingertips. To make it, just whisk together mashed bananas, canola oil, white sugar and brown sugar, large eggs, and vanilla extract. Then stir in all-purpose flour and a little cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Scrape the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350°F for about an hour. A few tips: You can tell banana bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Be sure to let the bread cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before you run a table knife around the sides and tip it out onto a cooling rack. How ripe should bananas be for banana bread? They can have just a few brown spots on the peel or be almost black, but the darker they get, the sweeter and more banana-y the bread will be.
The most splendid of ripe banana recipes is not even baked. This New Orleans classic is rife with rum and is finished with a dramatic flambé. Use bananas that are ripe, but not smooshy-ripe, and definitely not thawed frozen ones, since they’ll just dissolve. Traditionally bananas foster is served over vanilla ice cream, but you can serve it over pound cake, French toast, or crepes (with or without ice cream).
The Simplest Banana Oat Cookies
A cookie dough without baking soda or eggs? And can you believe these have no flour? That means these banana oatmeal cookies are vegan and gluten-free, too. Grind dates, oats, and a banana in a food processor with a little cinnamon and vanilla. Optional add-ins include chocolate chips, nuts, raisins, or dried coconut.
Banana Peanut Butter Mousse
Ripe bananas and peanut butter make a quick pantry dessert for those times when you are ransacking the cupboards. Rather than being a true mousse, this is a parfait with bananas and peanut butter that you can feel good about snacking on, since it’s quite low in sugar. Kids could make this easy banana recipe.
Cream Cheese Filled Banana Cake
What’s the difference between banana bread and banana cake? Frosting, for one. This Bundt cake has a cream cheese filling, plus gobs of cream cheese frosting. Buttermilk gives it a nice tang and brown sugar lends a caramel note. It’s a simple two-bowl batter you can mix by hand.
Banana Fudge Pops
When was the last time you had a Fudgsicle? I loved these frozen treats as a kid, but as an adult, they just didn’t deliver the goods. The amped-up cocoa powder makes these fudge pops as fudgy as the name promises, and the pureed ripe bananas give a creamy mouthfeel. It makes you wonder why all chocolate ice pops don’t have bananas.
Banana Cream Pie
A pre-baked pie shell gives you a jump-start on this luscious pie, but you'll still make the dreamy homemade custard from scratch. Rather than squishy overripe bananas, you want ripe bananas that still hold their shape when sliced.
No-Churn Banana Cinnamon Ice Cream
Gelato-like in texture, this banana ice cream requires no stovetop cooking or ice cream maker. Unsweetened Greek yogurt adds richness, plus some tang to offset the sweetness of the bananas. Puree it all in a blender, then pop it in the freezer to set up. Using pre-frozen banana chunks gives you a smoother texture and shortens the freezing time, so you don’t have to wait as long to scoop.
No-Bake Banana Bread Graham Bites
Homemade no-bake bites that provide quick energy on the go (or at home!) trump overpriced bars. For a break from oaty peanut butter balls, try these. The addition of crushed grahams provides binding and flavor. Total time: 35 minutes.
Going bananas for more banana recipes?
On Yummly you'll find thousands more banana recipes for the whole family, including breakfast favorites like banana muffins, chocolate chip banana pancakes, and banana waffles. If it’s banana desserts you’re craving, we’ve got some amazing recipes for banana pudding, banana bars, blueberry banana bread, banana split, and even white chocolate banana brownies.
More helpful kitchen hacks
Making good use of leftover ripe bananas isn't the only kitchen hack we have up our sleeves.