3 Ways To Use Ripe Bananas

by Kristen on August 3, 2011 · 68 comments

in Food Waste, Use It Up

Bananas are a somewhat unpredictable fruit…sometimes I buy very green ones and they last for days and other times I buy very green ones and they get overripe in a very short while.

If you’re not too particular about banana ripeness, this wouldn’t be a big problem, but I happen to have very specific ideas about when a banana is good to just peel and eat. It has to be just past being green…a light yellow, not too sweet, and still nice and firm.

Obviously, I can’t manage to only ever have a perfect supply of bananas at that stage of ripeness, so here are three ways I use up bananas that have moved past my idea of perfection.

1. Slice and top with nut butter


This is super easy, my kids love it, and the addition of peanut butter makes a slightly-too-ripe banana palatable even to me.

2. Slice and Freeze For Smoothies

I don’t really like the taste of overripe bananas in smoothies, so if I notice that I’ve got more perfectly ripe bananas than I’ll be able to use quickly, I slice them, freeze them on a cookie sheet, and use them in smoothies.

Using frozen bananas along with other frozen fruit makes for a delightfully thick smoothie.

Also, frozen banana slices can be blended (I actually do that in my food processor) with nothing other than a bit of milk to make something resembling soft-serve banana ice cream.

3. Make Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

The lovely thing about banana muffins and banana bread is that they can disguise bananas that are good for nothing else in the world (except maybe the compost bin).

So when I have bananas that are too soft to be spread with peanut butter and too overripe to slice and freeze, I make these banana chocolate chip muffins and my children rejoice.

Do you have a favorite way to use up bananas? Share it in the comments!


Today’s 365 post: This is a friend after my own heart.


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{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carol M August 3, 2011 at 7:37 am

Mashed banana puree can be used as applesauce is, for a substitute for oil in baking.
Banana waffles, pancakes, bread also come to mind


2 Sharon August 3, 2011 at 8:07 am

Ah, those are good ones! I use them to make banana bread, but I really like the idea of the muffins.


3 Adventuresindinner August 3, 2011 at 8:11 am

Great looking muffins. Palau like to whiz mine in the food processor with a bit of coconut milk for a quick banana ice-cream. Delish’


4 Ellen August 3, 2011 at 8:12 am

when they get too ripe to eat, I throw the whole thing (peel and all) into the freezer in a zip lock bag, til I have enough, or enought time to either make your banana chocolate chip muffins, or chocolate chip banana nut bread for my husband! (but lately my kids have been on your pumpkin chocolate chip muffins!


5 Megan August 3, 2011 at 8:29 am

Perfect timing! I have a couple of overly ripe bananas that *really* need to be made into muffins.


6 Val August 3, 2011 at 8:39 am

Do you have your smoothie recipe on your site somewhere? Your smoothies look amazing!


7 Kristen August 3, 2011 at 9:35 am

I never make it the same way twice! It almost always contains homemade yogurt and frozen strawberries, but the rest changes….I used frozen peaches, raspberries, mango, blueberries, and sometime spinach.


8 LeeAnn @ Living the Dream August 3, 2011 at 8:42 am

Do you keep your bananas in the fridge to help them stay fresh longer? I’ve been doing that and it works great. I buy about 4 pounds of bananas each week and just pull off about 4 at a time to keep on the counter (we go through 1-2 bananas a day). The ones in the fridge do turn brown on the outside but are still good on the inside. My mom has said pulling them apart and storing them individually helps to also slow the ripening process.

Just some food for thought, ha ha.


9 carmen @ life blessons August 3, 2011 at 3:54 pm

I’ve had to start doing this, too, since it’s gotten so hot lately. It definitely works really well and keeps them from turning too fast.


10 Marie August 3, 2011 at 8:59 am

I just bought some ripened bananas at Kroger that were value priced (because they were already ripened) and made the banana chocolate chip muffin recipe and froze the rest :)

So I saved a little mulah and rid the world of some overly ripened fruit :)


11 Molly August 3, 2011 at 9:10 am

I’ve been using overripe bananas for banana pudding. I’ve found that graham crackers work for nilla wafers in a pinch. Yum.


12 Linda August 3, 2011 at 11:54 am

Can you share the recipe?
or where you found it?
Banana pudding sounds great.


13 Alexis August 3, 2011 at 2:55 pm

I second Linda’s comment! I love banana pudding, but haven’t actually made it myself. I’d love to try though.


14 Molly August 3, 2011 at 3:33 pm

From Grandma Jean, very easy:
Slice 3 bananas. Make pudding – I usually make 1 box of vanilla(because pudding from scratch turns this into more work). Get out some nilla wafers or graham crackers; if using graham crackers, break them up.
In a pretty bowl (I try to use a glass pyrex bowl), layer nilla wafers, bananas, and pudding until everything’s used up, ending with bananas on top. Let sit until the bananas and pudding smoosh into the wafers. Yum.

Alternative: use chocolate pudding and peanut butter spread on the graham crackers for layers.


15 @lici@ August 3, 2011 at 9:13 am

I haven’t tried this yet, but it looks promising! And who can resist “ice cream”?



16 Kristen August 3, 2011 at 9:34 am

Yes, that’s very similar to what I was describing…it’s good with plain bananas, but I bet with those add-ins, it’s REALLY good!


17 Beth R. August 3, 2011 at 9:14 am

I end up freezing the bananas whole when they get too ripe, and eventually I’ll make a few loaves of banana bread. And it’s always fun to have a frozen, rock-hard black banana come flying out of the freezer at you.


18 Kristen August 3, 2011 at 9:34 am

This is an advantage to having a drawer freezer on the bottom of the fridge…hard objects no longer can fall on your toes!


19 KimN August 3, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Ha Ha…I thought I was the only one with frozen bananas jumping out at me everytime I open the freezer.


20 WilliamB August 3, 2011 at 9:24 am

Ice cream!

Chocolate dipped banana or banana slices.

Dried for chips (most commercial ones are fried).

For something less common, beat egg whites, add sugar to make meringue, add pureed bananas, bake.

Why do you slice your ‘nanas before freezing?


21 Kristen August 3, 2011 at 9:33 am

Because my not-so-fab blender has trouble processing the bananas if they’re not sliced. :)


22 Barb August 4, 2011 at 10:16 am

Oh, William, GREAT idea on the meringues! I made apricot and chocolate meringues, but never once thought of banana. As soon as the weather cools off I WILL be trying that. Yum!


23 wanda B August 3, 2011 at 9:31 am

You don’t have to add anything to frozen banana slices to turn it into ‘ice cream’. Just blend ‘em a loooong time and you get a delicious dessert that you would swear has dairy but it does not. It starts out a little funky looking but keep going and it will turn creamy and wonderful. @WilliamB – I slice mine cause I plan to throw them in the blender or food processor.

Have you tried the cook’s illustrated banana bread recipe where you microwave the bananas, then reduce the liquid that drains out? It sounds like way too much trouble but it is so very much worth it. It is orders of magnitude better than any other banana bread recipe I’ve tried.


24 Kristen August 3, 2011 at 9:33 am

I haven’t! I’ll have to look that one up.


25 Molly August 3, 2011 at 6:01 pm

I actually keep the extra liquid and use it instead of whatever liquid the recipe calls for. Much moister and tastier in my opinion.


26 renee August 3, 2011 at 9:51 am

We make banana cake which is similiar to banana bread but a little moister.
2/3 c. Shortening
2 eggs
2 1/4 c. Flour
1 2/3 c. Sugar
1 1/4 t. Baking Powder
1 t. Baking Soda
1 t. Salt
1 T. Vinegar
1 c. Milk
3-4 ripe bananas
Mix all ingredients and pour into 13 x 9 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until lightly brown and pulling away from edges of pan (mine seems to take a little over an hour in my oven). If you like you can sprinkle with powdered sugar or make homemade icing with powdered sugar and a little milk (and butter if you really feel like packing on the calories).


27 Megg August 3, 2011 at 10:25 am

I’m super picky about my bananas (as soon as they have one spot, I’m done) so I like to have ideas for overripe bananas! My absolute favorite way to use them up, though, is your banana chocolate chip muffin recipe!
My mom used to save brown bananas all the time and we’d make banana bread, but the simplicity of muffins and the chocolate chips have put banana bread on the back burner, lately!


28 hanelene August 3, 2011 at 10:26 am

Slice in half the long way and fry in butter. Can’t say it’s healthy, but caramelized banana… to die for.


29 Molly August 3, 2011 at 3:34 pm

ooooh, and topped with cinnamon sugar if you’re feeling really decadent.


30 Geneva August 3, 2011 at 10:30 am

Baby food! I make my own baby food for our little man. I mix the bananas with just about any fruit (it ends up looking like a smoothie) and either feed it to him for his next meal or freeze it for a later date. We hardly ever have left over fruits or veggies in our house anymore because they all get turned into baby food.


31 Renee August 3, 2011 at 10:37 am

Frozen banana slices are great to eat. You just can’t take too many out of the freezer at once. I freeze them in a single layer on wax paper so they won’t stick. They do need to be used up pretty quickly.


32 Danielle@sixtasteschef August 3, 2011 at 11:43 am

When I was working an 8 to 5 job, I’d take yogurt mixed with frozen fruit to work for breakfast or a snack. The good thing was that the frozen fruit kept the yogurt cold so it didn’t need refrigeration! One of my favorite combinations is sliced frozen bananas and frozen blueberries, with perhaps a sprinkle of cinnamon. Yum!


33 Kate August 3, 2011 at 11:44 am

I slice bananas, and put those, blueberries and toasted pecans on top of pancakes for a decadent breakfast!

I also like to freeze them, then dip them in chocolate and make frozen banana pops.


34 Linda August 3, 2011 at 11:50 am

Great post!
I’ll add that once the bananas pass the peak eat fresh point I leave them out to get extra ripe before I freeze them. They are much sweeter that way.
Another variation on the smoothie idea is Frozen Banana Milkshake.
Originally a diet recipe 1 cup milk & one frozen banana blended until smooth.
I’m not dieting so I add a little vanilla & brown sugar. DELICIOUS!!


35 Dogs or Dollars August 3, 2011 at 11:55 am

Lots of good ideas! I’ve never sliced my frozen bananas. I usually just peel it and throw the whole thing in the freezer. Slices might work better for my smoothies though. Hmmmm…

A daily snack for me is a banana with nuts. I love PB, but it can be messy on the run and harder to transport. A handful of almonds or cashews is really the same principle, and oh so much easier to eat at work or in the car.


36 Kim August 3, 2011 at 12:18 pm

I never thought about freezing them to use for smoothies! Great idea.


37 Michelle August 3, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Banana syrup! Slice a really ripe banana into a microwave-safe dish, add about 1 TB of butter and another 1 TB of brown sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for about a minute, until the banana is mush. Stir it and serve it over pancakes (or eat it straight).

Also, bananas work really well in the food dryer as well. They look a little funny (you get lots of “what’s that?” questions, but it’s all banana, no oils or other stuff like the banana chips you buy at the store. We slice them in half cross-wise, then quarter them lengthwise and end up with “banana sticks.”


38 Reese August 3, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Oh Kristen, does your family have a sweet tooth? (don’t worry, I prefer sweets most of the time!) ;p

I love using bananas in savory dishes because I always end up having a few ripe bananas in stock. Chicken and Banana curry is delish (http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/chicken-with-banana-curry-sauce) and banana corn fritters (http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/banana_corn_fritters.html). They end up having a similar taste of plantains when cooked savory-like. :)

And of course, I make the banana muffins an awful lot ;p


39 Kristen August 3, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Hey, adding peanut butter hardly makes them a dessert. ;)

I have a personal ban on eating warm bananas, except in muffins. I’ve had stuff like caramelized bananas and such, but they just don’t float my boat! I much prefer to have them room temperature or frozen.


40 Molly August 3, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Oh and black beans and bananas – Caribbean style. mmmm.


41 Kayla August 3, 2011 at 1:34 pm

My kids and I love bananas, and I, too, am very particular about the ripeness. I have been making healthy cookies for us to snack on, and I freeze them for my husband to have a stash to take as a healthy snack at work. It’s VERY easy. Mash 2 or 3 ripe bananas (3 is a bit sweet for my taste, but others love it), add 1/3 cup of olive oil, 3 cups of oats, and 1/3 cup of either semi-sweet chocolate chips or raisins. Sometimes I add cinnimon and vanilla. There is no flour, no butter, no eggs, no sugar other than the natural sugar in bananas and sugar from the chocolate chips if you choose those. These cookies freeze VERY well! Awesome recipe.


42 Barb August 4, 2011 at 10:32 am

Kayla, those cookies sound delish! Do you bake them at all? Or just freeze? I *need* more info so I can make these! :-)


43 Kayla August 4, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Mix it all up… spoon out and roll into balls (you may need to chill them for about 5 minutes to do this) bake about 20 minutes on 350 F. I always make small cookies for my kids, and if you make tablespoon-sized cookies they’re about 35-45 calories each…depending on the extras you put in. Delish! I hope you like them as well as we do!


44 Barb @ 1SentenceDiary August 4, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Thanks! I’ll be trying it this weekend for sure. Yum!


45 Alexis August 3, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Great ideas, Kristen and everyone else! Does anyone else use overripe bananas in their oatmeal?

I find that bananas are much better in oatmeal when they are overripe because they are much sweeter. When I put bananas in my oatmeal (about half a banana, chopped) I also add brown sugar (but less than I normally would because of the banana’s sweetness) and cinnamon. It’s one of my favorite breakfasts!

Side note: Sorry for being off topic, but I just wanted to tell you how much I love your blog. I just discovered it! Even though I’m barely 19, I’m very into frugality. I’m also a Christian, and your posts have really inspired me to keep on practicing a frugal lifestyle in conjunction with my faith. Thank you!


46 Kristen August 4, 2011 at 7:31 am

I’m so glad to hear that my blog has been inspiring to you…yay!


47 Delena August 3, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Thank you for sharing the ideas on using bananas. I live out in the country and can not always make it to my closest grocery store (especially during out Alberta winters) when my banana supply runs out. Freezing them will take care of that! Also having a stash of the muffins in the freezer will also do nicely! But first, I will try them with peanut butter!


48 Molly August 3, 2011 at 6:01 pm

(I guess I like bananas. I think this makes comment #5 on today’s post.)


49 rebecca August 3, 2011 at 6:13 pm

We make banana boats on the grill. Take a very ripe banana, unpeeled and make a large slit in on side, stuff slit with PB, choc chips, marshmellows, etc, then wrap the whole thing in foil and heat on grill or in coals for a few minutes. Carefully peel back foil and scoop warm banana goodness out of the peel. Its kinda an old girl scout thing but my kids don’t even realize I just got them to eat a banana for dessert!


50 Barb @ 1SentenceDiary August 4, 2011 at 10:34 am

We do that too. Learned it as part of Girl Scout Camping Training, and my kids (and the GS Troop) love it. :-)


51 Jessica August 3, 2011 at 10:45 pm

I make your banana chocolate chip muffins ALL THE TIME!!!! In fact, I made two batches today – one was original recipe and the other I didn’t have quite enough banana so I added applesauce and made it with strawberries instead of the choc chips. Sometimes I substitute blueberries instead of choc chips and that recipe makes a GREAT moist blueberry muffin! Love it!!!


52 Heather Mason August 3, 2011 at 11:03 pm

want a time saver, Kristen? Just freeze your bananas whole or in halves- no need to slice for smoothies!


53 Kristen August 4, 2011 at 7:31 am

I think I need a better blender before I can do that. Mine struggles even with sliced bananas!


54 renee August 4, 2011 at 10:29 am

Use your frugal life to save up for a good blender. :o)


55 Kristen August 4, 2011 at 10:38 am

I’ve definitely thought about it. But on the other hand, my current blender DOES still work, so I’m hesitant to get rid of it in favor of a new one. I may just wait for it to totally die. ;)


56 michele August 3, 2011 at 11:59 pm

banana snow balls

here’s a recipe from home ec c1968.

take banana slices and put some lemon juice on them to retard browning. roll in coconut and freeze until ready to snack on them. although not round like a snowball, they are tasty and all natural.



57 Kristen August 4, 2011 at 7:31 am

Ooh, I bet my kids would love that!


58 Keely August 4, 2011 at 12:31 am

I’m exactly the same! Once they move past that firm stage I’m not a fan. I love to use over-ripe bananas in anything baked really. Banana muffins are great (especially with a square of chocolate pushed down into the mix before it hits the oven), banana pancakes .. the list goes on.


59 Littlegreenvillage August 4, 2011 at 5:56 am

Bananas here in Australia are very scarce and expensive at the moment due to the cyclones and floods earlier this year which devasted crops. The poor specimens in th shops are$15.99 per kilogram.
Enjoy your bananas!


60 Kristen August 4, 2011 at 7:32 am

I’d heard about that from some other commenters. It must be so weird to have expensive bananas, because they’re usually so cheap!


61 Linda August 4, 2011 at 8:07 am

That’s scary! I wonder when the price increases in bananas are going to hit here in the US. My local little grocery store gives the overripe bananas away for free. These ideas are great for when I see the freebies.


62 Tasmanian Minimalist August 4, 2011 at 7:03 am

Bananas are up to $16 a kilo here, I have only had one in six months. I long for the day when they are cheap again so I can make peanut butter and banana vegan ice-cream. Damn the fact that Queensland had shocking floods, I miss my yellow curls of wonder !


63 Rebeca August 4, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Love this! Thanks Frugal Girl, I’ve really come to LOVE your blog.

I make vegan soft serve with frozen bananas!


64 Ellen August 4, 2011 at 6:19 pm

I just made banana bread with garam masala. We also like to make bananas foster (non-alcoholic version) and serve over ice cream. My soon to be 11yo has requested this for his birthday ‘cake’. I’m actually going to try to make bananas foster ice cream instead.


65 Mitzi August 4, 2011 at 9:13 pm

I actually hate bananas, but my kids like them and I can eat them if they are really, really firm, but not green, and if I’m not pregnant and throwing everything up anyway. One “dessert” I found my kids like is sliced bananas topped with melted peanut butter with a little bit of chocolate. I just microwave a few spoonfuls of PB (crunchy makes it more desserty) with some chocolate chips or pieces of dark chocolate (usually something I find in the bottom of a candy dish). Once it melts I drizzle it over the slices and give them forks–chocolate peanut butter bananas. :)


66 Sarah September 12, 2011 at 11:49 am

This is one of my favorite recipes. It’s super easy and fast because there’s no flour and flour’s companions (baking soda, salt, etc.), and there are only a handful of ingredients. Secretly, I skip the dates and put in chocolate chips, and often, dried cranberries. It’s a fantastic way to get a cookie fix without too much unhealth.



67 Valerie February 8, 2012 at 1:14 pm

I made these today…I used 1/2 whole wheat 1/2 oat flour, but I let it soak with 3/4 c yogurt for about 30 minutes (it makes it less dense and softens the bran). I used coconut oil instead of veggie oil (not good), and replaced half the sugar with sucanat and used carob chips instead of chocolate chips. So good! You couldn’t taste the coconut oil. I forgot to add the vanilla but they still were really good. They are so light, barely a muffin, more like a cupcake.


68 Erika March 22, 2012 at 6:12 am

Well it isnt food but… The inside of the banana peel is known to whiten teeth… I find myself 6 days away from a formal ball and needed a quick solution. So 4 days in, I’m beyond satisfied. My pearly whites are… Well… White lol and although my teeth are not straight, I’m not afraid to smile! Who knew!?! Apparently the internet. So if this sounds like I’m trying to make u munch on banana peels, I’ll just skip that part and just say look it up lol. I also learned that peels can shine leather shoes! Look it up lol. Now I’m gonna go make banana chocolate chip muffins, banana pudding and bread…thanks for the recipes!!


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