We’re all familiar with this scene: a few very brown and speckled bananas nearly forgotten in the fruit bowl, soft to the touch, and starting to develop a pretty strong aroma.
The advice is always the same: “Why not use them to make a loaf of banana bread?”
Personally, I’ve already baked at least one too many banana bread recipes.
All tasty, of course! I mean no disrespect!
And I still have a few loaves happily tucked away in my freezer, ready to be given as gifts when holiday season rolls around again.
So I don’t need any more quick bread recipes. I’m cutting myself off, here and now.
Raise your “hands” if you feel the same way!
If you’re ready for some new and delicious ideas, you’ve come to the right place. Here, you’ll find a lip-smacking list of 15 alternative ways to use up those old bananas.
So quit eyeing up that trash can, and get to peeling! We have smoothies, cakes, popsicles, waffles, and much more to make!
15 Ideas to Use Overripe Bananas
Overripe bananas are actually a very versatile ingredient!
The following tips and recipe suggestions will inspire you to come up with a few of your own twists and ideas along the way as well, all amazing tricks to reduce your food waste.
With a little creativity, you’ll never need to throw those old pieces away.
Except in the compost. Which is Idea #15!
Freezing your stash is a smart option when you like to have a stockpile of ingredients at the ready in your freezer that you don’t want to use immediately.
Whatever you decide to make – cookies, pancakes, smoothies (or dare we say, quick breads?!) – you’ll know you can rely upon a freezer full of perfectly portioned bags or containers of ripe and ready pieces of fruit.
You can choose to leave them peeled and whole, slice them, or mash them ahead of time before freezing.
For optimal storage, give yourself a thorough crash course on how to freeze your bananas in all different formats before you prep and pack them away.
If you have some time on your hands, consider dehydrating sliced pieces using a food dehydrator.
The end result won’t be as immediate as prepping a smoothie, but you’ll be rewarded with a fun snack food item you can store at room temperature for a long period of time.
It’s ideal ingredient to have on hand to add to trail mixes and make-ahead snack packs for on-the-go munchies!
The intense sugary flavors of the overripe fruit will be even more concentrated in dehydrated form – so you’ll get a deep flavor with each bite-sized piece.
Speaking of smoothies…
Creamy, dreamy smoothies are an instant blend of fresh and healthy ingredients. And your overripe bananas certainly have their spot in the mix!
- Banana Avocado
- Chocolate Kefir
- Peanut Butter Banana
- Chocolate Banana Breakfast
- Pomegranate Banana
- Blueberry Orange Banana
- Tahini Banana
- Get Well Green Smoothie
Keep in mind that the sweet intensity of your overripe fruit will affect the final flavor and aroma of your smoothies. They will undoubtedly have a stronger banana flavor and scent when the fruit you use is overripe.
But that’s not always a bad thing, is it?
4. Breakfast Cookies
Can every morning start with a cookie?
And it’s easier than you think to incorporate overripe fruit into these recipes! Since they are so sweet on their own, as is the case in Smoothie Land, you really don’t need to use a lot of additional sweeteners either.
I’ll prove this to you now by sharing two of our own recipes:
First, our recipe for chocolate chip banana oat cookies uses only five ingredients to make hearty mounds with a ton of texture.
After making that recipe (and after you double the batch for your weekly meal prep!), you can move onto our recipe for chocolate chunk buckwheat cookies.
This recipe relies upon the delicious nuttiness of buckwheat flour to create the base of the dough, combined with other ingredients like maple syrup and unsweetened shredded coconut.
I get bonus points for introducing you to two breakfast recipes that have dark chocolate in them, right?
When you really don’t want to bake entire loaves of quick bread, there’s another type of fluffy sweet treat that’s easy to make and eat: enter into the mini realm of muffins.
Soft and flavorful bananas mash and mesh beautifully with the batter in the following recipes:
- Sprouted Wheat Coconut Banana Muffins
- Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Whole Wheat Blueberry Banana Muffins
Another meal prep favorite, you can easily make a double or triple batch of any of these choices.
Once the muffins cool completely, you can transfer them to airtight bags or containers and store extras in the freezer for future breakfasts and snacks.
Cool and refreshing, homemade popsicles are a creative alternative to store-bought frozen treats!
Cool off with these frozen delights:
From the sophisticated flavor combinations of nutty tahini and roasted figs to the memorable childhood throwback of homemade – and customizable – ice pops, you’ll have a lot of fun with these recipes.
When you (finally!) have a day off and can enjoy a lazy morning in the comfort of your own home, make some waffles for breakfast!
You’ll need to prep the batter ahead of time, but you’ll be richly rewarded by your efforts – each golden-brown waffle has an unbelievably fluffy texture and a flavor reminiscent of your favorite banana bread.
Crispy on the outside with a melt-in-your-mouth texture on the inside, and totally delightful in their entirety!
Happy birthday to you!
Fit for any momentous celebration, banana-flavored cakes are the perfect final course if you want to bake something more dynamic than a plain vanilla or chocolate cake, and you have a few extra spot-covered fruits calling to you from the countertop.
Oh, and the frosting also receives some lovin’! Mashed bananas are mixed into a thick and creamy chocolate frosting.
If you’re searching for a cake recipe with a show-stopping appearance, consider making our banana bundt cake.
This maple-glazed diva is a gorgeous dessert baked in a bundt pan that does all the work for you, lending the finished dessert a look that’s beyond beautiful.
9. Oat Bars
When cookies just won’t cut it, you can opt for oat bars, another on-the-go treat that packs in both flavor and nutrition.
A little peanut butter helps to bind the mixture together, and imparts flavor that naturally complements the banana.
This idea is easier than pie!
Our old-fashioned banana cream pudding with vanilla wafers has all the classic flavors of the pie you know and love, but without the necessity of going through the extra steps to make a homemade crust.
You can make it in a large casserole dish, or assemble it in individual bowls or ramekins for serving.
A riper banana, as opposed to a firmer one, will not provide as much textural contrast with the pudding, but the crisp wafers can hold their own, and I find this makes the dessert all the more luxurious to eat by the spoonful.
The big spoonful!
11. Frozen Chocolate Bites
Our recipe for frozen chocolate banana bites is a simple three-ingredient dessert that couldn’t be easier to make.
You can make a big batch ahead of time, providing plenty of snacks to enjoy throughout the week.
Because these tiny treats are stored and served frozen, this is a clever recipe to use with overripe fruit – freezing will help to firm the texture of the soft pieces of fruit.
12. Dessert Boats
We love the idea of making banana boats, using the peel itself as a fun vessel to house a roasted banana!
And I also suggest using foil to wrap each individual banana before baking on a lined baking sheet or roasting pan.
These extra steps are crucial here for particularly soft flesh. The foil will help to contain any spillage, keeping the fruit in a neat little package.
Have some fun with the toppings! You can set up a fun bar with assorted toppings arranged in individual bowls with spoons for dishing them out.
Be as light and healthy or as devilishly decadent as you wish.
To go the healthier route, use toppings like cacao nibs, raw nuts, fresh or dried fruits, almond or peanut butter, and homemade berry syrups.
Choose your own adventure.
13. Layered Trifle
If you’re looking for a glorious dessert centerpiece, towering above all the rest at the table, make our chocolate cake trifle layered with bananas and whipped cream.
Everyone will happily feast on the decadent combination, from the intensely concentrated flavor of the ripe banana slices to the tender chocolate cake, rich chocolate pudding, and light-as-air freshly whipped cream.
14. Braided Chocolate Yeast Bread
This is not a quick bread that you bake in a loaf pan, I promise!
After proofing, the dough is then braided into a beautiful loaf shape, given some additional time to rise, and then baked until beautifully golden brown.
Savor in thick slices slathered with an even thicker layer of softened butter. Everything’s better with butter.
And where should you put all of those peels, once you’ve made your delicious homemade recipes?
Hopefully not in the trash. I’ll give you a better option:
Rich with nutrients and decomposed organic materials, the peels would fit right in, cozying up next to the coffee grounds and shimmying with the eggshells.
If you’re concerned that the peels are too big, you can roughly chop them with a sharp knife on a sturdy cutting board before you toss them into your bin to speed up the rate of decomposition.
Slow Down the Ripening Process
When overripe bananas become too much of a bad habit, making a regular appearance as weekly food woes, you may need to analyze your purchasing practices and change how you’re storing the fruit.
Are you buying them when they’re still green, or already yellow?
Keeping them in the same brown paper or plastic bag they came in from the grocery store? Take ‘em out now!
Because the fruit naturally releases high levels of ethylene gas as it ripens, the brown bag traps the gas in the contained area, hastening the ripening process. Fruit that’s still green will give you a little more time to get it onto the table and into your mouth as well.
Just as we used the freezer to store the overripe fruit in our first suggestion above, you can do the same when the fruit is still young and firm to maintain the texture and taste you find ideal for a longer period of time.
Do you like these suggestions? You can learn even more tips and tricks from Foodal to maximize your banana storage in order to slow down or quicken the ripening process – it’s all up to you!
Can’t get enough banana bread still, or are you ready to move on? Let’s get a conversation going in the comment section below so you can tell me your favorite recipes using fruit that is, respectfully, past its prime.
I’ll honor both the classics and the game-changers!
If you’re striving to be a kitchen prep pro, we’re here to give you all the knowledge you need. Read our abundant selection of how-to articles, starting with these next:
Photos by Nikki Cervone, Meghan Yager, Fanny Slater, Nina-Kristin Isensee, and Lorna Kring, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published February 7, 2015. Last updated on August 17, 2022. Uncredited photos via Shutterstock.
About Nikki Cervone
Nikki Cervone is an ACS Certified Cheese Professional and cheesemonger living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.