Don’t throw away your overripe bananas! Use them to add sweetness and creamy texture to a variety of recipes.

By Kimberly Holland
Updated June 13, 2019
Credit: Getty Images

Bananas are a grocery list staple. Even if you don’t know what you’ll do with each and every one of the fruits, you always grab a bunch. Bananas are a healthy snack, and in a pinch, they’re a fast and easy breakfast.

Overripe bananas, on the other hand, are often a bit too mushy or a tad too goopy for a snack. However, they don’t belong in your compost bin or trash pile. Overripe bananas have a lot of life in them, and they can be used in several delicious recipes, from blending in smoothies to smashing for banana nut bread.

This collection of overripe banana recipes capitalizes on the increased sweetness and silky texture that develop when the fruit is allowed to go a bit over the perfectly yellow state. Indeed, you’ll want to find bananas that are fully yellow with brown spots of even size all over. If you have even more overripe bananas once you’re finished with the recipe you select, pop them into the freezer, or peel the fruit, slice it, and freeze the slices for future smoothies, banana bread, or a blended dessert. Frozen bananas can easily be used in place of fresh ones in several of these recipes. In some cases, they’re even preferred.

Banana Bread

Banana bread is one of the best uses of overripe bananas. It’s even OK to use bananas that are almost entirely brown for banana bread. The more gooey they are, the better. When smashed and blended with all the other ingredients, very ripe bananas lend a just-right sweetness to the quick bread, as well as a fluffy, tender texture. Classic Healthy Banana Bread is a wonderful bake-ahead option to keep on hand in the freezer for new neighbors, a get-well present, or a lazy weekend brunch. Vegan Banana Bread substitutes eggs and milk for canola oil and coconut milk yogurt if you have friends or family members who avoid animal products.

Banana Cake

Another baked good that benefits from the addition of overripe bananas is banana cake. Though admittedly not much different in terms of ingredients than banana bread, banana cake is a lot airier and lighter. Brown Sugar Banana Cake even uses a few sliced bananas on top for an extra bit of sweetness and a beautiful decoration.

Banana Caramel

If your sweet tooth directs you toward cold and frozen treats, less so the baked variety, Banana Caramel might be the best option for using up your very ripe bananas. The fruits are blended in a food processor until silky and smooth. Then, they’re added to a bubbling pot of caramel sauce to create an incredibly silky and luxurious topper for frozen ice cream. This banana sauce would be delicious on oatmeal, yogurt, even drizzled over a slice of apple pie.

Banana Pancakes

If your weekend brunch calls on you to feed a crowd, impress them all with banana pancakes baked in a sheet pan. Instead of standing guard over a griddle, flipping each doughy disk, you can bake everyone’s favorite breakfast treat all at once. Slice, plate, and top the square pancake pieces with chopped salted and roasted peanuts. Even a few rounds of ripe banana would be welcome.

Banana Oatmeal

Keep the sweetener for your batch of homemade oatmeal all natural by stirring smashed bananas into your pot of creamy grains. You can doctor up the oatmeal with any other ingredients you like, but blueberries and a sprinkle of chopped walnuts would be our first suggestions.

Banana Smoothies

Bananas are essential in many smoothie recipes. Indeed, regular consumers of the blended fruit and veggie beverages may tire of bananas and look for a smoothie recipe without a banana from time to time. But there’s no denying that when blended, frozen bananas add a lot of luscious texture and a just-right sweetness that can blunt some of the sharpness of other frozen fruit. It even does a beautiful job masking the tang of leafy kale, spinach, or parsley if you’re one to sneak greens into your smoothies.

One-Ingredient Banana "Ice Cream"

Consider this your little sweet treat secret. If you remove the peel of an overripe banana, freeze the fruit, then whirr it in the bowl of a food processor, what you’ll have is a one-ingredient vegan “ice cream” that satisfies all those ice cream cravings. You can even play around with this banana ice cream by adding ingredients like cinnamon, peanut butter, even cocoa powder to the processor before blending. Other frozen fruit would also be welcome. Just make sure everything is frozen solid so you get the best texture.