All Of The Unexpected Ways You Can Use Overripe Bananas

Walking into your kitchen and seeing your bananas getting ripe means, yes, banana bread! Not only is this a delicious and easy treat to bake, but a comforting one that tastes even sweeter with overripe bananas — really, a banana's sugar content gets higher as it ripens. Not only are overripe bananas sweeter than green ones, but they're also richer in antioxidants and easier to digest, per Livestrong. It's no wonder your favorite banana bread recipe, from classic to nut-filled, calls for this kind of banana.

But have you ever wondered what else overripe bananas can do for you? There are more ways beyond banana bread — and, don't worry, also beyond baby food — to use this fruit. First and foremost, just check to see if your bananas are merely soft or if they're too ripe to eat. Brown spots and a softer texture than usual are OK, says Spoon University, but a strange odor or ooziness means they're better off in the trash than a resourceful recipe. If they smell sweet, then open your mind to these unexpected recipes starring overripe bananas for any moment of the day.

Make your favorite morning treats

No matter when you are reading this, it's always a good time to think about your next breakfast. If you have a go-to banana pancake recipe, it could be upgraded with overripe bananas. According to Kitchn, the bananas can be added in slices as the batter is settling on the pan, or they can be previously pureed and combined into the mix. Either way, the pancakes will have extra moisture and sweetness thanks to the overripe bananas. Try combining them with melted dark chocolate to add that bitter punch to your morning, or even cacao nibs on top. But, for those with a sweet tooth, maple syrup or honey will be just fine.

If you're on team meal prep, you can plan on baking nutritious banana breakfast cookies ahead of time. A quick and easy version from Allrecipes yields breakfast for a week and requires just three very ripe bananas and other staples like oats, cinnamon, and yogurt. If you prefer, use almond flour to make gluten-friendly banana cookies. Store them safely to snack on throughout the week, or pack them up for an office pick-me-up that will make you feel fuller throughout the day.

Scream for banana ice cream

There are many frozen treats you can whip up with overripe bananas, like ice cream, smoothies, or milkshakes. In fact, for a simple and vegan version of banana ice cream, all you need are very ripe frozen bananas. Use a blender or food processor to whiz up a creamy banana base, and freeze it in any bowl available. You can have an ice cream scoop by itself, or put it on top of any baked good, like a piece of coffee cake, for that bitter and sweet flavor combination. For a more child-friendly treat, you can use a popsicle mold with the same banana ice cream mix and freeze it to have it ready for any snack craving.

If your bananas are going soft but you don't have time to prep them, simply slice them up and seal them in a freezer bag until you're ready to use them. Later, you can blend the frozen fruit with berries and your milk of choice for a chilly smoothie or milkshake. Go wild with the toppings, from chia seeds to coconut flakes, and be proud of yourself for preventing food waste. 

Elevate your entertaining game

You may not have considered it before, but having both overripe bananas and a microwave in your kitchen is a big win — even when you have company coming over and need to impress. BBC Good Food says you only need 20 minutes to whip up a microwave banana pudding ("pudding" being a British cake rather than the American version of the dish). This soft and sweet dessert includes bananas in the batter and sliced on top, and it's even better when topped with whipped cream. Fan of no-bake desserts? Try this no-bake banana pudding recipe made with instant pudding mix and a block of cream cheese. If turning on the oven is no problem, try a simple banana cake recipe with cream cheese frosting.

Those with savory palates could take a cue from Filipino cuisine and turn their overripe bananas into banana ketchup. Though the condiment is traditionally made with indigenous saba bananas, you could combine whichever variety you have on hand with vinegar, brown sugar, and spices for a sweet and tangy sauce to serve with fried chicken, sandwiches, and more. You may even want to drizzle it on a recipe for beef and banana meatballs, which get a surprising addition of sweetness from the overripe fruit. This all goes to show that overripe bananas can elevate any recipe, especially with a little creativity. Of course, there's always banana bread if you want to enjoy the classic, maybe even with ice cream on top. (Banana ice cream, duh.)