How To Ripen Your Green Bananas for Banana Bread in Just 30 Minutes

Photo: Stocksy/ Diane Durongpisitkul
It seems like just yesterday that baking the perfect banana bread recipe was *the* top priority on any quarantine cooking agenda. Those endless hours experimenting in our home kitchens brought to light one major lesson in the art that is nailing the most prize-worthy loaf of banana bread: Using super ripe bananas is a must.

In the "before times," we may have cringed at the appearance of a brown banana and mistakenly thought its prime was long gone—but we’ve learned that’s far from the truth now. Super ripe bananas are perfect for making baked goods, as the darker, the banana, the better (and sweeter) the final recipe will be. (Conversely, unripe bananas can cause constipation—but that's a whole other topic in itself.) But when you’re craving a luscious loaf of banana bread and there are only bright green or yellow bananas in sight, what can be done?

Great news: You no longer need to postpone your baking plans just because your bananas are far from being ripe enough. With a few simple steps and just under 30 minutes, you can transform your green bananas into sweet, softened ones primed and prepped for baking the best protein and potassium-rich banana bread recipe… ever. Here’s how.

How to ripen green bananas for banana bread in a flash

There are a few ways to go about ripening green bananas quickly, and the tactic you choose really depends on how fast you need them. We’ll share a few of the speediest ways to get the job done, from baking to microwaving them, so you’ll never have to worry about not having ripe bananas for baking again.

The Oven (or Air Fryer) Method

Arguably, the most effective and efficient method for browning bananas is the oven (or air fryer) method. It involves baking the bananas whole at a high temperature for a short amount of time to help them ripen, like in this recipe by Baking Mischief. First, preheat the oven to 300°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Next, spread your bananas in one even layer and then bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the bananas become dark brown. (You may want to flip them halfway through to brown them as evenly as possible.)

Baking the bananas on their own before adding them to the bread batter helps boost their natural sweetness. Also, if you’re really pressed for time, you can also bake your bananas at higher temperatures (about 400°F) for a shorter time (about five minutes) depending on how ripe your bananas were in the first place, as demonstrated in this TikTok video by @kalejunkie. Just be careful not to burn them. Or, you can always throw them in your air fryer for about eight minutes at 300°F, which is likely the easiest way to get the job done.

Time: 15-40 minutes

@kalejunkie need ripe bananas, QUICK? try this! ? #bananas #bananahack #moneysavingtips #kitchentips #bananabread #healthyfood #budgetfriendly #HowTo ♬ Ameno Amapiano Remix (You Wanna Bamba) - Goya Menor & Nektunez

The Microwave Method

If you don’t have a paper bag on hand or the oven is occupied with other items on your menu, you can also use your microwave to brown bananas quickly. To do so, pierce a peeled banana with a fork all over to help with ventilation (and prevent a messy banana explosion in your microwave). Then microwave your banana in a bowl in 30-second intervals until it’s soft enough for baking, which won't take more than a few minutes. The only downside is that the bananas won’t be as sweet, but they’ll be the perfect texture for mashing into the bread batter.

Time: 5-10 minutes

The Old-School Paper Bag Method

This super effective method is best for when you have a day or two to ripen your bananas ahead of time. First, you’ll want to place your bananas in a paper bag and loosely fold the top. (If you happen to have a few high ethylene-producing—a gas that helps ripen—fruits like avocados or apples, add them into the bag, too.) Then, place the bag in a warm spot in your kitchen and allow the magic to happen for one to two days. The ethylene gas trapped inside the bag will help expedite the enzymatic browning process, which helps your bananas ripen for any baking needs.

Time: 24 to 36 hours

Need an easy banana bread recipe? We've done the homework for you:

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