The lifecycle of a banana has more going on than just changing colors. Where it is in the ripening process affects how sweet it will taste and also how it will affect your digestive system. Max Lugavere, the health and nutrition expert behind Genius Foods ($20), previously shared with Well+Good that when bananas are green (not yet ripe), they're high in hard-to-digest starch, which can be constipating.
That's why it's better to wait for yellow or brown bananas, which Lugavere said are easier to digest. He also said that the riper a banana is, the sweeter it tastes. Bananas' sweetness and texture are both important to keep in mind when figuring out how the heck to use them in those few precious days they're ready to eat. On that front, the recipes here can majorly help you out.
In some cases, either yellow or slightly brown bananas will work just fine. Other recipes indicate exactly how ripe your fruit should be. Whether your bunch is perfectly yellow or starting to turn brown, this list has you covered. Keep reading to see how to put your bananas to good use—while you still can.
Scroll down for 11 ripe banana recipes full of fiber, potassium, and deliciousness.
1. Peanut butter smoothie
Smoothies are one place you want to use ripe bananas, not brown, mushy ones. Everything in this simple recipe brings something nutritious to the blender. Besides the bananas, it's made with peanut butter, Greek yogurt (both full of protein), almond milk, and blood-stabilizing cinnamon. Ready in mere minutes, it's perfect for breakfast or a post-workout snack.
Get the recipe: peanut butter smoothie
2. Banana pudding
Ripe bananas are absolutely key to making a good banana pudding. In this recipe, vanilla extract and a touch of maple syrup bring out their sweetness even more. Bonus: All the ingredients in this pudding are vegan.
Get the recipe: banana pudding
3. Peanut butter banana ice cream
If you're vegan or don't eat dairy, bananas can really come in handy in the ice cream department and this recipe, made with just three ingredients, has enough protein (from the peanut butter) to have any time of day, not just after dinner. Ice cream for dessert? We're here for it.
Get the recipe: peanut butter banana ice cream
4. Banana cookies
If your bananas are so ripe that you're about ready to throw 'em in the compost bin, that means they're perfect for this cookie recipe. Since the bananas are so ripe, that means their natural sugar is full peak, meaning you won't need any table sugar at all to sweeten these cookies up—besides the chocolate chips of course.
Get the recipe: banana cookies
5. Banana bread
You knew there had to be one banana bread recipe, right? If you're still on the hunt for the perfect one, this is it. Not only is it gluten-free, but it's also low in sugar. Similar to the cookies, bananas so ripe they're pretty darn spotty work best in this recipe.
Get the recipe: gluten-free banana bread
6. Banana milk
Similar to being used to make ice cream, bananas can be made to make creamy alternative milk. Just think of how delicious it will taste in your coffee or matcha latte. All you truly need to make it are bananas and water, but this recipe includes ideas for optional add-ins too, like nutmeg, turmeric, or vanilla extract.
Get the recipe: banana milk
7. Banana oatmeal pancakes
This is the stuff Saturday mornings are made of. Here, bananas and oats are used in place of flour to make the perfect short stack. The key to making the texture light and fluffy is adding the ingredients to the blender before pouring the batter onto your frying pan. Add honey, vanilla extract, and cinnamon for the perfect amount of sweetness.
Get the recipe: banana oatmeal pancakes
8. Pan-fried cinnamon bananas
Made with just bananas, butter, honey, and cinnamon, these banana bites will practically melt in your mouth. Since ripe bananas are firmer than mushy overripe ones, they work best. It only takes 10 minutes to make a whole plate of these babies.
Get the recipe: pan-fried cinnamon bananas
9. Banana chips
It really doesn't get easier than making banana chips. All you need is literally your fruit and some olive oil. You don't need a dehydrater either—you can make this snack right in the oven. Make a big batch and then you'll have them to snack on whenever you're in the mood for something crunchy.
Get the recipe: banana chips
10. Banana mousse
Mousse has an airier texture than pudding while still tasting like a rich dessert. Even though it has a fancy feel, you likely already have everything you need to make it. Besides bananas, all your need is yogurt, honey, and vanilla extract.
Get the recipe: banana mousse
11. Grilled bananas
You may have grilled peaches and pineapple, but have you tried throwing bananas on the grill? This is another time when firm bananas is definitely key; mushy brown ones will just fall apart over the fire. But throw your ripe ones on there and it will taste just right.
Get the recipe: grilled bananas
Get more recipe ideas in Well+Good's Cook With Us Facebook group.
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