How to freeze bananas so they don’t totally and completely rot

Banana bread, here we come!

Published September 2, 2022 12:15PM (EDT)

 (Julia Gartland / Food52)
(Julia Gartland / Food52)

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It's a tale as old as time: you buy a bunch of bananas at the grocery store with every intention to eat them with breakfast or lunch daily for the next five days, but they inevitably go bad before you get the chance. Banana bread is a great way to use up overripe bananas (as we all know from our quarantine days), but sometimes you can't find the time to bake a loaf before they turn rotten. Like avocados, it's tricky to track the ripeness of bananas, which leads to food waste. Enter: freezing bananas. Here's the thing: freezing and thawing bananas leads to somewhat mushy fruit, so you won't want to eat them as-is, which means they're perfect for baking and blending. With this brilliant kitchen tip, you'll never waste a bunch of bananas and will you'll them on deck when a banana bread craving strikes. (Sounds like a win-win to us!)

How to freeze whole bananas

Technically, you can freeze unpeeled bananas, but we don't recommend it; they'll stick together more than their peeled counterparts. To freeze whole bananas, peel them completely, line them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and put them in the freezer for at least 1-2 hours. Once frozen, transfer the bananas to an airtight, freezer-safe plastic bag or container, and place them back in the freezer.

How to freeze banana slices

Freezing sliced bananas follows a similar process: Begin by peeling whole ripe bananas, then slice or dice them (bigger chunks are better for smoothies, while 1/2-inch cubes are our preference for banana bread). Lay out the sliced bananas on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and place the tray in the freezer for about 1 hour, or until the slices are frozen solid. Ready to go? Place the frozen bananas in, you guessed it, an airtight, freezer-safe plastic bag or container and put it back in the freezer until it's time to use them.

How long do frozen bananas last?

Frozen bananas will stay good for about 2-3 months, although you can safely consume them for several months beyond that window. If, like me, you tend to forget when you originally froze the fruit, label the filled container or bag with the date you froze them.

How to thaw frozen bananas

The safest way to freeze bananas isn't the speediest, but it's worth doing. To thaw frozen bananas, transfer them to a clean bowl or plate, cover them, and put them in the refrigerator overnight. In a pinch? You can also leave frozen bananas out to thaw on the counter at room temperature for approximately 3-4 hours. If you're really crunched for time, microwave frozen bananas on the defrost setting for 3-4 minutes, or until completely thawed. Whichever method you use, go ahead and discard the excess liquid, which is simply a result of condensation.

Banana recipes

Kristen's Family Banana Bread

Frozen and thawed bananas are ideal for this easy, endlessly adaptable recipe, which calls for 6 very ripe bananas. Make it your own by folding chocolate chips or nuts into the batter before baking.

3-Ingredient Pancakes

This clever recipe only calls for 3 ingredients — bananas, eggs, and almond flour — and results in a stack of delicious, filling pancakes, best served with salted butter and maple syrup. Use frozen and thawed bananas, which get mashed up with the eggs and flour to form a smooth batter.

The Kitchn's One-Ingredient Ice Cream

The internet loves this recipe and for good reason: When you blend frozen banana slices in a food processor, the result is a remarkably creamy, ice cream-like frozen treat. Feel free to add ingredients like chocolate shavings or nut butters to jazz up the original recipe.

Dark Chocolate-Olive Oil Skillet Banana Bread

This sultry cake is made with bananas, which are blended into a smooth purée and mixed with tangy sour cream, which keeps the bread moist and balanced. Frozen and thawed bananas (sweet, slightly overripe bananas in particular!) are made for this recipe.

Berry Banana Oat Smoothie

No need to thaw bananas for this recipe; just blend frozen banana slices with the other ingredients and let the magic happen! Frozen bananas will lend a luscious, creamy texture to the smoothie, as well as a natural sweetness. A big spoonful of peanut butter is the metaphorical cherry on top.

By Phoebe Fry

MORE FROM Phoebe Fry

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Banana Bread Bananas Dessert Explainer Food Food52 Fruit How-to Smoothies