How to Freeze Bananas
Bananas can ripen to mush before you’ve had time to eat the entire bunch. But bananas are one of the fruits that freeze really well and are great to have on hand for smoothies, baking or snacks.
While bananas are versatile (and delicious!) remember, they’re a high carb fruit. There are about 27 grams of carbs per medium banana, so if you’re on a low carb diet keep this in mind.
Can You Freeze Bananas?
Yes, you can freeze bananas! They’re actually one of the few fruits that can be frozen with minimal change to their texture and taste. By “minimal change to their texture” we mean when you’re cooking or blending them — if you thaw and try to eat them as-is, they will be mushy.
When Should You Freeze Your Bananas?
For best results, choose bananas that are ripe and even slightly overripe.
Green bananas have a low sugar content and are starchy in taste and consistency, so they’re not good for freezing. The perfect banana for freezing is yellow with only a few small brown spots. The fruit will be sweet and still hold its shape when gently pressed. You can freeze a ripe banana whole or sliced.
Brown, overripe bananas are good for baking cakes, breads and muffins, and they can also be frozen. They need to be peeled and mashed, though, before putting them into the freezer.
While you can freeze a banana with a peel on, the peel will be difficult to remove and leave you wanting to toss the whole thing in the trash, so you may as well take a few seconds to peel the banana before freezing it.
How to Freeze Banana Slices for Smoothies
If you want to add banana to smoothies, here’s how to freeze banana slices:
- Peel the bananas.
- Cut the bananas crosswise into ½” – ¾“ slices. It takes a little time, but it’s the best way to freeze bananas for smoothies, since they’ll be easier to puree in a blender.
- Line a baking sheet that will fit into your freezer with parchment paper or wax paper. You can also use a couple of dinner plates, lined with parchment or wax paper. Arrange the banana slices on the baking sheet (or plates) in a single layer, making sure the slices don’t touch.
- Pop the baking sheet into the freezer, and let the banana slices freeze for two hours. They should be frozen solid. This flash-freezing prevents the banana from turning brown. It will also prevent the slices from freezing together into a big clump.
- Transfer the slices to a freezer storage bag or freezer-safe container, and put them back into the freezer. Sliced bananas will keep for up to up to 3 months. (I like to write the date they’re frozen with a Sharpie on the plastic bag or container.) Whenever you want bananas for a smoothie, just remove what slices you need and return the rest to the freezer.
How to Freeze Whole Bananas
If you’re baking banana bread, a recipe usually calls for two or three ripe bananas. So you don’t want to count out frozen banana slices and guess how many bananas they make. Freezing bananas whole is basically the same method as freezing banana slices.
- Peel the bananas.
- Slice them in half lengthwise.
- Arrange the halved bananas on a baking sheet or plate lined with parchment paper or wax paper. Make sure they don’t touch. Freeze for two hours or until solid.
- Transfer the banana halves to a freezer storage bag or freezer-safe container, date the bag or container, then return the bananas to the freezer. When you want to use them for baking, just remove what you need and let them thaw.
How to Freeze Overripe Bananas
Yes, it happens, especially in hot weather: that once-perfect banana seemed to turn brown overnight. If you’re in the mood for baking, use it right away. But if it’s a summer day, and baking is the last thing you want to do, freeze those mushy bananas.
- Peel the bananas, and put them into a large bowl.
- Lightly mash them with a potato masher or fork.
- Measure out the banana mash with measuring cups. Three bananas will yield about one cup of mashed banana. Scoop the mashed banana into freezer storage bags. Write the measurement on the bag.
- Squeeze out all the air from the bag and seal it. You don’t have to flash freeze banana mash, since it will defrost in the same consistency. So just lay the bag(s) in your freezer. Mashed, overripe bananas should last up to 3 months in the freezer.
How to Thaw Frozen Bananas
There’s no need to thaw frozen banana slices for a smoothie; they take the place of ice and chill the smoothie when blended. But if you plan to use frozen bananas for baking, here are three easy methods for how to thaw them.
Transfer the amount of sliced or halved bananas you want to thaw from the freezer bag to another airtight container. (If you’re thawing mashed banana, you can skip this step.) Put the portioned bag into a bowl, and transfer to the refrigerator. They’ll thaw overnight and be ready to use in the morning.
Transfer the bananas you want to thaw to an airtight plastic bag. (For mashed bananas, you don’t need to do this.) Fill a bowl two-thirds with warm water. Put the bag into the water, and the sliced or mashed bananas will thaw in 5 to 7 minutes. Halved bananas will take a little longer, so you may need to drain the bowl and refill with warm water.
Transfer the bananas to a microwave-safe plate. You don’t want the bananas to cook, so microwave for 2 minutes using the “defrost” setting. If your microwave doesn’t have “defrost,” then set it to the lowest level instead. Don’t try to microwave mashed bananas in their plastic bag, since the plastic could melt.
How Long Do Frozen Bananas Last?
According to the FDA, bananas can be kept in the freezer for 2 to 3 months. I’ve kept mine for up to 6 months and though they have a little freezer burn they’re still usable.
Bananas are the star ingredient in a lot of our favorite recipes, like flourless banana bread, banana protein pancakes and gluten-free banana-oatmeal cookies, so having a few in the freezer at all times makes it easy to whip up a quick breakfast when I’m running low on groceries.
How to Freeze Bananas
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Plastic bags or freezer-safe container
- ripe bananas
- Peel the bananas.
- If freezing bananas for smoothies, cut them crosswise into slices ½” – ¾“ thick. If freezing bananas for baking, cut them lengthwise in half.
- Line the baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
- Arrange the banana slices or halves on the baking sheet in a single layer, making sure they don’t touch.
- Freeze for two hours.
- Remove the baking sheet from the freezer, and transfer the slices or halves to plastic freezer bags or freezer-safe containers. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.