All about how to freeze bananas along with tips and tricks for getting the best results possible.
Hey friend, you know I love using sad brown bananas in banana recipes, but today I thought we’d chat about what to do with those sad brown bananas when you don’t have the time (or inclination) to make something with them.
The answer? Freeze them!
Can you freeze bananas?
Absolutely yes! Bananas freeze extremely well both to be used in smoothies and milkshakes (some would argue that frozen bananas are even better for these than fresh) and for baking.
Why freeze bananas?
Typically you have a pretty short window of time to use overripe bananas before they’re past the point of no return, but freezing them allows you to store your bananas at their ripest (and most delicious) point until you’re ready to use them.
Instead of a couple of days, you now have a couple of months to decide what you want to make with your bananas.
See Also: How to Quickly Ripen Bananas
How long can you freeze bananas?
Bananas can be frozen for up to 3 months. After that, according to the USDA they’re still okay to eat, the quality will just diminish. After 3 months, they’re more prone to drying out, freezer burn, turning brown, and picking up freezer smells (which no one likes).
What is the best way to freeze bananas? Should the banana be whole or sliced or mashed?
The best way to freeze bananas depends on how you’re going to use your frozen bananas.
- Whole bananas are best for: Baking recipes and smoothie recipes where you want to use exactly one banana
- Sliced bananas are best for: Smoothies or milkshakes, especially with underpowered blenders where you need smaller chunks to make it easier to blend.
- Mashed bananas are best for: Saving storage space or if you have extra mashed bananas that you’re not ready to use. Freezing mashed bananas isn’t my favorite because it’s extra work and you can’t separate out the mash once it’s frozen. But if freezer space is tight, sometimes it’s easier to find space for a bag of mashed bananas than whole.
How to Freeze Whole Bananas
- Place bananas (peeled or unpeeled—we’ll talk more about that in a second) in an airtight container or freezer bag. If using a freezer bag, remove as much air as possible from the bag to help prevent freezer burn.*
- Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Peeled vs unpeeled bananas for freezing: It’s best to peel bananas before freezing them because the peel becomes soft and slightly annoying to remove after freezing.
BUT if it’s a choice between freezing your bananas with the peel on and letting them sit on the counter until they turn to mush (I’ve been there), toss those bananas, peel and all, in a bag in your freezer. The peel will turn dark in the freezer, and they’ll take an extra minute to peel when you go to use them, but they’ll be fine.
*A note on freezing a lot of peeled bananas: If you’re freezing a large number of whole bananas together, so many that they don’t fit in a single layer in your freezer bag or container, it’s best to flash freeze them first so they don’t stick together.
To flash freeze your bananas, place them on a parchment or wax paper-lined baking sheet or plate and freeze until frozen solid, 2 to 3 hours, before transferring to your container.
How to Freeze Banana Slices/Chunks
- Line a baking sheet (that will fit in your freezer) or large plate with parchment or wax paper.
- Slice bananas into chunks or slices and arrange them in a single layer on your prepared surface. Freeze until frozen solid, 1 to 2 hours, (pieces that are flash frozen like this are less likely to stick together in the freezer) and then transfer to an airtight container or plastic freezer bag. If using a freezer bag, remove as much air as possible from the bag to help prevent freezer burn.
- Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
A note on slice size: It’s up to you how large to make your slices. If you have a powerful blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec you can cut big chunks of bananas. If your blender is less powerful and sometimes struggles with frozen fruit, slice smaller slices.
Smaller slices can also be better if you need to measure the banana slices for nutritional information. It’s easier to measure 1 cup of small slices than 1 cup of big chunks that are almost the same size as your measuring cup.
How to Freeze Mashed Bananas
- Mash bananas and transfer the mash to a plastic freezer bag. Very clearly label the number of bananas you used on the outside of the bag and remove as much air as possible before closing to help prevent freezer burn.
- Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
A note on freezing mashed bananas: Since you won’t be able to divide frozen mashed bananas, be sure you know exactly how many mashed bananas are in each bag and freeze them in quantities that make sense for the recipes you make (don’t freeze 7 mashed bananas together if you don’t have a 7-banana banana bread recipe!).
Defrosting Frozen Bananas
To defrost frozen bananas, remove them from the freezer and place them in a bowl. Bananas will release liquid as they defrost, so even unpeeled bananas should be placed in a container of some sort so it doesn’t leak all over.
Cover and defrost, preferably overnight in the fridge. Your bananas may turn slightly brown as they defrost, but don’t worry, that’s not going to hurt anything.
Bonus defrosting tip: If you’re in a hurry, smashing partially defrosted bananas will speed up the process since you’re increasing the surface area and making them less dense.
Baking With Frozen Bananas
Frozen bananas are fantastic to bake with BUT, you MUST completely defrost them and bring them up to mostly room temperature. Adding ice-cold banana mash to your recipe can cause batter to curdle or not bake evenly in the oven.
So defrost your bananas overnight and then mash and let them sit on the counter for half an hour or more to warm up.
Baking with frozen bananas tip: Frozen bananas will release quite a bit of liquid as they defrost. Do not drain this off! Simply mash the bananas in the bowl with the liquid and add everything to your batter.
Do I need to defrost frozen bananas before using?
It depends. For smoothies and milkshakes, frozen bananas work great, they’ll give you a much thicker/frostier drink.
If you own a blender that struggles with frozen fruits, you can let them defrost halfway before blending.
For baking recipes, you absolutely must defrost your bananas.
How do you freeze bananas without turning brown?
Bananas turn brown when exposed to air, so the best way to prevent them from turning brown is to freeze them in a plastic bag and remove as much air as possible. You can do this using the old bowl-full-of-water trick AKA water displacement method or use a straw and suck out all the air before closing the bag.
The peel of unpeeled bananas will also turn dark in the freezer, but this won’t affect the fruit underneath so you don’t have to worry about trying to prevent this.
How to freeze bananas without plastic?
If you’re trying to cut down on your plastic usage (awesome!), you can freeze bananas in airtight glass containers.
Bananas in larger containers are more prone to freezer burn and turning brown since there will still be air in the container, so try to use the bananas within a month or so.
What to Do with Frozen Bananas?
Once you’re ready to make something with your frozen bananas, here are a few of my favorite banana recipes.
- Small-batch Banana Muffins
- Small-batch Chocolate Banana Muffins
- Small Banana Cake
- The Best Banana Milkshake
- Banana Pancakes for Two
- My Favorite Banana Bread Recipe
This post is a part of my Waste Not series, a series of posts dedicated to reducing food waste in the kitchen. You might also enjoy:
- What to Do With Leftover Whipping Cream
- What to Do With Leftover Pumpkin Puree
- What to Do With Leftover Egg Whites
- What to Do With Leftover Egg Yolks
- What to Do With Leftover Half and Half
How to Freeze Bananas
- Very ripe bananas peeled or unpeeled, whole, sliced, or mashed
Freezing Whole Bananas
- Place whole bananas (peeled or unpeeled*) in an airtight container or freezer bag. If using a plastic bag, remove as much air as possible before sealing. Freeze and store for up to 3 months.
Freezing Banana Chunks or Slices
- Line a baking sheet (that will fit in your freezer) or large plate with parchment or wax paper. Place banana pieces on prepared surface in a single layer and freeze until frozen solid, 1 to 2 hours.
- Scoop frozen bananas into an airtight container or freezer bag. If using a plastic bag, remove as much air as possible before sealing. Freeze and store for up to 3 months.
Freezing Mashed Bananas
- Mash bananas and transfer the mash to a plastic freezer bag. Very clearly label the number of bananas you used on the outside of the bag and remove as much air as possible before closing to help prevent freezer burn. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- If using bananas in baking, defrost completely either overnight in the refrigerator or on the counter. Bananas will release liquid as they thaw. Keep this liquid when you mash the bananas and do not drain.
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