Banana Substitutions (Subbing out the Banana, Replacing Bananas in Smoothies, Baking) + the ultimate fat-free vegan banana bread recipe

Posted by:Lindsay S. Nixon Category: FAQ

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HATE bananas?

Can't even stand the smell of them?


OR you're completely out but you want to make a smoothie anyway?

Here's how to do it.

+ the BEST fat-free (oil-free) vegan banana bread recipe

Topics in this post:

What does a Banana Substitute in Baking

Bananas are used to replace eggs in baking, since bananas are binders.

Can you Use Eggs to Replace Bananas in Baking?

As long as you're not trying to make banana bread, the odds are in your favor that this substitution will work out. Since I'm vegan, I've never tried to do this myself, but people have left comments over the years saying they have successfully replaced bananas with egg whites in some of my recipes.

How to Substitute Bananas in Muffin Recipes

With whole wheat muffins, it's safe to replace bananas since the wheat will bind itself, but if you're using gluten-free flours or white "all purpose flour" you'll need another binder (another egg replacer) such as flax eggs or cornstarch or chia seeds if you omit the banana. See this post for help replacing eggs.

Assuming the "egg" issue is taken care of:

You can replace 1 banana with 1/2 cup of applesauce, but avoid using more than 1 cup total applesauce in a recipe (it'll be too wet and dense and cook unevenly).

Silken tofu, yogurt, mayo, and canned pumpkin will also work, but you may need to add sweetener and if you're using acids (like lemon juice, buttermilk, or vinegar) or baking soda, it can get dicey using yogurt and mayo, so Baker Beware :)

One of the reasons I like using whole wheat so much (aside from it being healthier than white flour) is I don't have to use a binder most of the time.

How to Substitute Bananas in Baked Oatmeal Recipes

Mashed cooked sweet potato works best.

Applesauce can work IF you reduce the other liquids slightly. (Applesauce is "wetter" than a banana).

If you use canned pumpkin (or silken tofu) you'll want to add sweetener since bananas provide a natural sweetness and tofu/pumpkin aren't sweet at all.

Plain yogurt MIGHT work, it depends on the other ingredients. If there's lemon juice or vinegar in the recipe, use another replacement.

How to Freeze Bananas for Smoothies

Peel, cut, and lay on a baking sheet to freeze individually. Once they're frozen into little banana cubes, put them in a container.

A quicker method is to break the banana into 3-4 chunks before freezing, but they might still stick together and require you to break them apart before blending.

How to Peel Frozen Bananas

Peeling a frozen banana is next to impossible so peel them BEFORE you freeze. If it's too late for that, put your frozen banana in a bowl of water for a few minutes.

Pop open the end and the banana will plop out.

You can also use your knife to cut away (peel away) the frozen skin, but if you don't have good knife skills try the above method instead.

STEP 1: Cut frozen banana in half in the middle (not longways).

STEP 2: Cut the peel off along the edge, separating the skin from the banana. Feel for the edge (after the first cut it'll be obvious where the edge is). Use your blade to separate the peel from the banana.

Can You Substitute Frozen Bananas for Fresh in Baking?

It's a hit or miss for me. If the banana is acting as a binder, the gloopy frozen banana probably won't get the job done.

For example, when I'm making 2-ingredient cookies (mashed bananas + oats and any spices or mix-ins I want), or any of the Meal Mentor Breakfast Bars, only fresh bananas seem to work.

Likewise, I've had ZERO success using frozen bananas when making my Black Bean Brownies or anytime I'm using a banana to replace an egg in a baking recipe. The frozen banana also throws off my bake time.

I have, however, used a frozen banana the way I use frozen strawberries or blueberries or chocolate chips or pecans in muffins... it's fine to add mashed up as an "extra".

How to Substitute Bananas in the Black Bean Brownies?

Speaking of the Black Bean Brownies, I haven't had luck making them without bananas, but a few bloggers have successfully used applesauce. The best substitute is a somewhat unripe avocado.

Can you Substitute Fresh Bananas in Smoothies?

Frozen bananas do three things in smoothes:

  1. Provide natural sweetness.
  2. Make the smoothie cold.
  3. Give it a creamy, milkshake thickness.

Fresh bananas won't make the smoothie as creamy as a frozen banana, and unless you include other frozen fruits, your smoothie won't be very cold. You COULD add ice, but that will make your smoothie more watery and icy.

What is a Good Substitute for Bananas in Smoothies?

  1. Frozen fruits
  2. Coconut milk (or coconut cream)
  3. Silken tofu
  4. Yogurt
  5. Ice Cream
  6. Avocado
  7. Oats

Frozen fruits are generally a good substitute for bananas in smoothies, although they will alter the taste, color, and possibly the texture of the smoothie.

SO if you're trying to make a specific-tasting smoothie from the meal plans (see the Colossal Smoothie Cookbook in the member library) or the Oatmeal Cookie Smoothie and Cinnamon Bun Smoothie from this website, other fruits usually won't work and you'll want to try one of these other options:

Coconut milk and coconut cream provide a creaminess without adding too much change in color or flavor. You can also freeze coconut milk and coconut cream! (This option is much higher in fat and calories, if that's a concern to you.)

Silken (soft) tofu, vanilla ice cream, avocado, and yogurt can also be used, although you'll run into that "chilling" problem if other frozen fruits aren't in the recipe and you may need to add additional sweetener.

Ditto for soaked cashews (or other nuts). You might need a high speed blender to get the nuts to fully cream.

Chia seeds are goopy, but some folks like them in their smoothies.

How do you Thicken Up a Smoothie?

Adding oats can help thicken up the smoothie (whether you're using bananas or not) and some folks find that helps them stay fuller for longer.

Use rolled (old fashioned) oats or instant oats. Don't use steel cut oats unless you've soaked them overnight AND you have a high speed blender. (It'll be gritty with bits of raw grain otherwise).

Green Goddess Smoothie

PB Cup Smoothie

How to Substitute Banana in Meal Mentor French Toast

A lot of members like using applesauce instead of the blended banana. You can also use sweet potato (seriously!) as well as pumpkin, yogurt, or silken tofu. See this thread for more tips.

Do you Put Banana in Overnight Oats (ONOs)?

I add the banana when I make my ONOa and they've never turned brown on me.

I'm obsessed with Meal Mentors French Toast ONOs which requires you mash the banana and mix it up with the oats and almond milk. Even when I make a week's worth on Sunday, it's still "fresh" on Friday. (If you're a meal plan user, the recipe in the OATrageous Oatmeal cookbook in the member library).

If you plan to heat up your ONOs and you don't like the texture or taste of "warm" bananas (they can be a bit slimy) add the banana before serving.

If your banana does turn brown, you can still eat it. It's not toxic or spoiled.

The browning happens from oxidation--totally normal chemical reaction.

How to Ripen Bananas

Stick them in a paper bag, close the paper bag, and wait 24 hours.

How to Keep Bananas From Ripening Faster (Browning)

STEP 1:separate your bananas so they are single and not in a bunch.

STEP 2: wrap the stem of each banana with plastic wrap.

You'll need a 3 or 4-inch wide section of plastic wrap per banana. Wrap it around the stem rather tightly, you'll want to go over your wrap a few times. It won't stick together like glue, but it will stick. Voila!

STEP 3:store bananas away from each other.

Refrigerating can also help slow the ripening process though the skin will turn dark brown quickly in the fridge.

Here's a video- How to Keep Bananas from Ripening

How Ripe is Too Ripe for Bananas?

The riper a banana is the softer it is and the sweeter it tastes.

A riper the banana the more it will smell and taste "banana-y" which is great for banana breads but could be too overpowering in other recipes.

Here is the Banana Ripeness Scale:

Very unripe- majority of the banana is green. Hard to Very firm.

Slightly unripe- green at the edges. Still very firm.

Ripe - bright yellow in color with no green and minimal brown. Firm.

Spotted- bright yellow with many brown freckles. Barely firm, a little soft.

Very Ripe- Half or more is brown or spotted. Soft but not mushy.

Overripe- majority of the banana is brown or black. Very soft.

Here is a Videoon the Ripeness Stages of Bananas:

What Color Should I Eat a Banana?

This is mostly personal preference in terms of how sweet or banana-y you want it to taste as well as what texture you prefer. For example, the riper the banana the softer and mushier it is and the more unripe the banana is, the firmer it is.

A just ripe or spotted ripeness is a good starting point.

Is a Green Banana Good for You? Are Green Bananas Safe to Eat?

Some people experience stomach pains from overripe and/or unripe bananas.

Can you Put Bananas in the Refrigerator?

Yes but it may make the skin turn brown or black. Refrigeration helps slow the ripening of the banana, especially if you pull the bananas apart from the bunch.

What Should Bananas Look like for Baking?

Except for my Black Bean Brownies (use a green-ish banana in that recipe) just ripe or spotted bananas are at the best stage for baking, with the exception of banana bread. The riper, the better with banana bread.

What Should Bananas Look like for Smoothies?

Freeze overripe or too ripe bananas for smoothies. Generally, the riper, the better with smoothies UNLESS you don't want a strong banana taste. If you want creaminess without banana flavoring, use a spotted or just ripe banana plus other ingredients like chocolate syrup or peanut butter that will mask the banana taste.

Are Black Bananas Safe to Eat?

If the banana is soft with several mushy and/or brown spots, it is overripe and no longer good for eat. Freeze for a smoothie or use for banana bread.

How do you Know if a Banana Has Gone Bad?

Completely or mostly brown or black skin is a good indicator the banana is overripe, though that does not mean it has "gone bad."

You do not want to eat an overripe banana, but you can freeze it for smoothies or use it to make banana bread.

Note: Putting a banana in the fridge can cause this to happen even when the banana is still safe to eat.

What Should Bananas Look like for Baking?

The BEST Banana Bread Recipe

If you have the Happy Herbivore Cookbook (pictured below) the recipe is on pg 47. If you don't have the book, Nini made a video of how to make Happy Herbivore Banana Bread on YouTube

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