5 Brilliant Ways to Eat Bananas

Snack Hacks

Bananas couldn't possibly be a more versatile snack. Besides the fact that they come with their own carrying case, they're perfect eaten out of hand, sliced into yogurt, swirled into oats, baked into bread, or slathered with nut butter. There are few things this fruit can't do.

5 Brilliant Ways to Eat Bananas

It's time to break out of your banana peel and explore a few new ways to snack on this brilliant fruit. There's a little something for everyone – a snack for the person on the go, and for someone who wants an afternoon project. There are nutritious snacks and some that are totally indulgent (and best served with caramel sauce).

As you'll see below, some of these snacks work best with fresh, just-ripened bananas, while some do their best work with bananas that have started to age. Don't really like eating bananas with peels that are studded with brown spots? Me neither. But these ideas prove there are so many ways to still make use of these overripe bananas beyond a smoothie or banana bread.

Banana Toast

Serves 1

This is the toast where bananas get to truly shine. They're so often a supporting star on peanut butter toast, but not here. Think of banana toast like the sweet version of avocado toast.

Mash up 1 medium ripe banana and spread over a piece of your favorite toast. As for the toppings, there are no limits. This version is loaded with drizzled honey, pepitas, hemp seeds, and flaky sea salt.

Coconut-Cardamom Banana Chips

Makes about 1 cup

These are the kind of thin, crispy-crunchy snacks that make you keep reaching back in the bowl for more. A low-and-slow cook time in the oven concentrates the natural sugars in the banana into a deep, rich caramel flavor with the subtle taste of coconut oil and cardamom.

Preheat the oven to 225°F. Peel and cut 1 medium ripe banana into 1/8-inch slices. Place in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, lightly brush with coconut oil, and sprinkle with ground cardamom. Bake for 90 minutes, then remove the baking sheet from the oven. Flip the bananas over and cook for an additional 60 minutes, until the bananas are completely dried out. Cool the bananas for at least 1 hour. They'll continue to crisp as they cool.

Banana Curd

Makes about 1 cup

Banana curd isn't the kind of sweet spread or dip that will win any beauty awards, but one bite and you'll see that the taste totally makes up for that. Top a bowl of oats with a dollop of curd; spread it on toast, pancakes, and waffles; swirl it into yogurt; or go ahead and just eat it with a spoon.

Mash 2 medium ripe bananas in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 large egg, 1 egg yolk, and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Heat 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the bananas, and cook until the mixture starts to bubble. Whisk a spoonful of the hot bananas into the eggs, then add the eggs into the saucepan. Stir constantly until the mixture starts to thicken, then stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Continue cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes. The curd will be lumpy, and can be served as is, or you can transfer it to a blender or food processor for a smoother texture.

3-Ingredient Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 15 (one-inch) cookies

Filled with mashed banana, coconut, oats, and mini chocolate chips, these are the kind of cookies that make you feel okay about reaching for a third. You certainly won't mistake them for rich, buttery chocolate chip cookies, but they will still satisfy your sweet tooth.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Add 2 medium ripe bananas, 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, and 1/2 cup whole oats to the bowl of a food processor. Process until the bananas are completely mashed and the mixture is combined. Stir in 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips or 1/4 cup chopped walnuts. Spoon tablespoon-sized pieces of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are golden.

Miso-Roasted Banana Fritters

Makes about 1 dozen fritters

It's time to upgrade the way you do fritters. White miso paste brings a savory twist that totally enhances the sweet banana taste of these fritters. And if you really want to take them over the top, serve them with caramel sauce.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut 2 medium ripe bananas into thick chunks, place in a baking dish, and dot with 1 tablespoon of butter broken into pieces and 1 tablespoon miso paste. Cook for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through. Remove from the oven and cool.

Fill a Dutch oven or cast iron pot with about 3 inches of canola oil and heat on medium-high until it reaches 350°F. Prepare a wire rack lined with paper towels.

In a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 egg yolks, 1/4 cup milk, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 2 tablespoons miso paste. Stir in the roasted banana. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, until just combined. Be sure not to overmix the batter.

Drop tablespoon-sized pieces of batter into the pot (no more than a few at a time), and cook for about 3 minutes, until deep brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the fritters to the wire rack to cool. Dust with powdered sugar, and serve with caramel sauce or banana curd.

Read More: How To Make Caramel Sauce

(Image credits: Kelli Foster)