Planning & Prep

How To Quickly Ripen Bananas: Paper Bag, Oven and More Methods Explained

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Last Updated: Mar 14, 2023

Quick Answer

How do you ripen bananas?

Add bananas to a paper bag and close the top loosely. After several days, your bananas will ripen due to the accumulation of ethylene gas.

Bananas are a key ingredient in certain recipes including bread, muffins and smoothies — however, the level of ripeness can alter the flavor and even texture of your favorite dishes.

What should you do when a craving for banana pudding or pie hits?

There are several methods to try if you’re unsure how to ripen bananas. You can microwave a bunch of bananas for a few seconds or leave them in a warm spot for several days to ripen.

From air fryers to paper bags, below we discuss some of the common ways to quickly ripen bananas and provide a chart to show you what level of ripeness works best with certain recipes.

Table of Contents:

What causes bananas to ripen?

the different stages of bananas ripening

Bananas are an ethylene-producing food, which is the reason why this fruit goes through a ripening process. The ripening process typically takes one to seven days depending on the environment and current state of the fruit. For example, green bananas are underripe, so they’ll take a bit longer to ripen vs. a bright yellow banana. Thankfully, there are different methods to speed up the ripening process.

Tip: Bananas are ripe when they are yellow in color with some brown spots and are soft yet still hold their shape. The more brown spots a banana has, the sweeter it will be. Overripe bananas are fully brown and soft, and are often used in baked goods.

Different ways to ripen bananas: From fastest to slowest methods

Fruit ripens naturally if left alone — but when the craving for banana bread or pancakes hit, there are different ways to quickly ripen bananas (some faster than others). From the oven to the paper bag method, let’s take a look at the fastest and slowest options if you’re unsure how to ripen bananas.

How to ripen bananas in the microwave

how to ripen bananas in the microwave

The fastest way to ripen bananas is by using a microwave. Zap your firm bananas for only a few minutes and transform them to ultimate softness. While this method won’t make your bananas taste any sweeter, they will be mashable for your recipe.

When to use it: When you’re low on time and looking to soften your bananas

How long it takes: Less than two minutes

Steps to use it:

  1. Poke holes through the skin of your unpeeled banana.
  2. Put the banana on a paper towel or plate.
  3. Microwave the banana on high for 30 seconds.
  4. Continue the 30-second intervals until your banana reaches the desired level of softness.
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How to ripen bananas in the air fryer

The air fryer is a modern alternative to ripening bananas in the oven. Using an air fryer to ripen a banana takes a few extra minutes compared to the microwave, but way less time than the oven method.

When to use it: If you don’t want to waste time preheating your oven

How long it takes: Eight to 10 minutes

Steps to use it:

  1. Line your air fryer basket with foil or parchment paper for easier cleanup.
  2. Set your air fryer to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Air fry the banana(s) for eight minutes or until they are soft with darkened skin.
  4. Add an additional one to two minutes depending on desired softness.
  5. Let the banana(s) cool before you mash them for your recipe.

How to ripen bananas in the oven

how to ripen bananas in the oven

The high heat brings out the natural sugars of the bananas with the oven method. The heat and prolonged time will speed-ripen the bananas so you can make the ultimate banana bread loaf the same day.

When to use it: You’re looking for the sweetest and ripest bananas without waiting days

How long it takes: Less than 30 minutes

Steps to use it: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper to reduce leakage.
  3. Add your unpeeled banana(s) to the baking sheet.
  4. Check the softness of your fruit every 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the banana(s) from the oven after the peels turn brown and bananas reach desired softness.

Baking tip: This method will not work on very green bananas.

How to ripen bananas using a paper bag

A tried-and-true method if you’re unsure how to ripen bananas is by using a paper bag. When you add bananas to a loosely closed paper bag, ethylene accumulates and the circulation inside the bag will speed up the ripening process.

When to use it: If you’re not in a hurry to ripen your bananas

How long it takes: One to three days

Steps to use it:

  1. Add your bananas to a brown paper bag and fold the top over slightly..
  2. Check your bananas every 12 hours until they are soft enough to your liking.

How to ripen bananas in a bunch

how to ripen bananas in a bunch

Since bananas grow in a bunch, it’s best to ripen them together. However, if you only need one ripe banana for a recipe, then you can separate the pack. Since the time it takes to ripen bananas varies, it’s better to batch them to release more ethylene at once.

When to use it: If you’re looking to ripen more than one banana at a time

How long it takes: Varies

Steps to use it:

  1. Keep your bananas together in a bunch.
  2. Place your banana bunch in a warm spot to ripen naturally.

How to ripen bananas naturally

You don’t need any kitchen appliances for this ripening method — all you need is a warm spot to keep your bananas for a few days and they will ripen slowly but surely. You can speed up the ripening process slightly by placing the bananas in front of a window or on top of your refrigerator for warmth.

When to use it: If you don’t have access to any kitchen appliances and you have time to spare

How long it takes: Varies

Steps to use it:

  1. Place your bunch of bananas in a warm spot.
  2. After brown spots form, typically after one to two days, remove the bananas from the warmth.

How to ripen bananas in the oven

Recipe by InstacartCourse: RecipesDifficulty: Easy
Servings

Varies

Prep time

5

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes

Ripen your bananas in less than an hour using this method.

Ingredients

  • Baking sheet

  • Parchment paper or foil

  • Bananas

Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper to reduce leakage.
  • Add your unpeeled banana(s) to the baking sheet.
  • Check the softness of your fruit every 15 minutes.
  • Remove the banana(s) from the oven after the peels turn brown and banana(s) reach desired softness.

Banana ripeness cooking chart

Not sure what to look for when examining a banana’s ripeness? Check out this banana ripeness cooking chart to learn more.

banana ripeness cooking chart

How to store ripe bananas

Bananas are fairly delicate and can bruise easily. Store your bananas in an area of your kitchen where they won’t be in any harm. Keep them on the counter until they reach peak ripeness. You can then store ripe bananas in the fridge to keep them from spoiling. Don’t worry if the peels start blackening — the inside of the bananas should remain soft and ripe for a few days. If they start browning, you can freeze them to use for smoothies and other banana recipes.

How to freeze ripe bananas

If you have way too many bananas to eat or use in upcoming recipes, you can freeze them for future use. Place your bananas in a freezer bag and store them away for later. When you’re ready to use them, simply thaw them beforehand.

While bananas are a fruit that freezes well, it’s recommended to use them within eight months. Make sure to label your freezer bag with the date so you know how long you have to use them.

How to ripen bananas: FAQ

Still have a few questions on how to ripen bananas? Here are a few commonly asked questions and answers. 

How do you ripen bananas in 10 minutes?

You can ripen bananas in 10 minutes using an air fryer or microwave. Air fry your bananas for eight to 10 minutes or microwave them in 30-second intervals.

How can I ripen bananas overnight?

Bananas can ripen overnight if you use the paper bag method. Depending on the desired level of softness, you may need an additional day. However, you can speed up the ripening process in the oven, air fryer or microwave.

Can I ripen a banana in the microwave?

Yes, you can ripen a banana in the microwave in 30-second intervals. Depending on how soft you want the banana to be, you might need an additional 30-60 seconds.

Can you ripen green bananas?

The best way to ripen green bananas is by using the paper bag method to release the ethylene gas. In a day or two, your green bananas will turn into yellow, ripe bananas.

Final thoughts on ripening bananas

Now that you know how to ripen bananas, it’s time to put these methods to work. Remember, you can use kitchen appliances like the microwave, air fryer, microwave and oven to speed up the ripening process. You can also enlist the help of warm spots in your home or a paper bag.

Craving banana pancakes or muffins? Place a same-day order with Instacart and receive your groceries at your doorstep without the hassle.

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