13 Ways To Make The Most Out Of Banana Peels

Did you know that banana peels are edible?! Not only that, but they also have a wide range of health benefits. Banana peels are packed with nutrients, including protein, fiber, calcium, iron, vitamins A and C, essential amino acids, and, of course, potassium (via Forbes). Plus, they can also support your digestive health and ease symptoms of mental health issues like stress and depression, according to WebMD. Banana peels are also rich in antioxidants, which can help reduce your risk of developing cancer.

If you're obsessed with bananas, then you already know they can create a lot of waste. The peel actually makes up about 30% to 40% of the weight of a banana, and almost 3.5 million tons of banana peels get thrown into the trash each year, per Forbes. Not only are banana peels good for you, but keeping them out of landfills is good for the environment, too. Banana peels can take up to two years to decompose — releasing greenhouse gas emissions that have been linked with climate change in the process. But you could be doing so much more with your banana peel than simply throwing it in the garbage can. Let's explore the many ways you can be utilizing and eating banana peels — some of which may surprise you!

Leave the peel on in classic dishes

One of the simplest ways to add banana peels into your diet is by including them in dishes that already have bananas as an ingredient. For example, Zingerman's Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan, sells banana bread with the peels and all, according to Forbes. Its popular recipe includes organic flour, butter, eggs, cane sugar, a splash of Madagascar vanilla, two very ripe bananas, and their peels. 

If you have a dehydrator, you can try your hand at making dehydrated banana slices with the peels on. That's what Dope Dry Munchies, a small business from Texas, does. In fact, most of its dehydrated fruit snacks include the peel for extra nutrition and fiber. If you like to put bananas in the freezer for smoothies, simply slice them up with the peels on, place them on a tray or in a Ziploc bag in the freezer, and voila! Just be sure to watch how much banana peel you add to a smoothie. Since they're high in fiber, too much peel may be too much of a good thing, resulting in a trip or three to the bathroom. Eating Well recommends starting small — just throw a few slices of bananas with peels in your smoothie, then build up from there. And be sure to drink a lot of water to help move things along.

Make vegan meat out of banana peels

Banana peels are actually a new popular ingredient in vegan "meat." While banana peel mock meat started trending in the vegan world in 2019, using the peels as meat alternatives is old news for other countries. In India, all parts of the banana plant are traditionally used in dishes, according to Lathika George, author of "The Kerala Kitchen" (via The New York Times). British chef and "The Great British Bake Off​​" star Nadiya Hussain made waves when she appeared on "Good Morning Britain" to cook a recipe involving banana peels. She shares that her Bangladeshi father inspired her to make the dish. "Don't chuck the peel away," she told The New York Times. "Cook it up with some garlic and onions and barbecue sauce, stick it in a burger, and you've got, like, pulled pork, pulled chicken."

In Venezuela, vegans shred up banana peels with a fork, season them, and cook them up to make mock shredded beef, via The New York Times. In Brazil, they call it carne louca, which translates to "crazy meat." AYA Comfort Food, a Brazilian food company, makes a delicious banana peel bacon with peppers, onions, and tomatoes, according to Forbes. Maybe it's time to try a vegan BLT: banana peel, lettuce, and tomato.

Brew banana peel tea

Not only can you eat banana peels, but you can drink them, too. You can make your own tea by boiling banana peels in water on the stove top for 10 minutes, then straining them out (via Forbes). While the taste is tolerable, you might want to add honey or cinnamon to improve the flavor, per Healthline. You can get all of the same health benefits from banana peel tea as you would eating bananas, including a hefty dose of magnesium and potassium, two minerals known to help promote relaxation and sleep.  

In fact, banana peel tea is commonly made at bedtime to help reduce stress and support a good night's sleep. That's because it also contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps your body produce melatonin, the sleep hormone. Your brain naturally makes and releases melatonin at night to help you sleep, but if you have insomnia or other sleep issues, supporting your melatonin production can help your sleep cycle get back on track (via WebMD).

Sip an alcoholic banana peel infusion

If you're craving more of an adult-style beverage, you might want to try banana peel infused rum. The U.K.-based company Discarded Spirits Co. crafts a delicious Discarded Banana Peel Rum that is made by infusing banana peels in rum inside old whiskey barrels for about two weeks, according to Forbes. With flavor profiles of toffee, fudge, and cinnamon, this mouth-watering, dessert-like rum would be a great addition to any piña colada. Or it could be the star ingredient in a banana daiquiri or banana old fashioned. Another alcoholic banana beverage you could try is Giffard Banane du Brésil, a banana liqueur with "buttery" and "roasted caramel notes," bartender Robert Krueger told The Daily Meal

You could also try making your own banana peel infused simple syrup to mix into cocktails. The process is actually quite simple: just place a banana peel in a glass mason jar, add an equal amount of cane sugar, put the lid on, and give it a shake. Let this mixture sit for at least 24 hours, and you'll find that the sugar has extracted the water in the peels and then dissolved, leaving behind a sweet syrup (per Discarded Spirits Co.). Strain out your banana peels — or blend it all together for a thicker, fiber-rich syrup — and it's ready to use. 

Make banana peel chips

Most people have heard of banana chips or plantain chips, but what about banana peel chips? All the fiber and starch in the peels make for a tasty eco-friendly alternative to your standard tortilla chip. The key to making a delicious banana peel chip is choosing the right type of peel and seasoning. Unripe banana peels can taste bitter, so opt for ripe ones. According to Tasting Table, banana peel chips are pretty simple to make. Briefly soak the peels in water, coat them with corn starch and seasoning — like paprika, oregano, and salt — then pan fry them with a bit of oil (via Rumble). You could also try baking them in the oven or putting them in a dehydrator, if you have one.

And don't forget about the dip for your chips. You could go classic and use salsa or guacamole, or keep it simple with some ketchup or hot sauce. Or you could double-down on the banana theme and prepare some banana chutney to dip them in.

Make banana peel chutney

What is chutney, you might wonder? Chutney is a condiment that is sort of, but not quite really, a jelly or a relish. Originating from India, this savory sauce is usually a mixture of fruits, vegetables, sugar, vinegar, and a variety of herbs — there are countless combinations of these ingredients you can use to make a chutney. For a banana peel chutney, Our Table for Seven recommends adding some chilies, cumin, and tamarind paste. Onions and garlic are always a good go-to as well.

To make your banana peel chutney, first you'll want to get your ingredients ready by slicing them up into small pieces, per Preserve and Pickle. Add the banana peels and any other fruits and vegetables you want to a large saucepan, cook them for several minutes, then add your vinegar, herbs, and any other spices. Bring this to a boil, then simmer and add sugar. You'll want to simmer the chutney for about one hour or until you reach the consistency you're going for. Chutney can be a great addition as a side dish or condiment to many meals, or a topping or dip for a classic charcuterie board.

Put them in your garden

Because banana peels are rich in nutrients, they make a great addition to compost. If you have a garden, composting your food scraps is an effective and budget-friendly way to boost the health of your soil and increase your garden yields. Putting compost in your garden can also keep pesky bugs and diseases away that could potentially ruin your plants. You could also brew up some banana peel tea and use it as fertilizer to water your plants, both inside and outside (per Wellness Mama).

If you don't have the time or space for a compost, you can still use banana peels as a natural pesticide. Simply cut up banana peels and circle the base of your plants with them to help fight aphids — those annoying tiny insects that love to take over our kale and rose bushes and seem impossible to get rid of organically. The potassium content in the peels should help to repel them (via Prevention). As an added bonus, banana peels are adored by butterflies, which are not only a beautiful addition to your garden, but important pollinator insects as well.

Make banana peel flour

Move over wheat. There's a new type of flour in town. While you probably won't want to entirely switch to banana peel flour just yet — it can be quite bitter — it's still a great alternative flour to have around. That's because a 2022 scientific study on banana peel flour found that it significantly increased the nutritional value of food with the dietary fiber and phenolic compounds it brings. The study suggests that substituting 10% of the flour content in a recipe with banana peel flour did not drastically change the flavor, but it did dramatically boost the health benefits. Eating more banana peel flour and less whole wheat flour may even help ease symptoms in long-term health conditions like diabetes and heart disease, the study suggests.

You can make your own banana peel flour by dicing and drying the peels in a dehydrator or placing them in the oven on a low temperature. Then, grind the dried peels with a mortar and pestle or in a food processor until you get a fine powder. Remember, a little goes a long way — adding too much banana peel flour can make your dish taste bitter (via Wellness Mama).

Use it to help keep your chicken tender

Slicing into a dried out chicken breast for dinner can be a big disappointment. In actuality, keeping your meat moist and tender while grilling is not an easy task — even the most experienced barbecue-obsessed folks struggle with it sometimes. This is especially true for lean meats like chicken, turkey, and pork. But don't worry: Keep your discarded banana peels around, and you'll be good to go. 

The next time you are cooking up some chicken breast, try placing slices of banana peels on top to help the meat retain its moisture as it roasts. The water content and oils in the peels help trap moisture in the meat while it cooks (per Tasting Table). It works as nature's aluminum foil, helping to steam the meat and keep all the goodness inside, so that every bite you take is juicy rather than a dehydrated desert.  

Cook banana peel curry

If you are a curry fan, why not add banana peels as an ingredient in your next meal? While it may sound like an odd addition, you wouldn't be the first one to do it. British chef Nigella Lawson says the flavor and texture of banana peels in curry is similar to "aubergine," the British word for eggplant (per Daily Mail). She said the same thing when she prepared a banana peel and cauliflower curry recipe from her cookbook, "Cook, Eat, Repeat," on television. "If you had to guess what the cut up banana peels were, without knowing, you'd be much more likely to think them related to eggplant," she told The New York Times.

When cooked in a curry, Lawson reports that the banana peels have a "luscious velvety texture" and are not too bitter, with a modest floral aftertaste. "I don't think I've received one negative comment from anyone who's cooked it themselves," she shared with The New York Times. "Some, certainly, said that they had doubts before they tasted it, but felt that they just had to try for themselves and were universally delighted." She goes on to compare banana peels to potatoes — you wouldn't eat a potato raw, nor a raw banana peel — but cooked up and seasoned, the peels taste exceptionally good.

Ward off the fruit flies with a banana peel trap

Are there fruit flies floating around your kitchen — again? While they don't bite, they sure are annoying. Save your banana peels to create the ultimate trap that contains fruit fly kryptonite. Fruit flies love fruit — it's in their name, after all. In fact, fruit flies have an incredible sense of smell, and their most prized aroma is bananas (per Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection). Instead of trying to kill them, you can build a cheap and effective trap that will capture about 99% of the fruit flies in your home. 

Place one or more banana peels inside a plastic take-out container and put the lid on. Poke three or four holes in the lid with a toothpick or small nail. Then, place your trap where the fruit flies seem to be gathering, and wait at least 24 hours. These bugs will be lured into the plastic container by the banana peels, but not be able to figure out how to get out — or maybe they won't even try, since they have everything they need right there. Take them far, far away from your kitchen, then release them back into the wild.

Soothe bug bites with banana peels

Have you ever heard that mosquitoes swarm around people who eat bananas? Well, it's not just an urban myth. A 2018 study published in Insects found that mosquitoes were more likely to buzz around and bite individuals after they consumed a banana. The study also found another substance that instantly draws salivating mosquitoes to your skin — beer. What a buzz kill. 

Luckily, if you love bananas and eat a lot of them, that means you will have a whole lot of banana peels lying around. They are actually a great tool for soothing bug bites. The next time you get an insect bite, massage the inside of a banana peel on your itchy, irritated skin. The inner layer of the peel contains polysaccharides, which are anti-inflammatories known to help soothe swelling (per Prevention). Alternatively, you could strip off the inside layer of the banana peel and mix it with other natural soothing ingredients, like rose water or cucumber, according to Only My Health.

Use a banana peel to whiten your teeth

Did you know you can rub banana peels on your teeth as a natural whitener? While there is not enough scientific evidence to back this claim up — yet — there are a lot of anecdotal stories out there about how it really works (per Healthline). It's also worth mentioning a scientific report published in Contemporary Clinical Dentistry that found the antimicrobial properties of banana peels are helpful in fighting bacteria that cause gum and teeth diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis.

The working theory for how banana peels help whiten teeth is that the salicylic acid and citric acid inside the peels help break down plaque and stains, while being gentle enough to keep your tooth enamel undamaged. Prevention recommends rubbing the inner side of a banana peel on your teeth directly after brushing for about 2 minutes every day to see results.