When your tidy bunch of bright-yellow bananas morphs into aggressively speckled and aromatic fruit, there’s only one course of action: Bake them into breakfast.
You could bake a loaf of banana bread, of course, but we’re partial to these muffins, which come together quickly and are perfect for grabbing on the go. Plus, you (probably) already have everything you need to make them, and they’re sure to be a hit with the entire family. Here’s how to make the absolute easiest banana muffins — no mixer or fancy ingredients required.
The Magic That Turns Bananas Brown
Bananas are climacteric fruits, which means they don’t have to ripen on the plant. In fact, they’re often picked when the peels are green and the flesh is firm, starchy, and unripe to minimize the bumps and bruises that come with shipping from farm to grocery store. Then, to ripen, bananas are exposed to ethylene gas (either naturally or artificially), which changes their starches to sugars, softens the fruity flesh, and gradually turns the peel from green, to yellow, to freckled, to brown.
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The day (or two!) after the green vanishes from the banana but before the first freckles appear is the only time I’ll eat a banana off the bunch. After that, it’s a waiting game until I can make muffins. When the yellow peel begins to darken and sugar spots appear, it’s time to get the muffin pan out. You’ll need four ripe bananas for these easy muffins, but if you have more brown bananas left over, I recommend making banana pudding, a smoothie, or banana ice cream.
Craving banana bread or muffins but don’t have overripe bananas? Try this trick to ripen them quickly in the oven.
The Easiest-Ever Banana Muffins
I’m of the mindset that the simplest way is often the right way, at least when it comes to banana muffins (despite what some recipes may claim). And it doesn’t get easier than this one-bowl, no-mixer-required recipe filled with pantry ingredients you probably have on hand. To start, mash the ripe bananas in a large mixing bowl. A fork is the obvious tool for this task, but the bottom of a whisk, a potato masher, or even your hands (ahem, or your kids’ clean hands) will do the job.
Canola oil — not butter — is my go-to for banana muffins for a number of reasons. Butter is composed of fat, milk solids, and water. So it can weigh down muffins and strengthen gluten (which could lead to dense and chewy muffins … not what we’re going for here), while oil gives the muffins a light, moist texture. Oil also incorporates seamlessly into the batter in a single pour, saving you the extra steps of melting or creaming butter into the batter. Lastly, oil’s neutral flavor lets the sweet, floral banana flavor shine through.
Mix the oil, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla with the mashed banana, then add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir the ingredients until just combined, and that’s it! Need a little something extra in your muffin? Add 1/2 cup chopped nuts or chocolate chips, a splash of bourbon (thanks for the tip, Deb!), or a sprinkling of spice. Scoop into muffin tins, top with sparkly turbinado sugar if you like a crunchy cap, and bake until golden.
Cooking spray or paper muffin liners
very ripe large bananas
- 1/2 cup
- 3/4 cup
packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon
- 1 1/2 cups
- 1 teaspoon
- 1/2 teaspoon
- 6 teaspoons
granulated or turbinado sugar (optional), divided
Standard 12-well muffin pan
Measuring cups and spoons
Ice cream scoop (optional)
Heat the oven to 350ºF and prepare a muffin pan. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Coat the wells of a 12-well muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
Mash the bananas. Place the bananas in a large bowl and use the bottom of a whisk or a fork to mash into a purée. A few small lumps of banana are ok. You should have about 2 cups mashed banana.
Whisk the wet ingredients together. Add the oil, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract and whisk until combined.
Stir in the dry ingredients. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, and stir with a rubber spatula until just incorporated but no dry spots remain.
Divide the batter. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin wells, filling each one to the top, a heaping 1/2 cup of batter per well.
Top the muffins with sugar. Sprinkle each muffin with 1/2 teaspoon granulated or turbinado sugar, if desired.
Bake and cool the muffins. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until the muffins are golden, the tops bounce back when pressed, and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes total. Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Storage: Muffins will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Muffins can also be frozen for up to 3 months, then thawed at room temperature.
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