old bananas

New life for old bananas, part 1

18 August 2010

Rorschach test: do you see nasty old bananas, or do you see possibility? Guess what chinese grandma sees?

I love old bananas, because they call out “BAKE ME!” There’s pretty much nothing I love better than a good baked treat. Put that together with a compulsive desire not to let anything go to waste, and a bunch of old bananas becomes a must-bake situation.

The last thing I did before going away for the weekend was to stick this bunch of very ripe bananas in the fridge. I knew the only takers they would attract while I was away would be fruit flies. So I decided to save them for a better fate upon my return (in case you didn’t know, bananas in the fridge turn brown but stop ripening). This morning my six old bananas became 36 banana-chocolate chip muffins (12 regular, 24 mini) and one jumbo loaf of banana bread – upon which my four children descended like fruit flies on overripe bananas. 

I’ll start here with the banana-chocolate chip muffins:

My great friend Nancy turned me on to this recipe, which is originally from allrecipes.com (I love allrecipes.com – awesome volume of user reviews and every recipe you can imagine). Nancy made me these muffins after the birth of my third child (I think it was the third?) and I’ve been making them ever since. Nancy’s version substitutes flaxseed meal for some of the oil (I know it sounds weird to substitute a solid for a liquid, but amazingly it works), and I use butter instead of oil because I like it.

This recipe should only take 10 minutes to put together, but today it took me at least twice as long due to unsolicited help from my four-year-old (no one wanting to get a task done quickly would solicit help from a four-year-old). But he loves to bake, and I am hopeful that my patience today will someday be rewarded in home-baked goods that I didn’t have to bake myself. Look for little hands in the pictures.

Starting with the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder and soda):

Adding flaxseed meal, which by the way if you’ve never purchased it looks something like this:

Now the wet ingredients (butter, eggs, yogurt, vanilla) in a separate bowl. I can take this action picture because I never measure my vanilla:

Onto the bananas, looking better on the inside than they did on the outside:

Mash with fork:

Until nice and squishy:

Now add mashed banana, wet ingredients and chocolate chips to dry ingredients. Don’t overmix (muffins don’t take kindly to too much beating):

I like to use a small ice cream scoop to fill my muffin tins:

This recipe makes exactly 12 medium and 24 mini muffins, which is perfect because these are the only tins I have:

And I use my convection oven and bake them all at the same time because I’m impatient:

When the kitchen starts smelling delicious, they’re almost ready. Watch for nice browned tops, and feel for springy surfaces. I give them just a couple of minutes to cool, then pop them out with a chopstick (so as not to scratch my pans):

Not a bad reincarnation for tired old bananas. Quick picture before the kids eat them all:

Here’s my version of the recipe with the flaxseed variation included. But you can also see the original recipe here, if like me you enjoy reading the recipe reviews: allrecipes.com recipe.

Banana chocolate chip muffins
Light textured and delicious muffins – sweet banana moistness with a chocolate bite.


  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar (1/2 cup is enough if you have very ripe bananas)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted (FLAXSEED VARIATION – substitute 3/4 cup flaxseed meal for 1/4 cup of the butter)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed banana (~3 bananas)
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt (if using flaxseed variation, add flaxseed to dry ingredients).
  3. In another bowl mix melted butter, egg, plain yogurt and vanilla.
  4. Mash bananas and add to butter-egg-yogurt mixture.
  5. Pour banana mixture into dry ingredients. Add chocolate chips. Mix until just combined.
  6. Fill muffin tins (greased or lined with muffin cups) 2/3 full.
  7. Bake until tops are brown and toothpick comes out clean. Cook times will vary depending on how full you like your muffins – approximately 15 minutes for mini muffins or 25 minutes for regular muffins.

Makes approximately 16 muffins.


  • It seems strange to substitute a solid (flaxseed meal) for a liquid (butter), but it works. The flaxseed substitution is 3 T flaxseed meal = 1 T butter/oil. So in this case we took out 4 T (1/4 c) butter and added 12 T (3/4 c) flaxseed meal.
  • My friend Nancy uses olive oil instead of butter, and she cuts the sugar to 1/3 cup.
  • This recipe is also great with dried fruit and/or nuts instead of chocolate chips.
  • I fill my muffin tins 2/3 full, like we used to before everything became super-sized. With the kids, it’s handier to have smaller portions, and I with this recipe I make exactly 12 regular sized and 24 mini muffins.

Here’s the link for printing:

Banana chocolate chip muffin recipe for printing

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Joy 4 October 2010 at 2:38 am

You made me hungry grandma! Thanks for reminding me this recipe. I’m totally baking banana bread tomorrow morning :).


Katherine 10 October 2010 at 11:55 pm

For all the flaxseed substitute skeptics out there, it worked! We bake all the time, read Cook’s Illustrated, and vet new recipes by reading all the reviews, but I was still worried about substituting a “dry” ingredient for a wet one. I also didn’t know how the kiddies would take to it. I figured they wouldn’t even notice with chocolate chips mixed in. They didn’t.

Thanks for the photos. I did notice my batter was feeling kind of dry so I compared to yours. It was. I had also decreased sugar to 1/2 cup and substituted part of the flour for whole wheat. So, I added a few splashes of milk until it felt right.

And they came out yummy. I’m going to be adding flaxseed to my pumpkin muffins next.


cg 11 October 2010 at 11:38 am

katherine, thanks for the report! i am excited the muffins were a success in your house. i know, it does seem like a funny substitution – i double checked too when my friend nancy told me about it – but it works. now that you have the flaxseed meal, you can try the flaxseed pancakes…chocolate chips again there to keep the kids happy. =)


Laura Drum 12 October 2010 at 9:25 pm

Do you think I could use 3/4 cup flax seed to replace 1/4 of the butter and 1/4 cup apple sauce to replace the other 1/4 cup of butter – so there would be no butter in the recipe.

Check out my pumpkin bran bread on my blog – I’d love to try it with flax seed too!



cg 13 October 2010 at 8:45 pm

try it and let me know how it goes! i’m guessing it’ll taste fine fresh out of the oven, but i think you’ll need some butter/oil to keep it moist later. but who knows? have to try it to know for sure. love to hear if you do.


cg 13 October 2010 at 9:35 pm

btw, pumpkin bran bread sounds yummy. pumpkin bread tastes like fall…and leaves are coming down here like crazy. i look forward to trying it!


Laura Drum 16 October 2010 at 2:21 pm

I tried the recipe with the flax seed and apple sauce! Turned out great!



cc 19 June 2011 at 9:39 pm

Couldn’t wait to make these for my banana and chocolate-loving son! Since he’s allergic to dairy and eggs, I used Earth Balance soy butter, egg substitute and strawberry soy yogurt (didn’t happen to have plain on hand…). They turned out so moist, light and delicious you’d never guess it was vegan. This is definitely going to be a staple around our house from now on 🙂


cg 20 June 2011 at 12:08 pm

good to know that the dairy and egg substitutes work – that’s such helpful feedback for others. i’m working on testing more substitutions for my recipes too – i’ve made these with rice flour for a good gluten-free version, and i think next time i’ll try a mix of rice and oat flour. one of these days i’m going to add notes on the recipes with food allergy substitutions, and i’ll definitely use your input. thanks!


kim 5 July 2011 at 2:01 pm

yummy! made this today with oat gluten free flour and the flax…and greek yogurt. lots of good stuff in there. loved it!


BlondeBomber 8 November 2011 at 1:51 pm

These look so delish!! I had some of thebest cupcakes ever a few weeks ago and they were like these muffins – with banana and chocolate chips. I love your healthier spin with the flax, though! I need to make these. THANKS!


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