12 Ways To Use Banana Peels Before You Throw Them Out

Besides being a common snack food in their own right, bananas show up in everything from smoothies to morning cereal to ultra-decadent takes on Elvis Presley's favorite grilled cheese sandwich. For every banana consumed, however, there's a peel to deal with. If you're like most people, you chuck it straight into the wastebasket and never think about it again. The environment shouldn't be impacted; it's all-natural, after all. Plus, you can't eat banana peels, so they're completely useless once they're done protecting their sweet, soft reason for being — isn't that right?


It turns out these assumptions about this ubiquitous food waste product are 100% wrong. For one, banana peels are the furthest thing in the world from good-for-nothing garbage. They're edible and rich in nutrients like fiber, phosphorus, potassium, and antioxidants, making them a goldmine for the health-conscious. Beyond food, they have a surprising number of applications ranging from our skin to our hair to our gardens to our silverware. Alas, they're also contributing to climate change. As Forbes reports, we discard banana peels to the tune of 3.5 million tons annually, and during the two years it takes them to decompose, they emit excessive greenhouse gasses. So, considering the usefulness of banana peels and the impact they have on the planet, consider one of these 12 uses for them instead of immediately tossing them once you've extracted the delicious treasure inside.


Cook chicken with banana peels for extra juiciness

Juicy chicken is a holy grail in the culinary world. It can be a challenge to keep chicken moist during the cooking process, particularly if you're working with cuts that tend to dry out more easily, like breasts. The culprit behind white meat's dryness is twofold: its lower fat content and lower levels of the protein myoglobin compared to dark meat. These traits make it easy to overcook white meat, which will draw out too much of its juiciness and leave you with dry, stringy results.


Believe it or not, banana peels are the secret to juicier chicken. To harness the moisturizing power of your peels, simply tear them in half and place them in the pan with your chicken, ensuring they're making contact with either the top or bottom of the meat. The peels are rich in moisture, which is released as steam and absorbed by the chicken when roasted together. The peels will also transfer some of their flavor, so choose recipes that will play nicely with their distinct fruitiness.

Stop your itching by pressing them against rashes and bug bites

Bringing bananas along on your next outdoor excursion might be an even better idea than you originally thought — and not just because they're a tasty recovery aid after physical activity. Some proponents of traditional medicine claim that banana peels have the ability to provide relief from the discomforts of poison ivy, bug bites, and sunburn. Scientific research has also discovered anti-inflammatory compounds in banana peels, so it would make sense that we feel soothing relief after applying the peels to itchy skin conditions.


To use banana peels for your itches, press the inside of the peel into your skin. It's as simple as that. We do have one caveat: If you did happen to get too up-close and personal with poison ivy or another plant with irritant properties, don't run for the banana peel option first. Instead, as the American Academy of Dermatology Association explains, prioritize washing the area with either rubbing alcohol, poison ivy wash, or either dishwashing or laundry detergent.

Make a banana peel paste that will have your silver sparkling

When your silver is tarnished, your first impulse may be to reach for a traditional chemical silverware polish. There's another option, though — one that doesn't come with poisonous hydrocarbons and ammonia. Though it may seem counterintuitive, banana peels hold the secret power to shine up your silverware or silver jewelry when it needs some TLC.


To tackle tarnished silver, simply cut up one to several banana peels (depending on how much paste you want to make), and combine them in a blender with a small bit of water. Dip a microfiber cloth or toothbrush into the paste and apply it to the tarnished section of your silver. As you rub the paste in, you'll see the tarnish begin to dissolve. Once your silver is again gleaming, rinse off the banana peel paste and dry the silver. You're now ready to set out that silverware or flash that silver ring in the sun.

Give gardens a boost by incorporating banana peels

If you're a gardener, you may already be aware that coffee grounds can upgrade compost. However, there's another type of food waste with the potential to supercharge your soil: Banana peels are an excellent fertilizer for vegetables, with their rich reserves of vital magnesium, calcium, potassium, sulfur, phosphates, and sodium. They're not just good for vegetables, though; their nutrients also aid both flowering and fruiting plants. To bring this goodness to your garden, simply cut the banana peels into small pieces and add them to your compost pile (cutting the peels first ensures they break down more quickly).


There are other ways to use banana peels to make your plants grow better. To address potassium deficiency, for instance, you can make your own all-natural liquid fertilizer by leaving sliced-up banana peels in a bucket or container of water for a couple of days or so. The potassium in the banana peels should leach out into the water — the other elements probably will not. Once you've strained the liquid, it's ready to use. Keep in mind it's impossible to gauge the quantity of potassium in your DIY liquid fertilizer, so do a spot test before using it in earnest.

Add them to your batter to enhance your cakes

If the thought of putting banana peels in your cake batter makes you squirm a little, take heart: Not only is banana peel edible, but it's commonly featured in Indian, Southeast Asian, and Venezuelan cuisines — it's not some experimental, new-fangled ingredient. But why put it in a banana cake? As it turns out, banana peels add a soft, fluffy texture and a nice bit of moisture to cakes. Even better, if you like some nutrients with your dessert, you'll be glad to hear that the peels contain an abundance of vitamins B6 and B12, plus fiber, the aforementioned magnesium, and, of course, banana's most famous contribution: potassium.


Since you'll be consuming the skin of the fruit, it's a good idea to opt for organic bananas. Otherwise, give your peels a good scrub with fruit and veggie wash before puréeing them in a food processor. The resulting mixture should be smooth, dark brown, and have a definite "banana" smell to it. Prepare the rest of your cake ingredients as usual. If you're baking from scratch, you can add the puréed banana peels at the same time you add the flour and the baking powder. If working from a box, prepare your cake batter first per the instructions, and add the banana mixture to it once it's hit the right consistency.

Rub them on your shoes in place of polish, and enjoy the shine

Picture this scenario: You've gotten all dressed up for a big event only to discover that your shoes are looking the worse for wear. Scuffed and dull, they're downgrading your entire look. You start running around the house searching for shoe polish (do you even own any?), but quickly realize there's just no time for this hunt. Believe it or not, your outfit's salvation is in your kitchen, sitting in the fruit bowl.


Not only can the potassium in banana peels make your silverware gleam, it can also polish your shoes in a pinch. To work that 'nana magic on your footwear, start by brushing off any debris adhering to the shoes; you want the peel to contact the material directly, not the mud stuck to it. Next, rub the inside of a banana peel across the entire surface of the shoe and finish by polishing with a clean microfiber cloth.

Soften and moisturize your skin with banana peels

Fans of skincare and beauty, this is for you. You're probably already aware that antioxidants like vitamins A and C in serums and creams — not to mention in your diet — play a vital role in keeping your skin soft, glowing, and supple while protecting from oxidative stress (think secondhand smoke or the much-maligned sun). Good serums don't come cheap, though. A vitamin C serum, for instance, will cost you anywhere from about $15 to $180. Wouldn't it be great if you could give your face a glow-up using a common, natural ingredient that costs a dollar or less at your local grocery?


Unripe bananas are especially high in potentially skin-friendly nutrients like potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. They also have a generous dose of silica, which plays a part in collagen synthesis. Maybe all this is why TikTok's vibrant skincare community has gone through a major "banana peel as natural Botox" phase, with proponents swearing that simply rubbing the inside of a peel across their faces tightens pores and softens skin.

With such glowing (see what we did there?) testimonials, there's no reason not to try this skincare hack yourself. Just be sure to adjust your expectations — experts say banana peels aren't likely to have the significant effects you'd see from properly formulated products.


Fry up the brown ones for banana peel bacon

Pork bacon's probably not going anywhere; it's just one of those foods whose popularity never seems to wane for long. Still, as we become more conscious of the impact our food choices have on our health and the environment, more Americans are opting for a flexitarian lifestyle and searching for ways to reduce food waste. That means finding tasty alternatives to animal-sourced ingredients that, from a health perspective, are either not so awesome to eat daily or have a high carbon footprint — or both. Bacon, alas, falls into both categories, with a salt content that could increase your risk of stomach cancer and a notable place among meat's top contributors to carbon emissions. Basically, it's good to have a plant-based substitute for everyone's favorite pork product in your meal rotation.


Though it may sound a little odd, very ripe banana peels make a great bacon alternative. Your taste buds aren't going to find a carbon copy of pork bacon in bacon made from banana peels, but you can certainly approximate its appearance and can even replicate the highlights of its flavor profile with one simple technique: marinating. Let the sliced peels sit in a blend of bacon-esque spices like smoked paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder, along with Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, maple syrup, and a dash of liquid smoke. Then fry them up or bake them until they're crispy and brown, and see what you think!

Sleep better by boiling up banana peel tea

If you're one of the 50 to 70 million Americans who has issues with sleep, you know how challenging and even potentially dangerous exhaustion can be. You've also probably tried your share of sleep-inducing medications, from doctor-prescribed tablets to OTC aids to naturopathic remedies. Maybe they worked for a while, or maybe they didn't do anything. Perhaps the side effects or associated risks weren't worth the zzz's. Either way, you're still reading this, so you're at least curious about how banana peels might mitigate insomnia. Here's how.


Bananas themselves contain a number of sleep-friendly nutrients. One medium-sized fruit contains 2.5% to 4.5% of your recommended daily allowance of tryptophan (famed for post-Thanksgiving-turkey naps). In addition, a banana's 12% to 16% of your daily intake for potassium may also contribute to higher-quality sleep. Magnesium is another micronutrient found to be associated with better sleep; it's in bananas, too.

When banana skins are boiled, these nutrients probably leach out into the water, though to what degree is uncertain. Still, there is some positive anecdotal evidence of their effect on sleep, so whether it stems from banana peels' nutrients or simply the ritual of making it, it's worth a shot. To brew a cup, cut the ends off an organic banana peel and bring it to a boil in 1 and ¼ cups of water. Cover and simmer on low for about 10 minutes. Remove the peel and drink the water, adding your choice of flavorings.


Tape a piece to your skin overnight to eradicate warts

Warts are harmless skin infections caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). They're very common, especially in kids aged 12 to 16, and they typically go away on their own within two years. They can be a little annoying during that period, though. They're occasionally itchy, and they often appear on the face, hands, feet, and knees — pretty visible areas of the body. It's no surprise people have been battling warts since time immemorial, trying everything from rubbing meat on the wart to applying a potentially dangerous blister agent produced by beetles. So, if your skin is currently home to a wart or two, you might be interested in trying the banana peel trick to send it on its way.


Treating warts with a banana peel is as simple as cutting off a piece of not-too-ripe peel, placing the inside of it over your wart, and taping it there overnight. How effective is it? As with banana peel tea for sleep, the evidence for success is anecdotal rather than scientific. Still, the banana peel method is safe (and arguably less weird than rubbing raw meat on a wart), so it's worth a shot.

Apply banana peels to acne to banish your spots

If you have acne or had it in the past, you've probably dedicated more than a little time and money to eradicating it, and you wouldn't be alone. Acne may be common and physically harmless, but it can affect one's self-esteem and quality of life. According to Statista, the global acne medication market in 2022 totaled $9.9 billion U.S. dollars. Out of the myriad of acne medications available, some of them work better than others — and some are accompanied by serious side effects and risks.


Once again, banana peels have the potential to step in and work their magic. One study examined banana peel's anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects on acne vulgaris, with some promising results in terms of lessening the severity of the skin condition. To try this potential remedy for yourself, first wash your face with cleanser and water and dry it gently. Take a section of a ripe banana peel and rub it on the affected areas of your face for about 10 minutes. If the peel oxidizes and turns black during your treatment, discard it and cut off a new piece to use. Let the residue remain on your skin for several hours or overnight, and continue the process over the next few days.

Steam and shred them for a vegan pulled beef sandwich

If you're a vegan, especially one new to the animal-eschewing lifestyle, you're probably always looking out for good plant-based takes on some of the tastiest world cuisines. Now, there's a particular Brazilian dish no longer off the table for you. Carne louca, or "crazy beef," is a common party food that involves shredded eye of round or beef chuck. It's typically served as a sandwich or on crackers.


To make the meatless version that's popular among Brazilian vegans, you'll first steam banana peels and then scrape the pulp and residue off of them. Use a fork to shred them into thin "pulled pork"-looking strips, and fry these with spices and barbecue sauce. Riper peels come with a faster cooking time, so keep an eye on the pulled peels' texture in the pan; you want them to be tender enough to chew but firm enough to keep their structural integrity. Once done, serve on bread with coleslaw, and savor the fact that you've found the perfect way to use up banana peels while expanding your meat-free horizons.