6 Types of Bananas You Need to Know About

  • From Apple Bananas to Williams Bananas

    Different Types of Bananas at Market
    Many Bananas. Photo © Nicolas Ayer / EyeEm

    If you’re lucky enough to live in a banana-growing climate, your farmers market or local store may well sell a variety of bananas. To those of you in less tropical climes, such variety seems like sheer madness—and something to look for when you visit.

    What all bananas have in common is a fairly starchy texture, a mildly sweet flavor as compared to other tropical fruits, and the wonderful ability to keep ripening after they’ve been plucked (well, hacked off) from the trees on which they’ve grown. As tropical fruits, bananas don’t care for the chill of the fridge, so it’s best to store them at room temperature, where they’ll continue to ripen gradually. If you want to speed things up, simply pop them in a paper bag.

    Have too many bananas to handle? Throw them in the freezer—still in the peel, if you want! Their texture won’t be great for simply eating, but frozen bananas make smoothies with milk shake-like thickness and are perfect for baking banana bread or banana muffins.

    Check out the range of banana possibilities that follow.

  • Apple Bananas

    Small Apple Bananas
    Apple Bananas. Photo © Maximilian Stock Ltd.

    Apple bananas are exceptionally sweet, hence their other name, Candy Apple Banana. They are grown in the rainy tropical forests in Hawaii. Their flesh is firm and has a slight pinkish tone. The sweet, moist fruit is perfect for snacking or using in desserts and is particularly well suited to adding to fruit salads and other raw preparations since it doesn’t brown as quickly as other banana varieties.

  • Cavendish Bananas

    Bunches of Bananas
    Cavendish Bananas. Photo © Hemant Jain / EyeEm

    Cavendish bananas are the most common variety. They are the long yellow, slightly sweet bananas at supermarkets around the U.S. They go from under-ripe green to perfectly ripe and still firm mellow yellow, to more ripe deep yellow with a brown spot or two, to super soft and browning. The perfect ripeness depends on personal taste, of course. Super ripe and browning bananas can be thrown in the fridge—peel and all—and peeled and used to make smoothies or banana bread.

    Williams bananas are the same…MORE

  • Lady Finger Bananas

    Bunch of Lady Finger Bananas
    Lady Finger Bananas. Photo © Getty Images

    Lady finger bananas are smaller and sweeter than the ubiquitous longer, milder Cavendish. They can be used the same way, but make particularly portion-controlled snacks, especially for kids.

  • Pisang Raja

    Banana Friiters
    Pisang Raja Fritters.

    Pisang Raja bananas are popular in Indonesia, where they are often used to make banana fritters, as pictured here. They are also known as Musa Belle bananas.

  • Red Bananas

    Bunch of Red Bananas
    Red Bananas. Photo © Design Pics Inc/Getty Images

    There are many types of red bananas, but they share two key things in common: 1) they look super cool, and 2) they tend to be on the sweeter side of the banana flavor family. Eat them out of hand or add them to dishes, but when they’re red, they’re ready to eat!

  • Cooking Bananas

    Green Bananas for Cooking
    Cooking Bananas. Photo © DEGAS Jean-Pierre/Getty Images

    Cooking bananas, like plantains, are better thought of as potatoes than as bananas. They can be roasted, steamed, fried into chips (yum!), and otherwise used like any starchy vegetable. They are sold green, and many different types of bananas can be used as “cooking bananas” while they’re still green and starchy.