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Subtly sweet and deliciously flavoured milk with real banana and a hint of vanilla, Korean banana milk (바나나 우유 / banana uyu) is super popular in Korea for a reason. It isn’t thick like a smoothie, instead it is rich and silky but with a thin viscosity. It makes a refreshing, light snack. This version is refined sugar-free. You can also make it dairy-free and vegan if desired. Kids (and adults) love this drink. And it is packed full of vitamins from the whole banana in each serving.
History of Korean banana milk
In the early 1970s, the South Korean government wanted to encourage its people to drink more milk to address malnutrition concerns. While it was difficult to inspire interest in ‘boring, ordinary’ milk, the Binggrae company found the solution in bananas. Bananas were rare and expensive in Korea at the time, so in order to taste this wonderful fruit, one would instead indulge in a delicious banana-flavoured milk.
Today, around a million Binggrae banana milk drinks are sold in Korea each day, with over six billion sold since they began production in 1974. The drink has very successfully expanded into other countries, and there are numerous other brands that produce versions of banana milk as well. It is sold in small plastic bottles that resemble hangari (항아리) – traditional Korean earthenware jars used for preserving pickled goods such as kimchi (김치), or for making alcohol like makgeolli (막걸리). The drink makes regular appearance in another of Korea’s famous exports, K pop, and is a nostalgic treat for many Koreans that reminds them of the joys of the simpler time and happiness of childhood.
If you want to try the original Binggrae banana milk, it is available for purchase on Amazon in some countries. Otherwise, I recommend checking your local Korean grocer or a large Asian supermarket.
You may be wondering, if you can easily buy it, why make your own. Well, there are a few reasons. (1) It’s healthier. You’re using a sweet, ripe, fresh banana that is packed full of vitamins. (2) There are zero additives. (3) It only takes one minute to make it. That’s more than enough reasons for me!
How to make it
Making this is so easy! Simply add all of the ingredients (banana, milk, water, maple syrup, vanilla) into a blender. Or, put into a container to blend with an immersion blender. Blend them together until they are completely smooth, like milk. Pour into a glass and serve immediately. Because there are no additives to prevent it, the banana will begin to darken as it sits. And after sitting for awhile, the drink will begin to show some separation (easy to fix with a brisk stir or shake).
Although some enjoy this drink at room temperature, it is best served cold. That’s why we use ice cold water to make it, and serving immediately helps too. If you want it even colder, although not traditional, you can serve it with some ice cubes to keep it nice and chilled.
This Korean banana milk tastes mostly of banana and creamy milk, with hints of vanilla and maple.
Yes, you can refrigerate for up to two days. However, the longer the drink sits, the darker the banana will become as there are no additives to prevent this. Also, the drink will show signs of separation. If not drinking immediately, I recommend at least drinking the same day. Be sure to give the drink a good shake or whisking to resolve any separation that has occurred.
Simply swap out the milk in this recipe for unsweetened oat milk. Oat milk has the closest resemblance to milk, making it the best substitute for this recipe.
Looking for something else refreshing? I highly recommend you try my strawberry rhubarb smoothies! They are so yummy.Print
Slightly sweet and deliciously flavoured milk with real banana and a hint of vanilla, Korean banana milk is famous for a reason. This drink is refined sugar-free, and can be made vegan and dairy-free.
1 ripe banana, medium-sized, broken into large pieces
1/2 cup (118 ml) milk – whole, 2%, or skim (see note for dairy-free option*)
1/2 cup (118 ml) ice cold water
2 tsp maple syrup**
1/8 tsp pure vanilla extract
Serve immediately. This drink is best served cold, which is why you use ice cold water to make it. Although not traditional, you can serve with ice cubes to keep it chilled.
* To make a dairy-free and vegan version of this drink, simply swap the milk for an equal amount of unsweetened oat milk. Oat milk has the closest resemblance to milk, making it the best substitute for this recipe.
** If you don’t have maple syrup, I recommend substituting it with honey (2.5 tsp). The original Binggrae drink contains some light floral notes, which the maple syrup and honey add. Granulated sugar (1.5 tsp) can be used instead, but you will be missing the floral taste.
You can store banana milk in the fridge for up to two days. However, the banana will get darker as it sits. Separation will occur as well, which can be resolved by shaking or whisking. This drink is best served immediately.
Keywords: Korean banana milk