Ever since I was first introduced to plantains way back, I’ve been hooked. It started when one of my elderly neighbors in Winston-Salem, who is Puerto Rican, would make me fried plantains every week. She invited me into her home after a few months and taught me how to make them, and even gifted me one of her tostoneras which I used all the time until I sadly lost it in one of my subsequent four moves.
Plantains also remind me of when I was falling in love with Tommy. Shortly after we started dating, I moved 2 hours away to Charlotte, but we wanted to keep dating, so we’d meet in a small town, Salisbury, NC, halfway between Charlotte (where I was living) and Winston-Salem (where he lived). We always dined at an amazing Cuban restaurant, Mambo Grill. It was tiny and very off the beaten path but had incredible vaca frita and plantains. Now they have a HUGE restaurant space in downtown Salisbury, so suffice to say, they are doing well, and I highly recommend it if you’re ever in the area!
Here’s why I love fried plantains: they are super easy to fry, quick to make, and absolutely delicious! I also love them because they make the perfect side or snack for the occasions when a well-prepared, gourmet meal just isn’t in the cards. They’re also a great source of carbs, which is important if you’re a runner! They’re probably tied with sweet potatoes as my favorite source of carbs – well, that and bread!
Best Fried Plantain Recipe
So, what are fried plantains?
Fried plantains are a traditional side dish from the Caribbean, although many countries in central and South America use them as well. I think almost every country has a different name for their “fried plantains.” And depending on how they’re prepared, they might have a different name, such as tostones. But, to make it easier for this recipe post, I’ll continue using “fried plantain.”
Plantains are part of the banana family, but unlike a banana, they are best cooked before eating. Similar to a banana, the riper your plantain, the sweeter it is. Even though they have a slightly sweet taste, they work surprisingly well with savory dishes and are delicious when salted.
Fried plantains are SO versatile and go with so many different dishes. I’ve served them with taco nights, and I’ve had them as a side with burgers, salads, and sandwiches since they are so much faster to make than roasting potatoes or making french fries.
What Goes in the Best Fried Plantain Recipe
Not much! They’re simple to make!
2 ripe plantains
2-3 Tablespoons of coconut oil
Sea salt to taste (optional but highly recommend)
Cut off both ends of the plantains. Then cut slits down the long side of each plantain from end to end. I make 2-3 slits per plantain to make for easier peeling.
Remove the plantain peel. I recommend peeling from the side rather than lengthwise (opposite of how you would peel a banana). A plantain peel is much thicker and stronger, so you may need to use a knife to loosen the edge of the peel from the flesh of the plantain.
Cut the plantain flesh. You can cut it diagonally (for a larger surface area for caramelization) or cut it straight across. I prefer my plantains sliced diagonally so I can get a little more caramelization.
Pour enough oil in a large skillet to coat it, and then place the stovetop on medium heat to heat oil.
When the oil begins to simmer (but not smoke!), add enough plantains to lie flat in the skillet but don’t let them overlap.
Fry the plantains until golden brown. This usually takes about 1-2 minutes per side. If you want charred plantains, use medium-high heat.
Flip plantains to cook on the other side for 1-2 minutes
When cooked to your liking, remove plantains from the skillet and place them on a plate with paper towels so they can drain any excess oil.
Continue frying up the rest of your plantains in batches until finished.
Sprinkle sea salt on top and enjoy!
How To Make The Best Fried Plantain
Fried Green Plantains
Another variation to this fried plantain recipe is to use green plantains. You can tell they are green plantains because the outside peel is green. Fried green plantains are also called tostones and are usually best twice-fried. Once you finish Steps 1-10, you flatten the fried plantains with a slotted spoon or imusa and REFRY them. It’s super yummy and worth the extra fry.
As mentioned above, you can use green plantains, but I like using yellow plantains that are starting to turn black. The peel should have a dull yellow color with black patches or be completely black. The blacker the peel, the riper the plantain. A super ripe plantain will give you sweet fried plantains, which are a delicious side dish or snack for practically every meal (in my opinion)
Use what you have, but if you don’t want your plantains to stick to the surface, try using a nonstick pan or a well seasoned cast iron skillet. Since cooked plantains have higher sugar content, the sugar seeps out and can burn quickly.
Oil or Butter
I use coconut oil, but any other neutral-based oil works, too. Just don’t use too much oil because you’ll end up with soggy plantains. If you don’t want to use coconut oil, you can use a few tablespoons of butter and fry the plantains in the same manner –until slightly browned or caramelized on both sides.
The sky’s the limit on how to season your fried plantains. I like to keep it simple with sea salt, but you can sprinkle a little cayenne pepper, chili powder, fry it with some fresh garlic, lime juice, or even top it with some parmesan or mozzarella cheese on top. You really can’t go wrong.
If you want crispy, chip-like plantains, you’ll want to make your slices extra thin. You also need to pay close attention while they fry since they burn easier and quicker. I usually don’t try to make plantain “chips” since it’s a little too finicky, but if you do it, let me know how it goes!