An easy tutorial on How to Make Fried Plantains for a delicious side dish and culinary adventure! This post includes everything you need to know about frying plantains, including how to choose the best plantains, what type of oil to use, and more!
The first time I had fried plantains was in my dorm, circa 2004. I had gone off to college and the very first friend I made lived across the dorm hall from me and she was from El Salvador.
We would find creative ways of baking cookies using our very limited cooking tools, and when she introduced me to platanos (plantains), my life changed for the absolute better!
There is nothing in this world like fried sweet plantains. When they’re good, they’re absolutely addicting.
Before we go too deep…
What Are Plantains?:
Ever find those enormous green-brown bananas at the grocery store? Those are typically amazing for cooking, as they are starchy, hold up during the frying process, and are sweet but not overly so. In this sense, plantains are more of a savory version of banana.
Upon researching plantains, I learned the term, “plantain” is loosely used to refer to “cooking bananas,” or green bananas, but not all bananas that are typically referred to as plantains are true plantains.
Visually, the difference is pretty obvious between a good “cooking banana” (or plantain) and regular bananas. Cooking bananas are larger, have thicker skin, are starchier, and not nearly as sweet as the bananas you would typically buy for smoothies or a snack.
Plantains can be eaten raw, but because the flavor and texture is improved by frying them, they are more frequently fried than eaten raw. Plantains are a staple in the cuisines of Central America, South America, the Caribbean, and Central Africa. In many of these areas, fried plantains are served alongside a main entree the same way French Fries are in the U.S.
Best Plantains for Frying:
Ripe sweet plantains are those with dull yellow skin with many patches of black. The darker they are, the sweeter they are. These sweet plantains are typically the preferred ones for frying. Less ripe plantains are still green with patches of black.
Just like banana preferences, some people prefer less sweet plantains, while others prefer sweeter.
In my opinion, the best plantains for frying are ripe, sweet, yellow and black plantains. It can be difficult to find them at the grocery store at peak ripeness so sometimes you will need to wait until they ripen up for the sweetest result.
How to Cut Plantains:
There are many approaches to frying plantains, as some individuals make them thin and crispy (closer to chips) while others keep them thicker for a molten-gooey sweet inside with a crispy exterior (typically known as Maduros).
First, you will need to remove the thick outer skin. To do so, I use a knife to run a long cut down the length of the plantain, and then peel it off.
For completely crispy plantains (or plantain chips), slice the plantains length-wise in strips, less than ¼ inch thick.
For plantains that have that sweet, molten interior, slice the plantains at an angle, about ¾ to 1 inch thick.
What Oil to Use For Frying Plantains:
Anytime you fry food, you want to select an oil that has a very high smoke point to ensure both the oil and the food don’t burn. I use avocado oil for all of my high-temperature cooking, as it has one of the highest smoke points of any oil.
You can also use algae oil if you keep it on hand, and olive oil works too, although you must be careful not to burn it.
How to Fry Plantains:
Get out a large dinner plate and line it with a couple of paper towels.
After cutting the plantains to desired thickness (depending if you want them very crispy like chips or mushy on the inside), heat ¾ cup of avocado oil in a large skillet over medium-high or high heat (depending on your stove top setting).
Carefully place the slices of plantains in the hot oil (you’ll know the oil is ready if it immediately begins to sizzle around the plantain slice), leaving plenty of space between the slices. Depending on how many plantains you’re cooking, you’ll need to perform this step in multiple batches.
Fry the plantain slices until they are golden-brown on the side that’s submerged in oil. Carefully flip and continue cooking until the other side is deeply golden-brown and so are the edges.
Transfer the plantains to the paper towel-lined plate and immediately sprinkle with sea salt. If you wait until the plantains have cooled before salting them, the salt will not stick 🙂
How to Store Leftover Plantains:
If you have leftovers, you can keep them in a sealed container in the refrigerator. You can reheat fried plantains in the oven, microwave, or air fryer. I find fried plantains are best when eaten fresh from the frying pan, so I try not to make too much to avoid having leftovers.
Enjoy these crispy lumps of joy!
- 3 large ripe plantains cut into 1-inch slices
- 1/2 cup avocado oil
- Sea salt for sprinkling.
- Line a large dinner plate with a couple paper towels.
- Run a long cut along the length of the plantains and peel off the thick outer skin. Place plantains on a cutting board and cut into slices at an angle - about 1/2 inch to 1 inch thick.
- Heat the avocado oil in a large skillet over medium-high to high heat.
- Carefully place the slices of plantains in the hot oil (you’ll know the oil is ready if it immediately begins to sizzle around the plantain slice), leaving plenty of space between the slices. Depending on how many plantains you’re cooking, you’ll need to perform this step in multiple batches.
- Fry the plantain slices until they are golden-brown on the side that's submerged in oil. Carefully flip and continue cooking until the other side is deeply golden-brown and so are the edges. Flip the plantains several times so that they become fully cooked without one side burning.
- Transfer the plantains to the paper towel-lined plate and immediately sprinkle with sea salt.
- Serve fresh out of the frying pan alongside your main entrée.