Whether you prefer a traditional fried plantain, a health-conscious air-fried or baked plantain, or the swift microwaved version, there's a sweet plantain recipe to suit every palate and occasion. Here are recipes for four different methods to enjoy sweet plantains.
Plantains are popular in the Caribbean, Latin America, Southeast Asia, Pacific Island nations, and some parts of Africa.
Growing up, Cuban fried plantains were a constant presence in our meals. They accompanied a wide array of dishes and were a delicious side with a blend of flavors—oily, crispy, sweet, and wonderfully savory. Still, I frequently take a healthier approach to savoring this tasty fruit. With an air-fryer, oven, or microwave, I can have a healthy and delicious side dish and the same delightful taste without the added fat.
What is a sweet plantain
Sweet plantains, "platanos maduros" in Spanish, are a delicious variety of plantains that stand out for their naturally sweet flavor.
They are riper, sweeter, softer, and far more flavorful fruit than their less ripe counterparts, green plantains, usually served as tostones. They are simply green plantains allowed to ripen until they turn yellow with spots of black.
Plantains and bananas are related, but they're not the same thing.
Plantains are part of the banana family but are usually larger, have thicker skin, and contain more starch. While bananas are primarily eaten raw and are sweet when ripe, plantains are cooked, whether green and starchy or ripe and sweet.
Why you'll love these plantain recipes
Each recipe offers reasons you'll love them.
- The frying process of classic sweet fried plantains enhances the natural sweetness, combining caramelized sugars and a touch of savory goodness.
- They can be enjoyed as a snack, a side dish, or a unique topping.
- By air frying, baking, or microwaving, you can achieve the same satisfying sweet taste as traditional frying but with significantly less oil, making it a healthier alternative with little saturated fat.
- Air-frying and microwaving plantains are quick to make.
- Baking, air frying, or microwaving plantains is a simple process that doesn't require constant monitoring like frying.
- All the methods are great for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diets.
- There is minimal preparation and equipment for all these recipes.
- Plantains can be paired with various toppings, from a drizzle of honey to a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Picking the best sweet plantains
There are a few things to remember so you get the tastiest ones. Here's what to look for when you're at the store looking for a ripe plantain:
1. Color is Important: Look for yellow plantains with black spots. This means they're ripe and sweet. Don't pick green ones because they're not sweet yet.
2. A Little Softness: When you press the plantain gently with your fingers, it should be fairly soft. If it's too hard, it's not ready. If it's too soft or mushy, it might be too ripe.
3. Ripen at Home: If they aren't quite ripe with enough black marks, let them sit in a warm place or a brown paper bag. They'll get sweeter and softer over a few days.
4. Use Them Soon: They don't stay ripe for long. Once they're at the right ripeness, use them within a couple of days for the best taste. If you need to slow down ripening, place the plantain in the fridge until you're ready to use.
5. Think About Your Plans: Decide when you cook them. Pick the ones that will be ready.
How to peel plantains
Peeling plantains differ slightly from peeling regular bananas due to their thicker skin.
Select ripe plantains with yellow and black skin. They should be slightly soft to the touch, indicating optimal ripeness for peeling and cooking.
Here's a step-by-step guide to help you peel them with ease:
Step 1 - Trim the ends: Use a knife to cut off the stem and the tip at the opposite end.
Step 2 - Skin lengthwise: Run your knife along the length of the plantain, making a shallow cut through the skin along the ridges. You only need to cut through the skin, not the flesh.
Step 3 - Peel the Skin: Lift the edge of the skin and simply peel it off. Use your fingers to carefully grip the edge and pull the skin down the length of the plantain.
As you peel, you'll notice that the skin will naturally separate from the flesh along the ridges. Continue to pull the skin down, following the contours of the plantain.
Step 4 - With the plantain peeled, you can now slice or dice it according to your recipe's requirements.
I recommend angling your knife and cutting the plantain about ¼ to ½ inch wide for the recipes included here. An angled cut gives an appealing visual texture and a larger surface area, leading to greater browning and caramelization.
Four ways to make sweet plantains
1. Classic Fried Plantains Recipe
- Ripe plantains with mostly blackened skin.
- Use oil with a high smoke point - vegetable oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, or canola oil
- Salt (optional)
How to fry a plantain
- Peel and cut plantains diagonally into ¼ to ½ inch thick slices.
- Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. There should be enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Once the oil is hot, carefully place the plantain slices in the pan. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan. Fry them in batches if necessary. The oil should bubble around the plantains.
- Fry the pieces on each side for 2-3 minutes until they turn golden brown and crispy. Flip the plantains when you see a little browning around the edges, like in the picture above.
- Remove them from the pan when golden brown on both sides and place them on a paper towel-lined plate to remove excess oil.
- Sprinkle with salt, if desired. For the best taste, serve immediately.
2. Air-Fried Plantains
- Ripe plantains with yellow and blackened skin
- Cooking spray or oil mister
- Salt (optional)
How to air fry plantains
- Preheat your air fryer to 375°F (190°C).
- Peel and cut the plantain into even slices.
Place in the basket without overlapping. Spray with a little oil if desired.
Cook for 8-10 minutes, flipping the slices halfway through until they are golden brown and crispy.
Once done, sprinkle with salt, if desired.
3. Oven-Baked Plantains
This method meets in the middle between the goodness of fried plantains with the healthier twist of air-frying. Although there's a touch more fat from using melted butter or oil, it's baked to perfection, providing a lighter alternative to the traditional pan-fried method. This gives you a delightful taste that's just a tad indulgent without going overboard. The cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg take it over the top with goodness. Tip: Use an oil spray for a little less fat.
- Ripe plantains with yellow and darkened skin
- Melted vegan butter or coconut oil - Substitute with cooking spray
- Cinnamon, brown sugar, nutmeg, salt
How to make baked plantains
Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
Peel and cut the plantain into even slices, either round or diagonal.
Coat the plantains with a little melted butter or coconut oil. You can also spray them with oil spray.
Combine the spices in another bowl.
Mix the coated plantains and spices until evenly coated
Place the plantain slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Bake for about 20 minutes, flipping the plantains halfway through.
Remove from oven when they are golden brown and caramelized.
Once out of the oven, let them cool for a few minutes. You can serve them as they are or add a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you feel indulgent. Trust me, the combination of the warm, sweet plantains and the ice cream is heavenly.
4. Quick Fix: Microwaved Plantains Recipe
For overly ripe, mostly black bananas, I like to microwave them for a no-oil, fast, healthy, sweet side dish.
Ripe plantain with yellow to almost all-black skinyields the best result
How to microwave plantains
Peel a plantain and wrap it in a moist paper towel. Microwave on high for 4-5 minutes. Check often to avoid overcooking.
It's ready when it is soft and cooked through.
What to serve with plantains
When serving fried, air-fried, or microwaved plantains, choosing the right accompaniments can elevate your meal and create a delicious blend of flavors and textures. Here are some pairings to consider:
- Vegan picadillo
Grilled tofu or Smoked tofu
Rice and Black Beans
Sandwiches: put into sandwiches and wraps for a unique twist.
Vegan Greek Yogurt: Enjoy a dollop of vegan Greek yogurt for a creamy and tangy contrast to plantain's sweetness.
Salads: Use air-fried sweet plantains as a topping for salads. They provide a satisfying sweetness to balance the greens.
Bowl Creations: Add them to grain or Buddha bowls, roasted vegetables, plant-based proteins, and your favorite sauce for a wholesome and flavorful meal.
Breakfast Parfaits: Layer air-fried sweet plantains with granola and your choice of yogurt for a delightful breakfast parfait.
Oatmeal: Top your morning oatmeal with a microwaved ripe sweet plantain for added sweetness, texture, and a tropical twist.
Ice Cream Sundaes: Use them as a topping for ice cream sundaes, coconut whipped cream, nuts, and a drizzle of caramel.
Porridge: Incorporate microwaved sweet plantains into rice or grain-based porridge for a comforting and nourishing meal.
- Dipping Sauces: Vegan aioli, fruit salsas, or even tangy yogurt-based sauces complement sweet plantains' sweet and savory notes.
Choose plantains with black or very dark brown skin for the sweetest flavor and best texture.
When frying sweet plantains, using medium heat is crucial. Too high, and the outside may burn before the inside is cooked; too low may become too greasy without that delightful caramelization.
If you crowd the pan, the plantains may steam rather than fry, making a mushy texture rather than the desired crispy and caramelized exterior. Cooking them in batches, if necessary, and ensuring they're not touching each other in the pan will give you the optimal result.
Before storing leftover plantains, let them cool down to room temperature. This helps prevent condensation inside the storage container, which can lead to moisture and spoilage. If you use the leftovers within a few days, store them in an airtight container and place them in the refrigerator. Make sure the container is sealed tightly to keep out air and moisture.
Freezing will affect their texture, so I don't recommend freezing them.
As plantains ripen from green to yellow and black or very dark brown, they become sweeter, with the starch converting into sugar, making them soft and sweet.
Plantains are the general term for the fruit, while sweet plantains are the sweet, tender yellow, and black ones.
These recipes are tailored for fully ripe sweet plantains. Green plantains are starchy and less sweet, better suited for fried green plantains, also known as tostones.
You'll want to use oils with a higher smoke point, like avocado or vegetable oil. They are preferred due to their ability to withstand higher temperatures.
Air-frying and microwaving use less oil, making them healthier alternatives. Moderation is key, and pairing sweet plantains with balanced ingredients enhances their health benefits.
Overripe plantains with black skin might be overly sweet and mushy for some people. They are a great choice for the microwave method. Aim for plantains with yellow but more blackened skin for the best results.
While freshly prepared sweet plantains offer the best taste and texture, you can partially cook or air-fry them and reheat them before serving. Microwaving can also be done quickly when needed.
Other posts you may be interested in:Print
- 1 ripe plantain (with mostly blackened skin; peeled and sliced)
- vegetable oil (coconut oil, avocado oil, or canola oil)
- salt (optional)
Air Fried Plantains
- 1 ripe plantain (peeled and sliced)
- oil spray (optional)
- 1 ripe plantain (peeled, leave whole; mostly dark skin)
- 1 ripe plantain (peeled and sliced)
- 1 tablespoon melted vegan butter (alternatively, use oil spray)
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch nutmeg
- pinch salt
Fried Plantain Instructions
- Peel and cut: Peel and cut the plantain diagonally into ¼ to ½ inch thick slices.
- Prepare the pan: Pour enough oil into a skillet or frying pan to cover the bottom. Heat it over medium-high heat until it's hot but not smoking. You want enough oil to coat the plantains but not drown them.
- Fry: Once the oil is hot, carefully place the plantain slices in the pan. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan. Fry them in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan. The oil should bubble slightly around the plantains. Fry the pieces on each side for 2-3 minutes until they turn golden brown and crispy. Flip the plantains when you see browning around edges.
- Cool: Remove them from the pan and place them on a paper towel-lined plate to remove excess oil and cool.
- Serve: Sprinkle with salt, if desired. For best taste, serve immediately.
Air-Fried Plantains Instructions
- Preheat your air fryer: Preheat air fryer to 375°F (190°C).
- Prepare plantains: Peel and cut the plantain into even slices. Lightly coat the slices with cooking spray or brush them with minimal oil. Alternatively, use no oil.
- Cook: Arrange the slices in a single layer in the air fryer basket, ensuring they're not overcrowded. Cook for 8-10 minutes, flipping the slices halfway through until they are golden brown and crispy.
- Serve: Once done, sprinkle with salt, if desired.
- Prepare plantain: Peel the plantain. Leave whole. Wet a pepper towel and squeeze out the excess liquid. Wrap the moist towel around the whole plantain.
- Microwave: Place the plantain on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high for 5-6 minutes, checking every minute to ensure they don't overcook. Microwave times may vary so check often. It is ready when it is soft and cooked through.
- Preheat your oven: Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Prepare the plantains: Cut two peeled plantains into diagonal slices or rounds, about ½ to ¾ inch thick. In a bowl, coat the plantains with a little oil or melted butter. Set aside.
- Prepare the mixture: In another bowl, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
- Mix: Toss the plantains in this mixture, ensuring they are coated evenly.
- Bake: Place the plantain slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes, flipping the plantains halfway through. The plantains should be golden brown.
- Serve: Once out of the oven, let them cool for a few minutes. You can serve them as they are or add a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you feel indulgent. Trust me, the combination of the warm, sweet plantains and the ice cream is heavenly.
To ripen a plantain quickly, place plantain in a warm spot, use a closed brown paper bag, or keep it with apples or bananas to speed up ripening.
Use a nutritional app like Cronometer to get nutritional information on the exact ingredients and amounts you are using.
Freezing will affect the texture, so I don't recommend freezing them. See the post for other storage options.
Cooking times vary depending on the method used. See the specific method in the recipe card for details.
If you need to slow down the ripening process, place the plantain in the fridge until you're ready to use.
- Prep Time: 2 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Category: condiment, side dish, snack
- Method: frying, air-fryer, oven, microwave
- Cuisine: Caribbean-Inspired, Cuban-Inspired
- Diet: Vegan
- Calories: 109
- Sugar: 16
- Sodium: 4
- Fat: 0.3
- Carbohydrates: 29
- Fiber: 2
- Protein: 1
Keywords: air fryer, fried, microwave, plantains, oven, latin, hispanic, Caribbean