Learn how to pan fry plantains, a naturally sweet cousin of the banana that’s incredibly versatile and delicious. Have fun experimenting with sweet and savory flavors.
How do you pan fry plantains? First, you have to wash them, peel them, slice them, and sauté them for about 2 minutes in olive oil. If you want to, you can salt them, but that’s only optional!
If you’re looking for a fast vegetarian side dish with tons of flavor and few ingredients, pan-fried plantains are a fantastic option!
What are Plantains?
Platinas are also called cooking bananas. Once you see them, it’s not hard to see why. They look like larger, thicker, and tougher bananas. They have the same yellow peel and boomerang shape. Bananas are native to tropical climates around the world, from the Caribbean islands to Southeast Asia to Sub-Saharan Africa. They grow on trees in sunny locations.
While plantains certainly look like their cousin bananas, once you get past their similar shape and skin, the similarities end. Plantains are much less sweet and far starchier than bananas. While you can easily bend and break a banana with your hands, you’ll need a sharp knife to cut into a plantain.
That’s especially true for unripe plantains. While bananas are fully edible when their skin is yellow, plantains actually benefit from further ripening. The sweetness plantains will be nearly all black on the outside with a soft texture when squeezed. However, you can certainly eat less ripe plantains. These are often enjoyed for savory dishes, as they don’t have the same natural sweetness of a fully ripe plantain.
How are Plantains Eaten?
Because of the range in sweetness levels between ripe and unripe plantains, they can easily be used in sweet and savory dishes. You’ll find sweet plantain puddings for dessert as well as salty fried plantain chips served with guacamole or ceviche.
Today, we’re going to cover how to pan-fry plantains. The best plantains for pan-frying are on the sweeter side, so look for darker, softer fruit. If you have an unripe plantain, you can speed up the ripening process by placing it in a dark drawer or paper bag for several days.
How to Pan Fry Plantains
Let’s get to this simple recipe for pan-fried plantains.
First things first, gather your ingredients. This straightforward preparation for plantains only requires three ingredients, and one of them is even optional:
- 2 plantains – choose ripe plantains for more flavor and sweetness
- Olive oil
- Salt (optional)
You’ll need two pieces of equipment to pan-fry plantains: a large skillet and a spatula for flipping. For preparing the plantains, you’ll need a chef’s knife and a cutting board.
Prepping the plantains
Step 1: Wash the plantains
Even though you’re going to peel the plantains and throw the skin into the trash, you should wash them anyways. It’s always best to clean your produce, regardless of peeling.
Step 2: Peel the plantains
Peeling the plantains is easy but it requires a knife. First of all, remove the top and the bottom from the plantain. Then make one long cut all the way down the side of the plantain’s skin.
Using your hands, peel the plantains side to side, starting from the cut you made in the skin. If things feel too hard or the skin seems too attached, don’t strong-arm your way out of the issue. Use your knife to make another cut and then keep peeling the plantain. Riper plantains will be easier to peel.
Step 3: Slice the plantains
After you’ve fully removed the skin, cut the plantain into slices. For pan-frying plantains, you can cut 1/2-inch rounds. If you like a more dramatic look, place your knife at an angle for a “bias” cut.
Cooking the plantains
Step 1: Heat oil in a pan
Place a medium-sized frying pan over medium heat on the stove. Once the pan is warm, add a drizzle of olive oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. You don’t need more than a thin layer, as you’re not deep-frying the plantains (though that is another delicious way to prepare them!)
Step 2: Cook the plantain
Right before the oil begins to smoke, when it’s shimmering and moving freely around the skillet, add the plantain slices. To do so, place the plantain slices ino the pan one by one, being sure to leave space between each piece so it can crisp up nicely. If you have more plantains slices than your pan can comfortably hold at once, pan-fry in batches. Crowding the pan will steam your plantains, rather than crisp them up.
Cook the rist side for two minutes, until golden brown. Then flip teach plantain slice, and pan-fry the other side for two minutes, until it’s equally golden brown. Less ripe plantains may need a few extra minutes per side to soften up all the way through.
Step 3: Plate the plantains
Line a plate with paper towels. As soon as your plantains are perfectly cooked on both sides, transfer them to the paper towel-lined plate to absorb any excess oil.
Step 4: Season the plantain (optional)
If you want to try sweet and salty plantains, which are delicious, sprinkle them with salt as soon as they come out of the skillet. This is entirely optional, though! If this is your first time cooking plantains, taste one before salting. Enjoy!
How do you know when plantains are ready to be cooked?
Plantains will start at a greenish color and, as time goes by, will gradually turn yellow. This is what separates an unripe plantain from a ripe one. Yellow plantains with black spots are in the perfect position to be cooked.
Remember that a ripe plantain is closer to go bad than a green one– if you’re not going to cook it right away, buy yellowish plantains instead.
How do you know when the plantains are done cooking?
It’s not hard to tell when you’re done cooking a plantain. It will look brownish-gold and delicious. The sweet smell will also give it away. If you want to check the texture, prod a piece with a fork. The fork should easily sink into the fruit with little resistance.
Can you store cooked plantains?
Yes, you can store leftover pan-fried plantains. First, let them cool fully to room temperature. Then store the plantains in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. You can enjoy them cold or simply reheat them on the stove or in the microwave until warm.
How to Serve Pan-Fried Plantains
This is a dish that makes sense any time of day. Serve your golden brown plantain slices along with eggs or inside a breakfast burrito in the morning. Or, top a fresh salad with plantains for a light lunch with a tropical spin. You can also turn this into a side dish for dinner alongside chicken or pork chops. Or, drizzle the plantains with chocolate sauce, maple syrup, or caramel for a delicious two-ingredient dessert.
- Large skillet
- Cutting board
- 2 ripe plantains
- olive oil
- Peel the plantians and cut into 1/2-inch rounds.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add a drizzle of oil to coat the bottom of the skillet.
- Add the plantian slices, working in batches to avoid crowding the pan.
- Cook for 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt if you like