Fried ripe plantains have a crispy, caramelized texture and irresistibly sweet taste. It's a ubiquitous Caribbean dish that is served with almost every meal, and it's enjoyed in other parts of the world as well. This is a quick and easy recipe that is sure to bring the taste of the Caribbean into your home.
Plantains are a member of the banana family. Unlike a banana, plantains are starchy and need to be cooked before eating. As a plantain ripens, its starches are converted to natural sugars, resulting in a sweeter taste. Frying a fully ripe plantain quickly in oil coaxes all the sugar to the surface where it's caramelized. This creates a delicious chip that's simultaneously crisp and sweet. After the first taste, you'll realize why this is one of the best ways to eat plantain.
The keys to successful fried plantains are choosing ripe fruit and using the right pan, oil, and heat. A ripe plantain's skin should be almost black or, in some cases, have a dull yellow color with patches of black. In addition to being sweeter, ripe fruit peels easily and cooks in no time.
Serve fried ripe plantains as a side dish or snack. They're excellent alongside island favorites like red beans and rice and Jamaican jerk chicken and can be added to soups or stews. In the South American country of Guyana, they're traditionally served with a national dish called cook-up rice (rice, beans, and meat cooked with coconut milk).
Click Play to See This Crispy Fried Plantain Chips Recipe Come Together
- 2 ripe plantains
- 2 to 3 tablespoons oil (canola or vegetable oil; for frying)
- Optional: sea salt
Gather the ingredients.
Peel plantains by cutting off both ends, and cutting a slit down the side of each plantain.
Remove the plantain peel by peeling it side to side rather than lengthwise. It will come off in sections. You may need to use the knife at the edge of each section to help loosen it from the flesh.
Cut the peeled plantains into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Diagonally is preferred because it provides a larger surface for caramelization; it can be cut straight across into rounds.
Drizzle just enough oil into a nonstick skillet to coat the bottom of the pan, and place it on medium heat.
When the oil begins to shimmer, but not smoke, add plantains (work in batches). Fry for 1 1/2 minutes on one side, flip and cook for 1 minute on the other side.
Remove plantains from the pan and drain on paper towels.
Continue frying in batches until all the plantains are fried.
Sprinkle lightly with sea salt to give a sweet and salty taste to your fried ripe plantains.
Serve and enjoy.
- The Right Pan: A nonstick skillet is the best choice for this recipe. Sugar burns quickly and sticks, and the ripe plantain has high sugar content. The nonstick surface will aid in the easy release of the cooked plantain from the pan.
- The Right Oil: Choose a neutral-tasting oil such as canola or vegetable oil. Use only enough to coat the bottom of the pan; too much oil will result in soggy plantains. After frying each batch, drizzle additional oil into the pan if needed.
- The Right Heat: Use medium heat to fry the plantains. You may have to lower the heat depending on the size of your stove burner and pan. If you don't, your plantains can brown too quickly and burn.
What's the Difference Between Green and Yellow Plantains?
When shopping, you may come across both green and yellow plantains. They are the same fruit, but the color of the skin indicates the plantain's ripeness. At its peak of ripeness, a plantain's skin will be dull yellow with black patches, or completely black. Unripe plantains are green or cream to bright yellow in color. They are also fried to make green plantain chips called tostones. To ripen plantains at home, leave them on the counter; this may take a few days or a couple of weeks, depending on the current ripeness.
Are Fried Plantains Healthy?
Nutritionally, plantains are similar to starchy vegetables, particularly potatoes, and have less sugar than bananas. They're high in complex carbohydrates, contain little fat or sodium, and are a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. When fried, the nutritional value will largely depend on the oil you choose. Canola oil is considered one of the healthiest cooking oils that can also stand the high temperatures required in frying.
U.S. Department of Agriculture. Food Data Central: Plantain, Fried, NS as to green or ripe. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/787165/nutrients. Published April 1, 2020.