4 Healthy Ways to Cook Plantains

Updated on May 26, 2019
ComfortB profile image

I am a Nigerian native who loves sharing traditional and nontraditional recipes with everyone!

Plantains are usually bigger and thicker skinned than bananas.
Plantains are usually bigger and thicker skinned than bananas. | Source

4 Healthy Ways to Cook Plantains

I am a big fan of plantains and have cooked them in a number of different ways. Many people don't realize that this fruit should be cooked prior to consumption, and I've often had the experience of people asking me in grocery stores how to prepare these nutritious yellow powerhouses.

Here are four healthy ways to cook plantains:

  • Boiling
  • Frying
  • Grilling or baking using an open pit
  • Oven-roasting

Of these methods, the healthiest are grilling, baking, and roasting. Personally, I prefer roasting in the oven because then I don't have to deal with the smoke from the grill or pit, but I get the same delicious results—if not better.

Cooked plantains can be eaten as a snack (plain, dipped in butter or salted palm oil, or topped with roasted Spanish peanuts), or they can be incorporated into a meal (in a soup or stew, as a side dish, or with scrambled eggs).

What's the Difference Between a Plantain and a Banana?

Plantains and bananas are closely related; in fact, plantains are a member of the banana family. There are some important differences between the two fruits, though.

Compared to bananas, plantains are:

  • Larger
  • More firm
  • Thicker skinned
  • Higher in starch
  • Lower in sugar
  • Usually cooked rather than eaten raw
  • A staple food across Latin America, the Caribbean, and West and Central Africa

Because plantains have less sugar and more starch than regular bananas, they are generally cooked before they are consumed. Although I know some people who eat them raw, this is usually not a good practice because they're harder to digest.

How to Tell When a Plantain Is Ripe

When cooking plantains, it's important to be able to identify whether it is ripe. The color of the skin should be your guide.

  • Green = Unripe. Unripe plantains are usually green. They are less sweet, more firm, and more difficult to peel. They are also said to contain high levels of iron. Unripe plantains are sometimes used as a meat substitute in West African cuisine. They are great for making chips and/or patties (they are first mashed and then fried).
  • Yellow or Yellow-Brown = Ripe. Ripe plantains are usually yellow or yellow-brown. Compared to unripe plantains, ripe ones are sweeter, easier to peel, easier to slice, and not as firm.

Green plantain slices
Green plantain slices | Source
Ripe plantain slices
Ripe plantain slices | Source

1. How to Boil Plantains

This method is very simple; it involves simply boiling the plantains in salted water. No additional ingredients are needed.

Ingredients

  • Plantains (as many as you like)
  • Water
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. Rinse the unpeeled plantains to remove any dirt residue.
  2. Leaving the skin on, cut the plantains into 2-inch chunks.
  3. Add the chunks into 2 to 3 cups boiling, salted water. Cover and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Drain and allow to cool. Remove skins.

Notes

  • Boiled plantains taste a bit like a sweet potato.
  • Leaving the skin on while boiling helps the fruit retain most of its nutrients and also helps keep it from getting soggy.
  • Use this as a substitute in soup or stew recipes that call for potatoes. Also tastes great with scrambled eggs.

Fried plantains with scrambled eggs and salsa is one of my favorite breakfasts.
Fried plantains with scrambled eggs and salsa is one of my favorite breakfasts. | Source
Frying plantains in oil
Frying plantains in oil | Source

2. How to Fry Plantains

Frying is the most popular method of cooking plantains, although some people are gradually beginning to move away from this method due to health concerns.

Ingredients

  • Plantains
  • Vegetable oil (whichever type you prefer)

Instructions

  1. Peel the plantains.
  2. Cut the fruit into chunks, cubes, or coins. Different people like to slice it differently.
  3. Set your frying pan or wok on the stove over medium heat. Add oil.
  4. Once the oil is hot, gently drop the plantain pieces into the pan. Note: Splattering hot oil can cause serious burns, so be careful with this step.
  5. Fry the pieces for about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring or turning occasionally.
  6. Once the pieces are golden brown, remove them from the pan.
  7. Drain excess oil by dabbing with a paper towel.

Notes

  • Fried plantains can also be eaten plain, in a soup or stew, or as a side dish with rice and beans.
  • Try serving with scrambled eggs and salsa. This combo makes a great breakfast meal that is both sweet and healthy.
  • Fried, unripe plantains are very crunchy. They are usually turned into chips.
  • Fried, ripe plantains, on the other hand, tend to be very sweet and soft. Because of their sweetness, kids usually love them.

My favorite snack: roasted or grilled plantain with Spanish peanuts
My favorite snack: roasted or grilled plantain with Spanish peanuts | Source

3. How to Grill or Bake Plantains Using an Open-Pit Method

Plantains can also be grilled or baked. It is said that this method allows the fruit to retain all of its nutrients (unlike when they're boiled or fried). Grilling or baking are considered to be the healthiest cooking methods and are preferred by health-conscious plantain lovers. It is also a healthy option for Weight Watchers.

Ingredients/Supplies

  • Plantains
  • A grill of some sort

Instructions

  1. Peel the plantains.
  2. Place them over a grill or open fire pit until they're golden-brown. This could take up to 40-50 minutes.
  3. Enjoy!

Notes

  • In Nigeria (my native country), roasted plantains are called boli or bole. In this part of the world, plantains make a full meal by themselves.
  • Some people prefer to grill this fruit with the skin on, while others prefer to have the fruit in direct contact with the coal.

4. How to Oven-Roast Plantains

If you do not have a grill or an open charcoal pit, you can roast plantains in the oven.

Ingredients

  • Ripe yellow plantains

Instructions

  1. Peel plantains, but do not cut or slice into pieces.
  2. Heat oven to about 400 to 450 degrees (depending on the oven).
  3. Place peeled, whole fruits in the oven. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, turning occasionally to achieve an even roast. They are done when they become golden brown.

Where Can I Buy Plantains?

Plantains can be found in the produce aisle of most grocery stores today. They can also be found at most farmer's markets that cater to Eastern Mediterranean cuisines as well as in some Chinese markets. But you will most definitely find them in any African store or market.

When buying plantains, stay away from those that are overly ripe and mushy. The yellow, ripe-but-firm ones are better. These are perfect for grilling, frying, and boiling.

Final Thoughts

I like to keep a few plantains in my kitchen at all times. They are handy as a quick snack or they can be incorporated into a delicious breakfast or main meal. Whichever method you choose to prepare your plantains, one thing is certain: you and your family will enjoy eating them!

If you've never tried plantains before, will you try them now?

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How much do you know about plantains?

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Questions & Answers

    © 2011 Comfort Babatola

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      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        2 days ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        Just follow the recipe as shown and you'll be fine.

        Thanks for reading.

      • profile image

        Rose 

        9 days ago

        Thanks a lot Ma'am:) Big help. I wanna cook for my Nigerian BF. Excited much! I hope I can make it.. Haha.. I'm not fun of cooking I swear! HAha..

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        3 months ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        @Jenn, thank you for sharing your cooking tips. That sounds delicious

      • profile image

        Jenn 

        3 months ago

        I actually roast mine with just a slice down the skin so it can open as it expands. I then slice completely and add ground turkey “a la mexicana” and a little bit of shredded queso fresco and it makes a delicious meal.

        To make the turkey a la mexicana I put I can of diced tomatoes, 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 white onion and 1 jalapeño in the blender and pour it over the meat and it thickens as it cooks with salt and pepper to taste.

      • profile image

        blue of Gh 

        7 months ago

        Thank you very much Babatola. Your article is very educative although I think boiled plantain is the healthiest since the skin helps retain the nutrients. All the same great piece. Keep on.

      • profile image

        i won't say my name 

        11 months ago

        this is amazing info i am doing a project for school so i use this web for info.....

      • profile image

        Faill (my tag, nothing to do w/ you) 

        15 months ago

        Great job on this article! I've been trying to figure out why my grilled plantains are always underwhelming, but you clearly explained that I've been undercooking them! Thanks for the tips!

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        16 months ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        You are so very welcome. I hope it turns out right and delicious. I've been having all sorts of plantain dishes since there's an abundance of it this time of the year.

      • profile image

        Larfa520 

        16 months ago

        Hello Comfort!

        I am so grateful to you for these plantain recipes.

        I bought one today and wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it. Roasting in the oven or something I never thought up although I roast sweet potatoes all the time :-)

        I am going to roast my plan Taine in the oven today and have it with my rice and beans that I'm also going to make a nice salad.

        Thank you so much And I think your name is wonderful :-)

        Thank you for your comfort!

      • Thelma Alberts profile image

        Thelma Alberts 

        16 months ago from Germany and Philippines

        I love plantain. I have them planted in my Philippines home yard. I mostly cook them or fry them. Sometimes, I roast them too. I also make a salad out of the plantain heart.

      • profile image

        Cynthia Mickas 

        17 months ago

        Have had fried and now with summer grilled sounds heavenly thank you. Love trying new recipes from other cultures. We can learn so much. Thank you again. And in cake! Fantastic!

      • profile image

        Shona 

        20 months ago

        Ripe plantain can be used to make cake, like bananas too :) maybe when they have gone too ripe for frying or grilling.

      • Angel Guzman profile image

        Angel Guzman 

        2 years ago from Joliet, Illinois

        Plantains are awesome!

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        5 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        Hey Rachael. You're probably right. It maybe wasn't ripe enough. It need to be just right. Like when you bite into it raw, you get that sweet but firm texture.

        That reminds me, I've got some just like that that I need to prepare for breakfast, to eat with some eggs and salsa serving. Thanks for your comment, and have a blessed day!

      • Rachael Tate profile image

        Rachael Tate 

        5 years ago from England

        I love fried plantain but can never get it right when I try it at home. I think it's probably not quite ripe enough when I cook it. Yours looks amazing!

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        5 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        @Esther Strong - I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment. Thank you!

      • Esther  Strong profile image

        Esther Strong 

        5 years ago from UK

        I have always fried plaintain in the past but have been concerned of the health implications so knowing other ways of cooking them as you've presented here is very useful. Voted up and more.

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        6 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        @Edjanse Plantain is a very versatile fruit that can be cooked virtually in every way possible. Thanks for the votes and comment.

      • Edjanse profile image

        Ambiga Jeyaratnaraja 

        6 years ago from India

        Oh so much we can do with plantains. Really interesting and a new one. Have to try it out. Love reading more of ur hubs. Voted up and interesting.

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        6 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        @AliciaC - I'm glad you find this useful and convincing. When you do try them, you'll find that are a very tasty meal/treat. Thank you for your kind comments.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Thank you for so much useful information about plantains! I've been hearing a lot about them lately. Your detailed and very interesting hub has convinced me to try them!

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        6 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        @chocomaggie - Here on Hubpages, we learn new things everyday. I'm glad you can now try baking or grilling your plantains. These methods are a healthier option to the frying.

        Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      • chocomaggie profile image

        chocomaggie 

        6 years ago

        Hi, loved this hub of yours. I was not aware that plantain can be baked or even grilled for that matter!!! awesome ideas...My hubby is from kerala (India) where deep frying the bananas is a very popular way of cooking them. The dish is called "nool appam" in malayam....it is my favourite too. I am for sure trying out your recipes....

        :)

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        6 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        @ignugent17 - Believe me when I say, it tastes good, it looks good and it's healthy. You'll love it!

        Thanks so much for stopping by, reading and commenting. :)

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        6 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        @phildazz - It really does help with iron deficiency, especially the green unripe plantain. It could be used as a meat substitute (when peeled and cut in chunks) in a collard green soup. That's a double dose of iron right there.

        Girl, I'm glad you don't have that problem anyone! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Very well appreciated. :)

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        6 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        @thehaplesshostess - I noticed that too.

        Once a lady behind me at the checkout lane asked the cashier what those are (referring to plantain). She said, "I don't know", and then proceeded to ask me what they were and how to cook them. Everyone around us were tuned in once I started talking.

        Though many people are clueless when it comes to plantain it, but they are always delighted and willing to try it once they get the needed information.

      • profile image

        ignugent17 

        6 years ago

        Looks good and healthy. I must taste good too. :-)

      • phildazz profile image

        Allan Philip 

        6 years ago from Toronto

        How nice of you to write about plantains; I once had an iron deficiency and was told by my physician's nurse to eat lots of plantains. Guess what? It worked, never had a problem since cause I love plantains.

      • thehaplesshostess profile image

        BG 

        6 years ago from PA

        Not even the produce clerks in grocery stores that carry these can tell you how to prepare plantains, so I've never been brave enough to try them. Thank you so much creating this hub!

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        6 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        @Kevin Peter - Thanks Kevin for your contribution to this hub. As you rightly said, ripe plantain can be fried. Though I have never heard of plantain being cleaned first before frying, but I'm sure it can be done.

        Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. Very well appreciated. :)

      • Kevin Peter profile image

        Kevin Peter 

        6 years ago from Global Citizen

        Even the ripe plantains can be fried after removing their peels. Before frying, they have to be put in water and then cleaned well. Add some turmeric powder into the water. This gives a yellow colour to the chips. Then dry it well using a dry cloth and then cut in desired shape. Usually thin slices taste good. Then fry it. Before taking the fried chips , pour a mixture of water and salt into it. Add only one or two spoons of this mixture depending upon your salt requirements.

        The boiled plantain tastes very good. Thanks for your useful hub.

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        6 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        @iguidenetwork - To try it, is to believe it. Careful though, it's addictive! I'm craving some of those right now.

        Thanks for stopping by, and commenting. Very well appreciated.

      • iguidenetwork profile image

        iguidenetwork 

        6 years ago from Austin, TX

        I might try your plantains and eggs and salsa. The combination of sweet, sour and salty sounds delicious. :)

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        6 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        @jeanjoycee - Yes, it's really yummy. You should try it sometime. Be careful though, it's addictive! Just kidding.

        Thanks for the read and comment.

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        6 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        @Jean Bakula - I know lots of people are only familiar with the frying method of cooking plantain. Unfortunately, it's not a very healthy method. But, I must confess, that even I sometimes prefer the added delicious taste of the frying oil.

        I hope your son will find the grilling and baking methods even more delicious. I actually just finish eating a not-too-ripe boiled plantain with eggs and fish for breakfast.

        Thanks for reading and commenting. Very well appreciated.

      • jeanjoycee profile image

        Jean Joycee 

        6 years ago

        wow so yuummeee. Looking very tasty.

      • Jean Bakula profile image

        Jean Bakula 

        6 years ago from New Jersey

        Thanks for a new look for plantains. My son is a vegetarian, but the rest of the family is not. He has made plantains, but the only way we knew was to deep fry them when they were very sweet. The boiling and grilling methods are great ideas!

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        6 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        Thanks cbarbar for your comments. Plantains are tasty baked or fried. Just yesterday, I had fried plantain twice, with eggs for breakfast, then with rice and beans for lunch. Always delicious.

      • profile image

        cbarbar 

        6 years ago

        Hi Comfort!

        I love plantains and I have been eating them since I was a child. I love them fried, but recently tried them baked and I love them baked even more. Thanks for the very informative hub post!

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        6 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        @vespawoolf - Fried plantains are everybody's favorite. Just fried some this morning. And yes, they can also be roasted and boiled-mashed-&-fried as you described. Always delicious however it's cooked.

        Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. :)

      • vespawoolf profile image

        Vespa Woolf 

        6 years ago from Peru, South America

        Plantains are common and Peru and we just moved to an area where they're very inexpensive. I like them fried (of course) and grilled, but I've never thought to roast them in the oven. I look forward to trying it, thanks! I'm sure they'll be delicious. In Northern Peru, they often boil the green plantains, peel them and then mash them and fry them. This tastes and looks a lot like rice but is much more nutritious.

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        7 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        @Deborah Brooks - Plantains or Plantano (in spanish) are very popular with people of spanish descent, also in Africa and other tropical regions. Most grocery store now carry them.

        Thank you for your comment.

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        7 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        @mishee18

        @dinkan53 -

        Don't know how I missed your comments. forgive me. You are much appreciated for stopping by and commenting. Thank you so much!

      • Deborah Brooks profile image

        Deborah Brooks Langford 

        7 years ago from Brownsville,TX

        I have never tried a plantain.. they look like bananas.. I do not know where to buy them.. but if I do I will know how to cook them thank you

        debbie

      • mishee18 profile image

        Michelle Yap 

        7 years ago from Philippines

        I do not know if plantains, is what we call "lakatan" or "latundan" here in Philippines. I would try to do some of your tutorials :)

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        7 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        @FreezeFrame34 - Now you know what to do next time. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      • FreezeFrame34 profile image

        FreezeFrame34 

        7 years ago from Charleston SC

        I have yet to try a plantain, but this gives me some ideas on how to experiment with them!

        I once bought a green unripe plantain at a store thinking it was a banana. It ripened, but when I tried to peel it, it was super hard; I threw it out; wish I had your hub then!

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        7 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        Yes iruvanti - we also consider it a vetetable in Nigeria. It's used in soup and beans recipes. Our cuisines are really not that different as we also savor lots of spices like you do. It's a small world!

        Thanks for your comments.

      • iruvanti profile image

        iruvanti 

        7 years ago from U.S.A

        In India green plaintains are treated as a vegetable. We make savory dishes with the green ones and desserts with the ripe ones. Thanks for sharing.

      • dinkan53 profile image

        dinkan53 

        7 years ago from India

        Love banana chips. Have to try the grilled banana soon. Rated as interesting.

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        7 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        @viking305 - I'm so glad you stumbled on this. They are Oh so delicious! They taste even better with fried egg. As a matter of fact, I'm going to have some right now. It's always good to have plantains handy.

        Thanks for your comment and votes.

      • viking305 profile image

        L M Reid 

        7 years ago from Ireland

        I must admit I had never heard of plantains before I read this article. From your photos they do look delicious. I love eating bananas so may give this recipe a try too.

        Thanks for SHARING. Voted up and awesome

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        7 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        Hairybizness - Thanks for stopping by. Glad you find this useful.

      • Hairybizness profile image

        Peggy 

        7 years ago from Oahu, Hawai'i

        My co worker gave me a bunch of plaintains from her back yard, and I had no idea how to cook them. Thank you for the tutorials. They are almost all yellow, I have them hanging in my back yard. I will do a hub when I cook them next week.

      • ComfortB profile imageAUTHOR

        Comfort Babatola 

        8 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

        @ournote2self - My pleasure. Try it sometime. You'll find not only does it look delicious, it taste delicious!

      • ournote2self profile image

        ournote2self 

        8 years ago

        Looks delicious! Thanks for sharing!

      • naturegirl7 profile image

        Yvonne L. B. 

        8 years ago from South Louisiana

        I've always wanted to try plantains, but didn't know how to cook them. Thanks for the lesson. Great hub.

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