Vegetable DishesCooking EquipmentMeat DishesDesserts & SweetsFruitsFood IndustryBreakfast FoodsBeveragesBaked GoodsGrains DishesSauces, Condiments, and PreservationDining OutSpices & SeasoningsAppetizers & SnacksSpecial DietsDairy & Eggs

4 Healthy Ways to Cook Plantains

Updated on September 8, 2017
ComfortB profile image

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

Plantains are usually bigger than bananas
Plantains are usually bigger than bananas | Source

The Larger Bananas in the Image Above Are Called "Plantains" or "Platanos" in Spanish

In this article, I'll show you how to cook plantains the healthy way. You'll also learn how to pick out perfectly ripe ones from the grocery store.

What Are Healthy Ways to Cook Plantains?

I am a big fan of plantains and have cooked them in many different ways. These are some of the healthiest ways that I enjoy preparing them.

  • Boiled
  • Fried
  • Grilled or Baked Using an Open Pit
  • Oven-roasted

What Are Plantains, And What Do They Look Like?

Plantains are a variety of banana that are usually grown in tropical areas. They differ from regular bananas in that they are usually bigger and more firm; however, both are very nutritious.

Plantains have a lower sugar content than regular bananas and are generally used for cooking. While bananas are almost always eaten raw, these should be cooked before it is consumed. Although I have known some people who eat a ripe ones raw, this is not a good practice because they're hard to digest when they're raw. So, in this article, I'll show you some of my favorite ways to cook this delicious fruit.

But first...

How does the color of the plantain play into how we cook it?

When cooking plantains, it's important to know that how it cooks depends a great deal on whether or not it is ripe.

  • Green, Unripe Plantains: Unripe ones are usually green in color, while ripe ones vary from yellow to brownish-yellow. Green, unripe plantains are not sweet. They are a bit hard, the skin can prove difficult to peel, and they are said to contain high levels of iron. Therefore, they are sometimes used as a meat substitute in some West African dishes. Raw ones are great for making chips and/or patties (you mash them, and then fry them).
  • Yellow, Ripe Plantains: As mentioned above, ripe ones are usually yellow or yellow-brown. A ripe plantain is sweet, firm, and easy to slice, and the skin peels easily. They will be firm, but not as firm as the unripe ones. The skin should be easy to peel. And they'll definitely be sweeter than the unripe versions.

How Much Do You Know About Plantains?


view quiz statistics

You Can Cook With Ripe and Unripe Ones

Most people have seen plantains but aren't entirely sure how to go about cooking them. A great number of people don't even know that this fruit has to be cooked prior to consumption. Oftentimes, I've had people walked over to me in grocery stores and ask me how to cook these yellow powerhouses.

Different cultures prepare plantains differently. There are healthy options, and then there's a not-so-healthy options; each will be covered in detail in this article. You can then choose the option that's best for you.

1. How to Boil Plantains

Plantains can be boiled for those who do not fancy the frying method. This method only requires that plantain be cooked in water. No other ingredients are needed.

Ingredients

  • As many plantains are you like
  • Water
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. To prepare the plantain for boiling, first rinse the skin to remove any dirt residue.
  2. Then, cut it into chunks. You want sections about 2 inches wide, and be sure to leave the skin on.
  3. Pour the chunks into 2 - 3 cups boiling, salted water. Cover and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Drain and remove skin.

These will likely taste a bit like a sweet potato. You can use these as a substitute in some soup recipes that call for potatoes. Leaving the skin on helps the fruit retain most of its nutrients and also helps keep it from getting soggy. These also taste great with scrambled eggs and/or tossed into a stew.

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

2. How to Fry Plantains

This is the most popular cooking method. Though most cultures use this method of cooking, more and more plantain lovers are gradually moving away from frying to either roasting, baking, and boiling them. This seems to be largely due to health reasons.

Ingredients

  • Plantains
  • Vegetable oil (whatever taste you prefer best)

Instructions

  1. Remove the plantain's skin.
  2. Cut the fruit into chunks, cubes, or coins. Different people like it different ways/shapes.
  3. Set your frying pan or wok on the stove, and turn it to medium heat.
  4. Gently drop the pieces into hot oil to prevent oil from splashing, as hot oil can cause serious burns.
  5. Fry the pieces for about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring or turning occasionally.
  6. Remove from hot oil once the pieces are golden brown.
  7. Remove excess oil from them by dabbing them with a paper towel.

You can serve it with scrambled eggs and salsa. This combo of fried plantains and eggs makes a great breakfast meal. It is both a sweet and healthy combination. They can also be eaten alone, with stew, or as a side dish with rice and beans.

When 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 tend to like them a lot, and the fruit can be easily incorporated into any meal that kids love.

Fry the ripe plantains in oil.
Fry the ripe plantains in oil. | Source
This is how I like them: with eggs and salsa! Time to devour.
This is how I like them: with eggs and salsa! Time to devour. | Source
Yum! What a great way to start the day. Use of images by permission only.
Yum! What a great way to start the day. Use of images by permission only. | Source

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

Plantains can also be grilled or baked. It is said that using one of those two methods means that the fruit retains all of its nutrients, as no nutrients are lost (unlike when they're boiled or fried). This method is considered the healthiest of all and preferred by health-conscious plantain lovers. It is also an healthy option for Weight Watchers.

Ingredients/Supplies

  • Plantains
  • A grill of some sort

Instructions

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

In Nigeria (my native country), roasted plantains are called boli or bole. In that part of the world, plantains make a full meal by themselves. They can be fried in oil (dodo), boiled with the skin on, or pounded in a mortar and combined with some yam variety to make a fufu-like meal (akpu) that is then eaten with soup.

Some people prefer to grill this fruit with the skin on, while some prefer to have the plantain in direct contact with the coal. A grilled plantain should be well-cooked after about 40-50 minutes of being on the grill.

Roasted/Grilled plantain with peanuts
Roasted/Grilled plantain with peanuts | Source

4. How to Oven-Roast Plantains

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

Ingredients

  • 1-6 ripe yellow plantains

Instructions

  1. Peel plantains, but do not cut into pieces.
  2. Set oven to about 400 to 450 degrees (depending on the oven).
  3. Place peeled, whole fruits in the oven. Bake them for about 30 to 40 minutes, turning occasionally to achieve an even roast. You know they're done when they're golden brown.

If you've never tried plantain before, will you try it based on what you now know from this hub?

See results

Grilled or Roasted Ones Are the Healthiest

I prefer roasting or baking plantains in the oven because I don't have to deal with the smoke from the grill or pit, but I get the same result—if not better. But the good part is that whether your plantains are grilled on an open charcoal grill or roasted/baked in an oven, these methods are, by far, the healthiest way to cook this fruit. Plus, there's no oil for frying, and that means these methods are fat-free.

Grilled plantains can be eaten alone, as a snack, dipped in butter, topped with roasted Spanish peanuts (my favorite, seen above), or dipped in salted palm oil.

Here's a Video for Visual Learners

Where Can I Buy Plantains?

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

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

I like to keep a few plantains around all of the time. They are handy as a quick snack, can be made into an elaborate part of your breakfast, or used as a side dish option. Whichever method you choose to prepare your plantains, one thing is sure: you'll enjoy having them as a great addition to your kitchen menu!

© 2011 Comfort Babatola

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Angel Guzman profile image

      Angel Guzman 2 months ago from Joliet, Illinois

      Plantains are awesome!

    • ComfortB profile image
      Author

      Comfort Babatola 3 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 3 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 image
      Author

      Comfort Babatola 3 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 3 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 image
      Author

      Comfort Babatola 4 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 4 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 image
      Author

      Comfort Babatola 4 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 4 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 image
      Author

      Comfort Babatola 4 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 4 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 image
      Author

      Comfort Babatola 4 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 image
      Author

      Comfort Babatola 4 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 image
      Author

      Comfort Babatola 4 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 4 years ago

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

    • phildazz profile image

      Allan Philip 4 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 4 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 image
      Author

      Comfort Babatola 4 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 4 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 image
      Author

      Comfort Babatola 4 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 4 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 image
      Author

      Comfort Babatola 4 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 image
      Author

      Comfort Babatola 4 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 4 years ago

      wow so yuummeee. Looking very tasty.

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 4 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 image
      Author

      Comfort Babatola 4 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 4 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 image
      Author

      Comfort Babatola 4 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

      vespawoolf 4 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 image
      Author

      Comfort Babatola 5 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 image
      Author

      Comfort Babatola 5 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 5 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 5 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 image
      Author

      Comfort Babatola 5 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 5 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 image
      Author

      Comfort Babatola 5 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 5 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 5 years ago from India

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

    • ComfortB profile image
      Author

      Comfort Babatola 5 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 5 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 image
      Author

      Comfort Babatola 6 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

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

    • Hairybizness profile image

      Peggy 6 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 image
      Author

      Comfort Babatola 6 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 6 years ago

      Looks delicious! Thanks for sharing!

    • naturegirl7 profile image

      Yvonne L. B. 6 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.