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4 Healthy Ways to Cook Plantains

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

These plantain recipes are great for all occasions.

These plantain recipes are great for all occasions.

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.

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).

Plantains are usually bigger and thicker skinned than bananas.

Plantains are usually bigger and thicker skinned than bananas.

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

Ripe plantain slices

Ripe plantain slices

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.

Frying plantains in oil

Frying plantains in oil

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

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!

How much do you know about plantains?

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Can plantain be eaten raw, or do they have to be cooked?
    • Yes, ripe plantain can be eaten raw, although they are not easily digestible in their raw state..
    • No, plantain need to be cooked always.
  2. Plantains are strictly breakfast food.
    • Yes
    • No. Plantain can be eaten anytime (breakfast, lunch, or dinner)
  3. Green plantains are naturally sweet.
    • No. Only ripe plantain has a natural sweetness to it. Green plantain in chips usually have sugar added to it.
    • Yes
  4. You can grill, roast, boil, bake, and fry plantain.
    • Yes, to all.
    • You can only fry or grill plantain.

Answer Key

  1. Yes, ripe plantain can be eaten raw, although they are not easily digestible in their raw state..
  2. No. Plantain can be eaten anytime (breakfast, lunch, or dinner)
  3. No. Only ripe plantain has a natural sweetness to it. Green plantain in chips usually have sugar added to it.
  4. Yes, to all.

Interpreting Your Score

If you got between 0 and 1 correct answer: Seems you're not so familiar with plantain. Please, continue reading the hub for plantain cooking tips.

If you got 2 correct answers: You did good, but you need to familiarize yourself more with plantain by reading this hub.

If you got 3 correct answers: You did very good! Continue reading for more on how to cook plantain.

If you got 4 correct answers: I see you know a lot about plantains. Check out more cooking tips in this hub.

Questions & Answers

Question: Can sliced plantains be breaded before baking?

Answer: Yes, it can. I've never tried it though.

Question: Is it ok to freeze plantains?

Answer: Yes. But note that frozen plantain may only be suitable for boiling, not baking, roasting or frying. However, already baked, roasted, or fried plantain can be frozen. It can then be reheated in an oven at low heat when ready to eat.

Question: What is the best way to cook a plantain that is too ripe?

Answer: You can use it as a substitute in recipes that calls for bananas.

Question: Can you put plantains in the microwave?

Answer: Yes, you can.

Question: What are the nutritional value(s) of plantains?

Answer: Plantains are a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, and are very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. Plantains are also high in potassium and fiber.

Question: Is it better to boil plantains when they are green or after they ripen?

Answer: It depends on individual preference. Green plantain is said to be high in iron, so some may prefer to boil green plantain in order to benefit from the iron.

Ripe plantain on the other hand has reduced iron and a sweet taste, which may be preferred by some.

Question: Will green (unripe) plantains ripen if left at room temperature?

Answer: Yes it will. Some plantains do take longer to ripe if they've been harvested too early.

Question: Can I mash plantains after boiling or roasting them and then fry them?

Answer: Yes, you can. Just as with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, baked, fried, or boiled plantain can be given new life.

Question: What is the best way to glaze cooking plantains?

Answer: It all depends on your preference. I've used butter before. I've also tried a mixture of coconut oil with a pinch of salt (optional) and cayenne pepper.

Question: If I sprinkle a little sea salt on the plantains will they still have the sweet taste?

Answer: Yes, they will.

Question: Why does the plantain water turn black after boiling it?

Answer: Plantain contains enzymes. When plantain is cooked or boiled, these enzymes reacts with oxygen that turns the plantain water to a dark (brown or black) color.

Question: Can you bake plantains in the skin?

Answer: Yes. You can boil, bake, or roast plantain in its skin.

Question: I grate green plantain and fry like a rosti, can I use the same method for yellow plantain?

Answer: Yes, you can. Especially if they are not too ripe. You'll just have a sweet rosti style plantain.

You just gave me an idea for my next plantain meal. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

Question: Can I mash plantains with black beans?

Answer: Yes, you can. Plantain is very versatile and cab be incorporated into any meal.

Question: How would the plantain be cooked to put on fish tacos? I would prefer not fried.

Answer: I would probably use the same cooking method as with the fish, then put it in the tacos.

© 2011 Comfort Babatola

Comments

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on April 19, 2020:

@Jams - Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you found this useful.

Jams on April 05, 2020:

I was shopping during this pandemic and no bananas so I

Decided to try plantains...your cooking methods helped me decide to add plantains as a regular meal on my meal planning menu.

Blessings...

Simona on December 21, 2019:

Many thanks for the tips. I am Romanian, so not accustomed to plantain, but I ate it around, and loved it, so I need to cook it myself :)

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on December 17, 2019:

Thank you Ginette Guay for your comment. I'm glad you found the information on plantain useful.

ginette guay on November 13, 2019:

thank you sweetheart. I was always curious about plantain. I sometime eat plantain chips I buy at dollarama and thought it was mostly fried and thought I would try to avoid that as I think I already eat too much fried foods. curious about this weird food my nigerian friend makes as a quick breadlike "stuff" she made in a pot (didn' like it at all) Thanks again. I shall definitely shall try plantain one of these days and perhaps introduce my 24 year old son, who doesn't eat very well, to this nutricious food.

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on October 15, 2019:

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

Thanks for reading.

Rose on October 08, 2019:

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..

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on July 11, 2019:

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

Jenn on June 30, 2019:

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.

blue of Gh on February 26, 2019:

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.

i won't say my name on November 09, 2018:

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

Faill (my tag, nothing to do w/ you) on July 18, 2018:

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!

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on June 06, 2018:

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.

Larfa520 on May 31, 2018:

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 from Germany and Philippines on May 28, 2018:

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.

Cynthia Mickas on May 13, 2018:

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!

Shona on February 09, 2018:

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

Angel Guzman from Joliet, Illinois on September 19, 2017:

Plantains are awesome!

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on September 24, 2014:

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 from England on September 24, 2014:

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!

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on February 06, 2014:

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

Esther Strong from UK on February 06, 2014:

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.

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on September 25, 2013:

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

Ambiga Jeyaratnaraja from India on September 25, 2013:

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.

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on June 16, 2013:

@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.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 15, 2013:

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!

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on May 02, 2013:

@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 on May 01, 2013:

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....

:)

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on May 01, 2013:

@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. :)

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on May 01, 2013:

@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. :)

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on May 01, 2013:

@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.

ignugent17 on May 01, 2013:

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

Allan Philip from Toronto on May 01, 2013:

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.

BG from PA on May 01, 2013:

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!

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on April 29, 2013:

@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 from Global Citizen on April 29, 2013:

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.

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on April 21, 2013:

@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 from Austin, TX on April 21, 2013:

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

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on April 10, 2013:

@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.

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on April 10, 2013:

@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.

Jean Joycee on April 09, 2013:

wow so yuummeee. Looking very tasty.

Jean Bakula from New Jersey on April 09, 2013:

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!

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on March 10, 2013:

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.

cbarbar on March 09, 2013:

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!

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on March 06, 2013:

@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. :)

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on March 05, 2013:

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.

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on October 17, 2012:

@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.

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on October 17, 2012:

@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 Langford from Brownsville,TX on October 17, 2012:

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

Michelle Yap from Philippines on September 22, 2012:

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 :)

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on July 30, 2012:

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

FreezeFrame34 from Charleston SC on July 26, 2012:

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!

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on February 18, 2012:

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 from U.S.A on February 17, 2012:

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 from India on February 17, 2012:

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

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on February 17, 2012:

@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.

L M Reid from Ireland on February 17, 2012:

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

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on November 21, 2011:

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

Peggy from Oahu, Hawai'i on November 20, 2011:

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.

Comfort Babatola (author) from Bonaire, GA, USA on July 07, 2011:

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

ournote2self on July 07, 2011:

Looks delicious! Thanks for sharing!

Yvonne L. B. from South Louisiana on June 01, 2011:

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