22 Plantain Recipes That Prove You Should Always Have the Fruit on Hand

You decided to bake your famous banana bread this weekend. You make a beeline to the produce section, only to find the thickest, biggest bananas you’ve ever seen on shelves. Before you hesitantly add them to your cart, let us fill you in: They’re plantains. For the uninitiated, plantains are related to bananas, but they’re much different from them, due to their starchy, almost potato-y flavor and texture. They can be eaten underripe or ripe and are cooked in a multitude of ways across many cuisines, most commonly Latin and African. To get acquainted with the underrated fruit, read on for 22 plantain recipes to cook at home.  

Plantain vs. Banana: Um, What’s the Difference? Asking for a Friend

plantain recipes: close-up of ripe plantains
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How to Choose Ripe Plantains

First thing’s first: Decide if you need unripe or ripe plantains. If you want them to be sticky, caramelized and sweet—like you would when making maduros—you’ll need to buy them ripe, or buy them unripe and wait for them to ripen at home. If you want them savory and starchy (let’s say you’re making tostones, for example), go with an unripe plantain.

Here’s how to spot the difference between unripe and ripe plantains. Unripe plantains have green peels. As they mature, the peels turn yellow and eventually dark brown or black once they’re overripe. Unlike bananas, which seem to rot in a flash, plantains can be used before, while and after they’re perfectly ripe. They also take longer to mature than bananas, so they’re unlikely to go bad before you use them.

Also called cooking bananas or green bananas, plantains are generally used more like a vegetable than a fruit. They can be boiled, fried, baked or sauteed, but not eaten raw. If you don’t want to wait days for your green plantains to ripen and sweeten, you can resort to using frozen ones instead (although we should note that plantains are in season year-round). You’ll mostly find maduro (meaning matured) plantains in the frozen aisle; most frozen green plantains are already smashed and fried and labeled as tostones. You can also find frozen green plantain dough to make dishes like plantain empanadas or plantain dumplings.

1. Plantain Subs with Quick Pickles

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: dairy free, beginner-friendly, make ahead

These sammies may seem meager, but plantains are actually pretty filling, since they’re so starchy. Use vegan mayo on the subs to make them vegan and prepare the pickled veggies ahead to save time.

2. Sweet and Spicy Plantain Salad

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: one pan, <30 minutes, vegan

Caramelized plantains + fresh produce + lime-maple dressing = an unexpected salad your guests will definitely want the recipe for. Black-eyed peas give the app a boost of plant-based protein.

3. Cauliflower and Plantain Tacos with Lemony Pesto Dressing

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegan, gluten free, special occasion-worthy

The bright, herbaceous dressing cuts right through the sweetness and spice of the cauliflower and plantains. Might we suggest crowning each taco with pickled onions?

4. Roasted Plantain and Sweet Potato Rice Bowls

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegan, gluten free, special occasion-worthy

Bring on the coconut-lime rice, fresh guacamole and tart-sweet pineapple. This tropical mélange calls for dusting the plantains and sweet spuds in salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin, and roasting them to tender perfection. 

5. Sweet Fried Plantains

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly

These start with very ripe plantains, so the final product is sweet and caramelized. If you prefer your fried plantains savory, start with unripe plantains, slice them on a bias, fry them in oil, smash them flat and fry them a second time to make tostones.

6. Jerk-Inspired Fish Tacos with Plantain Fried Rice and Pineapple Salsa

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: special occasion-worthy, make ahead

These star chili-spiced salmon, but you can substitute cod, tilapia or halibut if you’d prefer. Prepare the sweet-and-spicy salsa ahead to save time before dinner.

7. Black Bean and Plantain Arepa Sandwiches

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, vegan, gluten free

Sweet plantains, seasoned black beans, fresh guac and hot sauce—these handhelds have it all. Finish them with a vinegar- or mayo-based cabbage slaw to cut through the heat.

8. Chile- and Cocoa-Spiced Snack Mix

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, crowd-pleaser, vegan

Chex has nothing on this one-of-a-kind treat that’s equal parts spicy and sweet. Use store-bought plantain chips if you must but know that making your own is a total breeze.

9. Sweet and Spicy Bacon-Wrapped Plantains

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly,

Smoky, crunchy and downright mouthwatering, this app will fly at your next cocktail hour. The bacon is baked instead of pan-fried, resulting in a shatteringly crisp texture.

10. Roasted Plantain & Black Bean Vegan Bowl

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegan, gluten free, beginner-friendly

The plate is as gorgeous as it is nutritious, plus it’s full of plant-based protein and fiber. The topping options are endless, but we’re partial to sliced avocado, pico de gallo and a spritz of lime.

11. Pomegranate Guacamole with Fried Plantain Chips

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, beginner-friendly, crowd-pleaser

Tangy feta, pretty pomegranate arils and chili-dusted plantain chips transform this run-of-the-mill appetizer into something spectacular. Make the guac ahead and spritz it with lime juice to keep it from browning.

12. Tatale (Plantain Pancakes)

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, one pan

You’ll fall for this Ghanaian dish at first bite. It’s best to use the darkest, ripest plantains you can find for this recipe, since they need to be soft enough to mash and turn into batter.

13. Halibut Ceviche with Mango and Avocado

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: special occasion-worthy, high protein, make ahead

It calls for tender, flaky white fish, but you can also add scallops or shrimp to the mix if you’d like. The recipe will be totally no-cook if you use store-bought plantain chips (tortilla chips work, too.)

14. Jerk-Inspired Chicken, Fried Plantain and Coconut Macadamia Fried Quinoa

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, high protein, dairy free

The plantain rounds are pan-fried in coconut oil, so there’s pleasant tropical flavor in every bite. Toast the coconut flakes and macadamia nuts for maximum crunch.

15. Black Bean Plantain Enchilada Bake

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 35 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, gluten free, vegan

This stunner is packed with vegan cheese sauce. Raw cashews ensure that its texture turns out creamy and rich, while nutritional yeast and chipotles in adobo infuse it with plenty of queso-like flavor.

16. Vegetarian Plantain & Black Bean Taco Cups

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, vegetarian, beginner-friendly

For a savory application like this, underripe plantains are your best bet. Here, they’re sauteed alongside garlic and diced jalapeños, then mixed with saucy canned beans to create vegetarian chili.

17. Fried Plantains with Hot Pepper Sauce

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, make ahead

Don’t let the tomato base fool you: This pepper sauce packs a serious punch, courtesy of Scotch bonnet peppers and fresh ginger. Sweet plantains are the ultimate foil for it.

18. Island Bowls

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, high protein

The Caribbean-inspired marinade is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Not into chicken? Substitute slabs of tofu; just be sure to press as much liquid out of them as possible before cooking.

19. Plantain and Black Bean Tacos with Chimichurri Sauce

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, beginner-friendly, vegetarian

All that’s missing from these tacos is a generous drizzle of crema, sour cream or Greek yogurt. If you’re not feeling black beans, you can swap in pinto beans or canned refried beans.

20. 3-Ingredient Plantain Tortillas

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, gluten free, vegan

Speaking of tacos, you can make a batch of these wheat-free tortillas and turn them into quesadillas, tacos, chips and tostadas for up to four days. Yup, you can thank us later.

21. Creole Shrimp Mofongo

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: special occasion-worthy, dairy free, gluten free

Never tried mofongo? It’s a Puerto Rican dish that uses mashed plantains as a base. For extra flavor and crunch, mix crushed pork rinds (or better yet, fresh chicharrones) into the mash.

22. Coconut Sugar Caramelized Plantains

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegan, <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, kid-friendly

Think of this as a tropical, booze-free twist on bananas foster. We’d serve them with a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream if we were you.

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Taryn Pire is PureWow’s associate food editor. A former bartender and barista, she’s been writing about all things delicious since 2016, developing recipes, reviewing restaurants and investigating food trends at Food52, New Jersey Family Magazine and Taste Talks. When she isn’t testing TikTok’s latest viral recipe, she’s having popcorn for dinner and posting about it on Instagram @cookingwithpire.