These tender-centered, crispy-skinned plantains can be baked or air-fried and are perfect served as a healthy side dish or snack. Using just three base ingredients, and optional extra seasonings, this dish is incredibly versatile. Plus, this recipe is naturally gluten-free, paleo, vegan, and easy to make.
Crispy Plantains – Oven and Air Fryer method included
As someone living in the Dominican Republic, you can be sure that plantain recipes are a staple in my kitchen. It would be almost a ‘sin’ to not consume them regularly when they are so readily available and delicious. Plus, these baked or air-fried plantains are also one of my favorite, versatile side dishes and snacks.
With plantains’ popularity on the up and up, this ingredient is now readily available in countries all over the world, so I thought it was the perfect time to share this recipe for everyone wanting to start experimenting with it.
While fried plantain chips are an incredibly popular version of cooking this ingredient, I love my oven-baked or air fryer version. Not only is this far healthier than the deep-fried version, but they are also easier on my stomach, and this method is less messy and less effort.
What Is Plantain?
Plantain (aka platanos / platano maduro / cooking bananas) are grown in several tropical regions, including West Africa, Latin America, South East Asia, and the Caribbean. Though, they are now available in countries all over the world.
While looking remarkably similar to ‘regular’ bananas that we eat raw, plantain is actually a relative of the banana most people know and love and have different properties, cooking needs, and flavor.
In fact, in certain regions, platanos are eaten in the same way as potatoes or rice are in other regions; often and with everything!
Plantain vs Banana
When looking at the two side by side, they are similar in many ways, though plantain is bigger.
The real difference comes in terms of taste, texture, and uses. Plantain is primarily treated as a vegetable; and is less sweet (by far – at 6% sugar in relation to bananas 20%) and is far starchier (like a potato). That’s why they are most typically cooked before consumption.
They can be baked, air-fried, deep-fried, boiled, etc., and hold up well to the cooking process, unlike bananas. Plus, they also have more of a ‘dry’ texture in comparison to bananas.
In fact, the two ripen similarly, going from green (platano verde = unripe) to yellow and yellow with some black spots (maduro = ripe), then yellow with lots of black spots/almost black (overripe). The riper the plantain, the sweeter, and softer it becomes. Thus, many plantain recipes will use them at different levels of ripeness based on the eaters’ preference.
In terms of their nutritional benefits, they contain high levels of potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, C, and B6. They also contain lots of fiber, antioxidants, and resistant starch. This makes them beneficial to gut health and heart health.
- Ripe Plantain (yellow) – This is the way I prefer them, soft but not too soft, and slightly sweet.
- Oil – canola oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil, etc. will all work
- Sea Salt – for a simple, flavorful dish.
- Smoked Paprika
- Onion Powder
However, there are tons of optional add-ins that you could add to customize this recipe, for example:
Garlic powder, cumin, curry powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper, etc.
Plus, if making platanos maduros (sweet plantains), then you could use cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, sugar, etc.
The sky is the limit, so feel free to experiment and let me know your favorite combinations in the comments below.
These Plantains Are:
- Vegan (dairy-free)
- Can be baked or air-fried
- Can be made sweet or savory
- Make for a delicious side or snack
- Comfort food at its best!
- Easy to make
The Step-By-Step Instructions
When learning how to cook plantains, oven-baking is one of my favorite, low-effort methods and requires just a few simple steps.
For the full ingredients list, ingredient measurements, and nutritional information, then please read the recipe card below.
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400° F (205° C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray it lightly with cooking spray and then set aside.
Step 2: Meanwhile, remove the plantain peel. If they are ripe yellow with lots of dark spots or overripe, you’ll be able to peel them like a banana. If they are rather green than yellow, then you’ll need to slice off the ends and carefully score the peel lengthwise to remove it. Once peeled, slice the plantain diagonally into 1/3-inch (0.8 cm) thick slices.
Step 3: Toss the plantain, oil, and spices of your choice in a bowl and then spread the slices in a single layer over the prepared baking sheet.
Step 4: Bake in the oven until the slices are golden brown. This takes me 25 minutes, flipping once after around 15 minutes. Though, the timing can depend on the ripeness of the plantain and your oven.
You can then eat immediately or leave to cool and eat at room temperature.
Air Fryer Plantains
Spread the plantain slices in a single layer in the basket (cook in batches if necessary), spray with a little oil, and air fry at 360F/180C for 10-14 minutes (based on their thickness), flipping at 6 minutes. The cooking time will vary based on the thickness of the plantain.
How To Serve
Sweet plantains cooked with sweet toppings (like cinnamon and sugar) can be served alongside dessert dips.
Alternatively, serve these as a side dish to tons of different meals. Swap them out for potatoes or rice and use them to stuff wraps and burritos.
For example, they could be served alongside or used instead of rice/potato in these recipes:
- Vegan Black Bean Burger
- Easy Red Lentil Dahl
- Vegan Shakshuka with Chickpeas
- Easy Ratatouille
- Okra and Lentil Gumbo
- Vegan Breakfast Burritos
- And even served alongside these Refried Beans
How To Store
I love eating this dish immediately. However, leftovers can be allowed to cool and stored in the fridge for up to one week or frozen.
To freeze, place the slices on a tray lined with parchment paper. Once frozen, transfer the pieces to a Ziplock/freezer-friendly bag.
To reheat, simply place in the oven till warmed through. That should allow the pieces to crisp up slightly again, too.
Recipe Notes & Variations
- For this recipe, I recommend using yellow plantains that aren’t too soft or hard. That way, they are slightly sweeter but still hold their shape in the oven and crisp up nicely.
- If your plantains are overripe (yellow with lots of black spots or almost black), then they won’t get super crispy. However, you can toss these with cinnamon and sugar and enjoy it as a sweet treat (aka plátanos maduros).
- Be aware that overripe plantain may stick to the baking paper and be ‘messier’ to deal with. Plus, softer ones also tend to soak up more of the oil.
- If you want to make super crispy plantain chips, then use plantains that are green/’just’ turning yellow and slice thinner (1/8 inch, if possible). Bake until crispy, turning halfway through. I never tried the air fryer method, but that should work fine too!
- There are several ways that you can add extra flavor (as listed above). A dash of cumin and ginger are some of my favorite options!
- The thinner/thicker you slice the pieces will change how crispy vs. tender they become and will affect the bake time.
- Allowing the plantain chips to cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar helps the chips crisp up even more while cooling (due to the slower cooling time and the slight airflow).
If you give these baked or air-fried plantains recipe a try, I’d love a comment and recipe rating below. Also, don’t forget to tag me in re-creations on Instagram or Facebook with @elavegan #elavegan – I love seeing your recreations.
Plantains (Baked or Air-Fried)
- You can watch the video in the post for visual instructions.Preheat the oven 400° F (205° C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray it lightly with cooking spray and set aside.
- Remove the peel of the plantains. If they are yellow with dark spots and overripe you will be able to peel them like a banana. If they aren't too ripe (yellow without spots), you will need to cut off the ends, then carefully cut through the skin lengthwise with a knife and remove the peel. Slice plantains diagonally into 1/3-inch (0.8 cm) thick slices.
- In a bowl, toss together the plantain slices, oil, and spices. Spread the plantain slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake until plantains are golden-brown, about 20-25 minutes, flip once after about 15 minutes. Depending on the ripeness of the plantains the baking time might be a bit shorter or longer.
- Check the blog post for the air fryer method, for storing instructions, step-by-step photos, serving suggestions, tips, and variations.
- A dash of ground cumin also adds a nice flavor.
- I recommend using yellow plantains that aren't too soft but not hard either.
- If your plantains are overripe (yellow with many black spots or almost black), they won't crisp up but stay quite soft. It's best to season overripe plantains with cinnamon and sugar (or sweetener of choice) and enjoy them as a sweet treat (plátanos maduros).
- If you want to make plantain chips, use plantains that are green/turning yellow and slice them thinner.
Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically