How to Cook Sweet Fried Plantains (Maduros) Every Time ☺
The secret to cooking perfectly sweet fried plantains!
All of your plantain questions answered—what is the difference between yellow and green plantains? How do you cook fried plantains so that they turn out sweet? What is the best way yo you select and ripen plantains? Why do fried plantains sometimes come out hard and starchy like chips? Follow these tips and your fried plantains will come out perfectly caramelized and sweet every time.
I don't do favorites, but if I did, fried plantains would rank very high up on the list. Commonly served in Jamaica and in other places throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, fried plantains are tangy, delicious, and naturally sweet—the perfect treat!
For years I fried plantains with varying degrees of success before figuring out the key to making perfectly sweet fried plantains every time: ripening them properly.
When buying plantains, I used to choose the darkest ones on display, thinking that they would ripen in less time. I'd stash my partially blackened plantains in paper bags in the oven and wait patiently for them to turn fully black before frying them.
Every now and then my fried plantains came out sweet, but more often than not, they turned out starchy and hard like chips—like tostones, fried "green" plantains.
Green plantains, yellow plantains. Could it be that there are actually two different types of plantains? One that yields a soft, sweet plantain when fried, and one that yields a crispy chip?
To further confuse the matter, Del Monte and Chiquita are sticking bizarre and mystifying stickers on their plantains that advise you to fry green plantains and grill yellow plantains. "Grille-moi!" says a yellow sticker on a yellow Chiquita plantain, and "Fris-moi!" says a green sticker on another plantain (also yellow). And then there's a Del Monte plantain that simply says it is green. 🤷🏻♀️
I waited for both of the Chiquita plantains above to ripen to black before frying them, and they both turned out to be perfectly sweet fried plantains. An obvious conclusion: yellow and green plantains are essentially the same thing.
A plantain starts out green and then ripens further to yellow before turning black. For soft, sweet fried plantains, wait until the plantain is black and rather soft to the touch.
In my experience it is better to buy an unbruised, nice-looking yellow or green plantain than a partially blackened one. The plantain with more dark marks may look like it is further along in its ripening process, but it has likely just been kicked around and bruised a bit more. The best way to know that you'll be frying a good, ripe plantain is to buy it when it's yellow and wait for it to ripen to black.
Slice off both ends and make a shallow cut down the length of the plantain. The peel should come away from the plantain rather easily. Then slice the plantain into chunks diagonally.
Coat the bottom of the skillet with enough oil for the plantains to sit in comfortably. Heat the skillet over medium heat until the oil is hot, and drop the plantains in. Make sure the plantains are coated fully in oil and continue to fry them, flipping periodically, until they turn to a deep yellow and start to brown.
There you have it—perfectly sweet fried plantains. Happy fried plantaining!