Sweet plantains are so delicious, especially when they are perfectly sweet and fried well. These can be served with so many different dishes, or just eaten on their own as a snack. In this post, I will give step-by-step instructions on how to fry plantains, as well as how to choose the right ones (and a photo of a finished meal at the end!)
Choosing your plantains
Before you can fry sweet plantains, you have to wait until they are in the window of perfect ripeness. Under-ripe plantains, while still fine, will be potatoey and not sweet; overripe plantains, on the other hand, will result in a mushy, inedible mess. Overripe plantains can be used in different ways, like plantain bread, so it’s best not to waste your time frying them.
To know just when they are perfectly ripe, the outsides should be fairly soft and squishy, similar to an overripe avocado. If you’ve never fried plantains before, it is probably softer than you might think. They should still be mostly yellow, although a little black is okay. I find that the perfect plantains look bruised, but have not yet started to turn completely black.
If your plantains feel ready but you aren’t quite ready to fry them, put them in the fridge (for probably 24 hours max) to try and slow the riping process. Alternatively, put them in a plastic bag at room temperature to make them ripen faster.
How to fry sweet plantains
1. Cut the ends off and make a shallow cut down the center. Remove the peel.
The small cut is to peel the skin off much easier. Pro tip: pop the little pieces out of the ends to get all of the plantain.
2. Cut plantain pieces to desired thickness.
Some people cut theirs thicker, but I like mine as disks. Whichever way you choose, try to cut them all the same thickness for even cooking.
3. Fry in hot palm oil, flipping when first side is golden.
Over slightly less than medium heat (4 on my stove), heat your pan. You want an even layer across the bottom, ~1/4”. I use my cast iron skillet, but any regular skillet should work fine.
Once the oil is hot, add the plantain pieces. Fry them until golden brown, then flip and fry the other side. To know it’s fully cooked, a fork should be able to pierce the plantain very easily.
Warning: palm oil is very smoky! Try not to hover directly over the plantains too long, or you may feel it in your throat and lungs later. I typically crack a window and keep the kitchen fan on high during the cooking process.
4. Let cool on a paper towel.
I typically transfer the plantains from the pan to the plate by piercing them with a fork and lifting them over. You can use a spatula or tongs, but I find the fork method easiest. Not only that, but it allows some of the oil to drip off so it’s not so messy.
The paper towel is there to let some of the oil drain so they don’t taste too heavy. If you want to remove as much oil as possible, gently press the tops with additional paper towel, or flip them over to get both sides.
That’s it! Not only are fried sweet plantains delicious, but they are so versatile. They can be served as a snack with a bit of stew, or accompany a classic West African meal like red-red or egusi stew!
Have you ever tried fried plantains? What is your favorite way to eat them? Let me know in the comments!