Fried Plantains (Tostones!)

Plantains to me are a marvelous fruit. Over two weeks, they transform upon your countertop from immature and hard and green to ripe and black and soft and squish. When green, they are nearly as hard as a turnip and covered in leathery skin attached to the flesh on a cellular level as if by hooks. When green, they can only be uncovered by knife’s blade and the only suitable treatment then is to be sliced and fried into tostones — as crisp as the best french fry you’ve ever eaten.

A few days out from green, the plantain begins to turn yellow, starting at the center-point and working its way towards the ends, which hang on to their green tone out of spite maybe. At this time, the plantain may be peeled with determined fingertips and the now-slightly-sweet interior may still be fried as tostones — though not quite as crisp as before. (The ones I used were at this level of ripeness.)

Fried Plantains - Tostones with pico de gallo and Hatch chile sauce

Beyond that, the plantain starts to show age spots. Yellow, with a hint of brown or black frecklings. The changeling on the path to pure black. It’s more flexible now, more forgiving, more adventurous and may be boiled until soft and made into sweet fritters.

The black plantain would make a really good name for a Caribbean folk tale about a plantain farmer who was really a demon and sold poisoned fruit at all the markets that killed young women and left young men castrated.

That would be a horrible story, though.

Black plantains, as unappealing as they are, can still be used to make desserts. They can be mashed up and mixed with sugar and cinnamon and used to fill empanadas or fried pies. Sometimes I’ll boil them in their skins, peel and mash the meat with raisins, dip spoonfuls into chopped nuts and brown them slowly in butter.

All this is to say: Plantains – You outta try em.

I really think you’ll enjoy these. If you’re as lucky as moi and you have a tostonera, this video will show you how to use it to make crispy fried tostones cups that may be filled with various delicacies not the least of which is my creamy Hatch chile sauce, picadillo, habanero shrimp, or pico de gallo. Or really anything that sounds good to you, which will include anything that sounds good to you with potatoes (e.g., bacon, sour cream, ham, cheese, etc. ad infinitum). If you don’t have a tostonera, fret not, and just get yourself a can or soup or an empty mayonnaise jar. I’ll show you how to make big, flat tostones which you can still top with or dip into any thing you damn well please.

This recipe is easy and never fails to please. You may use green or yellow plantains for this, but refrain from using a plantain that’s beginning to show brown or black spots. That plantain will have too much sugar to make tostones and will burn instead of crisp in the oil. Try to serve them as soon as you can out of the fryer, but they’ll be alright for 20 minutes or so at room temperature. If you need to you can hold them in a 250 degree oven for up to 30 minutes before serving. Tostones are traditional throughout the Caribbean and Central and South America under different names, patacones being one. Often they are deep fried and you can do that if you please, but I find the results just as good shallow-fried. Really, though, either way you like is fine.



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4.7 from 3 reviews

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Yield: 4 1x


  • 2 green or yellow plantains
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • Salt
  • Serving sauces or accompaniments as desired (see post for suggestions)


  1. Peel the plantains. You may need to employ a knife or vegetable peeler.
  2. Cut crosswise into 1″ slices.
  3. Heat the oil until about 350 F and fry the slices in a single layer for about a minute on each side or until light golden brown.
  4. Remove to a cutting board or other hard steady surface.
  5. Smash flat with a can or jar, or press in a tostonera.
  6. Fry again for another minute or two on each side, or until very crisp and brown.
  7. Darin on a rack or paper towel briefly before serving.

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I got my tostonera from my buddy Steve at Woodworking for Mere Mortals. He made it! Then he mailed it to me. That was nice of him and he has a great show, too. Check it out if you like woodworking and/or goofy silly people (I suspect you do if you’re reading this!). If you want to buy a tostonera,



  1. Pennie on September 6, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    No garlic? ¡Blasfemia! lol I’m used to having it with some chopped garlic.

    • Hilah on September 7, 2012 at 8:50 am

      I know! Es loco, no?! 😉 I just watched another video yesterday where the lady dipped them in salty, garlicky water before frying them. Is that how you do it?

  2. Heather on September 6, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    guess the last time I typed this it didn’t work 8(
    Just wondering if you could add the option of ZIPLIST so that recipes can easily be saved and accessed. So often i print them out and can’t find it when I need it……

    • Hilah on September 7, 2012 at 8:48 am

      Hi Heather! That’s a great idea. We hadn’t heard of Ziplist before but it looks like a really cool feature. We will look into adding it to the site. Thanks!

    • Hilah on October 8, 2012 at 8:30 pm

      We just added it! Thanks so much for the suggestion, Heather.

  3. dlab on September 7, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Hilah, the green ones can also be used to make mofongo or mariquitas (grate the green plantain, press it together into spiky balls, and then fry it).

    The black ones can also be fried until the outside is golden brown and slightly crispy – the insides turn mushy and delicious.

    • Hilah on September 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm

      Thank you! I have had so many people mention mofongo to me since releasing this video. I better try it out. I do love plantains!

  4. Gaby on September 7, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    hi Hilah, you can totally fry the dark spotted plantains. Its not a deep fry, but a low fry. A good skillet helps because they tend to stick. We use oil, but sometimes butter if we want to be fatty and add extra flavor. they’re going to be about the same texture as when you cut them in the outcome, but with slight browned sides that give it a lil crispy texture. Sometimes they’re so sweet you need not add anything else, some people sprinkle a bit of salt when they’re done.
    my mother used to dollop some sour cream on them and sprinkle a bit of sugar on the cream.

    • Hilah on September 7, 2012 at 4:03 pm

      Wow, Gaby! I have never thought of sour cream on them. I’ve fried black ones like you described but just ate them plain or sometimes with cinnamon/sugar. Sugared sour cream sounds fantastic – flavor and texture! Definitely have to try that next time. Thank you!

  5. Mary Helen (@MaryMakesDinner) on September 7, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Imaginary folk tales are my favorite.

    • Hilah on September 7, 2012 at 4:03 pm

      Mine too. And imaginary historical events.

  6. Steve Ramsey on September 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Wait…did you just call black plantains un-apPEALing? I’ll consider that well played.

    • Hilah on September 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm

      Dammit I wish I’d done that on purpose.

  7. Gret Stone Face on September 7, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    They go great with pickled onions, too.

  8. Great Stone Face on September 7, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    I should spell my nom de plume correctly.

    • Hilah on September 9, 2012 at 7:13 pm

      Aw, it’s okay. Your pickled onions idea makes up for your poor typing. 😉

  9. Anson on September 8, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    About to attempt these for the little lady. I think I may top them with Satan’s piss, as you so succinctly put it XD

    • Hilah on September 9, 2012 at 7:11 pm

      Oh the little lady is gonna LOVE it, Anson! Especially with a li’l peepee. 😉

      • Anson on September 9, 2012 at 8:12 pm

        The tostones were delish, esp. with your Pico de Gallo, however my tostones did not seem as hard to press down on as yours. Is this a product of being not cooked enough? Also the plantains were a mix of yellow-green. Thoughts?

        • Hilah on September 11, 2012 at 8:45 am

          Happy to hear they were a hit! I was probably just using a slightly greener plantain than you, I bet. It’s surprising how drastically the texture and sweetness of plantains can change depending on ripeness.

  10. Carolina C on September 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Hiya Hailah! You have got a fan from Venezuela!

    I gotta say this is the first time I see a tostonera, in my country we use a smooth rock to smash them…we wash the rock beforehand mind you.

    But we had never thought of filling the tostones with veggies before, great idea!

    BTW, when plantains getsuper ripe, we (Venezuelans that is) make a dessert which involves slicing a bunch of plantains, frying the slices, layering them with cheese and papelon (raw hardened sugar cane pulp) and then baking it. It sounds weird, but it is tasty…it is geasy as hell, though.

    We also make pastel de chucho:

    The potatoes are optional, and itwould be better to use the kind of cheese you would use for tacos instead of using american cheese.


  11. Pennie on March 6, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    So I have figured out a way to peel the green plantain pretty easily, without a peeler. I like to fry them while they’re green, OR maybe it’s just because I can’t wait for it to ripen so I just cook it right away. (And who knew that keeping them in produce bags keeps them from ripening? Probably everyone but me.) I slice the entire plantain, and for each slice, I cut off one small corner and then gently pull away the skin from the open spot in a circular motion. I’m not even sure if I’m making sense…but it works perfectly nearly every time!

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