These Air Fryer Plantains (Cuban Plátanos Maduros) are a perfect side dish or snack. Made in the air fryer for a healthier version with much less calories compared to the traditional fried plantains. Vegan, gluten-free, paleo and whole30 approved.
I have been trying baking plantains recently, and they have become a favorite snack in our home. They are easy to make with minimal ingredients, and the kids enjoy them.
Fried Plantains are a popular Cuban side dish, similar to fried taro. Sweet, ripe plantains are sliced and then fried in oil. They are sooooo good. That said, these deep fried plantains are also high in calories.
I wanted to try a healthier version with cooking them in the air fryer. It takes just a teaspoon of oil for a plantain when air frying or baking, and you get the same texture and taste.
What are Plantains?
Plantains are a starchy fruit from the banana family. Although they are more like a vegetable - less sweet, more starchier and typically eaten cooked. They are popular in the Latin American, Caribbean and African cuisine.
Green Plantains are unripe and have a white flesh. These are like a starchy vegetable, and often used as a substitute for potatoes or rice.
As the plantains ripen, they become yellow and then black. They also sweeten as they ripen. Yellow plantains are firm, and are just starting to sweeten.
Plantains can be prepared in many ways - steamed, boiled, grilled, fried or baked. They hold up well when cooking compared to bananas. The traditional way is to fry them.
To bake or air fry plantains, I look for plantains that are yellow but turning black. You can also use black peel plantains, which will give the sweetest fried plantains.
Why you will love these baked plantains..
- Easy to make with minimal prep and in 10 minutes
- Healthier and lower in calories compared to regular fried plantains.
- Vegan, Gluten-free, Whole30 and Paleo
- Enjoyed by all - kids and adults!
How to cook Plantains in the Air Fryer?
Firstly, you want to make sure to have ripe plantains. I have tried making them when they are just yellow, which means not as sweet, and they don't taste nearly as good as when they are ripe. So just have patience and let them sit on the counter to ripen (it can take 3-5 days for them to ripen).
Using a sharp knife, cut the edges of the plantains. Run the knife through the skin of the plantain lengthwise, making sure not to cut the flesh. Peel the skin and discard. Then slice into ½" thick pieces diagonally.
If the plantains are firm, then you can transfer the plantains to a bowl and mix with oil and salt.
If the plantains are soft and might get mushy when mixed, you can directly spray oil or lightly grease the bottom of the air fryer basket. Line the plantains in the basket in a single layer. Then spray some oil and sprinkle salt, if using.
Turn on air fryer to 380°F. Cook plantain for 10-12 minutes, flipping over half way through.
That is all. Fried Plantains are ready.
Transfer plantain pieces carefully from air fryer basket to a serving plate. Repeat until all the plantains are cooked.
Pro-tips for Perfect Plantains
- Let the plantains ripen before air frying or baking them. Ripe = naturally sweet! But they can also be stickier and messier, but so much more delicious. Be patient and let them sit on the counter.
- Slice the plantains in roughly the same thickness, so they cook evenly. The cook time will depend on the thickness of the slices.
- Spread the plantains in a single layer, so they cook uniformly. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you might have to cook them in multiple batches.
- Air fryer plantains taste best when served hot. Enjoy as is or serve with a dip.
- You can also make them sweeter to serve with dessert by sprinkling cinnamon and sugar on the top.
Plantains are very versatile...
- You can slice them (the yellow firm ones) super thin, and make plantain chips.
- Toss your favorite seasonings with the plantains before air frying - garlic powder, cayenne, cajun seasoning are some options.
- Squeeze lime juice when serving for a fresh flavor.
Yes, they are a rich source of fiber, vitamins A, C, and B-6, and the minerals magnesium and potassium. They also have antioxidants, and are good for gut and heart health. That said, they are high in carbohydrates. Also, plantains if deep fried can add a lot of extra fat. Hence baked, grilled or air fried plantains are a healthier choice.
Plantains are best eaten cooked. Plantains can be prepared in many ways - steamed, boiled, grilled, fried or baked.
A medium sized plantain has 218 calories. A fried plantain has about 258 calories, considering about a teaspoon of oil used for a medium plantain.
These are best enjoyed fresh when cooked. but if you have leftovers, place cooled plantains in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will last up to 4 days. To reheat, air fry them for a minute at 380°F.
More air fryer recipes you might enjoy:
Air Fryer Plantains
- Using a sharp knife, cut the edges of the plantains. Run the knife through the skin of the plantain lengthwise, making sure not to cut the flesh. Peel the skin and discard. Then slice into ½" thick pieces diagonally.
- Spray oil or lightly grease the bottom of the air fryer basket. Line the plantains in the basket in a single layer. Spray some oil and sprinkle salt, if using. (If the plantains are firm, then you can also transfer them to a bowl and mix with oil and salt before lining in the air fryer basket)
- Turn on air fryer to 380°. Cook plantain for 10-12 minutes, flipping over half way through.
- Transfer plantain pieces carefully from air fryer basket to a serving plate. Repeat until all the plantain is cooked.
Note: Nutrition values are my best estimates. If you rely on them for your diet, use your preferred nutrition calculator.