July 2, 2009 10:45 AM
Three tasty ways to eat ripe plantains
POSTED IN: Anytime Antojos , Recipes , Sides , Desserts
TAGS: Chile , Cooked Plantain , Cream , Dessert , Fried Plantain , Garlic , Ice Cream , Macho , Plantain , Platano , Rompope , Side , Snack , Sweetened Condensed Milk
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Ay, ay, ay! Patita, espérate mamacita! My nanny repeated, as she snatched the hot plantain tightly wrapped in aluminum foil, from my hands. Her hands were more resistant, she insisted, as they were older and had cooked so much. She would hold my chosen package with an open hand, so the camotero (sweet potato street cart man, who also sold plantains) could tear up the foil. As the steam flew up to the skies, he poured a more-than-any-child-could-wish-for amount of sweetened condensed milk... and so it fell, sweet ounce, by thick ounce, onto that moist, rich, filling and immensely satisfying treat. Sheer joy, that was.

I devoured it in what seemed a couple bites, just to lick the last but yummiest remains from the crumbled foil. There we were, standing on the street corner where my family lived, mischievously laughing: it was already getting dark, almost dinnertime, and no, no, no, I wasn't supposed to be having any. Oh dear, how I miss that woman! Now every time I eat a plantain, I get a sparkle of that sheer joy.

So I understand my boys when they rush out to the street, their heartbeats pumping so loud I can clap their rhythms, as I scream out wait, wait, wait!, as that annoying ice cream truck song approaches. Yes, right before dinner, thank you Mr. Ice Cream Man. I once felt that too, with an even more shrilling whistle coming out from the camotero street cart.

We used to eat cooked ripe plantains throughout the year, and ironically, they seemed to taste even better during the hot and rainy summer months.  As some people say, sometimes hot, beats the heat...
(Plantains on my dining room table, the one covered in black spots is ripe and ready to be cooked)

Plantains, called macho bananas, plátano macho, in many areas of Mexico, can just change gears and move from one course to another. Eaten as described above, they make an original dessert or an anytime sweet treat. Covered in foil and thrown on the grill, and along some grilled meat or chicken with a spicy kick, they make an incredible side. All you need is a simple salad and you have a wholesome tasty meal. If you forgot to eat them and you are already moving to dessert, just drizzle some sweet condensed milk, honey, sugar, Rompope, or ice cream on top! I don't think one can say this about many other ingredients... maybe sweet potatoes or grilled pineapples...

Another option to eat ripe plantains, which is extremely popular, is to fry them, plátanos fritos. They are peeled, thickly and diagonally sliced (to make them pretty, why not?) and as they brown in the hot oil, their sugar caramelizes. So when you start to bite in, you get a sweet crunch, and when you are deep into the bite, you get a gently mushy and soft finish.

In Mexican cooking, fried plantains are famously eaten on top of white rice, as in the main post photo. This brings a nice contrast of sweet and soft with savory and coarse. If you want to go over the top, drizzle some Mexican or Latin style cream or sour cream as a finishing touch. Try that... and you will have a piece of sheer bliss too.

NOTE Click here to read about plantains, how to buy them and how to recognize when they are ripe. Of course, there are other ways to eat them when they are not ripe, as they do in the Gulf Coast, but that is a topic for a future post... meanwhile enjoy one of these three ways to eat them ripe, or  try them all!

Serves 2 to 4


2 ripe plantains
¼ cup safflower or corn oil

The skin of the plantain should be almost entirely black when it is mature and ready to use. Peel the plantain and slice diagonally into about ¼ inch slices.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a sauté pan until hot but not smoking. Add slices of plantain and sauté for about 2 minutes, until lightly browned, but not blackened. Flip to other side and sauté for another minute or two.
Place the fried plantain sliced on a plate covered with paper towel, so as to absorb the excess oil. Serve hot over rice and eat as a side.

Already cooked plantains may be reheated on a baking sheet in the oven at 300 degrees for 5 minutes or so.

Serves 2 to 4

2 ripe plantains
Sweetened Condensed Milk, to your liking, or honey, sugar, ice cream or Rompope

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Individually wrap the plantains, with their skin on, in aluminum foil and place in a baking sheet in the oven (some people bake them without the aluminum foil, you can try it both ways).

Bake for about 25 minutes, until plantains are completely cooked through, very soft and sugar has begun to caramelize. Carefully open up the foil making a slit down the middle, open it up, and pour the condensed milk on top.
Serves 2 to 4

2 ripe plantains

Preheat grill to medium heat. Individually wrap the unpeeled plantains in aluminum foil and place on the grill.

Let them cook for about 20 to 25 minutes, until they are soft and cooked through. You may also cook them on the upper rack of the grill at a different temperature, but it may take more or less time.

You know they are ready when they feel extremely soft to the touch and the sugar has begin to caramelize.


Wow, your blog is gorgeous. I love plantains but have never cooked with them. Here's hoping my crappy local supermarkets carry some.

Carrie Oliver | August 4, 2009 1:29 PM

Many thanks! If you can't find them, that shouldn't stop you. Let me know where you live and I will send some to you...

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Carrie Oliver | August 4, 2009 10:54 PM

Pati, I'd take you up on that if I didn't live in Toronto! Tho' I'm going to try to find these and serve on Sunday and if that doesn't work, I will be in the US soon enough :)

Carrie Oliver | August 7, 2009 11:23 AM

Mi nombre es Melinda Herbert y vivo en Phoenix,AZ. Honestamente nunca habia escuchado de usted pero ahora la vi en el programa de Paula y ME ENCANTO!! Sus recetas y su acento me hicieron sentir cerca de mi pais y muy orgullosa de ver gente mexicana en ese tipo de programas. Terminandose el programa inmediatamente la busque por internet y aqui estoy escribiendo mi comentario en su blog. Aparte de bonita, muy simpatica y orgullosa de su cultura! Me encanto!!!! Por favor digame si tiene libros, o su propio programa ..o algo mas. Desde ahora soy su fan. Muchas gracias por dejar buena y sincera impresion de todos los mexicanos!! Voy a ir de compras por esos platanos machos que me dejaron con boca abierta(y babeando)=). Muchas GRacias!!

Melinda Herbert | August 17, 2009 9:13 PM

Hola Melinda!
Muchas gracias por su mensaje tan lindo, gracias por buscarme por aqui. Todavia no tengo un libro, pero con mucho gusto le aviso en cuanto este listo. Mientras tanto seguire posting aqui en mi sitio sobre recetas, articulos e historias.
Muchos saludos y espero encontrarla mas por aqui!!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Melinda Herbert | August 18, 2009 12:14 AM

Hello Pati,

Thank you so much for your wonderful blog. It always gets me fired up to cook something!

I have a question about the Baked Plantains for Dessert. When you say to wrap the plantains in foil, should the plantains be peeled or is the skin left on while they are baked?

Thank you,

Kari Steph | November 22, 2009 6:01 PM

Hi Kari, many thanks for your comments! For the plantains, keep the skin on (thanks to your comment I just added that in the recipe, thanks!) and wrap them in foil. I have a personal preference to drizzle them with sweetened condensed milk...

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Kari Steph | November 22, 2009 6:12 PM

Hasta el dia de hoy, diciembre 28,2009, vi el programa de Paula's best dishes. Me dio mucho gusto ver a una mexicana en foodnetwork, alguien que represente nuestra cocina y que se apegue a los ingredientes originales. Felicidades y espero verte con mas frecuencia.

Lupita | December 29, 2009 2:02 AM

Hi Pati,
I have Always loved "Ripe Plantains " Not Being Of The Latino Persuasion it's Clear, That I Don't Have A Clue On The Preparation,,( It Takes Me An Hour,To Make "Minute Rice "lol AND
I Still Use A Smoke Alarm As A Timer ... I Like Them Cooked In The Frying Pan,,,With That Beautiful Batter,,Sweet....Hmmm Getting Hungry Already...What's The Easiest Way To Prepare Them.The Local Fire Department Has been Alerted And Is Standing By....Thank You For Your Time And Considerations....
Ciao.............. Frankie C...

Frankie | September 29, 2010 12:50 PM

Hello Frankie C,
I love plantains too! Two of the easiest ways are right here on this post: Either bake, or just slice and fry. It is very easy. And no need to call the fire department!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Frankie | September 29, 2010 2:34 PM

Nice one.chicken stew on white rice with fried plantain at the corner is awesome.i wd try d grilld plantain

Adaeze | November 24, 2010 7:37 AM

Thank you for your recipes!! I have never cooked a plantain (but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them!!!) and a co-worker gave me one about two weeks ago. Now thanks to your blog I know how to cook it!!

Ashton | June 21, 2011 5:56 PM

hi pati
the more i read on your web site the more i am wowed

ann ryan | September 3, 2011 12:34 PM

What is the secret to making these really mushy like they have in the restaurants. I have tried so many times and can't get them to taste that way.....



Susan | September 18, 2011 1:18 PM

Your show airs locally here in the Twin Cities (Minnesota) on PBS and is wonderful.
Thank you for your blog and recipies, your photos are very good too. Beautiful. Thank you so much.

cj Regan | November 10, 2012 5:17 PM

CJ, You're so kind!! Thank you for watching!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from cj Regan | November 16, 2012 10:21 AM