Fried sweet plantains (maduros)

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Have you ever had maduros? Maduros are fried sweet plantains that are sweet and tender both inside and out. In this recipe we give you all of our best tips for making maduros from scratch. This includes tips for choosing plantains that are ripe so that your maduros do not turn out firm and starchy. 

In this recipe for maduros, we use coconut oil in place of butter. That means that all of the ingredients in this recipe are gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, nut free, and egg free. 

maduros - fried sweet plantains

How to tell when plantains are ripe?

How do you tell when plantains are ripe? Here is how to tell when plantains are ripe. 

  • Their peels are black or brown. When plantains are ripe, their peels will start to turn black or brown. I generally wait until 1/3 of the peel has turned black before making fried sweet plantains. If I have time, I will wait until about 1/2 of the peel has turned brown or black.
  • They feel soft. When plantains are ripe, they will start to feel mushy at the ends. This does not mean that they have gone bad, it just means that they are ready to fry up into maduros.
  • Their peels slide off easily. When plantains are ripe, you should be able to easily slide the peel off. When plantains are still yellow or green it can be difficult to remove the outer peel.
  • Their insides turn a deeper yellow. When plantains are ripe, the insides will start to turn a deeper yellow color. This will only happen when the plantains are very ripe. 

How to ripen plantains quickly?

You can control the speed at which your plantains ripen. Plantains release gasses that cause adjacent plantains to ripen more quickly. If you wrap a bunch of plantains up tightly in a plastic bag, you will trap the gasses in and cause the plantains to ripen faster. If you leave plantains out in an open space where the gases can easily escape, they will ripen more slowly. 

I plan to wait 4-10 days after I pick up my plantains at the grocery store before making fried sweet plantains. For reference, the plantains I find at the grocery store are already yellow and just starting to form brown patches when I pick them up. See the image below for an example of what my plantains look like when I pick them up at the store (front) and what my plantains look like 5-6 days later when I start to think about making maduros (back). Make sure you plantains are at least as brown as the plantain in the back before you make madros. Ideally, they would be even more brown than this.

plantains for maduros

How to make fried plantains soft?

Plantains are naturally very starchy. If you are making fried sweet plantains for the first time, it can be difficult to achieve that soft, melt in your mouth texture you get at restaurants. The most important rule for making tender fried sweet plantains is to make sure that your plantains are very ripe before you fry them. Wait until the peels are 30-50% black or brown before frying up maduros. 

I have an additional trick for making sure my maduros are soft and not starchy. I make fried sweet plantains the same way that I make caramelized onions – I cook them on low heat for a long time and I periodically add liquid to keep them from drying out. I have not seen many other recipes that recommend adding liquid to fried sweet plantains while they cook, but doing so is a total game changer if your plantains are not quite as ripe as you would like. 

Adding a little water allows you to cook the plantains for long enough for the insides to soften without allowing the outsides to harden too much. I generally add water with a little bit of sugar in it to my plantains as they cook.

Other tips for making fried sweet plantains

  • You want your plantain slices to have a lot of surface area. I generally cut my plantains slightly diagonally to maximize the surface area.
  • I recommend frying sweet plantains in a heavy oil like coconut oil. If you do not have coconut oil around and you eat dairy, my next suggestion would be butter. I generally see vegetable oil recommended for making sweet plantains but I would use something heavier if possible. 

Fried sweet plantains (maduros)

These tender fried sweet plantains are gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, egg free, and nut free.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Side Dish
Keyword: egg free, gluten free, nut free, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 ripe plantains (see section above on picking ripe plantains)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp brown sugar (completely optional)

Instructions

  • Slice the plantains into slices that are about an inch thick
  • Heat the coconut oil over medium heat and cook the plantains for about 2 minutes per side
  • Reduce the heat to low or medium low and cook the plantains for another 10 - 15 minutes, flipping them every 4-5 minutes. Mix the sugar into the water and add a little bit of the sugar water into the pan each time you flip the plantains

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