Sweet air fryer plantains are great alongside beans and rice or stuffed into a vegan taco! I’ve got air fryer and oven directions for this maduros recipe, so choose your own adventure!
When I was a kid, a chain called Pollo Tropical opened up in my hometown of Ft. Lauderdale. My family would pick up food from “Pollo” at least once a week. It was my favorite fast food joint, and it’s one that I still visit as a vegan today. Their sides – especially their fried plantains – taste like delicious nostalgia, and most of them are vegan. These air fryer plantains are my home-spun version of my favorite fast food side.
If you don’t have an air fryer, you can make these plantains in the oven instead. It will take a bit longer, but don’t let that stop you! They’re super delicious and worth the extra time. You can also make maduros in a waffle iron, if you have one! Before my air fryer, the oven was my favorite way to make “fried” plantains.
Darrol Henry seems to have inherited my love of plantains. When we eat at La Fonda Latina now, a plate of maduros is a must. I’m so excited that I can cook up air fryer plantains for him now in less time than it takes to get us all in the car for a supper out.
This recipe does use oil. I know that not everyone is crazy about oil, but to get the browned, crispy texture of the fried plantains from my childhood, oil is required. You can use a little bit of cooking spray or no oil instead, but know that your results will not be like the ones pictured. They will be delicious, but they won’t have those rich, crunchy browned edges that I associate with the best maduros. Oil is what makes that happen.
To make your air fryer plantains, I definitely recommend using actual plantains, not bananas. Plantains are starchier and larger than regular bananas, and I have not tested this recipe with anything but the real deal. You also want to be sure that you plantain is very ripe.
Choosing a Ripe Plantain
When you’re making maduros, having a perfectly ripe plantain is key. A plantain is ripe when it’s almost totally brown and feels tender if you squeeze it gently.
A plantain that’s green or mostly yellow in color is not going to work for this recipe. They’ll end up dry and crunchy on the outside and weirdly starchy on the inside, like too-thick plantain chips. They also won’t have the sweetness you expect from good maduros. Trust me. I have tried!
Like bananas, you can speed up the ripening process by sticking your plantains into a brown paper bag. Check on them once a day until they’re completely ripe and ready to bake or air fry!
Sweet air fryer plantains are great alongside beans and rice or stuffed into a vegan taco! I've got air fryer and oven directions for this recipe, so choose your own adventure!
- 2 ripe plantains (The should be almost all brown and very soft. If it were a banana, you'd say it was no good, but instead, it's a perfect plantain!)
- 2 teaspoons neutral oil (I used avocado oil, but sunflower or organic canola oil would also be fine.)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt optional, but recommended
Slice your plantains at an angle, cutting pieces that are about 1/2" thick.
Toss the plantains, oil, and salt together in a medium bowl. Make sure that all of the pieces get coated in oil.
Transfer to your air fryer basket, and air fry at 400F for 8-10 minutes, shaking after 5 minutes. Your plantains are done when they're browned on the outside and tender on the inside. Cooking time will vary depending on how ripe your plantains are. Check in at 8 minutes, and add another minute or two, if needed, to reach that nice, browned outside.
Preheat your oven to 400F.
Arrange the plantains on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Bake for 16-20 minutes, flipping the plantains after 8 minutes. Your plantains are done when they're browned on the outside and tender on the inside. Cooking time will vary depending on how ripe your plantains are. If they don't look done at 16 minutes, check them at 18 minutes. If they still don't look totally done, flip them, and do 2 more minutes.