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.
Need more air fryer ideas? Check out these amazing vegan air fryer recipes
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.
Before my air fryer, the oven was my favorite way to make "fried" plantains.
My kid 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.
About the oil in this recipe
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.
How to choose your plantains
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 your plantain is very ripe.
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 to skimp on the ripening time!
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!
How to peel and slice them
Preparing these is very easy! To peel your plantain, slice off the top, then use your knife to make a long, lengthwise slice down one side. The peel should come off easily.
After you peel, just use your knife to slice the plantain into ½" thick pieces.
When you slice, make sure to cut on an angle. This will open up more surface area, so you'll end up with better browning and crisper results.
The recipe below is for one plantain, which is two servings. You can easily double this recipe and follow the cooking directions exactly as written.
If you are planning to triple or quadruple, it may take a few more minutes in the air fryer. The oven directions remain the same.
Air fryer plantains recipe
- 1 ripe plantain - (It 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!)
- 1 teaspoon neutral oil - (I used avocado oil, but sunflower or organic canola oil would also be fine.)
- pinch of salt - optional, but recommended
- Slice your plantain at an angle, cutting pieces that are about ½" thick.
- Toss the plantain slices, oil, and salt together in a medium bowl. Make sure that all of the pieces get coated in oil.
Air Fryer Directions
- Transfer to your air fryer basket, and air fry at 400° F 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 400° F.
- Arrange the plantain slices on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Bake for 16-20 minutes, flipping them 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.