This air fried plantain recipe is a healthier version of the fried plantain side dish often enjoyed in the Caribbean. Air frying plantains yields a crispy exterior and a tender interior, making it a popular choice for those seeking a guilt-free alternative to traditional frying methods.
We have based the seasoning of this plantain recipe on a Ghanian dish called Kelwele as it is something my mother-in-law used to make me and was one of my favorites.
What is a plantain?
A plantain is a type of banana, specifically a starchy banana, that is a staple food in many tropical regions around the world. It is botanically classified as a member of the Musa genus, just like the sweet bananas most people are familiar with. Plantains are larger and less sweet than the dessert bananas you might eat raw, and they are typically cooked before consumption due to their high starch content.
Plantains are typically larger and firmer than sweet bananas, and their skin is thicker and green when unripe. As they ripen, the skin may turn yellow with black spots, and the flesh becomes sweeter and softer. Unripe or green plantains are starchy, firm, and have a neutral flavor. When cooked, they have a texture similar to potatoes. As they ripen, they become sweeter, and the texture becomes softer and creamier.
Plantains are versatile and used in various culinary applications. They are a staple in many Caribbean, African, Latin American, and Southeast Asian cuisines. They can be boiled, fried, grilled, or baked, and they are used in both savory and sweet dishes.
How to choose plantains
Choosing the right plantain is essential for the success of your recipe, as the ripeness of the plantain will affect its flavor and texture.
- Color: The color of the plantain skin is one of the most important indicators of its ripeness:
- Green: Green plantains are unripe and starchy. They are suitable for frying, boiling, or making savory dishes. They have a neutral flavor and a firm texture.
- Yellow with Black Spots: Yellow plantains with black spots are in the intermediate stage of ripeness. They are slightly sweeter than green plantains and can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. They will have a firmer texture than fully ripe plantains.
- Mostly Yellow to Completely Black: These plantains are fully ripe and very sweet. They are best for making sweet dishes like plantain pies or for eating as a dessert. They have a soft, creamy texture and a sweet flavor.
- Firmness: When selecting a plantain, gently squeeze it. A green plantain should feel very firm, like a potato. As it ripens, it will become slightly softer but should not be overly mushy, especially if you plan to cook it for savory dishes.
- Size: Plantains come in various sizes, but generally, choose ones that are consistent in size and free from any significant blemishes or bruises.
- Smell: Ripe plantains may have a mild, sweet fragrance, especially those with yellow skin and black spots. However, the smell should not be overly strong or unpleasant.
- Purpose: Consider what you plan to make with the plantains. If you want to make fried plantains or tostones, green plantains are ideal. If you intend to make a sweet dessert or a dish like mofongo, opt for ripe plantains.
- Storage: If you’re not planning to use the plantains immediately, choose them based on your intended use. If you want to use them soon, select ones that are closer to your desired level of ripeness. If you need them to ripen over a few days, choose greener plantains.
A Kelewele seasoning is used for this recipe to pack an extra flavor to the plantain.
- Plantains – we use ripe plantains for a slightly sweet taste.
- Olive oil – this could be substituted with coconut oil or avocado oil
- Spice mix – ground ginger, cayenne pepper, salt, garlic powder.
How to make air fried plantain
This is an easy recipe to make in the air fryer.
Peel and slice the plantains.
Mix the spices with the oil in a bowl.
Toss the sliced plantains in the seasoned oi.
Place the spiced plantains in the air fryer basket and cook.
What to serve with air fried plantain
Air Fried Plantain
- 3 medium plantains
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Start by peeling the ripe plantains and cutting them into bite-sized chunks or slices. The size is a matter of preference, but typically they are cut into cubes or thick slices.
- In a bowl, combine the ground ginger, ground cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Mix all the spices together to create the spice blend.
- Place the plantain chunks in a large bowl and drizzle the vegetable oil over them. Toss the plantains to ensure they are evenly coated with the oil. Sprinkle the spice mix over the plantains and toss again until all the plantain pieces are well coated with the spice mixture. You can adjust the amount of spice mix to suit your preferred level of spiciness.
- Preheat your air fryer to 375°F (190°C) for a few minutes
- Lightly grease the air fryer basket with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Place the marinated plantain chunks in a single layer in the air fryer basket. You may need to cook them in batches depending on the size of your air fryer.
- Air fry the plantains at 375°F (190°C) for about 10-15 minutes, flipping them halfway through to ensure even cooking. The exact cooking time may vary based on the size of the plantain chunks and the air fryer model, so keep an eye on them to prevent burning. They should become golden brown and crispy.
- Once the plantain is done cooking, remove it from the air fryer and let it cool for a minute or two. Serve it hot as a snack or side dish.