How to boil plantain

20.4.22 | Recipe by Renz

One of the simplest side dishes you can find is boiled plantain. It's the perfect sweet side dish and can be paired with just about anything. It literally only requires just boiling, so it can be on your table in no time.

A picture of slices of yellow boiled ripe plantain on a brown plate.

Plantains are a staple item in the Caribbean, African, and South American cuisine.

We eat it by itself, as an appetizer, as a side, or base for main dishes. We use it whole, in pieces, make it into cups, use it like bread.

We also make it into drinks and use it in cakes. It is a multi-dimensional food.

The easy preparation of boiling plantain, allows you to have a deliciously, naturally sweet taste of a semi-ripe (or yellow plantain).

And if you love easy sides, my cassava (yuca) salad is the next perfect, quick and tasty dish.

What are plantains?

Plantains are fruits that grow tropical climates. These are starchy fruits that are used as a vegetable or fruit substitute.

There are about 100 varieties of plantain.

They are commonly found in Africa, Asia, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

You can easily recognize these fruits because they are round, green or yellow, and covered in the hard outer skin. They can be used in foods from sweet to savory.

When ripe, they have a soft interior flesh that is edible and has a sweet flavor. The ripe ones are usually used in sweet dishes. When ripe the outer layer can be yellow to yellow with black spots to all black (very ripe)

The unripe plantains, or green plantain, are usually used in savory dishes. This time the interior is hard and usually needs to be cooked before being consumed. They are hard to peel.

A picture of two yellow ripe plantains with black spots.

Difference between plantains and bananas

Plantains look like bananas but they are not the same. They are commonly referred to as the "cousins" of bananas.

Though oftentimes compared and mistaken for bananas, plantain is almost always cooked in some way prior to being consumed.

My aunt does mention though that people have used overripe plantains to make shakes or used in cakes.

Benefits of Plantain

If you are looking for something high in complex carbohydrates and vitamins and minerals, then plantains will be your thing. It's a hidden superfood.

Plantains are full of potassium (which is good for heart disease) and magnesium. It is also packed with Vitamins from A, vitamin C, and B-6.

It is a great rich source of fiber and is easily digested.

The best plantains to use to boil

Any plantain can boil either green or yellow. The difference will be the taste.

Green plantain (green banana) is starchy, and kind of tart in taste. It's more like a potato taste.

Ripe plantains will be on the sweeter side, and when boiled is a little softer. If using sweet make sure to select one that is firm to touch. We don't want it too soft, especially to put into water, it will get softer and mushy.

Both pair well with meats and stews. You might find them in some soups.

Pictures of two plantains, one green one and a ripe one prior to boiling.

Ingredients for boiled plantains

Plantain - can be ripe plantain or green plantain.
Oil - only used if doing green plantain
Salt (optional)

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Deep pot

How to make boiled plantains

Put a large pot of water to boil.

Slice ends off of the plantain and then add them to the pot with water. Some people like to cut them into chunks. I rather boil it at whole length rather than sliced them into chunks.

Step by step pictures of how to cut and put plantains to boil.

Boil the plantains till they are tender. Most times the skin will split open.

For ripe plantains, as they boil the color changes to a bright, vibrant yellow. If green plantain, expect the water to get very dark.

Use a knife and stick it into the center to check for tenderness. If it pierces easily then it is done and can be removed from the boiling water.

Once tender, using a colander, pour off the excess water and discard.

Leave plantains to cool to touch, then remove the skin.

Serve as a side with your favorite meal.

Pictures of ripe plantain boiled and strained, then peeled.

What can I eat boiled plantain with?

Cooked plantains make the perfect addition to any full plate.

It works great along with other ground provisions with stew saltfish or any fish meal matter of fact.

It's commonly served with stew meats like chicken or oxtail.

I actually just love eating a few slices alone, just like we do with fried plantain.

Can you boil plantains without the skin?

You can for sure boil plantains without the skin on.

This way will need a little less time than with the skin on. The green ones are a little tougher to peel than ripe.

Also, note that sometimes it becomes discolored while boiling this way.

I much prefer to boil with the skin on then remove. It's easier to peel and the end result is less soggy.

Boiled green plantain sitting in water after boiling.

What is the easiest way to peel plantains?

The easiest way to peel them is to peel them after boiling with the skin on.

Usually, during the boiling process, the skin splits which helps when it's time to peel.

After boiling you can strain the water off and let the plantain cool a little, then using a knife peel the skin down.

Some people also prefer to peel under running water, to help cool the plantain and to rinse off any strings while washing.

How to store and reheat boiled plantains

Boiled plantains can last up to about 5 days in the fridge.

Save them in an airtight container or you can even wrap them tightly in foil.

To reheat them, just take out what you need and warm them up in the microwave in 30-second spurts. Some people even like to put them in the oven for about 5 minutes or in the air fryer.

For green plantains, some people actually like to keep the boiled plantains in the water it was boiled in until use. It helps to keep it tender. You would keep it in the skin and leave it in the water. If you have peeled it already, it stores fine in an airtight container in the fridge.

I would not suggest freezing these. The quality diminishes once frozen.

Tips | Notes

  • When boiling, plantains absorb the water so it will expand. There's nothing to worry about.
  • Make sure you wash the plantain of any dirt or debris prior to boiling.
  • I add a tablespoon of oil to boiling water, especially for green plantains, so that the dark water doesn't stain my pots.
  • Adding a little salt to the hot water helps to bring out additional flavor from the plantain.

Close up of yellow plantains, boiled and sliced on a plate.

Check out some other dishes using ground provisions