Tostones are a super popular savory Puerto Rican snack made from green plantains that are sliced, smashed and fried to crispy perfection.
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This traditional snack is easy to dress up with herbs and spices and excellent with just about any dipping sauce you like.
Here in the US many people are more familiar with plantain chips, which are made in a similar fashion but sliced much thinner. Plantain chips found at the grocery store are made with both green and brown plantains, which can result in dramatically different flavors… but more on that later!
When gathering your ingredients to make tostones, you’ll notice that this list is pretty simple.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- green plantains
- vegetable or canola oil
- adobo seasoning (optional)
Scroll to recipe card for exact quantities.
Start by peeling your plantains. Cut off the tips and peel back the skin before slicing into 1 inch chunks.
At this point you’re ready to start heating your oil in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, you can go ahead and gently add in your plantain chunks, making sure to not overcrowd the pan, as this will slow the cooking process.
It’s important that you have enough oil in your pan to almost cover the slices, so depending on the skillet you use, you may need more or less oil. Adjust accordingly!
Once the plantains are in the oil, fry for 8-10 minutes, making sure to flip them regularly until they are golden brown all over and soft in the middle. Take them out of the oil and drain them on a paper towel lined plate.
While the plantains are cooling, combine your water, lime juice, salt and adobo seasoning (optional) in a bowl.
Once your plantains are cool, grab a plate and gently smash the slices until they flatten slightly. Make sure not to smash too hard, as if they are too thin they will break apart on the second fry.
Soak the smashed plantains in your flavored water mixture for 5-10 minutes...
before drying gently with a paper towel and frying once more.
Once the tostones are crispy you’re ready to take them out of the oil, top with salt and a squeeze of lime and enjoy!
How to peel a plantain
At first glance, you might think peeling a plantain would be similar to peeling a banana. You would be wrong.
The peel is actually much thicker and more durable (especially in green plantains) than a traditional banana peel.
For this reason, there are a few additional steps needed to get it off. Here’s how I learned from my mom:
- Start by cutting off the tips of the plantain.
- Next, being careful with your knife, score from one tip of the plantain to the other, cutting just through the peel and not into the flesh of the fruit. Do this on both sides.
- The scoring should make it easier to peel off the skin, and just like that you’ve done it!
If you’ve ever been to Puerto Rico, you know plantains are a staple of the cuisine. They are mashed up and stuffed, diced and cooked into soups, and fried in just about every way.
There are many variations of tostones that are all equally delicious in my opinion. That said, each variation has its own name.
One fried plantain variation commonly confused with tostones are maduros. Maduros are made with steps almost identically to the ones used in this recipe, but they have a sweet flavor instead of savory.
This is because the plantains used to make maduros are more mature, riper and sweet almost like a banana. The result is a sweet and tangy fried treat that is a completely different experience.
Another way to get creative and mix things up with your fried green plantains is by adding different seasonings, toppings and sauces. Here are some of my favorite ways to mix it up:
- Spices - as mentioned above, adding adobo seasoning (or any spices) is completely optional. Many Puerto Ricans will stick to salt and call it a day. If you’re feeling creative, add your favorite seasonings to the water and see how they create depth of flavor in your tostones.
- Herbs - I’m a big fan of adding garnish to just about any dish, so it’s no wonder I’m recommending adding some freshly chopped cilantro to these babies!
- Sauces - you don’t need a sauce to enjoy this snack, but it’s always encouraged. You can use this delicious cilantro lime sauce or simply grab your favorite salsa or hot sauce.
When preparing to make these, it’s really important to use the right kind of pan. When frying anything, I encourage using a high quality heavy bottomed pan when possible.
I would try to avoid using any kind of nonstick and instead lean towards materials like cast iron, stainless steel, ceramic or copper.
Also remember to stick to oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds when frying anything.
As for smashing your plantains, there is a tool made specifically for this, but in all honesty I like using the bottom of a glass or plate. They’re easy to clean, easily accessible and don't require any additional cabinet space to store.
Soaking your tostones in water… why?
I’ll be honest, this is not a trick I’ve used my whole life. When visiting my family in Puerto Rico, most of them twice fry their tostones and skip this whole water soaking step completely.
Their fried green plantains are bomb, so if you want to skip that step for the sake of time, be my guest! Things will still be delicious, I promise.
That said, I’m a huge fan of this trick as it adds an extra crunch and crispiness to the plantains. Something about soaking them in water helps them to fry up nice and crisp during that second fry.
That, combined with the added flavor in the water mixture just adds another layer of tastiness to this already delicious snack.