Plantains – The Banana’s Versatile Cousin!

Food & Drink

30 October 2023

Fried plantains are a staple in Costa Rican cuisine and have an interesting history and cultural significance that intertwines with the broader story of plantains in Latin America.


Plantains, while native to Southeast Asia, were brought to Africa and then to the Americas by Portuguese and Spanish colonizers in the 15th and 16th centuries. They quickly became an integral part of the diet in many Latin American countries, including Costa Rica. Their versatility, ease of cultivation, and high nutritional value made them a popular choice for feeding large populations.

In Costa Rica, plantains have been used in various forms, but frying them has always been a popular method. Fried plantains are not unique to Costa Rica; they are a common dish in many Latin American, Caribbean, and West African cuisines. However, the way they are prepared and served can vary significantly from one region to another.

Cultural Significance

In Costa Rica, fried plantains are more than just a food item; they are a symbol of home cooking and are found in both rural and urban settings. They are a common sight in Costa Rican homes, where they are often served as a side dish during meals, particularly with dishes like Gallo Pinto (a traditional rice and beans dish), or as a snack.

Fried plantains in Costa Rica typically come in two main varieties:

  • Patacones (or Tostones): These are green plantains that are sliced, fried, flattened, and then fried again until they are crispy. They are often served with a dipping sauce or as a side dish.
  • Maduros: These are ripe plantains that are sliced and fried until they are sweet and caramelized. They are softer and sweeter than patacones and are usually served as a side dish with savory meals.

Social and Economic Aspects

Plantains are a key agricultural product in Costa Rica. The cultivation and sale of plantains provide a livelihood for many farmers and contribute to the local and national economy. Plantains are also a food that transcends social and economic boundaries, being enjoyed by people from all walks of life.

Modern Trends

In recent years, there has been a fusion of traditional Costa Rican cooking with modern culinary techniques, and fried plantains have been included in this trend. Chefs are experimenting with plantains in innovative ways, incorporating them into both sweet and savory dishes and using them in fusion cuisine.


Fried plantains in Costa Rica represent a blend of historical influences, agricultural significance, and cultural identity. They embody the simplicity and richness of Costa Rican cuisine and continue to be a beloved part of the country's culinary landscape.

Elevated and Gourmet Plantains for traditional costa rican breakfast.

Maple Fried Plantains


  • 2 ripe plantains (they should be yellow with black spots)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
  • A pinch of salt
  • Optional: A sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg for added flavor
  • Optional: Lime zest for a tangy touch


  • Prepare the Plantains: Begin by peeling the plantains. This can be done by cutting off the ends and making a lengthwise slit through the skin. Then, slice the plantains diagonally or into round slices, about 1/2 inch thick.
  • Heat the Pan: In a large skillet, heat the butter or coconut oil over medium heat until melted and hot.
  • Fry the Plantains: Place the plantain slices in the skillet in a single layer. Fry them for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until they turn golden brown and caramelized. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan, which might require cooking in batches.
  • Add Maple Syrup: Once the plantains are fried, reduce the heat to low. Drizzle the maple syrup over the plantains, and gently toss them in the skillet to coat evenly. If you're using cinnamon, nutmeg, or lime zest, sprinkle it on top now.
  • Final Cook: Allow the plantains to cook in the maple syrup for an additional minute or two. This step will help the syrup thicken slightly and stick to the plantains, creating a glaze.
  • Serve: Remove from heat and transfer the plantains to a serving dish. Serve warm as a dessert or as a sweet side dish. They pair wonderfully with ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.


  • Choosing the right plantains is crucial. They should be ripe but not overly mushy. Ripe plantains will be sweet and soft, perfect for this dish.
  • Adjust the amount of maple syrup based on your sweetness preference. More syrup will create a sweeter, stickier glaze.

Enjoy your maple fried plantains! This dish is simple yet indulgent, combining the natural sweetness of plantains with the deep, rich flavor of maple syrup.