Plantain Fritters, Patacones, Atole – How To Cook Those Things that Look like Big Bananas

Plantain recipes for every meal, breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert.

The plantain is a starchy fruit that grows from a herb, much like the banana. The fruit contains 4.6 g of fiber and is high in vitamins A, C, B6 and potassium. They can be cooked at any level of ripeness and provide an inexpensive and filling meal. This post will show pictures of the herb, fruit and how I use them in recipes.

We planted 43 plantains in 2010 when I first started living on the farm. 20 of them in a flat, sandy area near the stream and the 23 on my first incline. The plantain did not like the soil on the incline and took twice as long to flower and fruit. I eventually moved all of the plantains to the flat garden area and now enjoy an almost continuous supply. During the two month dry season however I can go without, as the plantain is mostly water. I never buy plantains at the market but currently they should go for 100 colons or about $.20 in Costa Rica. I would be interested to know how much they are in other parts of the world, so if you live outside of our area please list what your cost per plantain is.

This is a plantain herb with new fruit and then a close up of a flower turning into fruit and the last photo is my of our harvests. I put a cart on my husky and he brings them up the hill. The video is here.

tall plantain herb

The new fruit is skinny and requires rain to plump it up. As the fruits gain weight the plant starts to lean or fall over. You must rope up your plants to make sure that it doesn’t fall over before the fruit has completed growing. You can use another plantain that is leaning in the opposite direction, a stake or a nearby tree to do this.

plantain fruit flower

When you harvest the plantain fruit you cut the bunch and then chop down the entire plant. This gives the new sprout room and sun to grow. Lay the pieces of trunk around the new start in a square. This will help fertilize and water the new start. I got three very different sized bunches in this harvest. plantain harvest












To make the most out of my plantains I use them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When it is in the season I have some type of plantain at every meal.

Breakfast – Plantain Porridge or Atole as it is known here in Central America.

This simple porridge is made with green or unripe plantains and can be flavored with whatever you like. I am a fan of cinnamon and cardamon, so I use both. You can add cacao nibs and flax seeds to give it some texture. This takes very little time once you get used to the process.

First, get your plantains naked. Plantains have a latex-y sap under the surface that can stain your clothes and stay on your hands for days. You should remove the skin carefully and use a lime or lime juice to remove the sticky substance from your cutting board, hands and knife.

no skin plantain

Three plantains make enough porridge for two people. Grate the plantains and place in a saucepan with just enough water to cover it. Boil for 10 minutes until the pieces get mushy and the liquid gets thicker. Then add 1 cup of milk per 3 plantains and your flavorings such as sugar (1/4-1/2 cup), cinnamon, cardamom or honey.

grated plantain

cooking plantain

Then continue to cook on low until you have a thick porridge. You can add more milk to get a thinner consistency. Remove from heat and serve. It’s delicious and filling.

cooked plantain atol

Lunch or Dinner – The Super Patacone

This double fried treat is salty and satisfying. Traditionally, the plantain is fried flat but I use two small bowls, one slightly bigger than the other to smash the plantain into a bowl shape. Fill it with refried beans, top it with guacamole and a dash of my homemade spicy sour cream (natilla). This is a complete dinner and is incredibly filling. Use approximately 1 plantain per person.

Start with cutting your plantain into 4 chunks. Remember to use a lime to get all that sticky stuff off of your hands and kitchen tools. If you are not going to cook right away you can place the chunks in lime water to keep from browning.

plantain chunks

Quick fry your chunks until they become a light golden brown. They should be soft to the center.

plantain first fry

Then, smash the already fried chunk in between two slightly different sized bowls. You need enough depth to hold toppings.

shaping plantain

plantain bowl frying

Re-fry one more time until you reach desired crunchiness. I like mine really crunchy but not burned. Top with whatever ingredients you like and enjoy.


Dessert – Plantain Fritters

I’m not going to lie to you sometimes I have these for breakfast. They are the once you pop you can’t stop kind of treats but you add the sugar so you can control how sweet you want them to be.

A ripe plantain is dark yellow with black spots. You can use it even up until the whole thing is black but you don’t want it to be mushy.

Ripe plantain

Cut into 1-inch slices. Make a batter out of:

1 Cup Flour (not corn), 1/2 Cup Sugar, 1tsp Baking Powder, 1/2 cup Water, 1 Egg and a dash of Salt. Cinnamon and/or Cardamom to taste. Mix it up and then add plantain slices and evenly coat each one with batter.

sweet fritter batter

Fry until bubbles form along the edges and then flip. I prefer using coconut oil on these because it naturally sweetens it and keeps them lighter tasting. Plantains Fritters taste better when eaten warm.

frying plantain fritters

yellow plantain fritters

If you have a plantain recipe that you love please share below.

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