How To Choose The Best Plantains For Grilling

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By Christopher Spiker

Welcome to “How To Choose The Best Plantains For Grilling!” This guide is perfect for anyone looking to elevate their grilling game with the rich flavors of plantains. You’ll learn how to identify the ideal plantains with the right ripeness, color, and texture to ensure a delightful grilling experience. By the end of this article, you’ll be confident in picking the best plantains and making your next barbecue a hit. Have you ever found yourself in the produce aisle, staring at a bunch of plantains, wondering which ones would be best for grilling? With just a bit of knowledge, you’ll be able to pick out the perfect plantains to create a delicious, mouth-watering dish. Whether you’re a grilling novice or a seasoned pro, a few tips and tricks can make all the difference in your culinary adventure.

How To Choose The Best Plantains For Grilling

What Are Plantains?

Plantains vs. Bananas

First things first, let’s clear up a common misconception: plantains are not bananas, though they certainly look alike. While both belong to the same family, their flavor profiles, uses, and stages of ripeness can vary greatly. Bananas are typically sweeter and eaten raw, while plantains are starchy and usually cooked before consumption.

Why Grill Plantains?

Flavor and Texture

Grilling plantains brings out their natural sweetness and offers a caramelized, slightly crispy exterior with a soft interior. The grill enhances the complex flavors, making for a truly special side dish or snack.


Whether a side dish for a barbecue or a dessert with a drizzle of honey, grilled plantains can adapt to many recipes. You can pair them with meats, vegetables, or even scoop some ice cream on top for a sweet treat.

How To Choose The Best Plantains For Grilling

The Stages of Ripeness: Which One Is Best?

Stage of Ripeness Texture Flavor Best Uses
Green Firm Starchy Fries, Chips
Yellow Softer Sweet Starchy Grilling, Baking
Black Softest Sweetest Desserts, Purees

Green Plantains

Green plantains are starchy and firm, similar to potatoes. They are not typically recommended for grilling but are excellent for making plantain chips or tostones.

Yellow Plantains

Yellow plantains are in their mid-ripe stage. They offer a balance of sweetness and starchiness, making them ideal for grilling.

Black Plantains

These are fully ripened and the sweetest. Though they can be grilled, they can become too soft, making them better suited for desserts.

How to Choose the Best Plantains for Grilling

Look at the Color

When selecting plantains for grilling, aim for those that are yellow with some black spots but not completely black.

Feel the Texture

Give the plantain a gentle squeeze. It should be somewhat firm but yield slightly under pressure, similar to a just-ripe avocado.

Avoid Blemishes

While some spots are okay, avoid plantains with deep blemishes or cuts, as these can affect the cooking process.

How To Choose The Best Plantains For Grilling

Preparing Plantains for Grilling


Peeling a plantain is slightly different from peeling a banana. First, cut off both ends. Then, make a slit down the length of the plantain and peel off the skin in sections.


Depending on your preference, you can slice the plantains into rounds or lengthwise into long strips. Both methods grill well, but strips hold up a bit better on the grill.

Seasoning Your Plantains

Simple Seasoning

For the best grilled plantains, all you really need is a bit of oil and a pinch of salt. The grill will naturally bring out their sweetness.

Experimenting with Spices

Feel adventurous? Try adding spices like cinnamon, chili powder, or even a sprinkle of cumin for a unique twist.

How To Choose The Best Plantains For Grilling

Grilling Techniques

Direct Grilling

Place the plantains directly over medium heat. Cook them for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until you get those gorgeous grill marks and the plantains are softened through.

Indirect Grilling

If you prefer a less intense flavor, you can use the indirect grilling method. Place the plantains on the cooler side of the grill, cover, and cook for about 5-7 minutes per side.

Serving Suggestions

As a Side Dish

Grilled plantains make a great side dish for meats like chicken, pork, or beef. Their natural sweetness complements savory dishes perfectly.

As an Appetizer

Serve them with a dipping sauce like spicy mayo or avocado dip for a delightful appetizer.

As a Dessert

Drizzle some honey or caramel sauce over your grilled plantains and top with a scoop of ice cream for a delectable dessert.

How To Choose The Best Plantains For Grilling

Common Mistakes to Avoid


Keep an eye on those plantains! Overcooking makes them overly mushy and less appealing.

Using Under-ripe Plantains

Remember, green plantains are best for frying, not grilling. Aim for yellow with black spots.

Not Oiling the Grill Grates

Plantains can stick to the grill if the grates aren’t oiled properly. A bit of oil goes a long way in preventing this.

Additional Tips and Tricks


For an extra kick of flavor, marinate your plantains in a mixture of citrus juice, garlic, and a touch of honey before grilling.

Wood Chips for Smokiness

Add some soaked wood chips to your grill for a unique smoky flavor that takes your grilled plantains to the next level.


Choosing the best plantains for grilling doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By focusing on color, texture, and ripeness, and following these simple preparation and grilling tips, you’ll be well on your way to impressing friends and family with perfectly grilled plantains. Now that you’re armed with this knowledge, head to the store and pick out those plantains with confidence. Happy grilling!