These were a family FAVORITE growing up! My grandfather used to make tostones all the time- we loved them and almost always had some with our Cuban meals.
Tostones are Cuban fried plantains and are not unique to one country. Lots of countries in Africa as well as the Caribbean islands are known to enjoy fried plantains. You can also find them in Southeast Asia!
There are many ways in which you can enjoy tostones. My husband likes eating them alone, while I prefer dipping them into mojo sauce or guacamole. But you can also have them as a side to an entree, or even as a base to add stuff on top of. When my grandfather made them, we usually just ate them alone for a snack or as a side.
You can get a tostonera to smash the plantains. It is extremely affordable and easy to store. But don’t worry if you don’t have one- I’ll show you how to smash the plantains without one and it’s actually very easy. All you need is something flat and durable with enough surface area to apply pressure with your hands.
How to pick plantains
Tostones are traditionally meant to be savory and not sweet, so you need to pick the greenest (unripe) plantains possible. In my opinion, this all really comes down to preference. My husband prefers sweeter tostones, so I get plantains that are more on the yellow side for him. However, ripe plantains will make less crunchy tostones. The plantains are softer when they are ripe, so they have more moisture and don’t crisp up quite as well.
Tostones are are fried twice– first a shallow fry at a lower temp to soften the plantains, then a second fry at a higher temp to crisp up (after smashing them).
If you don’t have a frying thermometer, I highly recommend getting one. I used to think I was skilled enough to work without thermometers, but that was really really dumb of me. Get the thermometer- it makes frying so much easier and gives you better, consistent results. I use this Taylor Precision thermometer and it has made my fried foods SO much better.
Mojo dipping sauce
You don’t need a dipping sauce for tostones, but I included a recipe for one in case you wanted to try it.
Mojo is a Cuban sauce or marinade that typically has a citrus element, garlic, olive oil, and other herbs/spices. There isn’t really one recipe for it- it can be totally customized to your preference. It is also pretty versatile- I didn’t end up eating it all, so I used the rest to cook with. I added some cumin & chipotle to it, coated some butterflied jumbo shrimp, and pan fried it for dinner. It was delicious!
Check out my jalapeno salt recipe to make this sauce even better. You can use regular salt to season the mojo, but the jalapeno salt brings it to a whole other level.
Tostones (Twice Fried Plantains)
- 1 unripe plantain
- neutral oil for frying
- pinch of salt
Mojo dipping sauce
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 jalapeno stemmed and deseeded
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp fresh lime juice
- 2 tsp fresh orange juice
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- salt & black pepper to taste
- Heat up enough oil to shallow fry the plantain pieces
- Peel the plantain and cut it into 2 inch pieces. It is easier to remove the peel by making an incision lengthwise first.
- When the oil reaches 300 degrees Fahrenheit, start frying the plantains until they become golden, about 2-3 minutes.
- Remove the plantains and drain on a paper towel.
- Smash the plantains using a tostonera or anything flat. You can use a plate to apply pressure on top of the plantain until it is flattened.
- If you're making a large batch, dip the smashed plantains in some lime water for a few seconds. This will keep them from oxidizing.
- Fry the smashed plantains again at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until they become crispy, about 2 minutes.
- Remove from oil and immediately season with a little salt. You want to do this while they are still hot from the oil, so that the salt sticks.
- Serve right away as a side, or as a snack. It goes well with a mojo dipping sauce- just blend all the ingredients together in a food processor.