Indulge your Cuban food cravings and keep things on the lighter side with these delicious air fryer tostones! This savory plantain recipe requires minimal ingredients and is ready in minutes with the help of your air fryer. Tostones are a great side dish or make a beautiful gluten-free alternative to a baguette for bruschetta.
“Why are we making squishy fried bananas?” a friend’s kid once asked me. She was in the kitchen helping me cook for something. I explained we were using plantains, not bananas, and making tostones because they’re delicious. After one bite, she agreed! Salty, savory, with just a little hint of sweetness, tostones are like a chip or french fry but in a category all their own.
The thing is, they’re usually fried. Darlings, I just can’t do the fried foods regularly. First, I’m not a fan of the smell of frying oil. Second, I do make an effort to teach dietary balance to my kids, so we keep things pretty dessert and vegetables over here, haha.
But we LOVE tostones. They’re classic childhood food for the Godfather, and something the whole family enjoys. So why would I relegate them to treat status on the menu when I can just use my air fryer???
While not quite identical to the deep-fried version, these air fryer tostones are phenomenal! Expect the requests to make them again often.
What’s the difference between a banana and a plantain?
If you’ve ever accidentally picked up a plantain at the store and tried to eat it raw… you know they’re quite different! Plantains are related to bananas, but they are larger, lower in sugar, and starchier.
Plantains grow naturally in warm climates, so you find them in many tropical cuisines. They’re widely used in the Caribbean, India, Africa, and the Pacific Islands. All these locations grow plantains well.
Plantains are a very important food staple in the areas where they grow because they’re not a seasonal fruit! Plantain trees grow year-round and are incredibly versatile!
In fact, when you think about the many ways they can be prepared, they’re as versatile as a potato. Plantains are mashed, boiled, steamed, and fried. They’re also equally delicious when completely green like we need for the air fryer tostones, or overripe and almost completely black, which is best for maduros.
Bananas are great and all, but they’re not this versatile!
How to make air fryer tostones…
Now we get to the good part!
Traditionally, you deep fry tostones. Peel the plantain and slice it into rounds. Fry the rounds briefly in oil to soften a bit. Then smash the fried plantains into discs and fry again until the edges are crispy. Salt, spritz with a bit of lime juice if you’d like, and serve!
We do pretty much the same thing, but instead of heating up a pot of oil, we use our air fryer! No oil smell in the kitchen, and less fat in the recipe.
Air fryers work by circling hot air around foods in a basket, mimicking the action of frying, but not totally replicating it. We need to be a little more specific with temperature using an air fryer. On a stovetop with oil, medium heat is enough of a measurement.
I’ve found the best results come from using a moderate heat for the first “fry”, then cranking up the heat 25 degrees for the second. That gives the closest approximation to the soft interior and crunchy exterior we want.
There are many ways to top tostones, and they vary by preference and location. For simplicity, I stick to a sprinkle of salt and maybe a spritz of lime juice. Other tasty options include serving the tostones with a mojo dipping sauce, chimichurri, or even something like mayoketchup if you’re serving more of a Puerto Rican-style meal. The lemon dipping sauce from my Old Bay onion rings is good too if you want something creamy.
A few recipe tips:
Tostones are best served fresh! Nevertheless, it is possible to break up the prep a little bit. You can peel, slice, fry, and smash the tostones, then wait for the final fry until just before serving.
Plantains, like bananas, apples, and most other fruits, will oxidize and brown once exposed to air. But tostones are best served fresh. That means that you’ll want to air fry them just before serving. So, if you are going to split the prep a little, you need to do something to prevent browning.
For this, we take cues from keeping apples from browning. A quick dip in water with a bit of lime juice will keep the tostones from turning brown. Just make sure to pat them dry so they aren’t soaked going into the air fryer. Then they won’t get crispy. If you don’t have lime, a spritz of lemon juice, or even a little salt dissolved in the water works well.
For the most even oil coating, use an oil mister or spray oil. If you don’t have either, use a pastry brush to lightly brush on oil. First spray one side and then the other. Add salt after the plantains come out of the fryer.
Finally, this recipe is very easy to scale, you’ll just have to work in batches for frying. In general, one plantain provides 2-3 side-size servings in my experience. That’s about 3-5 tostones per person. They’re popular, so plan accordingly! I usually make 2 plantains for our family of 4 if it’s being served with something like my slow cooker ropa vieja and rice.
I hope you love this recipe, darlings! Enjoy!
- 2 large green plantains
- oil for spraying (see notes)
- lime wedges for serving (optional)
- Preheat your air fryer by running it at 350 F for 3-4 minutes while you peel the plantains and slice the fruit into 1-inch thick rounds.
- Spray both sides of each round and arrange in a single layer in your air fryer basket. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you'll need to work in batches.
- Fry the plantains for 5 minutes at 350 F.
- Remove the plantains from the air fryer and smash using a tostone press or - as seen in the video - a flat-bottom drinking glass.
- If you are not frying them immediately, dip them in water with a little lime juice, lemon juice, or salt mixed in. Pat dry before frying again. Skip this step if you're going straight to the second fry.
- Increase the air fryer temperature to 375 F. Spray the flattened plantain discs on both sides with oil.
- Working in batches, fry the tostones for 5 minutes, until light golden brown around the edges. Remove from the air fryer and salt.
- Serve immediately! Enjoy with a spritz of lime or your favorite dipping sauce, if desired.
- Use whatever oil you'd like. I've used olive oil out of my mister bottle, avocado oil and canola oil from spray bottles. A light coating of oil is all you need.
- If you'd like to use the tostones as a base for appetizers, arrange the finished tostones on a serving dish and top how you'd like! Great options include diced tomato and onions (like what you put on bruschetta), guacamole or sliced avocado, a swipe of cream cheese and square of guava paste, etc.
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