A good friend of mine introduced me to Tostones (or Patacones depending on where you’re from) many years ago. For those that don’t know, Tostones are a Latin-American invention featuring twice-fried green plantains (very different from the ripened sweet plantains). Since then I’ve had many tostones, but my favorite are the super thin and crispy kind as opposed to the somewhat thicker, dense type. Nonetheless, they each have their virtues. Of course, they go wonderfully with a lot of traditional Latin-American dishes, but the best part is that they also go with any American dishes that usually come with French Fries or Potato Chips. They’re kind of like a cross between the two, though ultimately, tostones stand on their own. I wish more restaurants in the U.S. offered tostones as an option for a side instead of french fries (even if I do love fries).
This recipe isn’t especially novel since it’s not all that complicated, but I do hope to share some techniques for making them really thin and crispy as easy as possible. I’ll also share some thoughts on suggestions for customizing tostones to taste.
Roughly 200 calories per plantain or 20 calories per slice.
Thin and Crispy Tostones Recipe (Patacones)
Lightly salted Tostones/Patacones
- One to as many green plantains as you want (one plantain makes about 10-12 tostones)
- Enough canola/vegetable oil to fill a small pan/pot with about 2 inches of oil (roughly 2 cups)
- A little more oil or cooking spray (recommended)
- Salt (kosher or table salt is fine)
- Optional Dip Ingredients: 1/4 cup of ketchup and 1/4 cup of mayo
- Small pot or frying pan
- Cutting board
- Aluminum Foil
- Slotted spatula
- Large plate/tray
- Paper Towels / Cooling rack
- Tostones press, large plate, glass storage container, large mug or anything with a flat surface to use to flatten the plantains
- First things first, you need some good, green plantains. A few spots of black are good, but too many or if the plantain starts turning yellow and they’re not going to be very good for tostones. If they’re not green they’re ripening and getting sweeter.
- Getting a plantain out of it’s peel isn’t like peeling a banana. The skin is much tougher and sticks to the plantain, so you’ll need a knife. First, cut off the ends and then slice a very shallow slit the length of the plantain on opposite sides. Don’t cut too deep or you’ll slice through the plantain instead of just the skin. Next, use your hands to carefully pry the skin from the plaintain. You’ll end up with two halves of the skin if you did it right and the interior of the plantain intact.
- Slice the plantain into roughly 10 to 12 pieces that are about 1-inch thick. The thicker the plantain pieces, the larger the tostones, so think about what size you want. Repeat the process with the rest of the plantains.
- Pour oil into a small pot or frying pan so that there are a couple of inches of oil. Bring the oil to 350 degrees F (usually about the medium setting on most stoves and wait until the oil is shimmering).
- While the oil heats up, spread out a piece of aluminum foil over the area where you can press the plantains and lightly cover the surface with cooking spray or brush with oil. This will help keep the tostones from sticking. If you have a tostones press you won’t need to do this, but you’ll also never get the tostones as thin as you might like. I like to cover a cutting board with the foil so that I have a more sturdy surface that won’t move as much. You can also lightly spray the flat bottom of the plate, glass container, or large mug you’ll be using to flatten the plantains.
- When the oil is ready, add some plantains in small batches (over-crowding will cause the oil to cool or the plantains to cook unevely) to the oil and let them fry for about 2 to 3 minutes until the plantains are golden brown.
- When done, place them aside on a plate lined with paper towels or on a cooling rack until ready to press them. It’s good to press the plantains when they’re warm though, so don’t let them cool off too much. I like to press the plantains while I’m simultaneously frying the next batch if making a lot so as to make the most of the time.
- For flattening, place a plantain on the greased piece of aluminum foil and press the plantain down with a large plate, glass container, a pot, or anything food-safe with a flat surface. Make sure to spray or wipe the surface of whatever you’re using to press down the plantains with a little oil or cooking spray. Press the plantain down with firm, equal pressure, but not so much that the plantain tears. Use your judgment regarding thickness. The thinner they are, the crispier they’ll be, but a bit harder to handle. The thicker they are, the softer and denser they’ll be, but more sturdy. After pressing, if the plantain sticks (and it probably still will), use a knife or very thin spatula to carefully remove it by sliding around the edges towards the center.
- Repeat the process of pressing all of the plantains and place them on paper towels, a cooling rack, or spread out on any flat surface. At this point you have the option to freeze the plantains for user later or keep going to finish the cooking. If you want to freeze them, let the plantains cool, then just stack the plantains, wrap them in plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil, and store them in the freezer. Believe it or not, this is the secret of a lot of fast-food and frozen french fries. They’re already pre-fried! That’s what makes them so deliciously crispy!
- Once the plantains are all flattened, now it’s time for the second fry. This is where the real magic happens. Get that oil back up to temp and add in a few plantains at a time. Fry them until they’re a deep golden brown all over (usually a minute or two). When they start to float rather than sink, they’re definitely done. Take them out, lay them down on some paper towels or a cooling rack and lightly add some salt so it will stick to the oil. Keep going until all the plantains are cooked. After that, they’re ready to eat! An alternative to frying is baking the plantains after the first fry. You can get more of them done at once this way, but of course, they won’t be quite as tasty.
- Lastly, if you want to eat the tostones just as they are without anything else, try mixing up a side of equal parts mayo and ketchup for a tasty dip. Try any other dips you enjoy with french fries as well or don’t use any at all. It’s all up to you. Enjoy!
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