Tostones are delicious, easy to make and you can get the entire family involved. I spent my twenties living in New York City and enjoying all of flavors and cuisine it has to offer. I first had tostones from a Dominican Hair Salon in Harlem. Yes, you read that right. Every Saturday I took a long train ride from Bushwick, Brooklyn up to Harlem and spent the good part of the day waiting for a wash and Dominican blow dry. No matter how early I left home I managed to get there to a long line of ladies already waiting for the salon to open.
I bought Tostones at a hair salon
While patiently waiting for my turn with my favorite stylist, many peddlers (is that still the appropriate term?) came to the salon. If you've been to a black salon or even a salon/barber shop in the hood, then you know this is a thing! On one such Saturday one of vendor happened to be selling Dominican food. All the stylists were buying tostones with a spicy green sauce. So I decided it must be good and bought some too. It was really, really good. The sauce was like a chimichurri with notes of cilantro, garlic and spice. And I've been making tostones since then, with some kind of sauce trying to recreate that culinary experience from 20 years ago!
Best type of plantains to use
Traditionally really green plantains are used when making tostones. The greener, the better. I've made many tostones, since that first bite 20 years ago and I've found that the best tostones for me, the ones my family really enjoy, are when the plantains were a little past the really green stage. So still green but starting to get little specks of yellow (see photo below). Using this type of plantain created tostones that had a little bit of sweetness. This type of plantain also produced a smoother smash, fried more evenly and was more golden brown after frying.
Step by Step Tostones Instructions
Step 1: Peel the plantain. The best tips for peeling green plantains are to first add a bit of oil to the palm of your hands. This prevents that sticky, ick feeling that plantain leaves behind, stuck to your hands. Add some to your knife as well. Using a paring knife, make slits along the diagonal of the plantain. Then from the top of the plantain slide the blade into one of the slits and under the skin and peel the skin (similar to peeling a banana) using the knife to help guide the skin away from the flesh.
Step 2: Cut into 1 inch pieces. If you cut it thicker than 1 inch it may not cook all the way through in the first fry and will be hard to smash.
Step 3: Shallow fry. Fry until slightly brown on one side, then flip and continue to fry on the other side until slightly brown. If you are on a round of Whole30 and avoiding using too much oil, about ½ cup of oil instead of a full cup.
Step 4: Smash. You can do this with many different items. The bottom of a cup, a mason jar, a wooden spoon, but my favorite thing is a wooden spatula because I can then use the spatula to scoop up the plantain and add it directly back into to the hot oil. This is the step where little helpers can get involved. I let my children help with the smashing and they love it. They are such experts that they smashed all the plantains for this post!
Step 5: Fry again. Add the smashed plantain slices back into the oil and fry until golden brown, then flip and continue to fry until the other side is also golden brown. Remove from the oil and drain on a paper towel.
Let's get Saucy
I love pairing my Tostones with a spicy avocado cilantro sauce. It's like guacamole but so much better. There are several ways to make this sauce. My favorite way is to add Saucy Lips' Zesty Cilantro and Jalapeño Green Apple sauces avocado, garlic and some salt to a food processor and blending until smooth. It is that easy. I am a Saucy Lips Affiliate. The links included in this post are affiliate links, meaning at no extra cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and purchase. The views about how great these products are, are absolutely my own and in no way influenced by my affiliation with Saucy Lips Food.
Other sauces that go well with tostones
- Fresh Cilantro Avocado Sauce: Add avocado, fresh cilantro, fresh lime juice, garlic, salt and chilis or jalapeños to a food processor then drizzle in 1 tablespoon of avocado oil while it blends
- Quick and Easy Spicy Guacamole: Add two tablespoons of your favorite hot salsa to a whole avocado and crush until creamy and fully blended together
Top your tostones for more flavorful bites
Some great tostones toppings are:
- Fresh slices of avocado topped with some fresh squeezed lemon juice, chiffanode basil and a pinch of anything bagel seasoning
- Egg Salad
- Chicken Salad
- Tuna Salad
Tostones pair really well as a side for many meals. They are also perfect little scoopers for meaty dishes like chili. And they pair exceptionally well with ceviche.
The Printable Tostones Recipe:
- 2 Green Plantains
- ½ to 1 cup of oil suitable for frying Avocado, Sunflower, Grapeseed
- ½ teaspoon of coarse salt like Kosher salt
- Peel plantains, then cut into 1 inch pieces
- Add oil to a frying pan on medium heat
- When oil comes up to temperature add plantain to the hot oil
- Fry until plantain is lightly brown, then flip and continue to fry until other side is also lightly brown
- Remove from the oil and place in a plate lined with a few sheets of paper towel
- Place pieces of plantain (one piece at a time) on a clean and dry, flat surface (cutting board or clean and dry counter tops work well here)
- Using the back of a wooden spoon, underside of a mason jar or cup press on each plantain piece until it flattens to about 3/16 of an inch thick
- Return the flattened plantain pieces to the hot oil and to fry until golden brown on one side, flip over and continue to fry until also golden brown on the other side
- Remove from the heat and place on a plate lined with a few sheets of fresh paper towel to allow any excess oil to drain
- Sprinkle with coarse salt and serve with your favorite, sauce, dip or topping
Making the sauce:
- Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and process until a smooth sauce forms
Tostones also pair really well with Tuna Cakes!
Love plantain? Try my plantain and sweet potato porridge recipe!