Plantains are a major part of my childhood as an Afro-Latina who identifies as Black and Puerto Rican. When I was younger, whenever my mom and I would go to the grocery store, I’d watch as she’d spend extra time, sifting through the pile of plantains to find the darkest, softest, ugliest one. They’re sweeter and honestly, if they look like they’re not good to eat, that’s the best one. She’d bring the best ones home and the sound of sweet plantains frying in butter is music to my ears. It was also a sign that dinner was almost ready, especially when she was making my absolute favorite dish: Picadillo, a savory Cuban classic made with ground beef, potatoes, olives served with platanos maduros. Each bite was always a flavor explosion.
And when we weren’t eating maduros, my mom would bring home bright green plantains for tostones. She would double fry them to get them super crispy and make the most amazing garlic mojo for dipping - whew, they were so good!
So when various types of plantain chips started to pop up over the years, I was all game. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good salty potato chip but I’m the ultimate sweet and salty snacker, which is where plantain chips came in. Not only do they remind me of my childhood and heritage but they also hit all my cravings. I’ll literally eat them with anything, all day - just snacking and licking all the residual salt off my fingers. You can dip them in hummus or crumble it over a salad as a crouton sub -- the possibilities are endless.
With that in mind, here are some of my favorites from bodega classics to the wacky but super good Trader Joe’s ones that are my guilty pleasure. And in case you were wondering, yes my mom weighed in so consider these Puerto Rican Mom Approved.
Read on to learn more about the best plantain chips.
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The Ones That Taste Like A Tropical Vacation
Ok, so imagine you are being transported to Miami, listening to salsa music, and eating the best Cuban food ever. These are what these chips give me. They’re garlicky and crunchy making it the perfect snack especially when Aunt Flow comes to town. Listen, I crave salty food around that time of the month and these hit the spot.
The Spicy, Kinda Healthy Ones
In all honesty, I can eat bags on bags of these. What’s good about these plantain chips are they are actually not fried but dried and roasted so it’s kind of healthy. The chili spice gives it this nice kick to it so combined with the natural sweetness of the plantain you get that ultimate flavor combo of spicy, sweet, and salty.
The Crouton Alternative
Thinly sliced and fried, these are the ones that’ll most resemble your standard potato chip. They have a little bit of sea salt and not much else, but that’s all you really need. My favorite thing to do isn’t just to snack on them: I’ll crumble them and add it to my salads instead of croutons for a nice crunch.
The Ones To Eat With Tacos and Tequila
Instead of tortilla chips for Taco Tuesday, definitely get these! The hint of lime is everything you need in life. The chip itself is pretty sturdy and crispy so it’ll hold up against any pico de gallo. If you’re looking for a drink or two to go with these chips, consider a classic Margarita, Oaxaca Old-Fashioned, or Paloma.
The Lunchtime Secret
If you’ve ever stepped foot into an NYC bodega, you’ve definitely come across these chips. They’re old-school and one of my mom’s favorites since she grew up in Brooklyn. I consider them to definitely be top 2 and not number 2 or whatever that Drake lyric is. With that perfect mix of savory, sweet, and crunchy, they’re my all-time faves. There’s nothing more classic than a homemade sandwich and these chips on the side - or if you’re like me, on the sandwich.
The Dessert Ones
Okay, these are a little wacky but my mom got me into them and now they’re my sweet treat at night. Sometimes I’ll even add it to vanilla ice cream! I love how they have a drizzle of dark chocolate, which combined with sea salt really takes it to another level. If you see them at Trader Joe’s, you seriously need to try it.