Plantains vs. Bananas: What’s the Difference and Which One Should You Cook With?

Hey there foodies, are you ready to take your culinary skills to the next level? If you’re anything like me, then you know that mastering different ingredients is key in elevating any dish.

One ingredient that I particularly love using in my cooking is bananas – but not just any kind of banana. Have you ever wondered what a cooking banana is called?

Well, wonder no more because today we’re going to dive deep into the world of cooking bananas and their various names across different cultures.

You may have heard them referred to as plantains or even green bananas, but did you know that there are actually over 1000 varieties of bananas in the world? Each one with its own unique flavor, texture, and purpose in the kitchen.

So sit back and get ready for a deliciously informative ride through the wonderful world of cooking bananas!

The History Of Cooking Bananas

Cooking bananas, also known as plantains, have been a staple food in many cultures for centuries. They are a versatile ingredient that can be used in savory or sweet dishes and provide a great source of nutrients.

Historically, cooking bananas were first cultivated in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands before being introduced to other parts of the world through trade routes.

Today, they are widely produced in tropical regions across Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. In some countries like Puerto Rico and Cuba, plantains even hold cultural significance as a symbol of national identity.

With their unique flavor profile and culinary versatility, it’s no wonder why cooking bananas have become such an integral part of global cuisine.

Understanding The Different Types Of Bananas

When it comes to bananas, most people are familiar with the common yellow variety found in every grocery store. However, there are actually many different types of bananas available, each with their own unique flavor and texture.

One type of banana that is particularly popular in cooking is known as plantains. These bananas are much larger than the average yellow banana and have a thicker skin that needs to be removed before eating or cooking. Plantains can be used in a variety of dishes from savory stews to sweet desserts and provide a deliciously starchy texture that makes them an ideal ingredient for frying.

Common Yellow Banana

Red Bananas

Finger Bananas


Another type of banana worth mentioning is the red banana which has a slightly sweeter taste than its yellow counterpart. Finger bananas are small and thin, making them perfect for snacking on-the-go or adding into smoothies. Lastly, there’s plantains which are often mistaken for regular bananas but differ greatly in size and usage.

With so many options to choose from, experimenting with different varieties can add new dimensions to your culinary creations!

The Role Of Bananas In Global Cuisines

I’m so excited to talk about the role of bananas in global cuisines!

There are so many varieties of bananas, from sweet desert bananas to cooking bananas called plantains. Plantains are a staple in many dishes, like traditional Latin American dishes, and can be fried, baked, boiled, or mashed.

Bananas are also used in desserts and beverages around the world, adding sweetness and texture.

Banana Varieties

When it comes to bananas, most people only think of the sweet and creamy fruit that they can peel and eat on-the-go.

However, there are actually many different banana varieties out there with varying tastes and uses in cooking.

One popular variety is the plantain, which is a type of cooking banana that is commonly used in Latin American and Caribbean cuisines.

These bananas are much starchier than regular eating bananas and have a less sweet taste. They’re often fried or baked into dishes like tostones (twice-fried plantains) or maduros (sweet fried plantains).

Other varieties include red bananas, which have a slightly sweeter taste than yellow bananas and are great for smoothies or baking, and fingerling bananas, which are small and sweet with a hint of tartness that make them perfect for snacking.

With so many options out there, experimenting with different types of bananas can really elevate your cooking game!

Banana Uses In Cooking

Now that we’ve covered the different varieties of bananas, let’s talk about their many uses in cooking. Bananas are a staple ingredient in many cuisines around the world and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.

In Caribbean cuisine, for example, green plantains are often mashed to make mofongo or used as a base for soups and stews.

In Thai cuisine, ripe bananas are used to make kluay buat chi, a popular dessert made with coconut milk and tapioca pearls.

And in Indian cuisine, overripe bananas are commonly used to make banana bread or halwa (a type of pudding).

The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to cooking with bananas. So whether you’re looking to add some sweetness to your breakfast pancakes or want to experiment with new flavor profiles in your savory dishes, don’t be afraid to incorporate this versatile fruit into your recipes!

Cooking Techniques For Bananas

After exploring the various global cuisines in which bananas play a significant role, it’s time to delve deeper into one specific aspect – cooking techniques. And what better place to start than with the ubiquitous cooking banana!

The humble plantain, also known as the cooking banana, is a staple ingredient in many Latin American and Caribbean dishes. Unlike its sweet counterpart, the plantain is starchy and has a mild flavor that makes it incredibly versatile for both savory and sweet applications.

From fried plantains served alongside rice and beans to mashed plantains used as a base for soups and stews, this fruit (yes, technically it’s a fruit!) can be found on menus all over the world. But how do you cook them? Let’s find out!

As we explore different ways of preparing plantains, keep in mind their unique texture – they are denser and less juicy than regular bananas. This means that they hold up well during frying or roasting, but may require some additional preparation if using in baking recipes.

Some popular methods include boiling or steaming before slicing and frying until crisp; grilling or roasting whole until charred on the outside and tender inside; or mashing with butter or coconut milk for a creamy side dish.

Whether you’re looking to add more variety to your meals or simply want to try something new, incorporating cooking bananas into your repertoire is sure to impress both your taste buds and dinner guests alike!

Sweet Vs. Savory Banana Dishes

When it comes to bananas, we often think of them as a sweet snack or ingredient in desserts. However, bananas can also be used in savory dishes that are just as delicious!

Here’s a breakdown of the differences between sweet and savory banana recipes:

Sweet Banana Dishes:

  • Bananas Foster: A classic dessert made with caramelized bananas, rum, and vanilla ice cream.
  • Banana Bread: This moist and flavorful bread is perfect for breakfast or a snack.
  • Smoothies: Add some sweetness to your smoothie by blending in a ripe banana.

Savory Banana Dishes:

  • Fried Plantains: These slightly sweet fried slices of green plantain make for a tasty side dish or snack.
  • Curried Chicken with Bananas: The sweetness of the bananas compliments the spices in this curry dish perfectly.
  • Grilled Banana Peppers: Stuff these mild peppers with cheese and top with grilled banana slices for an unexpected twist on stuffed peppers.

Experimenting with both sweet and savory banana recipes will not only expand your culinary skills but also give you a new appreciation for this versatile fruit. So why not try something new today?

Nutritional Benefits Of Bananas

Bananas are a widely consumed fruit that is known for its sweet taste and versatility in cooking. However, it’s not just the flavor that makes bananas so popular; they also provide numerous nutritional benefits.

One medium-sized banana contains about 105 calories, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, and 1 gram of protein. Bananas are also rich in vitamins C and B6, as well as potassium.

Potassium is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels and supporting heart health. In fact, one medium-sized banana provides about 9% of our daily recommended intake of potassium.

Additionally, bananas contain antioxidants such as dopamine and catechins that can help protect against cellular damage caused by free radicals.

With all these amazing nutrients packed into one delicious fruit, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t add more bananas to your diet today!

A Guide To Choosing Ripe Bananas

Hey y’all! Let’s talk about the best way to pick a ripe banana.

First, let’s discuss the different types available: cooking bananas, like plantains, are a starchy variety, while dessert bananas are sweeter.

To check for ripeness, look for a bright yellow color with minimal brown spots.

When storing, keep them in a cool, dry place and away from direct sunlight.

They can also be refrigerated to slow down the ripening process.

With these tips, you’ll be able to pick the perfect banana every time!

Types Of Bananas

Hey there, fellow banana enthusiasts! Are you tired of always buying the same kind of bananas?
Did you know that there are over 1,000 different types of bananas out there?! That’s right – and each one has its own unique flavor and texture.

But today, let’s focus on one specific type: cooking bananas.

Cooking bananas, also known as plantains, are a staple in many Latin American and Caribbean cuisines. They look similar to regular bananas but have thicker skins and firmer flesh. Unlike sweet bananas, which are best eaten when they’re yellow with brown spots, cooking bananas should be cooked until their skin turns black.

This is because they contain high amounts of starch and need to be cooked in order to become soft and sweet. Once cooked, they can be used in a variety of dishes such as fried plantains or mashed up into a delicious side dish.

So next time you’re at the grocery store, don’t forget to pick up some cooking bananas for a flavorful addition to your meals!

Checking For Ripeness

Now that we’ve talked about cooking bananas, let’s move on to another important topic: checking for ripeness.

As banana enthusiasts, we all know the disappointment of biting into a mushy or unripe banana. That’s why it’s crucial to learn how to choose ripe bananas.

Firstly, look at the color – if you’re looking for sweet bananas, go for those with yellow skin and brown spots. Green bananas are not yet ripe and will be too starchy and hard to eat. If you prefer firmer bananas, then green ones might be more your style.

Additionally, feel the firmness of the banana by gently pressing on its skin; ripe bananas should give slightly when pressed but still hold their shape.

With these tips in mind, you’ll never have to deal with an unsatisfying banana again!

Storage Tips

Now that we’ve learned how to choose ripe bananas, let’s talk about another crucial aspect of banana mastery – storage. After all, what good is a perfectly ripened banana if it goes bad before you can enjoy it?

The key to storing bananas properly lies in understanding the factors that affect their shelf life. Bananas release ethylene gas as they ripen, which speeds up the process for other fruits and vegetables nearby. To prevent this from happening too quickly, store your bananas separately from other produce.

You can also slow down the ripening process by placing green or unripe bananas in a paper bag with an apple or tomato overnight; these fruits release more ethylene gas than bananas and will help them mature faster.

By following these simple tips, you’ll be able to keep your bananas fresh and delicious for longer periods of time.

Unripe Bananas: When To Use Them

Now that you know how to choose a ripe banana, let’s talk about unripe bananas.

These are the ones that are still green and firm to the touch, and they actually have their own unique place in cooking.

Unripe bananas, also known as plantains or cooking bananas, are often used in savory dishes such as stews and soups.

They can be boiled, fried, or baked depending on the recipe. When cooked, they develop a slightly sweet flavor with a pleasant starchiness that pairs well with meats and beans.

So don’t throw away those green bananas just yet – experiment with them in your next meal!

Overripe Bananas: Creative Uses And Recipes

If you have a bunch of overripe bananas lying around, don’t throw them away just yet! These sweet fruits may not look very appetizing, but they are actually perfect for baking and cooking. Overripe bananas are incredibly versatile, with their soft texture and intense flavor making them ideal for a variety of recipes.

One classic use for overripe bananas is to make banana bread. This moist and delicious baked good is a great way to use up any excess fruit that might otherwise go to waste. Simply mash the ripe bananas and mix them with flour, sugar, eggs, and other ingredients before baking in the oven. The result is a fragrant loaf that can be enjoyed as breakfast or dessert.

But banana bread isn’t the only recipe you can make with overripe bananas – here are some more ideas:

  • Blend frozen overripe bananas into smoothies for a creamy texture

  • Use mashed bananas as an egg replacer in vegan baking recipes

  • Make banana pancakes by adding mashed fruit to pancake batter

  • Bake banana muffins with chopped nuts or chocolate chips for a delicious breakfast or snack

Regional Names For Cooking Bananas

When it comes to cooking bananas, there are many regional names for this versatile fruit. In some parts of the world, they are known as plantains, while in others they go by the name of ‘cooking bananas’.

They can be found throughout tropical regions and come in a variety of shapes and colors. In Latin America, you’ll find plátanos that range from green to dark brown depending on ripeness. These starchy fruits are often used in savory dishes like fried plantains or mofongo.

Meanwhile, in Southeast Asia and Africa, you might encounter saba bananas which have a slightly sweet flavor with hints of vanilla. Regardless of what you call them, cooking bananas offer endless possibilities when it comes to culinary creativity!

Lesser-Known Varieties Of Bananas

Now that we’ve learned about the different regional names for cooking bananas, let’s explore some lesser-known varieties of this versatile fruit.

While most people are familiar with the popular Cavendish or plantain bananas, there are many other types of bananas used in various cuisines around the world.

One such variety is the red banana, which has a reddish-purple skin and sweet flavor. It’s commonly found in Latin American and Southeast Asian cuisine and can be grilled, fried, or boiled to create delicious dishes.

Another unique type is the finger banana, also known as Lady Finger, which is smaller than traditional bananas and sweeter in taste. These bananas are often used in desserts like banana bread or sliced into salads for added sweetness.

Experimenting With New Banana Recipes

Have you ever tried cooking with plantains? These large, starchy bananas are a staple in many Latin American and Caribbean cuisines. They may look similar to regular sweet bananas, but they have a very different flavor profile when cooked – think creamy, savory goodness.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to experiment with new banana recipes, give plantains a try! Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Tostones: Fried slices of green plantain that make the perfect crispy snack or side dish.

  • Mofongo: A Puerto Rican dish made from mashed fried plantains mixed with garlic and pork cracklings.

  • Platanos maduros: Sweet ripe plantains caramelized in butter and sugar for an indulgent dessert or breakfast treat.

  • Arroz con platano: Rice cooked with diced ripe plantains for a satisfying one-pot meal.

Don’t be intimidated by these unfamiliar ingredients – embrace the opportunity to expand your culinary horizons and impress your taste buds. Who knows, you might just discover your new favorite comfort food.

So go ahead and peel those plantains with confidence, knowing that delicious possibilities await!


So, what is a cooking banana called?

As you’ve learned, there are many names for this versatile fruit depending on where in the world you are. But no matter what you call it – plantain, plátano, pisang goreng, or something else entirely – one thing is certain: cooking bananas are an essential ingredient in countless global cuisines.

Whether you’re new to cooking with bananas or a seasoned pro, there’s always more to explore and experiment with.

So why not try out some of the delicious recipes we’ve shared and discover your own favorite way to cook with this amazing fruit? From sweet treats like banana bread and pancakes to savory dishes like stews and curries, the possibilities are endless!