Cooking with Bananas

Many people have no idea what to do with cooking bananas, and avoid them. Others think they are only used in fried dishes, such as tostones. While they can be used in cooked desserts and pancakes, the information below relates to cooking for savory lunch and dinner dishes.

By growing cooking bananas you help promote food sustainability! For those in Hawaii, growing cooking bananas is a smart, sustainable way to promote food independence. Between bananas, ulu (breadfruit), taro, and sweet potatoes, the Hawaiians knew what they were doing in growing these prolific, nutritious sources of carbohydrates. 

Cooking bananas are extremely diverse and versatile! Generally, people do not cook with sweet varieties when they are yellow ripe, such as Williams, Apple, Sucrier, and Chinese. However, Williams and Chinese are commonly used in Filipino cooking when entirely green, and even Apple bananas make excellent cooking bananas when all green or very slightly yellow.

Some types of cooking bananas include Saba, Dippig, Cardaba, Praying Hands, Hua Moa, Maoli, Popoulu, Iholena, A’ea’e, and Plantains. These are all more starchy than dessert bananas, even when they are yellow. This makes them hold up well to cooking, even via boiling. While in some cultures, cooking bananas are always cooked when green, most find them much more tasty when somewhat to mostly yellow, but still firm. 

The easiest way to use bananas for cooking is to use them like you would a potato. They can be added to stews, stir fries, curries, etc. They can also be steamed or boiled and then sautéed until the edges are crispy. Many cooking bananas are excellent sliced and steamed, with a little salt added! They are even better when mixed with garlic or sautéed onions and coconut milk. Another easy option is mashing them until they are like mashed potatoes.

If you are cooking them green, slice the green peel lengthwise and then remove the peel. This can be difficult. If so, blanch them in boiling water for a minute, and the peel should come off more easily. If they are yellow, or yellow-green, the peel should come off without blanching. Cut them however you desire. The more green they are, the more they can be substituted for potato, but are generally bland. The more yellow the peel, the more fragile and tasty, so do not overcook them.

When searching online, search for “plantain recipes” and feel free to use any type of cooking bananas. 

Plantain & Cooking Banana Recipes


5 tablespoons oil for frying

3 cups cold water

1 Plantain

1. Peel the plantain and cut it into 1-inch chunks.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Place the plantains in the oil and fry on both sides, approximately 3 1/2 minutes per side.

3. Remove the plantains from the pan and flatten the plantains by placing a plate over the fried plantains and pressing down.

4. Dip the plantains in water, then return them to the hot oil and fry 1 minute on each side. Salt to taste and serve immediately.


Cut any type of cooking bananas into 1 inch slices. Peel should be at least 

slightly yellow but not very ripe. 

Put bananas in a steamer and steam bananas until slightly soft, just a few 

minutes. Bananas can also be boiled if you don’t have a steamer. Just be sure 

not to overcook.

3. Salt to taste and serve hot.

Samoan-style Cooking Bananas in Coconut milk (Fa’alifu fa’i)

Several slightly yellow cooking bananas

Onion, finely chopped

1 can Coconut milk (or ½ can for less fat)

curry powder (optional)

salt and pepper

1. Peel plantain and slice ½ inch thick crosswise.

2. Boil in salted water until slightly soft (5 minutes or longer if more green)

3. Drain, and add other ingredients back into pot with bananas.

4. Simmer 5 minutes

5. Add salt and pepper to taste

Other Uses

Substitute peeled green cooking bananas for potatoes in many recipes

Add to curries, stir fries, or sauté with coconut or olive oil until golden brown

Google “plantain recipes” and use any cooking banana in place of plantains