What Is The Difference Between Bananas and Plantains?

truck full of fruit

I used to think bananas and plantains are the same thing. One time I went to the grocery store right before closing and all the bananas were gone, only the plantains were left, I thought those were just “bigger” bananas and ended up buying a few by mistake.

I’m sure many people have experienced something similar. After all, plantains and bananas look very similar to each other. They look almost the same, but are they? Even though plantains are part of the banana family, they’re pretty different things from regular bananas in terms of their textures and tastes. So what is the difference between bananas and plantains?

What’s a Plantain?

Plantains are generally more starchy than bananas and are used more in cooking as opposed to eating raw as fruits. They’re referred to as “cooking bananas,” and are used a lot in many Indian and Caribbean cuisines. Many dishes use plantains as the main ingredient, but they’re also eaten as a side dish after being baked or fried.

Plantains vs Bananas

Taste & Texture

When comparing plantains to bananas the main differences are that plantains are more starchy, bland/bitter, and firm, while bananas are more sugary, sweet, and soft. This makes plantains more ideally treated as a starchy vegetable used in cooking as opposed to a fruit that you can eat raw.

If you’ve ever tried to eat a plantain raw, even after it’s ripened, you would have noticed that it’s quite unpalatable.  On the other hand, bananas are sweet and sugary and most people would eat them raw.

Size & Skin

Another difference is their size. Bananas tend to be a lot smaller than plantains, and their skin is are much softer and thinner. Plantains tend to have black lines or smudges on them even when unripe, while bananas are blemish free when unripe and develop black spots on them only as they ripe.

Nutritional Differences (Per 100g)

  • 89 Calories
  • 0g of Fat
  • 23g of Carbs
  • 3g of Fiber
  • 12g of Sugar
  • 1g of Protein
  • 1% RDI of Vitamin A
  • 18% RDI of Vitamin B6
  • 8% RDI of Potassium
Plantains (cooked):
  • 116 Calories
  • 0g of Fat
  • 31g of Carbs
  • 2g of Fiber
  • 14g of Sugar
  • 1g of Protein
  • 18% RDI of Vitamin A
  • 12% RDI of Vitamin B6
  • 10% RDI of Potassium

As you can see in the above table, nutritionally speaking bananas and plantains are quite similar. Plantains have quite a bit more vitamin A than bananas, but bananas have more vitamin B6 than plantains.

I’d say they’re both quite nutritious overall. If you’ve never had any plantains before you should definitely pick some up next time you’re in the banana aisle, they’re usually sold side by side.

Here’s a short recipe on making caramelized sweet plantains to get you started:

If you liked this post, here are a few other posts I’ve written on bananas that you might be interested in reading:

Read More: 8 Reasons Why Bananas Are Good For You

Read More: 5 Tricks To Ripen Bananas Faster

Read More: Can You Eat Banana Peels?

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